[CT Birds] Shorebird ID Seminar, Phalarope details.
PCOMINS at audubon.org
Sat Aug 13 16:38:27 EDT 2016
The highlight of today's shorebird ID seminar (aside from the Frank Gallo cameo) was a juvenile Red Knot at Milford Point, but there was a decent mix of the common shorebirds including adults and juveniles. Sara Zagorski had a Black Tern while I was giving the presentation inside at Stratford Point and I think it was Aidan Kiley who had the Forster's Tern. The other highlights at Stratford Point included Orchard Oriole and Bobolink. We also had a Variegated Fritillary and several Swarthy Skippers (Lenny Brown found more than 20!) and Jim Dugan had a Red-banded Hairstreak.
Since I was getting guff for so few details on that possible/probable Red Phalarope sighing, i thought I would give some more details. I've seen lots of them from whale watch/pelagic boats and even had a flock of a dozen or so sitting on the water once on Long Island Sound (near Plum Island). I've only had one previously in CT, at Stratford Point. I was scoping the water on Tuesday evening during Corrie's NHBC trip and saw a group of five medium sized shorebirds flying west, parallel to the coast, quite a ways out. They immediately reminded me of phalaropes, in flight style; direct low to the water fast flight, not veering at all towards land. I zoomed up to 60x and everything I saw said Red Phalarope to me, the smooth gray color, prominent white wing bar that did not flare out into the primaries as it does for Sanderling. Red-necked could be presumably ruled out by the lack of any black splotchiness on the back. That only leaves Sanderling. While it would be slightly odd for them to be flying like these birds were and not heading towards either Long Island nor the CT Shore I'm not sure I can rule them out 100%. I soon turned my scope over to Scott to try to find them in Steve Broker's scope, which I turned back over to him when I was succesful. Scott Kruitbosch was able to get a longer look than I did and said he felt confident to rule out Sanderling.
I had wondered since my Plum Island and the previous Stratford Point sighting if maybe they were more regular in Long Island Sound than we think, especially now that the water is cleaning up and the Sound coming back to life after decades of efforts (e.g. whales now in the sound 2 years in a row). In any case I hope people do scan the the more distant waters when they're at the shore.
Patrick M. Comins, Director of Bird Conservation, Audubon Connecticut
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