[CT Birds] Sunday Pt. Judith Cod Boat to Coxes Ledge- Interesting bird events!

kmueller at ntplx.net kmueller at ntplx.net
Mon Aug 12 10:41:16 EDT 2013

Went on the Lady Frances cod boat yesterday from Pt. Judith, Rhode  
Island. The Lady left the docks at 5:00 am and returned at 5:00 pm.  
The Lady sailed for Coxes Ledge approx. 35 miles out. On the way out  
the birding was excellent (including an interesting and quite unusual  
sighting). However Coxes Ledge was very quiet except for one  
incredible bird event (described below at the bottom of the report). I  
met R I birders Carlos Pedro and Kathy Patric onboard.

The total bird sightings for the day were (approx 95%) seen on the way  
out to Coxes Ledge. The approx. totals for the day: 80 Cory's  
Shearwater, 40 Greater Shearwater, 3 Sooty Shearwater, and 3 Manx  
Shearwater, 50 Wilson's Storm-Petrel, 2  Semi-palmated Sandpipers  
(near the north edge of Coxes) and 5 Least Sandpipers (near the north  
edge of Coxes). The first unusual sighting was from the pulpit of the  
Lady where I was standing, I spotted 5 Storm-Petrels swimming on the  
sea about 75 yards out. Swimming with the Storm-Petrels were two small  
white birds which I assumed to be Phalaropes. As the Lady got closer  
the birds took off. The two white birds that were swimming and I  
assumed were Phalaropes took off with the Storm-Petrels and flew  
directly out in front of the bow. They turned out to be a pair of  
Least Sandpipers!! Also seen: 50 Common Tern (most near shore), 1  
unidentified Tern (possibly a Roseate), 1 Black Tern (near the Galilee  
wall on the return trip) and one large unidentified Tern (offshore at  
Coxes). 5 Laughing Gulls, 7 D-c Cormorants off shore, and 5 Gulls off  
shore....they were basically vacant offshore.

The second and most incredible birding event happened at Coxes Ledge  
at noon. The three of us were standing on the upper deck when I  
spotted a medium sized songbird flying towards the vessel from the  
North. (A minute earlier two small to medium sized passerines flew by  
the vessel and Carlos identified them as Cowbirds). Carlos picked up  
the bird as it approached the vessel, and he couldn't believe what he  
was looking at. He said it twice as a first winter YELLOW-HEADED  
BLACKBIRD flew around the vessel three times and then landed on the  
awning railing just over our heads. The exhausted bird stayed with us  
for over five hours alternating from the awning bars to the railings  
to the deck of the upper deck and later to the roof of the wheelhouse  
to rest out of the wind behind the life rafts. The bird also spent a  
few hours with us on the deck of the upper deck feeding on our  
offerings of cracker crumbs, crushed nuts and water (from Kathy's  
bottled water). The bird was very cooperative feeding and drinking and  
often would often chase a small fly or moth on the deck. Many times  
the bird settled near our feet or a few feet away from us.

It eventually flew up onto the wheelhouse to rest where it stayed all  
the ride in to port. We thought it would fly off when it saw Block  
Island but it didn't, staying longer until we were inside the  
breakwaters of Pt. Judith. When we were  inside the Harbor of Refuge  
it flew off towards the marshes of Galilee. What a wonderful experience!

If you are interested the cod fishing was very slow.

I will have mant pictures posted on my blog in a few days!

Keith Mueller

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