[CT Birds] WT Kite CATTLE EGRET Stratford Point

Scott Kruitbosch kbosch at gmail.com
Mon Aug 23 18:58:51 EDT 2010

I spent some time measuring the wind speeds at Stratford Point while
watching for rarities like Bill and Greg's petrel (good job guys!) and the
return of the White-tailed Kite. Sustained winds were in the 25-28MPH range,
gusts to the mid-30s. I got there a bit after 4PM, and as of 5 had not seen
the kite. At about 5:08 I saw what I presumed was a distant Snowy Egret
flying towards the point with the wind, going southwest. As it came in
closer, I noticed with the naked eye it had all very dark legs and feet -
not a Snowy.

Staring at it in my bins as it passed close in front of me (for those who
know I was waiting for the kite in the usual spot and the egret went over
the Purple Martin gourds) I noticed it was small, had a short black bill
with some light yellow only near the base, and had quite a thick/large chest
and neck for its small size. However, the size and shape cannot be relied
upon fully with the strong wind. For what it is worth it stood out to me.
The legs and bill were wrong for a juvenile Little Blue, and it was
obviously not a Great. It was a juvenile Cattle Egret. If you look at the
Sibley guide, it shows exactly what flew by. I have no doubt about it now
having looked at multiple sources and photos of others. In that wind and
with the limited observation time there was no way to get a picture of it
and still get the important great looks at it that I had. Unfortunately, it
kept going past the lighthouse, so the only hope is to keep an eye out for
it on the coast to the west. I was hoping for a petrel, but I will take that
new town bird instead.

While I went inside to check a couple books on this and called Frank Mantlik
about it the kite reappeared. A subsequently happy man named Tom said it
came in around 5:15. It hunted for about five minutes before seemingly
flying off. I do not know if ate or not. Obviously, it was very difficult to
fly or hover with the winds, even for the kite. It goes without saying that
tomorrow will still be a great day for shorebirds and rarities on the coast.
Come to the seemingly unstoppable Stratford Point to see what you can find -
you know, besides the White-tailed Kite. What a ridiculous month.

Scott Kruitbosch
Stratford, CT
Connecticut Audubon Society

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