Plum Island is known for bird migration, so when it is time for fall migrants, we kind of expect some. When we hear of big movements of warblers and we can hardly find a nuthatch, it’s a bit tough, and pretty unusual. This Wednesday, Dave Larson and I teamed up for WMB, hoping that the thickets that have been very quiet lately might have some bird activity. Birding got going nicely on our way out to the island with two Peregrine Falcons on the evacuation siren just past the bridge, both adults–a male and female. I would like to think they were the pair that bred under the Route 1 bridge over the Merrimac River, but I have no proof.
While we were looking at the falcons, we got word of exciting passerines, including a Connecticut Warbler, in the S-curves. We found Jared Keyes there, and while we didn’t find his warbler, we did find lots of birds, including some Blackpoll Warblers and a Clay-colored Sparrow. The rest of the week has produced plenty of migrants for patient birders on Plum Island. The banding station was hopping this morning after a northeast flow set in last night. There were at least three Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Northern Flicker, and a Downy Woodpecker, when we often find no picids. A veritable flock of calling and foraging Eastern Towhees was very busy crossing the road near the first tall oaks in the S-curves.
At Hellcat, the water is higher than it was for shorebird season, and waterfowl have been increasing, this week including five Northern Shovelers. Most of these birds were down at the south end of Bill Forward Pool. The road there was not as birdy as the S-curves had been, and we don’t use the boardwalks with our large group, so we used our bit of remaining time to investigate Jared’s report of American Pipits near the boardwalk at parking lot #1. No pipits, but Northern Gannets were patrolling offshore, and a beautiful Merlin dashed down and perched for a time atop a stake on the beach. Sanderlings in fine basic plumage ran back and forth with the waves on the beach, and we enjoyed the beautiful surf on a smooth sea being ridden by a surfer with a free Wednesday morning.
Gadwall (1) – Bill Forward Pool (BFP).
American Black Duck – common.
Northern Shoveler (5) – BFP.
Green-winged Teal (15) – BFP.
Northern Gannet (4) parking lot #1 ocean.
Double-crested Cormorant – common.
Great Blue Heron (2) – BFP and North Marsh.
Great Egret (10) – various.
Osprey (1) over S-curves.
Northern Harrier (2) North Field; 1, S-Curves marsh; 1.
Cooper’s Hawk (2) Hellcat Rd. ;1, S-Curves; 1.
Greater Yellowlegs (~12) – various.
Sanderling (6) parking lot #1 beach.
Herring Gull – common.
Great Black-backed Gull – (~12) various.
Belted Kingfisher (2) – S-Curves; 1, Gatehouse area; 1.
Red-bellied Woodpecker (3) – S-Curves.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1) – Hellcat parking lot.
Downy Woodpecker (1) – Hellcat Rd.
Northern Flicker (1) – S-curves.
Merlin (1) – parking lot #1 beach.
Peregrine Falcon (2) – adults, one male, one female, Plum Island Turnpike, atop Seabrook Warning Siren.
Eastern Phoebe (4) – Mostly in North Field.
Blue Jay – common.
American Crow (7) – various.
Common Raven (1) – S-Curves.
Black-capped Chickadee (6) – S-curves.
Red-breasted Nuthatch (2) – S-cures; 1, Hellcat Rd.; 1.
American Robin – common.
Gray Catbird – common.
Northern Mockingbird (1) – Hellcat.
Cedar Waxwing – common.
Common Yellowthroat (1) – S-curves.
Blackpoll Warbler (2) – S-curves.
Yellow-rumped Warbler (1) – S-curves.
Eastern Towhee – common.
Clay-colored Sparrow – (1) S-curves.
Song Sparrow – common.
White-throated Sparrow – common.
Northern Cardinal – common.
Red-winged Blackbird – (1) Hellcat dike.
Purple Finch (1) Hellcat Rd.