Yes, the White-tailed Kite is still here at Stratford Point, Milford Point, and between at Short Beach. Tomorrow will be one week since it was found. I have been getting a ton of questions via email and in person, so here's more information on Stratford Point and the White-tailed Kite. Please pass this along to anyone and everyone. Here are some more contributed photos of the ever-amazing but more elusive kite and then the FAQ.
1) What and where is Stratford Point?
Stratford Point is what we call the 28-acre coastal grasslands management area that is manged by the Connecticut Audubon Society and owned by Sporting Goods Properties, a subsidiary of DuPont. It is located at 1207 Prospect Drive in Stratford, Connecticut. You cannot miss it on a map or if you come to that address in person. It is a very spectacular and unique property situated on the mouth of the Housatonic River and Long Island Sound. It is open to many forms of passive recreation, including all birding, when the gate is open and we are here.
2) So what's the gun club?
Stratford Point was for decades a Remington gun and skeet shooting club where millions of lead shots were fired into the waters of the Housatonic and Long Island Sound. Remediation is making progress but ongoing. That pollution is the only current sign of the past, and being 24 years-old I do not remember the club at all. Hopefully we can forget about that unfortunate history in this beautiful natural habitat. For ease of understanding it is referred to as Stratford Point now.
3) Where's the kite usually?
This is complex. It roosts near Stratford Point and moves around quite a bit during the day now. We do not know the exact tree or even small area, and have only a general idea. If we did it would understandably not be public information. Suffice it to say if you come to Stratford Point in the early morning you have an exceptionally high chance of at least seeing it, probably getting great views. It always comes back in the evening, most of the time hunting briefly, a couple times going right to the trees in the back and staying out of sight. In the early part of the week (August 1-3) it was exceptionally conspicuous and stayed at Stratford Point nearly all the time. It has since explored a lot more, and it goes to Short Beach and Milford Point for prolonged periods. It also occasionally stops over in the Stratford Great Meadows Important Bird Area. Between its supreme hunting skills (not needing to hunt or be visible for too long), the knowledge it now has of the area, and the people with shiny things chasing after it or staring at it, I think it moves around to keep away from the crowds and relax. On the hotter days it sometimes stays out of view completely in the shade of a cool tree.
4) When does the gate at Stratford Point open?
When I open it. All this means is that most of the time, some weekdays aside, I am the first or only one there. There is no set time or schedule. I open the gate when I arrive. When Twan or Miley get there they may open it earlier. I do not open the gate mostly until later in the 7 o'clock hour so the kite can be left alone to hunt and feed after sunrise. This is critical to keeping it here. It needs to feed a lot in the early morning, and it seems like now it cannot or will not do that properly with crowds on the property itself. You are welcome to watch it from outside of Stratford Point property on Prospect Drive, or down on the beach, but please do not venture onto the site when it is not open. Let the kite hunt. The gate is open roughly from 7 to 7 lately, sometimes earlier, sometimes later, and sometimes closed. But as said the kite is spending much more time away from the coastal grasslands management area.
5) Where can I find these supposedly amazing pictures of the kite?
The infamous photos, including those taken while it fought a Peregrine Falcon, were taken by several great photographers and are on this Connecticut Audubon Society blog. Check entries below this one or in the archive to the right. You will also find more information on the bird, how it was found, a HD video I shot of it last Sunday, Stratford Point sightings, etc.
6) What else can I see at Stratford Point?
Nearly any kind of bird you like. Fall migration has been underway here since early July. Swallows are moving through every day with Chimney Swifts. Yellow Warblers, and sometimes anything from a Common Yellowthroat to Prairie Warbler, are going through too. Earlier today I had a group of 8 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher feeding before going towards the Stratford Lighthouse to keep migrating. Bobolinks and Orchard Oriole are common. Falcons, from the infamous Peregrine to American Kestrels, are often seen. Right now we have a ton of shorebirds either feeding, roosting, or flying by, nearly every kind you can imagine all the way to an occasional fly-by Whimbrel. We have terns from Common and Least to Roseate and Forster's, even once in a while a Royal or Caspian. You can see nearly anything during this migration period, and I totaled over 50 diverse species yesterday. We are finding a lot more lately with prolonged periods of time spent there and so many more eyes.
7) Where is the kite RIGHT now?!
I can probably answer this in the moment, but keep your eyes on this CT birding email list, and please help me and us out by posting information or at least passing it along to someone like myself in Stratford or anyone at the Coastal Center in Milford. This helps everyone.
8) How was the kite discovered?
Dennis Varza, a legendary and well-known name in Connecticut, found it flying around Stratford Point from Short Beach on Sunday, August 1 around 8AM.
9) Who are you?
I am the young guy with a white Audubon Science and Conservation staff t-shirt and a Yankees hat. So please feel free to ask me where the kite is, tell me you saw it, inquire about something else, or simply introduce yourself.
10) Thank you so much!
If you want to thank me or the Connecticut Audubon Society please donate to the Connecticut Audubon Society. It makes all of this possible. Please consider joining here too. Either way you would be doing a great service, and we thank you. We are all thrilled that so many people have had a great time with this spectacular raptor.
Photos 1 © Julian Hough; photos 2-4 © A.J. Hand