Posts Tagged ‘lapland longspur’

Great Meadows Marsh, an IBA (Important Bird Area).

This morning, lured by the prospect of two possible nemesis lifers, Lapland Longspur and Northern Saw-whet Owl, I joined Eamon, Ryan, and some others on a trip to Stratford, CT lead by Brian O’Toole. The high was predicted to be in the mid-20s with winds less than 15 mph, which was quite a contrast from last week’s bad weather birding. We left the Audubon Center in Greenwich a bit after 9 am, and arrived at our first stop, Great Meadows Marsh, at 10.

We walked across railroad tracks and into the park, reaching the first boardwalk overlook in a couple minutes. This looked out over a section of marsh and appeared pretty barren. Soon, however, two Northern Harriers were spotted flying low over the tall grasses. One was a male, termed a “gray ghost” because of its light gray coloration (compared to the rust-colored female and juvenile). We soon found two Red-tailed Hawks watching the action from a tree, as well as another hawk of the same genus (buteo). Because of the habitat and time of year it was at first called a Rough-legged, an irruptive grassland hawk that breeds much farther north in the continent, but we soon realized it was actually an immature Red-shouldered Hawk, more uncommon in winter. Continuing down the trail, we ran into a group of American Tree Sparrows and another Harrier, as well as some Hooded Mergansers. A Snowy Owl had been reported not too many days before, but we were not lucky enough to run into it. On to the next spot!

A female Northern Harrier making a beeline for the other side of the marsh.

After stopping at a spot that had produced many birds the last time I was there (Jan ’09), but was lacking this time around, we headed to Long Beach, the other main attraction of Stratford birding. This was were I was hoping to find Lapland Longspur, a bird that had eluded me for several winters. Back at the marsh we ran into a man who said he had seen them earlier in the morning, further raising my hopes. After we parked in the parking lot, a quick scan of the Sound revealed not much more than a few Common Goldeneye and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers. Brian led us down the path toward a pair of cedars where that same man had apparently seen an Orange-crowned Warbler. As we walked, the wind picked up and got to a point that was almost comparable to that of last Sunday. The longspur had been seen around the parking lot, so it wasn’t looking too good for…

“What’s that?”

A few small birds appeared to our right, rummaging through the leaf litter on the beach.

“Longspur!” said Brian. (more…)


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