[CT Birds] Menunketesuck Island observations

Christopher Loscalzo closcalz at optonline.net
Sun Jun 18 21:29:58 EDT 2017

We made our first kayaking excursion of the season to Menunketesuck Island
(off the Westbrook shore, near the mouth of the river) today and made some
interesting observations. First the bad news: we saw no Least Terns. They
have nested on the north end of the island for a number of years. The colony
appears to have been abandoned.  Two possible reasons:  the sand bar where
they have nested appears to be smaller than in previous years and a dead,
rotting seal is washed up on the sand bar.  It is reassuring to know that
they are breeding elsewhere in the state, including Griswold Point, Sandy
Point, and Milford Point.  Perhaps our friends at Audubon can weigh in with
what they know about the situation.


Now the good news:  Glossy Ibis are nesting in the trees on Menunketesuck
Island. We didn't have time today to go to nearby Duck Island to see if they
are nesting there, too.  They have nested on Duck Island (along with dozens
of egrets and herons) for a number of years, but they have not been observed
on Menunketesuck Island before, to our knowledge.  We didn't have time to
look at the Ibis carefully, but there is the possibility that a White-faced
Ibis (or two) could be breeding on the island with the Glossy Ibis.  That
would be a new state record for this species as a breeder, as far as I know.
If anyone with a boat chooses to go to observe the ibis, be aware that the
island is off limits to landing during the breeding season. Observations
should be made from the water only.  Other observations of interest during
our kayaking trip included: recently fledged American Oystercatchers and
Willet, adult Little Blue Heron, one Laughing Gull, and a lone Brant on the


Seeing the out-of-season Brant leads to another interesting topic of
conversation: what causes these out-of-season waterfowl to stay in our
waters (either on the shore or in our rivers) rather than go north to breed.
Some possible explanations include that they are immature, old and past
breeding age, injured, or ill. I suspect any of these are possible in any
given case. Having kayaked regularly on our waters in the summer in the past
10+ years, I have seen many examples of these out-of-season birds, including
a drake Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Greater Scaup, several scoters, and
Long-tailed Duck. And, I am sure that many of us remember the immature King
Eider that spent much of the summer off the end of the Moraine Trail at
Hammonasset several years ago.  It is always worth being on the lookout for
unusual and out-of-season birds!


Chris Loscalzo and Marianne Vahey,


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