Sunrise Birding Walk April 11

13 04 2009
Lapland Longspur - Michael Ferrari

Lapland Longspur - Michael Ferrari

After a weekend off in the UK for my mothers birthday we were back into the swing of things looking for spring migrants at Sherwood Island on Saturday. The weather forecast was at best unpredictable, and in the end we had a somewhat shortened morning. Still in the couple of hours we got under our belts the going was pretty good, with a Lapland Longspur (captured above by Michael Ferrari) being one of the mornings highlights. Truth be told though as I caught it’s rattle-like call I was hoping that the bird was going to be something more exciting like the Smith’s Longspur that Larry Flynn found on my birthday two years back (see picture from COA Website here).

Whilst we were busying ourselves with the Longspur I however we might have inadvertently distracted ourselves from a more interesting bird. I had spotted a group of Green-winged Teal in the marsh as we were walking over towards the Longspur but had switched focus from them to follow the little passerine. However as the ducks flushed I had a momentary glimpse of small duck in the group in flight which had the possibility of being a Cinnamon Teal, however views were so brief I just couldn’t pin it down enough to be sure and it will remain the one that got away. This would have been only the second record for the state (see pictures of the first on the COA website here) had it been accepted but the views were just to brief and poor to be sure of anything, although I can’t imagine it was a Blue-winged from what I saw on the bird. Not the first frustrating bird I’ve had on a Sunrise Birding trip at Sherwood. A couple of Decembers back Sara Zagorski spotted a late oriole sat in the spruces at Sherwood but it was flushed by a Mockingbird before we were able to pin down the ID and was never relocated despite numerous attempts by a few different birders!

The rest of the trip added a few nice species including a briefly singing Brown Thrsher. A species of concern in Connecticut due to the disappearing shrubland habitat it requires (even at Sherwood it’s not safe, in the past areas have been cleared in the park which they have been known to breed in). The Thrasher song is reminiscent of Mockingbirds but the way it couples or doubles up repeated phrases is very distinctive compared to the Mockingbirds runs of repetitive phrasing. Thrasher song here, Mockingbird comparison here.

Other notable species included a Northern Shoveler (with another pair being seen post walk when I picked up my car) as well as a nice female Kestrel and a load of Bonaparte’s Gulls, accompanied by the first Laughing Gull of the year for everyone at Southport Beach.  With the rain well and truly tipping it down by this point we all decided to retire early and go and get a well deserved cup of coffee and some breakfast over at the Sherwood Diner. Despite the downpour, a very nice morning out. Walks are now on hold for a couple of weeks as I head off for Colorado although I do have a midweek walk at New Canaan Nature Center on Wednesday before I go.

Trip Species List: Canada Goose, Brant, Mute Swan, Gadwall, American Black Duck, Mallard, NORTHERN SHOVELER, Green-winged Teal, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Loon, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Red-tailed Hawk, AMERICAN KESTREL, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Bonaparte’s Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull,  Laughing Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Monk Parakeet, GREAT-HORNED OWL, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay, Fish Crow, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren,  American Robin, European Starling, Northern Mockingbird, BROWN THRASHER, White-throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, LAPLAND LONGSPUR, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Common  Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow



One response

13 04 2009
Dawn Fine

What a great birding day you had! I am looking forward to my time in Ct. and checking out these areas that you bird!

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