Friday, September 2, 2011

8/28: Hurricane Irene Birds at Fitchburg Airport

I checked Wachusett Reservoir before and during the hurricane hoping for some rarities blown inland. The only thing blown in at Wachusett was my formerly good hair day and my go-getter attitude. Then, while sorting through a bunch of swallows at Thomas Basin, I got a call from Tom Pirro. He had also struck out at the reservoir earlier, but on his way home he stopped at Fitchburg airport. While he was telling me about all the amazing shorebirds that had put down at the airport, an f'n JAEGER flew overhead! He managed to snap some photos ( I jumped in the jeep and flew to Fitchburg.

The Path of Hurricane Irene

Fitchburg Airport location

This was the scene when I arrived. Total amazement as new birds began to appear as we scanned through the grass and the runway. Constant rain covered my camera and scope lenses. Luckily, four other central Mass birders were able to arrive to witness this event.

Hudsonian Godwits, Black-bellied Plovers, American Golden Plovers, Red Knots
This shows all 8 Red Knots together
Ruddy Turnstones began to come out of the tall grass and onto the runway. We counted 12.
We counted over 60 Black-bellied Plovers. A few Red Knots still showing breeding plumage.

This is a scene that doesn't happen very often in Worcester County.
Hudsonian Godwits in flight
Flight shot. You can easily pick out American Golden Plovers here.

Another great bird was this Lesser Black-backed Gull
The airport guy let us actually walk onto the runway to get closer looks. We didn't want to flush or put more stress on the birds, so we still kept our distance.
It was a great, record-breaking evening. Nice find, Tom!

Here's the complete list of birds seen:

Canada Goose  (16)
Mallard  (2)
Double-crested Cormorant  (5)
Great Blue Heron  (1)
Red-tailed Hawk  (1)
American Kestrel  (1)
Black-bellied Plover  (64)   
American Golden-Plover  (7)  
Semipalmated Plover  (2 )
Killdeer  (2)
Lesser Yellowlegs  (3)
Hudsonian Godwit  (3)    
Ruddy Turnstone  (12)
Red Knot  (8)
Sanderling  (10)  
Semipalmated Sandpiper  (20)
Least Sandpiper  (3)
peep sp.  (25)
Short-billed Dowitcher  (2)
Ring-billed Gull  (2)
Herring Gull  (3)
Lesser Black-backed Gull  (1)
Great Black-backed Gull  (1)
Mourning Dove  (15)
American Crow  (6)
Horned Lark  (2)
Barn Swallow  (12)

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