Alexander Burdo alexanderburdo at mac.com
Sat Sep 3 13:39:36 EDT 2011

With some time to spare this morning, I headed over to Southport (to view the Fairfield Country Club) in hopes of getting a Buff-breasted Sandpiper or another fun grasspiper. What I planned on being a 30 minute trip turned into a 90 minute trip, partly because the midday light was far from ideal and the heat haze made interpreting the shorebird plumages difficult, thus taking me longer to confirm identities. Therefore, size and shape playing a big role in the identification of many of these birds. An early-morning trip tomorrow is definitely in the works!

Highlights included: 

30 Killdeer
2 Lesser Yellowlegs
17 Semipalmated Sandpiper
7 peep sp. -- most likely Semipalmated
3 large peep sp.--either Baird's or White-rumped
1 White-rumped Sandpiper -- would've been part of the "large peep sp." tally had I not seen the full white rump of the bird as it flew off
7 PECTORAL SANDPIPER -- quite a few Pecs, the most I've ever seen at a single location in CT at one time
3 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER -- despite the distance and horrid light, the very distinctive shape of these birds made for a relatively simple ID. Three were seen foraging near each other and later a fourth bird (or possibly one of the three?) was seen. These birds were easily differentiated from the similarly-sized Pectorals. The Buff-breasteds sleek structure as well as the birds' pigeon-like head and thin, straight bill + easily set the two apart.

Overall, this spot has proved to be terrific once again. As I mentioned in my last post about this location, the golf course is a private club, and thus inaccessible but viewing from Harbor Road in Southport affords a decent view in a spotting scope. However, viewing conditions are quite variable and a early morning or late afternoon visit is probably most worthwhile. 

Alex Burdo

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