[CT Birds] Am White Pelican photos and comments

Frank Mantlik mantlik at sbcglobal.net
Sun Dec 6 22:39:09 EST 2009

Hey Nick,
Well done!  Great job in putting in the vigil at Hammo in hopes of seeing the WHITE PELICAN flock coming down the coast, actually spotting them, then making prompt phone calls to me and others alerting us to their movements.  Thanks to you, Charlie Barnard & I aborted our planned attendance at a workshop in N. Greenwich, and then getting to the (Stratford) coast in time to see them fly past.  I, too, took a few distant record photos of the 8  B-52s as they flew west over the Housatonic.  White Pelican has been a "nemesis" bird that has eluded me in CT for 30+ years (#371 on my state list).
Nick, Mucho Grande Gracias!!!

Continuing along Nick's thoughts as to where they might be now, pelicans typically migrate only in daylight (John Terres: Encyclopedia of No. Am. Birds), and since Tina didn't see them at Sherwood Island,  it seems that they put down on water somewhere between Long Beach, Stratford and Westport.  Among the places that would be likely spots to check on Monday morning (from east to west) are:

Stratford- Long Beach & Great Meadows marsh
Bridgeport- Fayerweather Is. Light / harbor at west end of Seaside Park
- St. Mary's-by-the-Sea
- Bunnell Pond at Beardsley Park (if they headed a little inland to fresh water for the night)
-Ash Creek marshes (on the Bpt./ Fairfield line)
Fairfield- Penfield Beach / Reef
- Pine Creek marshes or beach
- Southport Beach (on the Fairfield/Westport line)
Westport- Sherwood Is. Millpond (where White Pelican has occurred before)
-Saugatuck River & harbor ( "   "   "     "       "        "          "), including off Grace Salmon Park
- Saugatuck Shores
Norwalk- any of the Norwalk Islands (including the sandbars of Cockenoe Is, Westport)
- Canfield Is. marsh

Good luck to searchers tomorrow.

Also at Stratford Point were a continuing 1st-winter male COMMON EIDER, 2 NORTHERN GANNETS (seen by Scott Kruitbosch), the continuing sizeable scoter flock offshore, 1 Am. Kestrel, and a harbor seal.
After seeeing the pelicans, Charlie Barnard & I counted 41 BOAT-TAILED GRACKLES at their evening roost at the Sikorsky Airport entrance.  This is a new all-time high count for CT. Also 1 Merlin. 

Earlier in the day, I saw 1 GREAT EGRET lingering at Frash Pond, 1 B-c Night Heron at the Birdseye Ave. boat ramp marsh, and 3 Northern Harriers over the Milford Point marshes.

Frank Mantlik

From: Nick Bonomo <nbonomo at gmail.com>
To: CTBirds <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Sun, December 6, 2009 8:28:31 PM
Subject: [CT Birds] Am White Pelican photos and comments

You have to love technology sometimes. Thanks to listservs and cell
phones we were able to anticipate the arrival of American White
Pelicans from Maine to Rhode Island to Connecticut, then able to track
them as they followed CT's coastline toward the west. Ah yes,
teamwork. Pretty cool! I was able to snap a few record shots, posted
on my blog at the link below. There's a lot of writing at the top, so
scroll down to get to the pics.


I'm really glad that Julian, Scott, Frank, Charlie, Tina (and
hopefully others) were able to catch up with these awesome birds.

In doing some math using Google Earth, I was able to clock the
pelicans traveling pretty consistently at about 18 miles per hour. If
they were to continue at that speed after the last sighting over
Stratford, that would put them around Sherwood Island at 3:55 and
around the western Norwalk Islands around 4:15. From the sounds of it
though, they may have touched down before reaching Westport.

One other thought for people looking tomorrow. The flock was likely
blown up to Maine by the strong and warm rain storm from a few days
ago. They then rode cold N and NW winds down to RI and CT. Tomorrow's
forecast is for very light SW winds. While the birds will probably
continue their journey south due to it being really cold for a
pelican, there's also the chance they could hang out for a day or two
if they find a food source somewhere along the coast (maybe in a
coastal pond, marsh, or harbor). Just a thought to check the water in
addition to the skies tomorrow.

Nick Bonomo
Wallingford, CT

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