Monday, April 30, 2018

April 27/28/29 - Great Gull Island

This was "Move Out" weekend for Great Gull Island. Move Out is the annual spring weekend when we bring the gear up from the Museum to Connecticut and take it out to Great Gull Island in preparation for the new field season. This was not the first time people had gone to the island this year. Matthew Male has been out there for a few weeks clearing vegetation and brush off the tern nesting areas. And Helen Hays and Joan Walsh went out last Sunday to join him. I accompanied a crew out on Friday for the weekend. Matthew led a crew in re-shingling roofs that had been damaged by winter storms. Other people worked on repairing the fences that keep tern chicks from running off the edge of gun emplacements. I worked on unpacking gear and setting up the headquarters building for the season. Other people cleaned the dorm buildings. In between the work we also checked the island for birds and watched for migrants. Friday was rainy; Saturday started out overcast and had intermittent sun and occasional light fog and Sunday was rainy again. Despite the less than ideal weather we did spot a number of birds. We knew what the most exciting bird was going to be since Matthew had already posted it. It was a Snowy Owl that has been appearing on the island on and off for a week or so. It gave some nice views.
Snowy Owl - 04/28/2018
Snowy Owl - 04/28/2018
Saturday morning produced a small influx of migrants including sparrows, a few warblers and other odds and ends. One species was a first record for the island, though I have been expecting it for a few years now - a group of three Boat-tailed Grackles (2 males and a female) made a brief stop on the island. Saturday morning saw the first terns of the season when a group of sixteen flew over the island. On Sunday morning a few groups totaling a few hundred appeared briefly over the island. This is typical spring arrival behavior for the terns on Great Gull. We ended the three days with 61 species, the last being a Bald Eagle flying west over the island as some of us boarded the boat on Sunday afternoon for the trip back to the mainland.

The full list of birds is below, but birds were not the only wildlife around the island. We had a number of Harbor Seals swimming around the island and hauling out to rest on the shore. The individual below was sleeping comfortably on the western end.
Harbor Seal - 04/28/2018
Canada Goose
Mute Swan (3, flying eastward south of the island)
American Black Duck (2, hanging around the island and even swimming around the Big Gun)
Common Eider (up to twenty mainly between Great Gull and Little Gull)
Black Scoter (a pair off the eastern end)
Red-breasted Merganser
Common Loon (scattered individuals)
Northern Gannet (2, flybys)
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron (1, flyover)
Great Egret (3, flyovers)
Snowy Egret (1, with the Greats)
Osprey (1, flyover)
Bald Eagle (1)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (1, Sunday)
Cooper's Hawk (1, Saturday)
Merlin (2)
Peregrine Falcon (1)
American Oystercatcher (2)
Greater Yellowlegs (heard calling by Dale Dancis while flying by)
Spotted Sandpiper (island breeders)
Willet (1, on the rocks on the western end of the island Saturday morning)
Purple Sandpiper (5, at the extreme western end on Friday)
Purple Sandpipers - 04/27/2018
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Rock Pigeon
Snowy Owl (1)
Chimney Swift (1, flyover seen by Loyan Beausoleil)
Eastern Kingbird (1)
Blue-headed Vireo (1)
Fish Crow (9, flyover flock)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (1)
Tree Swallow (2)
Barn Swallow (island breeders)
Carolina Wren (island residents)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (1)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (3)
Veery (1)
Hermit Thrush (2)
American Robin (1)
Northern Mockingbird (1)
Gray Catbird (1, seen by Joan Walsh)
European Starling (island residents)
Ovenbird (3)
Black-and-white Warbler (several Saturday)
Black-and-white Warbler - 04/28/2018
Common Yellowthroat (1, male)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (3)
Eastern Towhee (a couple on Friday; many more on Saturday)
Chipping Sparrow (2)
Savannah Sparrow (1)
Song Sparrow (island residents)
Swamp Sparrow (1)
White-throated Sparrow (15)
Northern Cardinal (one pair)
Red-winged Blackbird (island breeders; females arrived on Saturday)
Common Grackle (5, have bred on island)
Boat-tailed Grackle (3)
Brown-headed Cowbird (2)
House Finch (island residents)
American Goldfinch (6)

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