Friday, March 9, 2012

Stratford Point bird walk 3/8 results

There is a reason I always advise visitors to keep in mind that Stratford Point is typically colder and windier than the rest of the state, and yesterday was a perfect example. While inland Stratford was in the mid 60s with a light and warm-feeling breeze, Stratford Point topped off in the upper 50s with strong cold-feeling wind off the still chilly Long Island Sound. I had scheduled the walk the day after the full moon coinciding with low tide in the hopes we would have plankton-feeding birds (see this post on that subject) as well as many coming in to rest on the sandbars in the mouth of the Housatonic River. Normally calm waters are better for this type of feeding, but even with some waves the gulls were here!

Despite the windy and rough conditions, and the fact we felt frozen as the sun went down, a nice group of people enjoyed a bird walk that featured thousands of gulls. I estimated, considering how many were in front of us and going in and out of the area, feeding on the water and on the sandbars, we had around 4,000 gulls. About 75-80% of them were Ring-billed Gulls, with the rest being Herring, sprinkled in with a few Great Black-backed. Walk participant Tina Green picked out a rare adult Lesser Black-backed Gull that was plankton-feeding in gull groups the size of the shots below. They were actually far closer to shore than they appear (not all white dots) but I wanted to show everyone the magnitude of what occurs, and scopes offered excellent views.

Also in the large group of gulls feeding along with them were American Black Duck, American Wigeon, Greater and Lesser Scaup, and Bufflehead - very cool! Here is the full list of birds seen on the day, a few being before most of the group arrived as I walked the property.

Mute Swan
American Wigeon
American Black Duck 
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
Long-tailed Duck 
Red-breasted Merganser 
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon 
Great Cormorant
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull (American)
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird 
House Finch 
House Sparrow 

Thank you to everyone who came! If you couldn't make it we hope to see you next time and will schedule an April walk soon.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

All photos © Scott Kruitbosch and not to be reproduced without explicit permission

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