Westport Big Day 5/22/16

Jory and I, as part of the town big day competition sponsored by the CTYBC, decided to carry out a big day in our own town of Westport. We spent days upon days preparing for it, and once the day had arrived, were ready to see what birds lay in store.

I had some qualms about the state of migration, seeing as nocturnal precipitation shut down movements across the northeast. However, while waiting for Jory to pick me up, I had a SWAINSON’S THRUSH fly over with a flight call at around 4:30. The day already was promising, and armed with girl scout cookies and caffeine, we set out to get a barred owl that had been recently reported at a private residence.

At the private residence, we got some nice first birds of the day such as wood thrush, but no barred owl was obtained. Thus, Jory and I decided to not wait around any longer and go to our next location. Sure enough, a minute after we left, the barred owl was reported.

We concluded on going to Glendenning, an interesting spot in central Westport, for dawn chorus. In the fifth hour of the day, we got pine warbler, 1 SOLITARY SANDPIPER, 1 SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, and 1 surprise COMMON NIGHTHAWK flying over a marshy area with some swallows. Excited about these birds, we moved onto Sherwood Island where we stayed for several hours. We were excited about seeing 1 BROWN THRASHER flyover the airfield, little did we know the amazing birds a few minutes ahead. Despite the lateness of the month and the suboptimal migration conditions of the night before, many warblers began to appear. Soon, we got 1 NASHVILLE, 1 BAY-BREASTED, and 1 RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET. There were several flycatchers, orioles, and herons. In the west woods, we got 1 MOURNING WARBLER which gave crippling views and sang two times. It is possible that the bird was the same individual previously reported by Frank Mantlik on the seventeenth. Also, there was 1 YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. At the 9/11 memorial, there were 3 LONG-TAILED DUCK and 1 LAUGHING GULL flying by from west to east.

Feeling good about our Sherwood adventure, we went to 55-57 Greens Farms and got 3 WOOD DUCK. Then we went to Saugatuck Shores after the Mill Pond Preserve to see if we could scope glossy ibis from Cockenoe Island. Alas, these birds likely were on the other side. In any case, we got some shorebirds and good views of common terns in the hundreds. This done, we went to my neighborhood. We went to Winslow in search of the northern waterthrush I had gotten the day before. Alas, we did not get it, but we got a beautiful INDIGO BUNTING. We got 1 BELTED KINGFISHER at the Haskins Property. After this, we did a “Saugatuck Sweep” (a quick hit of sweet spots along the Saugatuck River) and got 5 BANK SWALLOW and 1 LITTLE BLUE HERON at Gorham Island. At this point, Jory and I realized that we had not yet gotten pigeon, which was a concerning surprise. Sherwood and downtown (right next to Gorham Island) were usually filled with hordes, yet we had not seen a single one. It didn’t matter – for there were more important birds to target. We went to Southport Beach in search of brant. At last, we got pigeon here, but had to run over to the Westport side to count it for the big day.

Nearby Southport Beach was the Christmas Tree Farm, a good destination for sparrows and other birds of the field. Stunningly, Jory managed to pick out 1 GRASSHOPPER SPARROW which afforded excellent views. We then got 1 EASTERN BLUEBIRD.

At Newman-Poses we got 1 SCARLET TANAGER. It became increasingly difficult to add more species to our list, so we decided to return to Sherwood and see if anything was hopping again. We added turkey to our list. Dumbfounded as to what to do next, Jory and I returned to the barred owl spot but failed to get anything. Soon after this, we disbanded, contented with our remarkable observations.


Preston Lust

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