Sunday, August 1, 2010

White-tailed Kite at Stratford Point

This morning around 8AM Dennis Varza spotted a White-tailed Kite from Short Beach in Stratford looking at our own Stratford Point! He got the word out to the CT email birding list in the 9 o'clock hour - thank you Dennis! Charlie Barnard and I headed down there as fast as we could. Charlie arrived a couple minutes before I did, and he found it flying over the back field of the point as I frantically ran from my car to see it. We ran around even more to obtain record photos in case it departed. Thankfully, the bird stuck around for hundreds of visitors from multiple states. I was there until after 6Pm. It was at Stratford Point for most of today, though it also visited Frash Pond, the airport, and the landfill behind Short Beach. It certainly seems to enjoying hunting all over both IBAs. This will be a first state record, and there are very few records anywhere in the northeastern part of the nation. Congratulations to Dennis!

I do believe I have the honor of saying that I spent more time with the bird than anyone least so far! It may stick around. After nine hours at Stratford Point I need to rest up for tomorrow, though I will post a detailed post concerning its hunting techniques, interactions with other birds and people, flight, size and plumage, etc. soon enough. It was endlessly fascinating to study.

For now, here are some photos from CAS Coastal Center Director Frank Gallo and myself, along with a video of the bird. It was tough to shoot while learning how the kite moved, not shaking the camera since there was no time to put it on a tripod and be close enough for HD video, and the fact it was not stationary much beyond hovering or sitting on perches very far from everyone. Maybe, if we get a day 2, I will be able to do better.

Frank's photos:

A few of the many visitors

My cropped but unedited photos:

The first photo ever taken of the bird!

With a swallow going after it (the swallow is closer and appears larger)

My video that also shows how the many Common Terns attacked the White-tailed Kite frequently, often driving it into other areas:

White-tailed Kite from Connecticut Audubon Society.

Photos 1-5 © Frank Gallo; photos 6-8 and video © Scott Kruitbosch

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