Field Trip Report - Sherwood Island State Park - 11/22/2014

On November 22nd, 2014, several bird club members and a few other birders met at the entrance to Sherwood Island State Park in Westport for a full morning of birding.  We saw a number of interesting birds at the edge of the woods at the entrance to the park while we waited for the gate to be opened.  The highlight was a Swainson’s Thrush.  This is a late date for this fall migrant.  Other notable observations there included Brown Creeper, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Northern Flicker.  We entered the park and went to the point to look for birds on the sound.  Although there weren’t a lot of waterfowl, we did see Common Loon, Horned Grebe, Long-tailed Duck, Brant, and Red-breasted Merganser.  A flock of Snow Buntings flew around us and landed and fed on the lawn by the beach.  Oddly, a lone Brown-headed Cowbird was in the flock of buntings.  We were delighted to see a male Northern Harrier, a “gray ghost,” fly over the water on its southward migration.  We then went to the western end of the park, where there is a mixture of woods, fields, marsh, and bay.  We saw a variety of birds in this area including: Wilson’s Snipe, Red-tailed Hawk, Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, and Fox Sparrow.  In or by the water we saw American Wigeon, Common and Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead, and Great Blue Heron.  A Bonaparte’s Gull flew past us as it headed towards the dam to join some other gulls.  We stopped by the pine stand and were rewarded with good views of one of the resident Great Horned Owls.  We then walked past the open fields and model airplane field.  We saw American Tree and Savannah Sparrows there.  We walked to the east end of the park but didn’t see many birds.  We looked, without success, for the Lesser Black-backed Gull that has been a regular winter visitor to that area the past few years.  All in all, we had a very nice trip at this fine birding location.  We saw a total of 59 species.  Late fall is an excellent time of year for birding.

Chris Loscalzo

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