Monday, July 21, 2008

More From The Shore

I continued my strategy of birding along the shoreline until the level of humidity decreases. I concentrated my efforts on the Old Lyme area on Saturday. There are numerous Osprey nesting platforms in Old Lyme. In fact, I think there are more Osprey platforms than there are Dunkin Donuts in that town. This photo was taken at the Four Mile River Boat Launch. Notice that the Osprey on the left has white scaling on its feathers indicating that it is a juvenile. The one on the right is an adult bird.

I'm sure that most of you have seen Common Loons before. I saw this one at the Great Island Boat Launch also in Old Lyme. From what I understand, there are a few non-breeding Common Loons which show up around the Connecticut shoreline during the summer. The fact that this one is in breeding plumage makes my sighting a little more unusual.

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Here is a short video of the loon quietly motoring along searching for food. I'm used to seeing loons dive but the water is shallow enough here that this bird never needed to go below the surface. The people heard talking in the background are a man and woman meeting for their first date. They were kind enough to let me get some footage before putting the canoes in the water.

I skipped birding altogether on Sunday so that brings me to Monday (today). I took a ride down to West Haven to visit a place called Sandy Point. This has got to be one of the best places in Connecticut if you are just starting to learn shorebirds. I like it here because you don't have to walk very far to see lots of birds. It is a good place to get really close-up views of a wide variety of shorebirds. I encountered a Marsh Wren on the way in. The marsh to my right was loaded with Short-billed Dowitchers-(from what I understand, you are more likely to see the short-billed variety versus long-billed during most of July and August). I also saw my first Clapper Rail in this area. In all honesty, another birder pointed it out to me or I might have missed it.
I then walked further out onto the point. There were plenty of Common Terns and Least Terns but I didn't see any other varieties today. That doesn't mean that there weren't any other varieties there, it just means I didn't identify any. Although there were no warning signs, I made sure that I kept a reasonable distance from the nesting terns. Occasionally one would fly over and give me a personalized warning of their own. Other species of interest in this area included: Black-crowned Night- Heron, Semipalmated Plover, and Spotted Sandpiper. The species that provided me with my best photo opportunities today was the American Oystercatcher like the adult bird seen above. Shorebird identification would be so much easier if every shorebird had fieldmarks like the ones on the American Oystercatcher. It has a bill that looks like a carrot. If Santa used shorebirds to pull his sleigh instead of reindeer, the oystercatcher would surely be the one to take Rudolph's place!
The juvenile American Oystercatcher like this one has a bill that is a little less flamboyant but it is still an easy bird to identify.
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I will leave you with a short video showing the oystercatcher rustling up a little breakfast. I asked him to share his food with me but it was being awfully shellfish!-(Is that a groan I hear?).


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

LARRY! LARRY!! Your videos won't play!!

Larry said...

I jut tried them and they played for me.I tried them again using firefox without being signed in and only the first one would play.-odd.-thanks for the warning but I guess I'll have to wait this out.

J. Karl Clampit said...

Larry, very nice pictures of the Ospreys! I had the pleasure of seeing both juveniles and adults last summer at Lake Monticello when I first started birding. They are distinctive birds. Love the post, thanks for sharing!

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I came back and tried again and now they work for me. Nice job on them. What is that oystercatche walking on? I think I need to visit out there to learn shorebirds.

Lana Gramlich said...

Shellfish--hardy har har! What an interesting little "chip" sound they make...

Jayne said...

Bada bing, bada bang! (Cymbal sound please) :c)
I have absolutely ZERO experience with shore bird ID, so you educate me so much! Thanks for taking us along Larry. :c)

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Congrats on your life Clapper! Can you send him down to Maryland so Warren and I can have a look?

Larry said...

j. karl-Thanks J. Karl-Ospreys are a great bird to watch. They are impressive to look at and accessible.

Lynne-I think it is just some seaweed.Whatever it was, it tasted lousy and too much salt.

lana-They do make an interesting sound.I wasn't sure at first if it was them making that sound.

Jayne-Thanks for adding the percussion. Please-don't count on me to educate you about shorebirds!-I'm just learning myself. Hopefully-you'll get a chance to get to the shore on your own to see things firsthand.I'm glad you enjoyed the post and got something out of it.

Warren & Lisa-It's on its way now.If you get there at 6am Wednesday it should be just arriving.

Mary said...

Never seen a Loon. Shorebirds are way beyond me. Seen an Osprey a few times, though.

There in CT - you see it ALL!

i'm jealous, Larry.

Ruth said...

Funny to see a dabbling Loon. I am impressed with your steady video hand. Interesting post!

Larry said...

Mary-I'm sure that if you really wanted to learn about shorebirds you could. They probably don't interest you enough at this point. I didn't want to bother with them either at first.

ruth-Thanks-My steady video hand looks amazingly like a tripod.-That's one of the nice things about birding at spots like these. Since I'm not walking all over the place, I can use atripod.

Kathie Brown said...

Larry, your video and photos make me want to hightail it back to CT to go biriding! I have never seen an oyster catcher. What a fascinating bird! Guess you'll have to catch your own oysters though!