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Newburyport & Plum Island

Plum Island

September 9, 2017

Seth Kellogg

We were an hour late after hitting a long delay caused by an awful accident on Rt. 495 just before Lawrence.  By that time Joppa had flooded with the incoming tide so nine of us headed for the island.  We checked the airport without success, except for a hunting Harrier that was close for some time. The only bird at the first large Pannes was a Pied-billed Grebe that flew in and began diving for its lunch.  Not far along, 18 Great and 2 Snowy Egrets were lined up close to road. The Wardens was packed with cars and people, but we found spaces and then discovered that a Lark Sparrow had been present in the area all morning.  We soon had long, amazingly close looks at that bird and a Clay-colored Sparrow, perched closely together in bushes or feeding at edge of the bare ground of the car lot.

We stopped at Hellcat to study shorebirds in a small area of North Pool and Forward Pool, where the sunlight was all too bright.  The shallows held about 200 each of Semipalmated Plovers and Sandpipers and 75 Greater Yellowlegs, 15 Lesser Yellowlegs and quite a few Least Sandpipers.   Good shorebirds we picked out were 7 Red-knots, a few Dunlin, two Stilt Sandpipers, a dozen White-rumped Sandpipers, 2 Golden Plovers and 20 Short-billed Dowitchers along with 4 Long-billed Dowitchers.  Also, there was a Blue-winged and a Green-winged Teal, as well as a Glossy Ibis feeding with 20 Snowy Egrets.  A great sight was a passing Peregrine Falcon that drove all the birds into the air in panic.

We moved on to find almost nothing at Emerson Rocks at high tide. Breeding season was over, so there were no Piping Plovers to be found.  We did get very close to many Semipalmated Sandpipers and Plovers roosting in the dunes, along with a few Black-bellied Plovers and Sanderlings.  Off shore, there were only 2 Eiders and one White-winged Scoter.  We returned to walk through the Hellcat woods, but found no herons, though a Long-tailed Weasel chased us along the boardwalk before zipping away.