My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

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Blustery Birding

Published November 15, 2015
Tags: Life List Happenings, Purple Sandpiper, Thayer's Gull, Franklin's Gull

A great southerly wind event and a mix of weather conditions funneled many migrating Texan Cave Swallows up into the New York and New Jersey regions. I tried a few times to find these birds over the last few days but yesterday, I finally caught up with a single swallow that flew out of its overnight roosting spot near Charlotte Pier by the shore of Lake Ontario. Alec, Kevin, Celeste, and I all got a few seconds look at this  little guy as it flew off to try and find its way home. Its lighter, buffy undersides and small, stocky form is what struck me most. The tail was not the long, forked tail of some swallows, but more of a shorter, squared off tail. I couldn't get much more on it in the few seconds we had, but it was enough to know we had a Cave Swallow!

We watched the lake for a little while but no other rarities showed, so after a while, we moved on to a couple of other spots along the lake coast. We saw a young Franklin's Gull at LaSalle Landing along with an adult Thayer's Gull. Both were wonderful sightings that we all enjoyed.

Since we were having such great luck, we decided to try for the Purple Sandpipers being seen up at Sodus Point. Word was that hunters had shown and flushed the birds, but we had hopes of them returning and getting Kevin a life bird. Sure enough, thanks to Wade and Melissa Rowley, we soon had eyes on a close and beautiful Purple Sandpiper.  This was my best sighting of this sandpiper to-date.  Unlike last year's sleeping Purple Sandpiper, this guy was actively feeding in the algae on the shore. We got to watch him hop around from rock to rock, fighting the waves, and picking through the algae that was strung along the rocks. Jay McGowan got some nice video of this, I believe.

We tried for more Cave Swallows on our way home, but never did see any others, so it was great we saw the one guy we did. Two life birds and several year birds later, we all returned home smiling.
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Young Franklin's Gull
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Franklin's Gull
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Franklin's Gull
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Adult Thayer's Gull
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Purple Sandpiper
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Purple Sandpiper
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Purple Sandpiper
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Purple Sandpiper