[CT Birds] Early morning Hammonasset- possible Barrows Goldeneye Keith Mueller

kmueller at ntplx.net kmueller at ntplx.net
Tue Dec 21 13:15:24 EST 2010


Starting the morning at sunrise, I drove by whistler rock near Tuxis  
Island in Madison, looking for the usual groups of goldeneyes. At a  
distance around the nearly submeged rocks I saw a large flock of  
ducks. Thinking it was a large flock of goldeneyes, it turned out to  
be 54 mallards, 5 black ducks, 3 common goldeneye, 1 hen red breasted  
merganser and 5 pruple sandpipers standing on what was left of one rock.

Heading over to Hammonasset (5 minutes away)-The morning was perfect-  
cold with a strong N/NW wind. I got to Meigs Point at 7:15 and was  
greeted by three flocks of shorebirds totaling approx. 150. The flocks  
were mostly dunlin, fair amount of turnstones, few sanderling, and 7  
pruple sandpipers. All were trying to escape the wind on the lee side  
of the jetty. However  the tide was high and the wind carried waves  
and spray over the ice crusted jetty offering little comfort. The  
birds would fly back and forth landing on the beach and along the  
shore of the sheltered cove of the Morane Trail. In the distance I saw  
two flocks of scoters and 1 gannet. There was also 2 red throated  
loons and 1 common loon present.

At the end of the jetty where the two rock ledges are usually visible  
were covered in waves and spray this morning, I noticed 3 swimming  
drake goldeneyes. It was hard to accurately ID them as they would  
dissappear in the troughs of the waves, but I suspected they were  
commons. I tried to walk down the jetty to get a closer look, but was  
not able to pass much farther than the first few low stones. Looking  
through my binoculars and as expected; 3 common goldeneyes. When I  
started to walk back off the jetty, three more goldeneyes (2 drakes  
and 1 hen) flew in and joined the 3 drakes. These 3 birds were  
followed by 3 additional hen golden eyes. One of the hens was  
noticeably larger and darker then the others. Because of the low light  
conditions and the distance, I couldn't focus on any distinctive field  
marks such as having a nearly orange bill. On the water, the bird  
stood out from the other hens with a large squarish head and a whiter  
upper chest and neckline. THis darker and larger hen, swam away from  
the other birds and then lifted off the water pattering across the  
waves. It flew broad side to me and then headed in the direction of  
the Madison beaches. Thinking to myself as that it may be a juvenile  
drake common goldeneye, I managed to take a few distant pictures of  
the bird as it passed. In reviewing the images in the camera, the  
quality was poor, but you can see the narrow white secondaries, narrow  
white greater secondary coverts, and only a few white lesser and  
medial coverts-definitly not a drakes wing. I have seen many barrows,  
and my gut tells me this was another, but with the extended range of  
the bird and the poor quality of my images, I would call it a possible  
BARROWS GOLDENEYE hen.

The drake COMMON EIDER continues in the cove of the Morane Trail.

At 9:30 standing with friends at our vehicles at the Morane Trail  
parking area a single black bellied plover came from over the Morane  
Trail Cove behind us and flew over the frozen Meigs Point Pond. The  
bird aided by a strong tail wind dissappeared over the Meigs  
concession stand on the beach. We commented how fast the bird was  
moving; gone in a blink of the eye. The reason soon became clear, a  
spectacular adult peregrine falcon repeated the same flight as the  
plover, except the falcon turned north and then flew low over the  
marsh just east of the Nature Center where it left our sight; great  
bird!

Keith Mueller   Killingworth





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