Friday, August 10, 2012

Second shorebird identification seminar

Everyone who attended our second session of a three-part shorebird identification series last evening at the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center at Milford Point had a great time and the chance to view many species, and several thousand shorebirds, up close. Patrick Comins, Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Connecticut, led the seminar that focused on shorebird-ing by ear. He discussed various calls, how to differentiate and remember them, and how useful they can be.

Examples of this underrated knowledge can include figuring out what migrant shorebird just went over your house in the middle of the night or discovering the distinct and noticeable call of a White-rumped Sandpiper in the middle of a large group of Semipalmated Sandpipers. During the field portion of the evening we were treated to a wide variety of birds that were congregating along the rocky shoreline, blending in perfectly with their surroundings - these are all birds!

The overwhelming majority were Semipalmated Sandpipers, with Semipalmated Plovers coming in at a distance second place. Many Black-bellied Plovers were on the bars along with hundreds of terns, mostly Common. Sanderlings were spotted here and there, as were Least Sandpipers and Ruddy Turnstones. American Oystercatchers, including the pair with their now juvenile chick, were resting. We saw a few Spotted Sandpipers flying about with their shallow and jerky wing beats. A distant juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher fooled us all for a while with its head tucked under its wing. There were only a handful of juveniles mixed in here and there, and more will be moving through as we get later into the season.

Close examination of the huge group of mostly Semipalmated Sandpipers led to Patrick picking out a probable Western Sandpiper along with two White-rumped Sandpipers. All of this also permitted prolonged discussion on appearance and behavior identification markers in addition to sound, and scope views were sensational. Thank you to everyone who joined us last night!

Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds, Audubon Connecticut and the Connecticut Audubon Society partnering to improve conditions for coastal waterbirds in Connecticut.

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