Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Newburyport & vicinity - August 5, 2017

This annual trip, run a little bit earlier in the month this year, produced a fair variety of shorebirds albeit in lower numbers than one might expect later on.

Starting off with mixed weather, fog and clouds, we had no trouble making our way down to the southern end of the island and Sandy Point State Reservation Beach. We only had a few fishermen to contend with opposed to the hoards of beach goers expected this time of year. (This is one of the reasons I start the trip so early. Otherwise, we often will get boxed out.)

We made our way out to the beach, passing the roped nesting areas for Piping Plovers. We scanned these areas, but none were found. At this point, I think nesting has been completed, so young and old alike were out roaming the open beach.

One, then two, then four then six Piping Plovers were found all within one or two scope fields apart. Later on we found a flock of five, apparently different birds, then a handful of others, totaling fourteen birds.

As we were on the beach during a rising tide, a lot of the shorebirds had departed for their loafing areas. However, there were still Sanderlings, Semipalmated Plovers and Sandpipers and two Ruddy Turnstones to be found. It is not surprising, but still remarkable how the beach changes year over year. What was once a long and wide expanse of mudflats was now an abrupt cut off sand shelf.

We got information that there were lots of birds at Bill Forward Pool so we headed in that direction, only briefly stopping at the nearly barren Stage Island Pool.

Upon arrival at the blind at Bill Forward Pool, we found what would be spot of the day. Several thousand birds of all shape and sizes we actively feeding, resting and a little of both. A parade of Snowy Egrets, Double-crested Cormorants and Greater Yellowlegs followed one another chasing and feeding on trapped prey.

The majority of the birds were Semi Semis (Plovers and Sandpipers), but we also found single Hudsonian Godwit, Long-billed Dowitcher (there might have been a second), Dunlin and Western Sandpiper.

While we traveled on the island, there were the flocks on Tree Swallows and European Starlings, just starting to amass into pre-migration flocks. A stop at Parking lot 1 to pick up cars and look out at the ocean, found forty or so Northern Gannets all heading south. Little else was seen.

The plan was to head over to the other side of the river and visit Nelson Island to wrap up the trip. However, as we starting off the island, a weather front opened up on us. Not knowing the duration, I cut the trip short.

Below is a list of what I recorded for birds.


Canada Goose              15                          
Gadwall                   1                           
Mallard                   9                           
Wild Turkey               1                           
Northern Gannet           40                          
Double-crested Cormorant  15                          
Great Blue Heron          2                           
Snowy Egret               15                          
Turkey Vulture            2                           
Osprey                    4                           
Black-bellied Plover      50                          
Semipalmated Plover       1187                        
Piping Plover             14                          
Killdeer                  1                           
Hudsonian Godwit          1                           
Ruddy Turnstone           2                           
Sanderling                100                         
Dunlin                    1                           
Least Sandpiper           5                           
White-rumped Sandpiper    4                           
Semipalmated Sandpiper    840                         
Western Sandpiper         1                           
Short-billed Dowitcher    62                          
Long-billed Dowitcher     1                           
Greater Yellowlegs        10                          
Willet                    2                           
Lesser Yellowlegs         15                          
Parasitic Jaeger          1                           
Bonaparte's Gull          3                           
Ring-billed Gull          27                          
Herring Gull              1                           
Great Black-backed Gull   5                           
Least Tern                10                          
Common Tern               30                          
Eastern Kingbird          20                          
American Crow             1                           
Purple Martin             18                          
Tree Swallow              3000                        
Bank Swallow              2                           
Barn Swallow              2                           
Marsh Wren                4                           
American Robin            30                          
Gray Catbird              5                           
Brown Thrasher            1                           
Northern Mockingbird      2                           
European Starling         1000                        
Cedar Waxwing             10                          
Common Yellowthroat       2                           
Yellow Warbler            1                           
Saltmarsh Sparrow         1                           
Field Sparrow             1                           
Savannah Sparrow          1                           
Song Sparrow              1                           
Eastern Towhee            5                           
Northern Cardinal         3                           
Red-winged Blackbird      5                           
Common Grackle            2                           
Baltimore Oriole          1                           
American Goldfinch        2