Buff-breasted, Western Willet, Long-billed Dowitcher ++

It sure was a birding-filled action packed day, with MANY standouts! I had just planned to hit the Birdcraft, then move over to Ash Creek but boy did it turn out to be so much more than that!

I started this morning at 6:45 at the Birdcraft Sanctuary in Fairfield as I had done the day before. This time I went alone. Fairfield’s actually pretty and peaceful that early on a weekend. I was one of the only people waking through town and saw only one car (are you sure you’re talking about Fairfield?)! When I arrived, it again took a wait until 7:00 before the migrants started appearing out of the shadows.

Unfortunately, I was only able to notch 7 species this morning, 2 less than yesterday and 3 less than my goal. That’s ok, the flight was still decent and it was just great being out there. Here are my highlights:

2 Magnolia Warbler
1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
1 Black-and-White Warbler
4 American Redstart
1 Northern Waterthrush
1 Canada Warbler
1 Wilson’s Warbler

3 Black-crowned Night-Heron
1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
1 Red-eyed Vireo

The only new species for the fall were Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Wilson’s Warbler. The Ruby-throated was a first for me at the Birdcraft.

As I was getting ready to leave, I ran into Tina Green. We started chatting and the next thing I knew, she got a call from Sara Zagorski, about 2 Buff-breasted Sandpipers that had been seen at Rocky Hill Meadows, the location I saw the Bard’s at yesterday. Tina kindly offered to let me join and her and soon we were headed up to Rocky Hill.

When we arrived, we ran into Carl Ekroth and Denise who were on the bird. Buff-breasted Sandpiper! I jumped out of the car, set the scope up and enjoyed the bird. It was foraging in the sod and would stop every so often to look around and preen. I was able to get some OK digiscoped record shots though the heat haze and all those pieces of dirt to try not to focus on, didn’t help much.

Buff-breasted with a Killdeer

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Another Buffie shot

A beautiful bird!

All of a sudden all the birds flew. I was glad I got the looks when I did!

After the Buffie, we decided to stop at Milford Point on the way back. It ended up turning into a fantastic trip through Milford and Stratford!

Upon arriving, we set up scope and started to work on the shorbs, trying to find a Western Sandpiper in the flocks. I soon noticed a very large “Western” Willet on a bar. After the Willet, I also was able to get onto a single Whimbrel. Tina then found 2 Red Knots and a Forster’s Tern. Back and forth highlights-awesome!

Western Willet; note size

Western Willet; although there is a great variation in Western Willets this one was huge!

Red Knot and Forster’s Tern


Another Whimbrel shot

During our time there, Tina noticed a Snowy Egret doing a very interesting behavior. The bird, stuck its bill in the water, bent down and actually started blowing bubbles! I’ve never seen this before-it was pretty comical!

There were large numbers of shorbs present but no Westerns. We actually had a few candidates but weren’t able to confirm any.

We then moved on to Stratford Marina, where I quickly located the basic plumaged Long-billed Dowitcher. We were able to spend some good time studying the bird.

A shot showing the upright stance and back posture when sleeping

Showing the structure of the body (although a bit obstructed) with the bill out

Showing the sloping back with the bill out

An almost unobstructed shot of the bird sleeping

A direct comparison with a sleeping Short-billed, note the larger size and the more upright stance

The bird hardly ever had it’s bill out for study, but size and shape of the Long-billed sleeping was very helpful for ID.

We visited a few other spots in Stratford, with nothing else really of note except 3 Boat-tailed Grackles at Long Beach, 2 tail less.

A fantastic day!


This entry was posted in Connecticut Birding, Rarities. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Buff-breasted, Western Willet, Long-billed Dowitcher ++

  1. Denise says:

    Nice birding with you today. Glad it turned out so well for you!
    The buff breasted photos are quite good, considering the glare. Well done.

  2. Dave says:


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