Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mississippi Kites in Newmarket, NH

According to the Audubon bird site, the Mississippi kite "breeds from Arizona and southern Great Plains east to Carolinas and south to Gulf Coast. Its range has expanded somewhat in recent years; increasingly wanders north to southern New England in spring. Winters in tropics."

A nesting pair was discovered in Newmarket, New Hampshire in 2008, it was New England's first record of a nesting pair! They have come back every year since. 

Gerry and I stopped on Gonet Drive to see an adult soaring around above the tree tops. We located the nest where a white, fuzzy chick was sticking his/her head up.

According to the Global Raptor Information Network site: 
This species has steadily expanded its breeding range over the past century into new regions around the margins of its historical range, as it existed at the time of Audubon and Wilson (Bolen and Flores 1989, 1993), and wanderers now occur almost annually in most of the eastern United States. The first nesting record of Mississippi Kites for Ohio was documented in 2007 (McCormac and Boone 2008), and, remarkably, the first breeding records for both New Hampshire and Connecticut were reported in 2008 (Donsker 2008). By 2010, Mississippi Kites were found nesting in New Hampshire, Connecticut and (successfully) in Rhode Island (Petersen 2011). The reasons for this sudden range expansion are not well understood. The Mississippi Kite is categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Birding Plum Island

hundreds of shorebirds on the mudflats
We recently birded Plum Island, aka Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, just south of Newburyport, Massachusetts. There's 4700 acres of diverse habitats, including 3000+ acres of salt marsh. Here's the link to read more about it. 

lesser yellowlegs
There was a phenomenal number of shorebirds on the mudflats. Semipalmated plovers and sandpipers, lesser and greater yellowlegs, short-billed dowitchers, black-bellied plovers and others, along with Hudsonian godwits and 2 American Avocets!!

American avocet

American avocets

When we first arrived at the Bill Forward Pool mudflats, the avocets were way off in the distance, but they came closer and closer and finally took off. Gerry got some great shots. These elegant, long-legged shorebirds are seen mostly out west but they are rare-but-regular visitors to the Atlantic coast, although mostly in the fall.

least tern

Least terns were also quite abundant and we had great views of their flying and diving abilities.

least tern in a dive for dinner

piping plover
  Most of the refuge's ocean beaches are closed to protect nesting piping plovers. We did find four of these baby-faced birds at Sandy Point beach.

great egret

great blue heron
purple martin houses with decoys
Except for the really nasty greenheads (a horsefly worse than the ones we encounter here in Vermont), we had a great time, saw lots of birds and met some really nice fellow birders!