Sunrise Bird Walk – Aug 8th

11 08 2009

Possible Long-billed Dowitcher - Luke Tiller

Possible Long-billed Dowitcher - Luke Tiller

Spent a delightful day out in Westport on Saturday searching for shorebirds with a nice group of folks who came from as far away as Florida, not specifically for my walk I might add – my reputation hasn’t reached that far…yet. First bird of the day was almost certainly the highlight as we picked up a Wilson’s Snipe sat out on the model airplane field at Sherwood, a somewhat surprising out of place bird that is quite rare at this time of year in Connecticut.

Although there was plenty to enjoy there wasn’t much in the way of rarities and when we got to Grace Salmon it appeared that the birds this year are concentrating much of their time up near Gorham’s Island (see my birding map), which isn’t the best site for viewing the birds if they are just roosting in or around the marsh there. It also seems to be that the reported late summer in much of the arctic has lead to a somewhat delayed return migration for a lot of these birds although I did finally see a juvenile Least Sandpiper on Saturday (a first for the year).

After the walk we popped up to Milford via Stratford Marina where I took the snap of this probable Long-billed Dowitcher (noted upright stance at rest, long legged look as well as plumage). Things seemed to be heating up a little there with nice numbers of peeps and a good mix of other more common species. Highlight were three stunning Red Knots in worn breeding plumage and a couple of White-rumped Sandpipers I was pleased to pick out of the throngs. One of the Knots was banded and had a couple of colored flags on its legs. At such distance the letters on the flags weren’t visible (in fact it was hard to even decide what the colors were in the harsh light).

I’ve stumbled on a few banded shorebirds before and they have always been from the Delaware Bay, less glamorous than one might hope. Anyway if you send in a report they generally get back to you with a nice thank you email and sometimes even a spiffy little certificate. Reports can be sent here.

EDIT: Just thought I’d throw up this interesting article on Dowitcher ID. It has some helpful pointers. From a few offline comments it seems that the majority are coming down on the side of Long-billed.