Friday, April 16, 2010

Norwalk Islands, a bird nesting haven

It's April 15th and time to cruise the Norwalk Islands again,
to get a good count as to what is coming and what is going.
At 10:00 this morning, I met Chris Bosak and David Parks at the boat, the plan was to survey all the osprey nest sites in the Norwalk Islands and surrounding shoreline.

The Norwalk Ospreys are doing well, with at least ten confirmed nest sites being used as of today.
Besides checking the osprey sites, my plan was to also survey the nesting areas of all other species.
I was concerned about the seemingly low numbers of American Oystercatchers a few weeks ago, not to worry we found eight pair around the islands and I'm sure there are a number more.

Double-crested Cormorant numbers have swelled to over three hundred on Goose Island, I expect this number to double or triple in the weeks to come.
The Herring Gull colony on this same island is now at six hundred, with Great Black-backs at three hundred.
I don't see the oyster-catcher pair here this year, as their nesting attempts the past two years turned into food for the gulls.

The Heron colony at Cockenoe Island is well over one hundred, I can't determine between Great and Snowy Egrets at the distance needed to view all, but it seems that the Greats are by far the majority, there are also Black-crowns and other species in there as well.
Goldfinch can be heard throughout this island, which is also a great spot for a few early season Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, I didn't see any today but did note a Morning Cloak Butterfly making it's way between islands.

Peregrine Falcons, the pest of anything that dares to fly out there are also doing well.
This week they were not harassing a Bonapartes Gull but rather a Rock Pigeon, near the Norwalk Power Plant, which has installed a nest box for them on the main building, not far from the Osprey nest which has the camera on it, this could become interesting as I and others have watched Peregrines attacking young osprey in there nest before they have fledged.
Hopefully this is just a game for them.
We also witnessed a number of mating attempts today, from ospreys to gulls.
The kids are coming in another month or so, stay tuned.

Channel Marker #1, just one stick on April 1st
lean two style, it grows daily.
This is the pair that has never
produced offspring.

Aigrette, doing that incredible dance, a slow hop up and down,
a little side to side sway, head extended then into a tuck.
Plumes extended.
The tango, egret style!

Not a good panoramic view but the are over 100
egrets in this one area.

DC Corms, their numbers are growing,
Did I mention the guano stench in this area?
Es muy mal!

A close up, note the hair doo.

Bad hair day?

Carrot-billed sparkplug again

I didn't mention the hundreds of Brant still hanging
around, only a handful of Long-tail and other winter ducks
were seen today.


  1. It seems a few spots are still holding large numbers of Brant (Norwalk and Milford Point come to mind).

    It is so neat to see how much as arrived since our March trip!! I had a late (not sure really how late it is) Great Corm up river here on 04/06.

    I am GONZO (Hunter S. Thompson...) May 10th, so if schedules work out, I'd love to do a survey out there with you before I take off.

    I love the 'bad haird day' photo!


  2. Larry,

    It looks like the D.C.Cormorants numbers are already jumping. More than 400 passed by Seaside Park in Bridgeport in 1 hour this morning.
    It looks like Piping Plovers are already on eggs in Southport. Not surprising, since they have been on eggs in Massachusetts since early in the week.

  3. Charlie,I compared my survey numbers from last year and this year on the DC Corms.
    In both years on March 21 the counts were 60 this year and 18 last.
    On April 15th last it was 150, April 12th this year it was 420. May 12th last 800, this year N/A yet. The 2008 numbers also fit into range.
    I did note a hundred or so migrating thru on Thursday but didn't count them as these are not residents of the islands.
    As the numbers swell on Goose Is. I find it interesting how many birds fly by this nest site and continue on. This makes me want to believe they return to their previously used nesting areas year after year.

    Brien, I'll get you out, maybe a few flounder?