[CT Birds] COA Shorebird & Tern Workshop (Hudsonian Godwit, Stilt Sandpipers) and more

Nick Bonomo nbonomo at gmail.com
Sun Aug 22 22:08:05 EDT 2010

Today's COA Shorebird & Tern Workshop got off to a great start when
Frank Mantlik spotted a HUDSONIAN GODWIT as it flew into the lagoon at
Sandy Point in West Haven. Most, if not all participants got decent
scope views of this adult bird before it was flushed by the incoming
tide. After a lengthy flight around the harbor, the bird re-settled
onto the outermost sand bar where it remained until we left after 9am.
Although we can't know for sure, this godwit was likely a product of
the morning's inclement weather and east winds...the best weather
pattern for finding Hudwits in CT.

Other Sandy Pt highlights included a few Clapper Rails and an immature
SORA for the earliest birders. The remaining shorebirds were common
species, and the only terns about were a couple dozen Commons.

We moved on to Milford Point for high tide, where numbers and
diversity were certainly strong enough to keep us entertained for a
while. The first thing we noted upon arrival was the presence of a
flock of 41 Lesser Yellowlegs on the sandbar, an unusually high count
for this species, especially on the Milford Pt sandbars (they tend to
prefer marshes and muddy pools). Hidden in this flock were 4 STILT
SANDPIPERS. We can thank the weather again for this one. Lesser 'legs
and Stilt Sandpipers are often grounded together by late August rains
(particularly the last 10 days of the month, it seems).

A flock of 19 juvenile Willets, also quite high for the date and
location, on the same sandbar was composed of 4 "WESTERN" and 15
"Eastern" Willets. Participants were treated to side-by-side
comparisons of these two subspecies. More common shorebirds carpeted
the shrinking sandbar as the time came in.

Terns were constantly coming and going from the sandbars, and several
feeding flocks were diving around the mouth of the river. Two immature
FORSTER'S TERNS were cooperative, and Frank Mantlik picked out a
single BLACK TERN as it was foraging closer to the Stratford side of
the river mouth.

In all, during the "official" workshop, 14 shorebird species and 4
tern species were seen. Other participants may have more to add.

Afterwards a few birders spilled over into Stratford. Stratford Marina
held the continuing mostly basic-plumaged LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER. At
the Access Road pools, Frank found a worn alternate adult LONG-BILLED
DOWITCHER, and an adult Pectoral Sandpiper dropped in.

The mudflats at the end of Oak Bluffs Ave, just outside the Long Beach
entrance, held another (or part of the same?) flock of Lesser
Yellowlegs and Stilt Sandpipers. There were well over 50 LEYE in this
flock, and there were again 4 STILT SANDPIPERS (2 ad, 2 juv). Two more
Pectoral Sandpipers here (1 ad, 1 juv).

On my way home I stopped at Mackenzie Reservoir in Wallingford which
has again been drawn down for the summer. The mudflats are extensive
right now, and there is a large area of grass and weeds growing in
that may be appealing to the grasspipers. This spot deserves frequent
checks over the next few weeks and could pull in a Baird's or
Buff-breast if lucky. I saw:

3 Spotted Sandpiper
2 Lr Yellowlegs
53 Semipalmated Sandpipers
19 Least Sandpipers

In all I observed 18 species of shorebird today, which is about what
you can expect at this time of year over several hours in different
habitats. Today was more about quality, with the godwit, LB Dows, and
several Stilt Sands being the highlights. Several possible species
were missed. For example, we missed White-rump, Western Sandpiper,
Piping Plover (most, if not all, have departed), Whimbrel, Knot,

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, shorebirding in this
type of weather is often rewarded with quality birds. The next couple
days look unsettled, so this is a great time to check your local

Nick Bonomo
Wallingford, CT

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