Sunrise Bird Walk – January 10

11 01 2009

GH Owl - Steve Ballentine

Spent a cold but entertaining morning at a few spots in Westport. Highlight of the walk was the sheer number and variety of waterfowl out on Long Island Sound (no need for the early season worries on CT Birds).  Nothing rare in and of itself and the most uncommon ducks (the WW Scoter) were not very cooperative but plenty of great looks at the common stuff and I was quite surprised to see a couple of ‘flocks’ of Red-throated Loons out on the sound, something I have noted a couple of times in migration but not knowingly in mid-winter before (perhaps the impending storm was pushing birds into the sound?)

The bird of the day was a Great Horned Owl (no locations being given on nocturnal owls I’m afraid – in keeping with CTBirds policy), which although sat quite some way up a tree did provide for a good photo opportunity (thanks for letting me use one Steve). Probably the other real highlight was a stunning first cycle Iceland Gull that was loafing round the point at the 9-11 memorial.

A good friend of mine was asking the other day why 1st cycle had replaced 1st winter etc as a favored terminology with gull identification? The Howell and Dunn book has a useful explanation (see online copy here – explanation on page31) which seems to mainly revolve around creating a neutral system to describe birds that either straddle the two hemispheres or are predominantly southern hemisphere breeding birds. The book is a great place to start with Gull identification, although I must admit to finding some of it a bit long-winded. But then again I guess that’s gulls for you!

A couple of other nice finds on the day were some Pine Siskins (almost ubiquitous this year) at Long Shore and a couple of lingering Snow Buntings which were hanging out with a Horned Lark Flock at Compo.

Trip Species List

Common Loon, Red-throated Loon, Horned Grebe, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Brant, American Black Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, White-winged Scoter, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Merganser, Hooded Merganser,  Red-tailed hawk, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, ICELAND GULL, GREAT HORNED OWL, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Horned Lark, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, American Robin, Blue Jay, American Crow, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, PINE SISKIN, House Finch, American Tree Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow,  Savannah Sparrow, DE Junco, SNOW BUNTING, European Starling, House Sparrow



2 responses

12 01 2009
Nick Bonomo

OMG…you list a gull as your highlight of the day?? One of these days I might even get you to the landfill.

12 01 2009

I am only coming if you promise another first for Connecticut – I like Kelp Gulls if that helps!

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