Sunrise Bird Walk – Jan 4, Stratford

6 01 2009
Long-beach Sunset

Long-beach Sunset

Although we were scheduled to head to Milford for the morning, with the current crop of great sightings in Stratford I rerouted the tour for the day to hit a few likely spots there. In the end there was plenty to keep us occupied although I had hoped to manage to get to Silver Sands before the end of the walk and didn’t.

It is always a risk going to somewhere that you know there are  good birds around as there is always a chance of missing something and coming away a little disappointed. Well we did miss a few of the hoped for species on the morning but I think the birds we did find were a nice compensation.

Lapland Longspur - Michael Ferrari

Lapland Longspur - Michael Ferrari

Highlight spectacle wise were the massive flock of Greater Scaup (4-5000?) that were flying up the sound eastwards. I was using their primary pattern to identify them (note in this comparrison illustration the way the white extends through the primaries on Greater Scaup) but as a general rule most scaup on the sound would tend to be Greater and birds on a pond or in a harbor would be Lesser (of course there are exceptions).

Bird wise the three LAPLAND LONGSPURS (or Lapland Buntings as they are known back in the old country) were my favorites. I love Longspurs and Snow Buntings, they just seem so tough the way they stick it out in the most inhospitable spots at the most inhospitable time of the year. Plus I must say I am more of a passerine fan than anything else, so these birds keep me going through the winter when there are few passerines gracing the state. Added to that we had 5 fairly uncooperative AMERICAN PIPITS (although one did provide better views when we went to retrieve cars from Long Beach) a flock of HORNED LARKS and 5 SNOW BUNTINGS to round off the regularly occurring pipits, larks, longspurs and buntings for the season.

Probably the rarest bird of the trip and a State or life bird for many was the CLAY-COLORED SPARROW. Of course I am avowed sparrowphile, so it was nice to see this bird again (my lousy digiscoped pictures of this same bird in November here). A great looking bird and it performed fairly well, which was useful as it was accompanied by both Fields and Trees for a Spizella trifecta making picking it out from the group somewhat difficult. Added to the nice assortment of sparrows on the day was an Ipswich Savannah Sparrow. A great looking sparrow which made a nice comparison to the common or garden Savannah that we had over at the Gun Club.

Clay-colored Sparrow - Michael Ferrari

Clay-colored Sparrow - Michael Ferrari

I was also talking on the trip about this great little part of the Birdlife International website (which is worth an explore in and of itself) which has species fact sheets for all of the birds in the world (here). Out of interest I looked up the rarest bird I have ever seen – Black-breasted Puffleg (see awful picture from last July in Ecuador below) and here is the species sheet for that bird. I am currently trying to arrange a trip to Ecuador to go back and see this beautiful and rare bird (details to come soon on my trips and tours section).

Black-breasted Puffleg - Luke Tiller

Black-breasted Puffleg - Luke Tiller

Trip List- 50 Species

Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Brant, American Black Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Canvasback, Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Merganser, Hooded Merganser,  Red-tailed hawk, Sanderling, Dunlin, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Downy Woodpecker, Horned Lark,  AMERICAN PIPIT, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Blue Jay, American Crow, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, House Finch, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, Field Sparrow,  American Tree Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow,  ‘Ipswich’ Savannah Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, DE Junco, LAPLAND LONGSPUR, SNOW BUNTING, Red-winged Blackbird, European Starling, House Sparrow

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