[CT Birds] All day Bridgeport to Madison and a few hours on Long Island Keith Mueller

kmueller at ntplx.net kmueller at ntplx.net
Thu Jan 20 18:57:55 EST 2011


I had to do a lttle business on Long Island this morning which  
expanded my birding possibilities for today.


Highlights from today (CT): the two ICELAND GULLS continue at West  
Haven. One was standing on the pier railing at the West Haven boat  
ramp, and the other was on the beach with a small group of Herring and  
Ring Billed Gulls right across the street from Chicks Restaurant.

Hammonasset Park (late afternoon from 3:30 to 4:20 pm): the flock of  
SNOW BUNTINGS continues at the Nature Center parking lot. I counted  
over 52 with 1 LAPLAND LONGSPUR, 40+ HORNED LARKS were split up  
between the parking area and the beach at Meigs. The previously  
reported flock of COMMON EIDERS at Meigs grew to 11 split between east  
of the rocks at the end of the jetty, in amongst the rocks at the end  
of the jetty and the western side of the jetty.

Long Island (9:30 to 11;00 am): 6 Norther Shovelers and 3 Eurasian Wigeon.



Bridgeport- I was taking the 7:30 am ferry which gave me a half an  
hour at Seaside Park before I had to board the ferry. I arrived at  
Seaside at 6:45 as the sun was breaking the horizon. There were  
several hundred gulls spread out along the beaches from the entrance  
all the way to the western end of the Park by the lighthouse. The dawn  
lighting was dim, and I didn't have the time to spend searching  
through all the gulls. Off the point of the Park by the entrance were  
39 Wigeon (I didn't see any Eurasian), and a very large flock of 250+  
Common Goldeneyes rafted up outside the Point. I only had binoculars  
with me, but anyone with a scope might want to look through the raft  
for a Barrows. The whistling sound from their wings was incredible  
when they lifted up, flew around the area and settled back in.

On the ferry heading out of Bridgeport Harbor, there were many Red  
Breasted Mergansers swimming around the docks. In the canal near the  
oil tanks were 30+ Wigeon and Gadwall mixed. At the mouth of the  
Harbor along the eastern side of the jetty along PLeasure Beach were  
Black Ducks, Goldeneyes, R B Mergansers and a few Wigeon and Oldsquaw.  
The beach in the corner of the jetty had a large flock of gulls tucked  
up along the jetty. There were a few small flocks of Scoters and Scaup  
flying east just outside the jetty, and small groups of Oldsquaw were  
milling around the oyster boats working the beds off Pleasure Beach. I  
saw very few birds crossing the Sound.

Port Jeff Harbor: At the mouth of the harbor between the jetties a  
small flock of Scaup with a few Oldsquaw, and a few Black Ducks and  
Wigeon along the beach near the jetty. In the inner harbor were a few  
Goldeneyes and a small raft of 50+ Scaup along the eastern shore  
(where I have seen them every winter for over 25 years).

Arriving Port Jeff at 9:15, my business associate picked me up, and  
after a short business meeting, we were off to a couple of local spots  
just west of Port Jeff. These two spots were always good for Wigeon  
and Shovelers. But I didn't get my hopes up; there was a chance that  
the two areas could be iced over. The first stop was Pocquot Cove  
where Wigeon in large numbers are usuaully found. When we reached the  
Cove, it was only partially frozen and the Wigeon were in the back  
corner in impressive numbers. Since the Wigeon were comfortably  
settled in the back of the quiet Cove, I decided to return. My main  
objective was to hopefully find and photograph Shovelers that are  
usually in a nearby harbor. Reaching Setauket Harbor, the inner cove  
was only half frozen. Waterfowl present were: Mallards, 15 Ringneck  
Ducks,13 Gadwall, 10 Hooded Mergansers, and 6 NORTHERN SHOVELERS (5  
drakes and 1 hen). All the drakes but one were in full plumage, and  
gorgeous! The Shovelers were sitting along the bank on the backside of  
the cove near a road. When we got to where the birds were, they were  
quite accepting of our vehicle and stayed close by the road. I was  
able to take hundreds of images often within twenty feet of the truck.

