Sightings listed for the Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

Sunday, September 07, 2008

BIRD NOTES ~ September 6, 2008

Bird Notes



At South Pond in Marlboro, on Sunday afternoon (8/31/08), a DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT perched on the farthest-out swimming float for a good hour.  A visiting cormorant is a regular August sight at the pond, but is it likely to be the same one every year?

---Ann Wheelock

  A.   It could be or at least it is one of the same family.

  I am sure that they use landmarks as guides when migrating

  and visit waters that they remember as good fishing spots

  on their way south.




Hurricanes and Birds:  Blowing in the Wind
With Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and other tropical storms so in the news, many people are wondering about the effects of hurricanes and tropical storms on birds.   Since most Atlantic hurricanes occur in late summer and early fall, they often severely disrupt bird migration patterns because they coincide with peak migration periods. While healthy bird populations are able to withstand such losses and have done so for eons, hurricanes can have huge impacts on birds as well as their habitats.




Birding at Sandy Point State Park

A trip to Sandy Point State Park at the southern tip of Plum Island, MA to catch the end of the shorebird migration proved to be a good choice. We arrived there at about 9 on the morning of the 28th under clear blue skies, and temperatures in the mid 70s with a slight NE breeze that kept the bugs at bay. Thankfully it was late enough in the season to avoid the green head flies altogether.


It was high tide and the shorebirds had gathered by the hundreds on the dunes bordering the fenced in area that protects the beach nesters during the breeding season. The dominant species was SEMI-PALMATED PLOVER; they were everywhere, followed by lesser numbers of SEMI-PALMATED SANDPIPER and smaller groups of SANDERLINGS. I’m guessing over a thousand birds all told. One lone bird stood out because of its size and coloration. Two other birders had pointed it out to us asking if we knew anything about RED KNOTS. That sent us leafing through Peterson. Many years ago we had seen Red Knots at Jamaica Bay in NY and along the Chesapeake shore but never in New England. This one was in drab gray, winter plumage and not the colorful rusty plumage that we were used to seeing. But, nevertheless, colorful or not(no pun intended) it was a great find.


Earlier on the drive through the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge we saw many Snowy and Great Egrets that dotted the marsh along the entire length of the road. At Stage Island we scoped a flock of BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER sunning and preening themselves. There too we found many SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS utilizing their long proboscises like little sewing machines probing the mud for tasty morsels. Along the dike at Bill Forward Pool 3 young NORTHERN HARRIERS were testing their flying skills by chasing each other at grass top levels and sparring with extended talons. The multitude of swallows of the past weeks had passed on to the south and only small pockets remained to remind us that migration was underway.


At the observation tower at Hellcat we watched as two Osprey circled lazily overhead. One a juvenile and the other was one of the parent birds keeping a watchful eye on their recent addition to the family.


Off the reservation, a stop at the seawall boat launch in Newburyport afforded us great views of a very large flock of BONAPARTE GULLS wheeling and diving above the shallow waters of the Merrimack River at Joppa Flats. The white triangles in their wings flashed in the sunlight as they turned to land on the mirror-like surface of the Flats. Most of them were already in winter plumage and bobbed like corks as they fed on the surface. At the end of the concrete boat ramp a small amount of mud flat was showing and 17 LESSER YELLOWLEGS accompanied by a lone WILLET crowded in to take advantage of the increasing size of the mud being exposed on the outgoing tide.


It had been a great day for birding and we proved once again that a trip to the Plum Island area on any day, in any season, can be a rewarding birding experience.



Please keep us abreast of what birds you are seeing, whether at home or on a trip in or out of the Windham County area.

A friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart.



Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT










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