Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fitchburg Airport "Storm birds" 8/28

I stopped by Fitchburg Airport Sunday afternoon during the storm, hoping the bad weather might have grounded some migrant shorebirds. I was really hoping for American Golden Plover. Soon after arriving I noted 20+ Black-bellied Plovers and a single American Golden Plover mixed in. Continuing to scan I turned up a few Greater Yellowlegs, 2 Short-billed Dowitchers and 10 Sanderlings! While rescanning the plovers I soon realized there was over 50 Black-bellieds and  3 longer billed shorebirds in the grass. The 3 quickly flew and dropped back into the grass, they showed black underwings...a quick recheck ... Hudsonian Godwits!

I called a few birders and while on the phone with Kevin B. a gull like bird approached, I "glassed" it and promptly told Kevin a @%#$*( Jaeger. I tossed the phone in grass and took a few digi-bin shots... My impression was that of a Parasitic Jaeger: It was brownish and barred underneath, with little contrast between the under wing and tail barring and the body, short central tail feather projection and whitish at the base of the primaries....from my limited experience with Jaeger it did not have the "heft" of  Pomarine nor the daintness of a Long-tailed.
The poor photos are below only reveil a silluette.

Perhaps the best shot.

A "wing on" shot

Another side view.

Below are a few shots of the Red Knots, a total of 8 were present, I would agree these are very poor but  none of the birds were close.

Red Knots, some retaining their red coloration.

Another shot of Red Knots.

And another with Black Bellied Plover to the lower right
  Below a shot of the Husonian Godwits in flight, taken with a cannon A590 through a Zeiss 8 x42 FL binocular.

Husonian Godwits in flight after circling the airport.
  This was a very impressive showing of shorebirds at an inland locale, there were some peeps that had to go unidentified, a few larger looking peeps may have well been Baird's, but the distance was too great. The highlights follow:
Balck-bellied Plover .. 64
American Golden Plover .. 7
Semipalmated Plover .. 2
Killdeer ..  2
Greater Yellowlegs ..  4
Lesser Yellowlegs .. 3
Hudsonian Godwit .. 3
Red Knot  .. 8
Sanderling  .. 10
Ruddy Turnstone .. 12
Least Sandpiper .. 3
Semipalmated Sandpiper .. 20
Short-billed Dowitcher .. 2
Parasitic Jaeger .. 1 (feedback on photos welcomed)
Lesser Black-backed Gull .. 1 adult


Kathiesbirds said...

Being new to Massachusetts, I did not know your could even see birds at the Fitchburg airport! Most of these birds would be life birds for me and I would not even know what I was looking at if I saw some of them! wow! What a turn out!Do you eBird? I do and your list looks like you might. I just moved to Andover a year ago and am still finding my way around this state as far as bird watching goes.

Tom Pirro said...


The great majority of the birds mention in this post are very uncommon to rare away from our immediate coast...certainy Jaeger species, Hudsonian Godwit, Red Knot have only been recorded in Worcester County a few times each! Ruddy Turnstone and Sanderling are not annual in the county and S-B Dowitcher, Black-bellied and Am. Golden Plovers and Lesser Black-backed Gull only show a few times a year (if lucky). No question these were all storm related and I was very fortunate to have decided to stop and view the area during the storm. Without a doubt one of the finest single day collections of shorebirds in Worcester County. Of course many are common along the Massachusett Coast but the story is different inland.

Thanks for stopping by the blog.

Best Regards,