While many other places may be focused on passerine migration, shorebirds were definitely the story at Stratford Point over the past week. We hosted 11 different species! This is not at all uncommon. Many of these species were present every single day or at least multiple times this week. The full tally included Killdeer, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, American Oystercatcher, Spotted Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandipiper, Least Sandpiper, and Dunlin. The amazing part is that we can do better! Whimbrel, White-rumped Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitcher (even Long-billed), and more can be found at the right time. The sheer number of individuals of each species that were recorded were spectacular as well. I found approximately 213 Semipalmated Plover with 134 Least Sandpiper, among several other species, on May 10. The best part about watching shorebirds at Stratford Point is that it is an easy exercise. Most of the time, especially on poor weather days or during high tide, you can find a sizable number of shorebirds hunkered down on the beach. At this time of year, you can find many feeding there during low tide. They can be spread out along the enter perimeter of the site, from the rocks in front of the Lighthouse to the beach on the east side. You might walk to the beach and see just a few. Trust me, they will be there - they blend in to the various rocks and sand so well you may not notice them until they hop up mere feet in front of you. Look no further if you want to find a convenient place to brush up on your identification skills.
I was happy to add another species to the Stratford Point list this week: Great Crested Flycatcher. It was calling from the trees between the Lighthouse and the Point. While this species is a forest resident, it can often be found in open areas with scattered or lines of trees during spring migration. Last week I mentioned the return of the Orchard Oriole and the breeding pair we had in the summer of 2009. This week I saw, presumably, the adult male who was here last year, singing loudly from the shrubs and small trees along the northwest part of the property. Twan mentioned seeing Orchard Orioles in and near the small tree where they constructed the nest last year. Twan also observed the first group of migrant Blue Jays coming across the Sound to the Point. They fly in groups of about 30-50, landing in the trees near the Lighthouse to rest for a bit before continuing northward. It is quite an interesting sight. Finally, I found the American Robin fledgling pictured to the left on May 9. It is the first of many young birds soon to come.
Photos © Scott Kruitbosch