[CT Birds] Stratford Point Red Phalarope etc.

Scott Kruitbosch skruitbosch at rtpi.org
Tue Oct 20 22:57:50 EDT 2015

Here's my quick take on the likely Red Phalarope - while we were having 
a meeting on the porch, visiting RTPI President/former Stratford Point 
office resident Twan Leenders spots a bird low over the water shooting 
to the right (west) with his 10s from near the tip of the bluff in 
viewing terms. I raised my 10s and found it quickly enough, and we both 
had it in view for a couple minutes as it flew steadily into the SW 
wind. It became apparent that we were looking at a pale, rather 
long-winged shorebird. It did not deviate in flight path or strength, as 
a lot of birds do - no zig and zag, twist and turn, up/down or 
left/right. It was obviously within bin range, but it was not right 
along the bluff either as many local shorebirds fly. Remember that 
Stratford Point sticks out far into Long Island Sound to begin with. It 
was absolutely glued to the surface of the water, almost like an alcid, 
and unlike again typically many other shorebirds (at least outside of a 
major storm in progress). As we watched it Patrick Comins scoped and got 
it, confirming all we were noting and agreeing.

It appeared very uniformly gray above, and was not flashing bright, bold 
wing stripes like a Sanderling. In my experience like this a Red 
Phalarope's wings show a softer, less noticeable contrast. Maybe it's 
how they flap, I don't know, but that's what it always seemed to me. It 
looked to be slightly larger but I know that's tough to say considering 
relative sizes...where it was in the water relative to us, how it moved, 
it gave me that impression. The light was hitting the bird well for our 
position, from behind us, as we looked east and then south as it passed. 
I have stood in the same spot on the same porch and watched a number of 
Red Phalaropes passing by this position, on the same path, flying in the 
same way, giving the same look in the same month after Superstorm Sandy. 
>From everything that I could observe and my general experience there at 
the site, this appeared to be and acted like a Red Phalarope.

It intrigues me even more that only a couple hours later there was the 
Hudsonian Godwit and Caspian Tern at Milford Point, the former scoped 
from the porch at Stratford Point but the latter eluding us. All we had 
weather-wise was obviously a big shift over the weekend with a very cold 
air mass and northwest winds followed by a strong southwest flow today. 
It was breezy and gusty on the water, much more so than inland - this is 
often the case, but it was particularly noticeable today for those of 
you inland. Again, this is a good date for these birds, and there is a 
lot on the move. We just have to get Twan back here more often, obviously.

We also had that tailless Yellow-billed Cuckoo, several more 
Red-breasted Mergansers, and some FOS birds - 2 Surf Scoter, 1 
Green-winged Teal, 1 Great Cormorant. Cool stuff! I still say there is 
more to be found both on the birdy Sound and inland from all this 
westerly weather.


Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator
Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History
311 Curtis Street
Jamestown, NY 14701
716-665-2473 x224
skruitbosch at rtpi.org
rtpi.org <http://www.rtpi.org>
Celebrating Wild America 2015

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