Black Terns and shorebird migration - 14 August 2010

I was out briefly last Sunday (8 Aug 2010). There are still good numbers of terns around, with at least 12 BLACK TERNS in Napeague Harbor. [Last summer the Napeague Black Tern 'flock' grew to a maximum of 261 on 30 August - by far the largest concentration in the state.]

A couple of CORY'S SHEARWATERS were noted off Amagansett on Sunday evening and 3 were visible from the bluffs at Camp Heron near Montauk Point. A ragged 1st-summer LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was a notable flyby at Amagansett. This is a good time to look for shorebirds around the edges of ponds, on beaches and on exposed sandflats. The water is quite low on the pond at Rita's Horse Farm east of Montauk Village (visible through the fence on Rt 27) where there were 6 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 2 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS and a SPOTTED SANDPIPER on Sunday. The main pond at the ranch in Deep Hollow had 4 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS but little else.

[Speaking of shorebirds, up to 4 Marbled Godwits have been seen on the flats behind Cupsogue County Park (Westhampton Dunes) which is just out of area. This prairie-nesting species might be worth keeping an eye out for anywhere along Dune Road. Same goes for Whimbrel.]

John Shemilt noted a young BALD EAGLE over the Shinnecock Canal on Saturday (7 Aug), possibly the bird he'd seen in Noyac a week earlier. Has this bird summered?

Way offshore John had a frustrating encounter with a NODDY that disappeared before he could get a photograph. This topical tern-like bird has not been recorded in New York State waters and is extremely rare north of Florida. In general, seabird numbers seem to be low out along the continental shelf, at least compared to last summer. Whale watchers traveling with CRESLI and the Viking Fleet out of Montauk have had an excellent season and some trips have encountered good number of shearwaters (including several MANX SHEARWATER) as well as hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of Wilson's Storm-Petrels near the whale activity. Jack Passie has also noted numbers of shearwaters in the fishing areas between Montauk Point and Block Island.

My apologies for the spotty reporting - the demands of work and travel have kept me away for most of the summer. None-the-less your sightings and notes are being carefully gathered and will all go into the end of the year report. Additional reports are most welcome. Autumn migration is just around the corner and hopefully I can get back to issuing summaries on a weekly basis. Updates on the state of the ponds (open/closed etc) would be appreciated.

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