Monday, October 22, 2012

Big Sit 2012 results

Below are the results of the 2012 Big Sit at Milford Point. Thank you to everyone who donated to the cause, and all of the funds go directly towards helping the Coastal Center and their staff. Director Frank Gallo was away leading a trip in Spain this year, but expert birder and Surf Scopers teammate Frank Manlik sent me the results and the following information on the day.

The team - Jim Dugan, Frank Mantlik, Tina Green, Patrick Dugan

Oct 14, 2012 5:00 AM - 6:30 PM

Comments:    BIG SIT by "Surf Scopers" team of Frank Mantlik, Jim & Patrick Dugan, Tina Green, and Tom Murray (7am-12 noon). Frank Gallo was out of town.  Weather was very windy (SW 15-20, gusts to 30 mph) all day, mild 56-68F, cloudy/overcast most of day, till skies cleared and wind decreased a bit about 3pm.  84 species, including some uncommon/rare species, some of which were new to our BIG SIT location; but we missed Downy Woodpecker and American Robin!  Our predawn start (5am) went unrewarded as there was no audible night migration,  and very limited diurnal passerine migration, resulting from the unfavorable strong SW winds.  As a consolation, a fair number and variety of waterbirds (loons, seaducks, etc.) were migrating west over the sound throughout the day.  Among exciting rare species (for the season) were 2 single NORTHERN GANNETS, an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER, a late COMMON TERN, and a a juvenile BLACK SKIMMER. Two birds caused some tantalizingly exciting moments. The first was a chipping wren that we thought might be a Marsh or a Sedge Wren, but later revealed itself to be a House Wren.  The other was an uncooperative loon that might have been a Pacific Loon, but the ID could not be confirmed (see notes below).  Mammals seen were Raccoon (on the marsh mud) and Gray Squirrel.  Butterflies seen included Monarchs, Red Admirals, Mourningcloak, Question Mark, Orange Sulphurs, Cabbage Whites, and a LITTLE YELLOW (a rare southern vagrant).
84 species (+3 other taxa)

Brant  300
Canada Goose  40
Mute Swan  6
Gadwall  2
American Wigeon  1
American Black Duck  80
Mallard  30
Northern Pintail  1
Green-winged Teal  24
Surf Scoter  45    small flocks migrating west over Sound all day
White-winged Scoter  25    small flocks migrating west over Sound
Black Scoter  1
Long-tailed Duck  1
Red-breasted Merganser  2
Red-throated Loon  4
Common Loon  20
loon sp.  1    Patrick alerted us to an interesting loon - possibly a Pacific - that was flying west, landed for a bit (10 minutes?), then took off again flying south then west behind breakwater.  Head, neck, and bill proportions suggested Pacific.  But because it dove frequently, water chop, and distance, we weren't able to positively ID it.
Horned Grebe  1    seen well with scopes for 20 minutes as it swam around not too far behind the main sandbar. Basic-plumaged.
Northern Gannet  2    one adult first spotted (with scope) by Frank early (7:30?), and seen by all, as it flew around far offshore.  Distinctive size, shape, color.  Later in day, Patrick spotted a second.
Double-crested Cormorant  240
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  12
Snowy Egret  7
Black-crowned Night-Heron  3
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  3
Turkey Vulture  14
Osprey  9
Northern Harrier  4
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Cooper's Hawk  3
Bald Eagle  2
Red-tailed Hawk  4
Clapper Rail  1
Black-bellied Plover  40
American Golden-Plover  1    good views of it standing on sandbar, then later flying around over salt marsh with 5 BBPs.
American Oystercatcher  2
Greater Yellowlegs  23
Ruddy Turnstone  3
Sanderling  50
Semipalmated Sandpiper  1
Dunlin  85
Short-billed Dowitcher  1
Bonaparte's Gull  2
Laughing Gull  30
Ring-billed Gull  300
Herring Gull (American)  300
Great Black-backed Gull  30
Common Tern  1    flying and foraging among the Forster's Terns over LI Sound was one COTE first spotted by Patrick, and seen by several others (scopes) including Frank.  The darker cap/nape and dark primaries could be seen.
Forster's Tern  14
Black Skimmer  1
Rock Pigeon  25
Mourning Dove  17
Belted Kingfisher  2
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  3
American Kestrel  6
Merlin  6
Peregrine Falcon  3
Eastern Phoebe  2
Blue Jay  3
American Crow  15
crow sp.  4
Common Raven  2
Tree Swallow  25
Black-capped Chickadee  25
Tufted Titmouse  13
House Wren  1
Carolina Wren  1
Northern Mockingbird  2
European Starling  15
Blackpoll Warbler  1
Palm Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  15
Eastern Towhee  2
Nelson's Sparrow  1
Saltmarsh Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  8
Swamp Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  11
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  1
sparrow sp.  4    distant sparrows flying weakly over salt marsh were probably either Nelson's, Saltmarsh, and/or Seaside.
Northern Cardinal  3
Red-winged Blackbird  4
Common Grackle  45
House Finch  8
Pine Siskin  10
American Goldfinch  13
House Sparrow  4

Thanks again to the team and everyone who gave for conservation, education, and advocacy at one of the best birding destinations in the northeast.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

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