[CT Birds] Excellent morning at Hammonasset

kmueller at ntplx.net kmueller at ntplx.net
Mon Nov 8 16:43:53 EST 2010

(Continued from the Jerry's post) Got to the park at 8:00 am and was  
the first (and only) one in the park. Snow, sleet and then rain with  
heavy W-NW winds. There were 18 black ducks in Meigs pond with 1 g b  
heron. Just after the pond along the "boat launch" road to the point,  
for a split second my eye caught sight of a beautiful SHORT-EARED OWL  
standing on the small sand dune along the right side of the road and  
it then flushed. It flew effortlessly across the area of the pond and  
then flew down the dunes towards the pavilian. I managed a handful of  
decent images (considering the poor light and heavy rain) That was a  
fantastic experience!!

There were 300+/- shorebirds on the breakwater and on the beach both  
sides of the breakwater. 100 +/- sanderlings, 100 +/- dunlins, 50  
black bellied plover and approx 50 ruddy turnstone. Also 1 kildeer in  
the flock. It was hard to get a decent count as the birds were  
constantly moving....flocks would come in from the East and others  
would lift up and fly to the West. A small flock of horned larks were  
sitting on the sand in front of the parking area. When I reached the  
breakwater, there were approx 50 snow buntings holding tight on the  
rocks at the beginning of the breakwater using the weeds and brush as  
a shield from the wind.

I sat on the lee side of the breakwater and saw 2 swimming COMMON  
EIDER (1 hen and 1 juv. dr), 1 single hen fly by heading West, and  
then a flock of 6 (4 h and 2 drake) heading West. Also: 3 OLDSQUAW  
swimming at the end of the jetty, 3 red throated loon, and 11 common  
loon both swimming and flying. 4 flocks of surf scoter (flock 0f 5, 7,  
8 and 13). I juv. GREAT CORMORANT and 1 BONAPARTE's GULL. 5 single  
GANNETS flying West ( 3 adults 1 brown/white and 1 brown plumage) and  
one larger alcid most likely a RAZORBILL flew outside the jetty  
heading towards Faulkners Island. THe bird was just beyond the range  
of my binoculars for a 100% ID (Jerry-I need a better pair) but my  
opinion was a razorbill not a murre (seen many of both species off  
Race Point).

While I was sitting photographing the shorebirds, a flock of 20+  
AMERICAN PIPIT landed on the beach between the jetty and my truck.  
They stayed for less than a minute and then flew off down the beach  
heading West. 1 lone swallow (unidentified) flew over my head heading  
South, and then turned around and flew back towards the North. I  
couldn't ID the bird, but it had a short "squarish" and slightly  
rounded tail.

Despite the heavy winds, there were 2 peregrines cruising the beach  
sending the shorebirds into panicked flights resembling a large ball  
or knot. This lasted for a few minutes and then the falcons headed  

In the field near the nature center there was a flock of approx. 50+/-  
sanderlings, dunlins and b b plover feeding after the snow  
melted....earthworms were the food of choice. Also 8 snow buntings.

On the way out of the park, a huge large "ball" flock of starlings  
were being followed by a peregrine who eventually made a dive into the  
flock with success.

A very good morning at Hammonasset!

Keith Mueller  Killingworth

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