The spring migration is under way and many birds have made appearances in New England already. Birds such as red-winged blackbirds started showing up in February but the spring migration here is still in the beginning stages. By the end of April and into May, we’ll be hitting full stride.
Today I heard my first eastern phoebe. That, to me, is a true sign of spring. I’ve also seen a few American woodcock, thousands of mergansers, a handful of hawks, and several great blue herons flying with large sticks in their bills.
Eventually, all the talk will be about warblers and other songbirds. But we have a few weeks before that happens. To me, the large flocks of shorebirds that move through New England is an underrated aspect of spring migration. Shorebird migration is underrated in general, probably because it is so spread out. The northward movements start in late March and April and continue all the way into June. The southward movements start in July and continue into November. Of course, many shorebirds remain in New England throughout the winter.
So while we are excited to see the ducks, songbirds, hawks and other birds return to New England, don’t forget about the shorebirds dotting our saltwater and freshwater shorelines.
Photo by Chris Bosak An American Oystercatcher walks along the beach at Milford Point in Connecticut, April 2014.
I was trying to find something on my computer’s desktop recently and just couldn’t find it for the life of me. I knew it was there and I knew I kept somehow looking right past it. Yet, it escaped my view.
My eyes eventually fixed upon it, but the whole experience got me thinking. Why did I have such a hard time trying to find that damn file? The answer was blatantly obvious. I have way too much sh … stuff on my desktop. I looked at the contents of my desktop and many are folders of photos I took during 2014. Some contained photos I used for one reason or another, and some contained photos that never saw the light of day: not in a column, website posting, nothing.
So with this posting, I’ll start showing some of the photos that I “never got around to” in 2014. It will force me to go through the folders, clean up my desktop and, hopefully, give visitors to this site some nice, until now never-before-seen New England wildlife photos. I’ll post several photos over the next few days. I hope you like these almost-forgotten photos.
Photo by Chris Bosak An American Oystercatcher walks along the beach at Coastal Center at Milford Point this spring.
Photo by Chris Bosak Piping Plover at Coastal Center at Milford Point, April, 2014.
I’ve been volunteering to monitor shorebirds at a Connecticut beach this spring. This involves looking for Piping Plovers, American Oystercatchers and other birds that rely on coastal areas to raise their families. I’ve found several nests of plovers and oystercatchers and it’s a thrill to know they are using our beaches to raise the next generation of shorebirds. The areas are roped off and nests are further protected by fencing.
Until now, traffic has been fairly light on the beaches. A few beach walkers, some with dogs on leashes, are all I’ve come across. (Of course I monitor the birds on Monday mornings, so beach traffic is expected to be light.) But with the Memorial Day weekend upon us, beach traffic will increase tremendously — just at a time when the birds are most vulnerable with eggs and babies to take care of.
Photo by Chris Bosak Piping Plover egg. Plovers typically lay four eggs in their nest, which is nothing more than a small depression in the ground.
When you visit beaches this weekend and throughout the summer, please keep in mind that shorebirds may be nesting nearby and to give them a wide berth. The most vulnerable areas along our beaches are roped off, so mind the barriers and keep dogs on leashes (if dogs are even allowed at your favorite beach.) The crowded beaches are not likely to have nesting shorebirds, but be mindful when visiting the less traveled coastal areas.
Photo by Chris Bosak A White-winged Scoter rests on the beach as a Ruddy Turnstone shares the area at Coastal Center at Milford Point on Monday, May 12, 2014.
While doing my weekly volunteer shorebird monitoring at Coastal Center at Milford Point, I came across a surprise bird on the beach. A White-winged Scoter, usually a bird I see in the distance on the waters of Long Island Sound during the winter, was sitting on the beach with dozens of little (in comparison) shorebirds.
It was an odd scene to see the scoter resting on the beach as Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin and Semipalmated Plovers scampered all around it.
Scoters are large sea ducks. Three types are seen along the New England coast: Surf; Black; and White-winged.
The day also included sightings of Peregrine Falcon (a young one sitting on the beach), Least Terns, Brant, American Oystercatcher, Piping Plover, Lesser Yellowlegs, and other shorebirds.
Photo by Chris Bosak White-winged Scoter at Milford Point, Connecticut, May, 2014.