August Shore Birds
By Kyle Bardwell PHAS Board Member and Avid Birder
Often times August is ignored by many birders and considered a birding lull. In fact, August happens to be peak shorebird migration in New York. While many of these shorebirds migrate along the coast and rarely stop over in inland counties such as Putnam it is an annual 'must do' to go to Long Island and see these birds in their migration.
Fellow Putnam Audubon board member Sean Camillerri took me on a little bird tour of Cupsogue Beach, a birding hotspot I have never been to. We left Putnam County at 3:15 AM on Sunday August 18th. We arrived at the Parking lot of the beach at 5:30 AM right as the sun was rising. We had to get there at first light as the tide would start to rise shortly after.
We quickly organized our belongings and ventured through the salt marsh out to the tidal flats where we had looks at Saltmarsh and Seaside Sparrows. Once out of the grasses, we quickly got on a nice flock of shorebirds. We were delighted by the diversity of shorebirds that included Semipalmated Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Red Knot, Black bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, among a few others. With a little more patience we pulled out a Western Sandpiper and a lone Dunlin. Sean scanned a large egret flock out in the distance and pulled out an immature Tricolored Heron to add to the list.
We ventured further around the flats where added species such as Spotted Sandpiper, Royal Tern and a total of 5 Marbled Godwits! We were eventually forced back to land by the rising tide and finished with 17 species of shorebird before 8:00AM! After Cupsogue we made a stop at Jamaica Bay NWR. We quickly trekked to the lookout over the East Pond by Big John's Pond. We added White-rumped Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, and a surprise Caspian Tern to our trip list.
The mosquitos eventually pushed us out. We stopped at Croton Point to see the Western Kingbird that has hung out for over a week, and were home in Putnam by 3:00 PM.
Total Species for day: 57 - List Below
Great Black-backed Gull
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron