[CT Birds] Gulls, Waterfowl and Shorebirds today

kmueller at ntplx.net kmueller at ntplx.net
Wed Apr 29 23:47:49 EDT 2015

Exceptional day for Gulls and Waterfowl today. Sunny with light  
westerly winds, incoming tide.

After reading Patrick Comin's report from yesterday regarding the Gull  
feeding bonanza off Russian Beach in Stratford yesterday, I decided to  
head down there in the afternoon today. On the way down, I stopped  
along all the usual Gull roosts along the West Haven shore. At the  
boat ramp, the 1st cycle ICELAND GULL continues. No sign of the  
Thayer's Gull that Julian found a week and a half ago (although I have  
been looking).

I was at Russian Beach around 2:00 pm and spotted a large group of  
approx. 2,000 feeding Gulls and 1,000 Brant plankton feeding that  
stretched from Russian Beach to Stratford Point. I spent about two and  
a half hours watching and the birds slowly drifted west and ended up  
quite close off shore. Gulls continually flew in and flew out, and in  
the time I was there, I found 2-1st cycle ICELAND GULLS and 2 LESSER  
BLACK-BACKED GULLS (1 adult and 1-1st cycle). I also saw about 18  
Bonaparte's Gulls. Their numbers fluctuated as some came in and some  
left. A pair of Oystercatchers flew by heading towards the point.

The Gulls slowly drifted towards the sea wall and I left for half an  
hour to get a cup of coffee. When I returned the wind had shifted to  
strong and blustery easterly and all the birds had vanished. Frank  
Mantlik had been at the sea wall during the wind change and he went  
over to Long Beach. As I stood at the sea wall, approx. 750+ Brant had  
flown by the sea wall heading east towards Stratford point. The large  
group split up; some flying around the point, the others flying south  
towards Long Island.

I drove over to Long Beach and found Frank there as well as the  
feeding horde of Gulls and Brant. He had relocated one of the Iceland  
Gulls on the jetty. After Frank left I also re-found one of the  
Iceland Gulls and the 1st cycle Lesser black-backed Gulls. Brant  
continued to fly into the area and my approx. count was 1,500-2,000  
Brant. I never relocated the Thayer's Gull that Patrick Comins found  
last week.......although I tried hard!! :^)

On the beaches and jetties were many flocks of Sanderling and Dunlin.  
I can only estimate their numbers to be 300+ (?). 3 Red-throated Loons  
were fishing close off Russian Beach and Long Beach. There was a  
bounty of Waterfowl mixed in with the Gulls and Brant so I started  
looking through the ducks. In one of the small flocks of feeding Scaup  
were a high percentage of Lesser Scaup. I never checked the others.

I was also surprised to find tow small bunches of Shovelers ( 6  
drakes, 3 drakes, and 1 drake/2 hens) mixed in with the Gulls, Scaup  
and Brant. As I watched the birds from my jeep (it got cold with that  
NE wind :^) ) small groups of Scaup started pouring in, and one group  
had a hen Ruddy Duck in it, I never expected that! Also 20-24  
Red-breasted Mergansers, Black Ducks, a few Gadwall and 2 hen Common  
Goldeneyes joined the feeding frenzy off the beach. Tere were good  
numbers of birds there today. Migt be worth a trip down there and take  
advantage of this gathering of birds before they are gone which should  
be very soon!

Keith Mueller

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