Thanksgiving Birding–Live Updates from the Field!

Snow Bunting – Photo by Alex Lamoreaux

For Thanksgiving break, my friends and I always like to take a few days and go on a birding trip out of state. We always end up going to Cape May, since it is fairly close and we can always count on there being some great birds. However, this year we decided to mix things up a bit. First we thought, we would just stick in PA and maybe spend a few days up at Presque Isle SP….but then the Northern Lapwing invasion started.

So we quickly began making new plans – we would head east to New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts in search of the various Northern Lapwings and other great rarities and winter specialties being seen along the southern New England coast.This year, the Thanksgiving birding team consists of me and my two friends (and honorary Nemesis Birders) Ian Gardner and Josh Lefever. We are leaving State College on Friday morning, November 16th and planning on getting to Long Island by Friday night, prepared to get up early and bird hard all day on the island Saturday. There are quite a few target birds there (see the Google Map below). From there, we are going to take a ferry over to Connecticut and move east along the coast towards Cape Cod, stopping to see rare birds and find some cool state birds. We have to be back in central PA by Tuesday night.

I will be attempting to do live updates from the field concerning our successes, failures, and interesting sightings on this blog post, so be sure to check back often to see how we are doing. As you can see from the Google Map, we have quite a few target species and locations lined up – hopefully the birds cooperate and we have a little luck on our side! Feel free to explore our target map and check out the birds we hope to see! The map on the bottom shows our current location so you can really follow along with us!

Trip Map

Current location
No longer publishing Alex’s locations since the trip is over.

Alex Lamoreaux November 20, 201211:19 pm

Well we are back in PA! We had a TON of fun birding in CT this morning but then had to finally call it quits and head back home for the holiday. So many great birds today, including 4 species of warblers (plus ‘Audubon’s’ Warbler). Check back for our official summaries of locations we visited, the birds we saw, and other information!

Alex Lamoreaux November 20, 20125:32 pm

Two birds that we were most excited to see were actually two rare subspecies from the west. The first was this Oregeon Junco

And then this little beauty, one of my personal favorites, an Audubon’s Yellow-rumped Warbler!

Alex Lamoreaux November 20, 20124:51 pm

In addition to the 3 Blackpoll Warblers that we found, there were many ‘Western’ Palm Warblers and ‘Myrtle’ Yellow-rumped Warblers. Plus this stunning Prairie Warbler-
Check back soon for a pair of ‘Rocky Mountain Rarities’ that were also at East Shore.

Alex Lamoreaux November 20, 20123:59 pm

After Hammonasset, we headed over to East Shore Park to look for previously reported late warblers, like this Blackpoll Warbler-

Alex Lamoreaux November 20, 20121:59 pm

We apologize for the lack of updates today. We’ve been busy expieriencing some incredible birding around New Haven, CT. Highlights at Hammonasset SP included American Bittern, 40 White-winged Crossbills, and 12 Red Crossbills. We had great looks at both Crossbill species feeding side by side. Here’s a pic of one of four adult male Red Crossbills-
Red Crossbill - Connecticut
Look for more pictures and highlights from this morning to posted soon. Now we begin the 6 hour drive home…

Alex Lamoreaux November 20, 20128:48 am

We are at Hammonasset Beach SP now. Searching for the Black-headed Gull, Grasshopper Sparrow and other cool birds recently seen here.

Alex Lamoreaux November 19, 201211:08 pm

Monday, Nov 19 2012

Number of Checklists: 7
Number of Species: 73

Checklists included in this summary:
(1): High Head, Pilgrim Heights
Date: Nov 19, 2012, 6:50 AM
(2): US-MA-Provincetown-103 Shank Painter Rd
Date: Nov 19, 2012, 8:50 AM
(3): MacMillan Wharf
Date: Nov 19, 2012, 9:15 AM
(4): First Landing Park–jetties
Date: Nov 19, 2012, 10:01 AM
(5): Herring Cove Beach
Date: Nov 19, 2012, 10:30 AM
(6): Race Point Beach, Provincetown
Date: Nov 19, 2012, 11:00 AM
(7): Pilgrim Heights, North Truro
Date: Nov 19, 2012, 4:09 PM

