CTYBC – November Field Trip – 11/21/10

Cave Swallow - Benjamin Van Doren

Today was the November field trip of the newly formed Connecticut Young Birders Club. Close followers of the Warblings blog probably know that I’m actively involved with the New York YBC, but I couldn’t resist joining the CT crew–especially with some great birding planned for the day.

Our destination: Hammonasset Beach State Park, one of the best (if not the best) birding spots in the state. As one of our leaders, Frank Gallo, put it (and I’m heavily paraphrasing here), a bad day at Hammo is a good day at almost any other place.

Indeed, this proved true. As one might expect in mid-November, there weren’t vast numbers of birds to be seen. But, those that we did see were pretty nice, regardless. One of our first birds was a Lapland Longspur, which did a terrific job of staying hidden in the grass (hence, no photos). However, it was surrounded by good numbers of Horned Larks and Snow Buntings, birds that I never get tired of watching. Other nice birds at Hammo included eight Common Eiders and a lone Purple Sandpiper.

We then drove to East Shore Park, the home of a sewage treatment plant. That’s terrific for birding, as the warmth produced by the plant attracts insects during the cooler months, which in turn attracts lingering insectivorous birds. We weren’t disappointed, as there was an impressive amount of late migrants, including American Redstart, Pine Warbler and Blackpoll Warbler. But, best of all, were two Cave Swallows–Mexican birds that, for largely unknown reasons, occur in small numbers along the coast in the northeast during November.

But why not stop at Mexico? We also went to check up on the local celebrity, a Fork-tailed Flycatcher staying in Stamford, CT. This bird is thought to be a member of the nominate subspecies savana, birds from southern South America that migrate north for the austral winter (our summer). Conceivably, this first-year bird, instead of migrating south after the winter, migrated north, to us. However it got here, it’s an awesome bird. I think I can safely say that this was a great first trip for CTYBC. Looking forward to many others!

Trip Report By Benjamin Van Doren, See more pictures and video from the trip on his blog (here). Trip report by Alex Burdo (here).

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