[CT Birds] Bluff Point

Chris Elphick elphick at sbcglobal.net
Mon Sep 7 09:55:57 EDT 2009

After my post yesterday, I got a query about how to see the morning flight at Bluff Point.  In case others are new to the list, or to the phenomenon, I've copied my response below.
The place people refer to as the "hot corner" is right by the entrance
to the park.  You go under the railroad bridge and immediately there is
a little track that runs up to the left (there is a pull-in on the
right where you can park).  At the top of the track (only 10-20 m)
there is a wire fence blocking off some land by the railway tracks. 
People stand up against this fence to watch the morning flight.  The
older birding guides probably don't mention it, because the
site/phenomenon is a moderately recent discovery.  This gap should get
rectified when Frank Gallo's great new book on birding sites in CT and
RI comes out. 

you don't know all of the background, morning flight involves migrants
both flying overhead (mostly) and moving through the woods.  These are
birds that were caught out over the Sound at day break and are heading
north as they come back to land.  Birds flying over give you maybe 5-10
seconds to identify them!  Birds coming through the woods often spend a
minute or two in the trees right in front (south) of the fence, giving
much better (though still brief) looks.

So be prepared to be a
little frustrated and unable to identify many birds.  But, although
many birds go unidentified, I find it the most exhilarating event in
the CT birding year.  On a day with a few thousand warblers in an hour
or two, just watching the migration happen is stunning.

the flight lasts for only a couple of hours after first light, so it is
important to be there early or you will miss it.  But, once the flight
dies down it is well worth a walk through the woods as there are
generally birds to be seen - many fewer than fly over, but on a good
day, they can still be numerous and are much easier to look at (and
identify). I usually walk the loop that goes from the hot corner
through the scrubby woods to the main parking lot, and then back.  The
southern part of the park may be good too, but birds are probably more
spread out.

is also important to know that good morning flights only happen under
very specific weather conditions.  If the winds are wrong, you won't
see a thing.  North winds are critical (preferably with a westerly
component).  And, of course, it is best when there are lots of birds
moving (i.e., after a few days of "blocking weather" - rain, or
southerly winds).  Radar has made it much easier to judge whether birds
are on the move, but I'm still an amateur at predicting just what to
expect.  For more detail on what exactly to look for in the weather,
I'd suggest going through the archive to look for old emails from Dave
Provencher.  Dave is really the expert and knows much more about the
site than me (he can also identify far more of the birds than I ever
will!).  He has provided detailed info on this list several times in
the past.

Hope this helps,


Chris Elphick

Storrs, CT

elphick at sbcglobal.net

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