[CT Birds] Stratford birding 10/11

Brian Webster b.webster at hotmail.com
Mon Oct 12 09:35:55 EDT 2009

By the end of the day, I managed 80 species at Great Meadows, Long Beach, Stratford Point, Boothe Park, Peck's Mill Pond, and my own neighborhood.  I was out from 8:00a-1:00p, came home to watch the Giants (that was a fumble and 6 pts, by the way), then I checked my neighborhood from about 4:00p until dusk (just in time for the Yankees).
Falcons were particularly active in the morning winds down by the shore. At least 2 Peregrines were flying around the area, several Kestrels (3 at once at Stfd Point), and a rather dark Merlin being followed by a juvenile Black-back gull at Long Beach.  It's belly bands were very thick and dark and it's whole head was dark.
The highlight was a first fall Orange-crowned Warbler on the pond trail at Great Meadows.  It was pretty drab, and had a light chip that sounded somewhat sparrow-like. I was able to ID it by noticing the broken eyering, the white/paleness in the supercillium, a slight black eye line, just barely some smudgy streaking on the breast, grey head/neck with a lighter throat, olive-ish upper parts, and contrasting yellow undertail coverts.  I noticed when viewing the bird that it had a very plain undertail pattern, which also contrasted with its yellow undertail coverts.
I later checked Warblers by Dunn & Kimball and (knowing nothing about the distribution of the spss), it looked exactly like the illustration of a first fall celata subspecies. 
The Nelson's sparrow was in the tide exposed marsh grasses on the marsh side of Long Beach, about 40-50 yards short of the twin cedars.
My monarch tally for the day was by far my best of the season... times like 3.  I counted 62 for the day, the bulk of them enjoying the abundant goldenrod at Long Beach (37).  Throughout the day I also saw 3 Viceroys, tons of Cluded Sulfurs and Cabbage Whites, and a single Red Admiral on thr RR trail at Great Meadows.  I also encountered 4 mantids during the day.
Some other sightings from the day:
-Home woods/powerline cut-
1- Peregrine flying low to the W (8:00a)
60+- White-throated Sparrows in every nook and cranny
1- Feild Sparrow
1- Swamp Sparrow***
1- E. Towhe (f)
1- Blue-headed Vireo (5:30p)
2- Black-throated Blue Warblers (almost a week now...)
1- Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 
1- House Wren (is this getting late for them??)
1- Winter Wren
-Peck's Mill Pond-
3- Wood Ducks 
-Stratford Point (8:25a)-
1- Sharp-shinned Hawk (migrant)
100+- Savannah Sparrows
3- Kestrels (2 seemed local, one a passer-by)
1- No. Harrier (flew in from Milford)
6- Semipal. Plovers
1- Laughing Gull
10- Palm Warblers (9 yellow, 1 western)
2- Ruby-crowned Kinglets
3- Yellow-rumped Warblers
1- possible/probable Tennessee Warbler (best guess, really)
-Long Beach (9:25a)-
2- Cooper's Hawks (migrants)
1- Sharp-shinned Hawk (migrant)
2- Peregrine Falcons
1- Merlin (dark)
1- No. Harrier (f, maybe the same one, hunting low over marsh)
10- Savannah Sparrows
1- Nelson's Sparrow 
1- Empid fly species (Willow or Alder, leaning towards Alder)
3- Golden-crowned Kinglets
1- Yellow-rumped Warbler
1- Greater Yellowlegs
30+- Great Egrets
2- Great Blue Herons
6- Wigeon
2- Gadwall (pair; in the gut behind the cottages)
15- Tree Swallows
-Great Meadows, RR Trail (10:45a)-
1- Kestrel
2- Peregrines (most likely the same ones)
5- Golden-crowned Kinglets
1- Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1- Chipping Sparrow
40+- Song Sparrows
1- Willet (fly-over, 70% sure on the ID)
6- Yellow-crowned Night-herons (blind pond)
2- Black-crowned Night-herons (blind pond)
-Great Meadows, Warehouse Pools (11:15a)-
1- Little Blue Heron (all white juv., with a single Snowy)
1- Osprey
-Great Meadows Pond and trail (11:20a)-
1- Wigeon
4 or 5- Hooded Mergansers (pond)
2- Green-winged Teal
1- Blue-winged Teal  (is this late, or did I mis-ID the bird??)
2- Swamp Sparrows
1- Common Raven
1- Harrier (f)
1- Kingfisher
2- Ruby-crowned Kinglets
***  This Swamp sparrow really confused me.  The amount of black on it's throat was so thick that it made a patch on the throat.  Normally, they have those symetrical black lines on either side of a white/unstreaked throat.  ON this bird, the lines were so thick and black that there was a central patch on it's throat there.
The flanks were VERY buffy and super noticable, and the streaks on the head and face were very dark/black and contrasting.  It didn't make any call notes.  Other than those odd features, everything seemed spot on for a Swamp.  And I couldn't find any other sparrow species that had those features.  
The flanks and streaks of the bird were light and smudged, not thick and dark like Lincoln's.  However, they were almost unstreaked.... very large and very buffy flank patches.
I don't know, it just seemed off.
-Brian Webster-
Stratford, CT
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