Heading back to Pocquot Cove, the Wigeon were still in the back corner  
along the road. There were some Wigeon sleeping on the ice and others  
were in the water (90+ total). When we approached the birds, I  
immediatly spotted a spectacular drake EURASIAN WIGEON sleeping  
between 2 Am. Wigeon on the edge of the ice just twenty-five feet from  
the truck. I took many images of the bird. As we sat there a man  
walking his dog came down the road which made the Am. Wigeon nervous.  
The Wigeon swam away from the area a short distance, but the drake  
Eurasian remained. He stood up, walked a bit, stretched and preened  
and then went back to sleep. In the flock of swimming birds, I spotted  
another drake EURASIAN WIGEON. Looking through the remaining Wigeon, a  
much darker hen EURASIAN WIGEON joined the drake. I tried to take a  
few images, but they were backlit by the sun. Hopefully when I go  
through my images I captured her with the drake.

Return trip: not much different than my earlier crossing. Arrived  
Bridgeport 1:15 pm include 1 Horned Grebe.

I made a few stops at the usual spots on the way home.

A quick look in Frash Pond: 14 Hooded Mergansers and 1 drake Canvasback.

Stratford boat ramp: the usual Ring Billed Gulls and Mallards, 9 Coot  
and 3 Green Wing Teal and 1 Fish Crow.

West Haven boat ramp (2:00 - 2:30 pm): a raft of 1200+ Scaup was  
building with continual small flocks of birds arriving from the outer  
harbor. Many gulls were present including the juvenile ICELAND GULL  
which was perched on the pier railing at the end of the boatramp. The  
bird let me approach to a distance of a full frame image in my camera  
for over twenty minutes. Wow- I just can't get over how beautifully  
soft their plumage is! Leaving the boat ramp, I decided to take a  
quick look along the West Haven beaches. I found the other juv.  
ICELAND GULL in a small group of Ring Billed and Herring Gulls on the  
beach across the street from Chicks Restaurant.

Long Wharf: it was low tide and spread out along the edge of the mud  
flats were" 300+ Gulls (only noticed typical species) with a quick  
look. Also present were 24 Canada Geese, Mallards and Black Ducks and  
20+ Gadwalls. There were 9 Fish Crows in the tree near the small  
parking area.

In the cove near Leons Restaurant: 100+ Ruddies, 24 Scaup (mostly  
greater), 2 Canvasbacks, and 18+ additional Gadwall. All 4 species  
were flocked together just off the bulkhead on Long Wharf Drive.

Last Stop at Hammonasset (3:30 to 4:20 pm): As I entered the Park, a  
single adult Coopers Hawk flew over the road by the circle headed for  
the eastern end of the Park. The flock of SNOW BUNTINGS continues at  
the Nature Center parking lot. I counted over 52 with 1 LAPLAND  
LONGSPUR, 40+ HORNED LARKS were split up between the parking area and  
the beach at Meigs. The previously reported flock of COMMON EIDERS at  
Meigs grew to 11 split between east of the rocks at the end of the  
jetty, in amongst the rocks at the end of the jetty and the western  
side of the jetty. When I was leaving the Park, I drove to the western  
end of the Park. I didn't see too much so I decided to leave. When I  
nearly reached the frozen Swan Pond area, I saw commotion with 3 Crows  
in the cedar trees on the east side of the pond. When I was closer to  
the pond, the bird that the crows were harrassing emerged from the  
cedar trees; a Great Horned Owl. The conflict only lasted a few  
seconds, as the owl flew in and dissappeared into the cedar trees  
causing the crows split up. I didn't see or hear anything after that.

Another interesting day!!

Keith MUeller   Killingworth










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