[CT Birds] Ruff questions
ctgregh at yahoo.com
Sun May 15 15:52:37 EDT 2016
Paul Smith raised a lot of interesting points about this extremely interesting species. I don't think these are the same birds. Looking at photos on eBird of the Milford bird and two of Julian Hough's photos of the Sandy Point bird, the former is extensively black on the head, throat and neck (getting blacker from May 3 to May 7), while latter has a white throat and neck.
There has always been speculation about the origins, destinations and routes of the these birds, especially the spring migrants (mostly mid-April to mid-May, but there is an adult in full alternate with white ruff and black back from the Access Road pools in Stratford on 29 June 1999). These kinds of thoughts hit a high pitch when I lived in NJ in the 1980s. Sightings in the late 1970s at Pedricktown on the upper Delaware Bay shore (not far from Philadelphia) led to an annual Ruff Watch there in the 1980s. Checking my records, I saw Ruffs there 13 April 1980 (white head, black chest); 26 April 1981 (reeve); 25 April 1982 (white); 21 April 1983 (orange & white) plus one at nearby Mannington Marsh that day (chestnut). In May 1985 there were estimates of up to 12 in the area, and on 16 May 1987 I saw one at Pedricktown (white) and one at nearby Stow Creek (chestnut). This event eventually tailed off, but at the time it raised speculation (but no proof that I know of) about a breeding population somewhere in the Canadian Maritimes.
Since part of the Eurasian population winters in sub-Saharan Africa, it seems southeasterly weather systems could account (at least in part) for spring records in the Northeast.
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