80 Brant (Atlantic) — (3),(4)
6 Canada Goose — (2)
36 American Black Duck — (1),(4),(7)
8 Mallard — (1),(7)
1 American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid) — (1)
3 Green-winged Teal — (1)
1915 Common Eider — (3),(4),(5),(6)
30 Surf Scoter — (5),(6)
450 White-winged Scoter — (5),(6)
60 Black Scoter — (5),(6)
2 Long-tailed Duck — (3),(6)
137 Bufflehead — (1),(3),(4),(5),(6)
10 Common Goldeneye — (1)
4600 Red-breasted Merganser — (1),(3),(4),(5),(6)
250 Red-throated Loon — (6)
54 Common Loon — (3),(5),(6)
1 Pied-billed Grebe — (1)
2 Horned Grebe — (5),(6)
20 Red-necked Grebe — (6)
201 Northern Gannet — (5),(6)
46 Double-crested Cormorant — (1),(3),(4),(5),(6)
21 Great Cormorant — (3),(6)
3 Great Blue Heron — (1),(4)
1 Snowy Egret — (4)
3 Northern Harrier — (1),(6)
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk — (7)
3 Red-tailed Hawk — (1),(6)
2 Clapper Rail — (1)
36 Black-bellied Plover — (4),(6)
11 Ruddy Turnstone — (3),(4)
350 Sanderling — (4),(6)
2 Purple Sandpiper — (3),(6)
80 Dunlin — (4),(6)
250 Black-legged Kittiwake — (6)
50 Bonaparte’s Gull — (6)
1 Laughing Gull — (6)
119 Ring-billed Gull — (1),(3),(4),(5),(6)
525 Herring Gull — (1),(3),(4),(5),(6)
323 Great Black-backed Gull — (1),(2),(3),(4),(5),(6)
3 Common Tern — (6)
2 Pomarine Jaeger — (6)
3 Dovekie — (6)
125 Razorbill — (6)
350 Rock Pigeon — (3),(4)
2 Mourning Dove — (1)
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker — (1)
3 Downy Woodpecker — (1),(7)
4 Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) — (1)
1 Merlin — (6)
20 Blue Jay — (1),(2),(4),(7)
21 American Crow — (1),(3),(4),(5),(6),(7)
10 Black-capped Chickadee — (1),(7)
4 Red-breasted Nuthatch — (1)
2 White-breasted Nuthatch — (1),(7)
8 Carolina Wren — (1),(7)
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet — (7)
125 American Robin — (1),(7)
3 Gray Catbird — (7)
6 Northern Mockingbird — (1),(7)
15 European Starling — (1)
3 Cedar Waxwing — (1)
1 Palm Warbler (Western) — (1)
25 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) — (1)
5 Song Sparrow — (7)
2 White-crowned Sparrow — (1)
2 Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) — (7)
9 Northern Cardinal — (1),(7)
30 Common Grackle — (1)
10 House Finch — (1)
70 White-winged Crossbill — (1)
1 Pine Siskin — (1)
17 American Goldfinch — (1),(7)
14 House Sparrow — (2),(3),(4)

This trip summary was created using the BirdLog app for iPhone and iPad.
See BirdLog for more information.

Alex Lamoreaux November 19, 20126:46 pm

Just spent some time planning out our route for tomorrow. Looks like we are going to drive to Hammonasset Beach SP in CT tonight and then be there first thing tomorrow morning for the Black-headed Gull and other good birds. After that we are going to drive back to PA, but swing past the Pink-footed Goose at Peace Valley Park. Check out out updated target map for more info.

Today was very fun. Ian, Josh and I spent almost the whole day hiking and sea-watching along the north shore of Race Point Beach. Like I mentioned earlier, we had quite a few pelagic-type birds. Below are a few photos I took today.

This photo pretty much sums up our sea-watching – Razorbill, Black-legged Kittiwake, and a Northern Gannet.
Flock of Common Eiders.
Common Eiders
Black-legged Kittiwake
Black-legged Kittiwake
Distant flock of Razorbills.
Razorbills in flight

Alex Lamoreaux November 19, 20124:47 pm

Spent the rest of the daylight at Pilgrim Head, Mass looking for land birds. Picked up a few new trip birds like Gray Catbird and Sharp-shinned Hawk. Overall a great day birding on Cape Cod. Heading somewhere to get Internet and plan tomorrow….

