[CT Birds] West Haven/Milford coast - plankton feeders

Nick Bonomo nbonomo at gmail.com
Sat Mar 17 20:03:21 EDT 2012


I birded from about 11am until 3pm along the coast from West Haven to
Milford mainly in search of plankton feeding birds. Between St. John's
By-the-Sea (West Haven) and Charles Island (Milford) were varying
numbers of plankton-feeding gulls and waterfowl. When I started, most
of the birds were either just offshore, roosting, or feeding on the
rocky shoreline. Around 2-3pm most of the action shifted further
offshore.

My gull numbers were largely in favor of Ring-billed Gull over Herring
(at least 4:1). Some Bonaparte's Gulls were scattered between Oyster
River and Charles Island with the largest group (40) being just east
of Charles Island. Amazingly, I did not come across a SINGLE uncommon
gull species despite scouring a few thousand birds seen well enough to
ID. Don't know what the odds of that are, but they can't be high!
Plankton-feeding waterfowl were also abundant, most notably Brant.
Today I enjoyed watching a few species I had either rarely or never
before seen feeding on the plankton, such as EURASIAN WIGEON, Lesser
Scaup, and Bufflehead. This is an amazing event to observe, even if
you don't hit the motherlode of gull numbers that
Tina/Frank/Larry/Dennis had off the Westport area today.

On my way home in the afternoon I noticed that the plankton activity
shifted further east, as I was scoping white specks on the water that
were in the vicinity of Lighthouse Pt in New Haven.

Here are some locations and select numbers (not comprehensive), from
east to west.

West Haven, Bradley Point:
Brant  140
Ring-billed Gull  300
Herring Gull (American)  90

West Haven, St. John's By-the-Sea:
Brant  350     plankton feeding
Lesser Scaup  19     plankton feeding
Ring-billed Gull  200     plankton feeding
Herring Gull (American)  30     plankton feeding
gull sp.  450     plankton feeding

West Haven, Roberts St:
Brant  50     plankton feeding
EURASIAN WIGEON 1     drake among Americans plankton feeding
Ring-billed Gull  125     plankton feeding
Herring Gull (American)  75     plankton feeding

West Haven/Milford, Oyster River mouth:
Brant  205
Bonaparte's Gull  10     9 ad, 1 imm
Ring-billed Gull  1100
Herring Gull (American)  275

Milford, Beach Ave:
gull sp.  300     plankton feeding

Milford, Burwell Beach:
Bonaparte's Gull  16
Ring-billed Gull  70

Milford, Morningside Drive:
Brant  30
Bonaparte's Gull  2
Ring-billed Gull  24
Herring Gull (American)  2

Milford, Point Beach:
Bonaparte's Gull  25
gull sp.  650     plankton feeding

Milford, Silver Sands SP:
Brant  80
Green-winged Teal  2     plankton feeding
Bufflehead  9     plankton feeding
Northern Gannet  4     adults
Bonaparte's Gull  40
Ring-billed Gull  250
Herring Gull (American)  30
gull sp.  400

Nick Bonomo
Wallingford, CT




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