South Windsor Phalarope

6 10 2009

Red Phalarope - Bob Simon

Red Phalarope - Bob Simon

Hi All, I called Sara Zagorski after getting a message that she and Denise Jernigan were looking at a phalarope out on the river in South Windsor on Sunday post the Sunrise Birding Walk. Phalarope ID certainly isn’t easy at the best of times in fall, but at distance it can be very tough. This is a Red Phalarope and I am assuming its a juvenile bird molting into winter plumage hence the orange wash on the throat, and mainly gray upperpart feathering. It also shows a pale bill base which is a feature of Red Phalarope adults but can also be seen in younger birds. Red-necked Phalaropes molt later in the year and you’d expect to still see some/a number of dark juvenile feathers on a young Red-necked at this time of the year. There is a decent article (here), being a British article just substitute Red for Grey. Congrats to Sara and Denise for a great inland fall record and for having the gumption to flag down Bob for the record shots, which he sportingly took from his passing kayak.

Common Gull – More Pictures – Meredith Sampson

25 03 2009

Common Gull - Meredith Sampson

Common Gull - Meredith Sampson

Meredith Sampson sent me these great pictures of the probable Common Gull from Bradley Point in West Haven. A couple of nice shots. One on it’s own. One standing next to a Ring-billed that gives you a nice impression of the differences in size and structure between the birds and even better for identification purposes a nice shot of the spred wings and primaries.

Common Gull? West Haven

20 03 2009

Common Gull - Luke Tiller

Common Gull - Luke Tiller

Nick Bonomo seems to be on a mission to get a clean sweep of every uncommon gull possible in the North East this winter. He spotted this probable adult Common Gull at Bradley Point this morning in West Haven and although I have seen a thousand of these in the UK I thought it would be fun to pop along and see one in comparisson with some Ring-billeds. The obvious field marks in my lousy record shot are this birds dark eye and the slender, smaller, fairly lightly marked bill. In the field it looked slightly smaller than surrounding Ring-billeds and to me the legs seemed pretty green toned. In some guides this bird will be illustrated as Mew Gull however it seems that the initial thoughts are that this is more likely that this bird is the European subspecies on this bird Larus canus canus as opposed to the North American subspecies Larus canus brachyrhynchus, but I’m sure better pictures and notes from the field will confirm one way of the other. One of the keys is in the primary pattern in flight or with stretched wings which I must admit I didn’t observe well enough. Cool bird Nick, thanks for the phone call.

EDIT: More and much better pictures online on Nick’s blog (here). Mark Szantyr also posted his pictures online now (here).

More interesting bird pictures – Greylag Goose

25 02 2009

Just thought I’d stick up the pictures of the Greylag Goose as found by Greg Hanisek that Bill Banks kindly sent me so that people can have a look at the bird in question. You can read some discussion on the bird (here). Obviously not going to comment much on the bird itself (not my place) apart from to say that it’s all intact and not showing the revoltingly bloated look of your average farmyard domestic Greylag.

Waterfowl are a real quandary which is the reason I guess the ARCC (latest report here – which includes a couple of birds I had a hand in finding) came up with the ‘origin uncertain’ tag on their recent reports (back in the UK they generally tend to reject rare waterfowl reports unless there is some really strong evidence otherwise to assume the bird is of wild origin). You should have a look how long it took to get Hooded Merganser accepted onto the British List (here) it might help when reading the article to have some idea of how the category system work in the UK (here).

Possible Thayer’s Gull @ Windsor Landfill – Patrick Comins

23 02 2009

Patrick Comins found this possible Thayer’s Gull up at Windsor Landfill. Just putting these photos up for him for so that CTbirding listserve members can have a perusal of them. The pictures look pretty promising for Thayer’s to me, but I am basing this more on booksmarts than field experience with this particular species. I’m sure Patrick would be happy to see any informed feedback. Below are Patrick’s initial postings on the bird from the Connecticut Listserve:

Feb 20

I have some decent photos if anyone would like to have a look. I’d say Iceland
is pretty much ruled out but there is thoughts that it might be a recessive
form of a hybrid HerringXGlaucous since the bird isn’t especially small. It
appeared to be smaller than the surrounding Herring Gulls in the field, but
certainly not appreciably smaller. Some features that aren’t typical of
HerringXGlaucous include a nearly all black bill and a smudgy hooded appearance
around the eye, much like a Thayer’s. I have had some funky Thayer’s-like Gulls
in the past so I am always a little hesitant to make that call. In any case,
maybe I can get the shots posted online somewhere or I’d be happy to email a
bunch if anyone wants to venture an opinion.

I also caught a brief look at an adult or near adult black-backed gull with
marked head streaking, and pink legs, but it was a very brief look and I’d only
put it in the ‘something to keep your eyes open for’ category.

Feb 23

For anyone who might be considering going up to the Windsor Landfill trying to
add Thayer’s to their CT list, the ID pendulum seems to be swinging back
towards Thayer’s for the bird found on Friday. A hybrid HerringXGlaucous just
doesn’t make sense to me for a bird with a bill that is blacker and with more
extensive black than a typical smithsonianus at this time of year. There is
some fading at the base of the lower mandible, but otherwise very black. In
addition, while the bird is larger than the Thayer’s that have been
photographed in CT, it is still smaller than your average Herring Gull and well
within the range of variation I think (there is overlap in size between the two
species). Bill structure also looks better for Thayer’s than Herring or
Glaucous or in between the two. The open wing pattern looks pretty good to me
for Thayer’s and atypical of ‘Nelson’s’. If anything, perhaps the bird is a
hybrid HerringXThayer’s, but that combination is unrecorded as far as I know.

Another Thayer’s feature is the uniform color and lack of blotchiness on the
breast and back, those diffuse streaks on the neck and fine pattern of
streaking on the crown, all of which say Thayer’s to me. The black face mask is
also good for Thayer’s, but not Glaucous nor Herring and the retained juv Scaps
would also fit Thayer’s. Legs are also deeper pink than most smith, another
Thayer’s feature. One feature that was troubling me was the relatively short
primary projection, but after looking at many photos of Thayer’s Gulls I think
it is fine. Birds with longer primaries are sometimes thrown into the dark
Iceland Gull bucket, so maybe it is even good. At least we know this bird isn’t
an Iceland Gull.

I am hoping to find a way to post some of the photos so we can get some input
from the west coast, but for now the bird is still worth chasing down if you
want a Thayer’s for CT. While I wouldn’t be totally stunned if this bird isn’t
a Thayer’s and I am still open to good arguments as to why it might not be, I
would be surprised. It is certainly an interesting bird in any case.

Yellow-throated Warbler in Greenwich

12 12 2008

I just got a cool set of pictures from Meredith Sampson of the latest Fairfield County feeder rarity. This time it’s a Yellow-throated Warbler coming to a feeder in Riverside. This bird has been documented and I think that access to this bird is being worked on as we speak. A nice bird for the Greenwich/Stamford Christmas Bird Count which takes place Sunday. Thanks Meredith!

Varied Thrush in Wilton – Dec 10

11 12 2008
Varied Thrush - Meredith Sampson

Varied Thrush - Meredith Sampson

Meredith Sampson, who was there at Jim’s when I saw the thrush on Wednesday, sent me this very nice capture of the bird (particularly given the distance and the pane of glass in the way). A beauty of a bird although somewhat elusive (no sighting today as far as I know). My hope is that it is still in the area and that as cooler temps set in it’ll become more reliant on Jim’s feeder – time will tell I guess.