Alex Lamoreaux November 19, 20123:37 pm

Sorry for the long delay without an update. We just took a really long hike around the shoreline at Race Point. We found some great birds. 100+ Razorbills, 3 Dovekies, 150+ Black-legged Kittiwake, 2 Pomarine Jaegers, 20 Red-necked Grebes, and lots of sea ducks and loons. Here is a short video I took of a floating kittiwake and a few in flight:

Alex Lamoreaux November 19, 201211:13 am

Up to 110 birds for the trip, seeing lots of cool birds this morning like Purple Sandpiper, Long-tailed Duck, and Black-legged Kittiwake. Cool mammals too- saw some Harbor Seals and Gray Seals.

Alex Lamoreaux November 19, 20128:44 am

A fun morning walk around High Head, with lots if White-winged Crossbills-

Now heading over to the Provinetown harbor to look for alcids.

Alex Lamoreaux November 19, 20127:30 am

We just woke up about an hour ago and are birding around High Head, Mass. The Google tracker won’t be as active today because I have to conserve battery on my phone. Clapper Rails calling nearby.
Camping in High Head, Mass

Alex Lamoreaux November 18, 20126:37 pm

Just updated our target map with our successes, misses, and goals for tomorrow. Check it out!

Alex Lamoreaux November 18, 20124:08 pm

Sea-watching at Nauset Beach. Got all 3 scoters, Common Eiders, Northern Gannets, Red-throated Loons, Harlequin Ducks, and 3 Razorbills!
Sea watching.

Alex Lamoreaux November 18, 20123:20 pm

Just left the Western Kingbird spot. Also saw an ‘Atlantic’ Nelson’s Sparrow there. Here are two photos I took of the kingbirds – one in flight and the other of two of the three.

Alex Lamoreaux November 18, 20121:41 pm

Currently watching three Western Kingbirds flying around together at Fort Hill, Mass!! Plus a bonus Yellow-breasted Chat and American White Pelican! Today has been nuts! Photos to come.

Alex Lamoreaux November 18, 201212:50 pm

We had a great time viewing the Northern Lapwing, and enjoyed meeting many Massachuetts birders. We stopped to look at a flock of 250 Common Eiders at the Cape Cod Canal, but are now on our way to a look for a pair of Western Kingbirds.

Alex Lamoreaux November 18, 201210:58 am

Birders watching the lapwing. Look closely for Jay Carlisle – visiting from IBO.
Birders watching the lapwing.

Alex Lamoreaux November 18, 20129:58 am

We got the lapwing!!! Watching it now. Great scopes views. Here’s a video.

Alex Lamoreaux November 18, 20129:44 am

1 mile from the Northern Lapwing…fingers crossed.

Alex Lamoreaux November 18, 20128:53 am

Adult Peregrine Falcon perched on a light post on the Jamestown-Newport Bridge – trip bird #78

Alex Lamoreaux November 18, 20128:30 am

The Cattle Egret wasn’t at Fort Getty and the White Ibis wasn’t at nearby John H. Chaffee NWR. We didn’t bother looking for the Black-headed Gull since it hasn’t been reported for at least week. Heading north to the Bridegwater, Massachuetts. General bird activity today has been great.

Alex Lamoreaux November 18, 20127:47 am

Mountain Bluebird! First bird we saw as we pulled into Fort Getty. Incredibly cooperative, and a great start to the day. Plus 4 fly over White-winged Crossbills!
Check out this video of the Mountain Bluebird-

Alex Lamoreaux November 18, 20126:50 am

Getting close to the Moutain Bluebird spot. Here is sunrise in Rhode Island.
Sunrise in Rhode Island.

Alex Lamoreaux November 18, 20126:21 am

It’s Day 3 now. Check out the previous post concerning our trip list so far. Lots of targets lined up for today: Mountain Bluebird, Cattle Egret, and of course Northern Lapwing, etc. A few photos I have taken so of the birds we saw on Saturday can be seen at this link:!/media/set/?set=a.3958999381132.2140258.1464690486&type=1&__user=1464690486&mds=%2Fsharer-dialog.php%3Fsid%3D3958999381132&mdf=1

Alex Lamoreaux November 17, 201211:51 pm

Ok – Our trip total is at 72 species, 34 eBird checklists. Ian has gotten Barnacle Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose, and Eurasian Wigeon as lifers so far. Josh and I haven’t gotten any lifers yet, but we are all getting to see some great stuff! Plus we have lapwings to look forward to. At first light tomorrow, we are going to check for the Mountain Bluebird at Fort Getty, RI and then driving up for the Bridgewater, Mass Northern Lapwing which had been missing for a few days but then was re-found this morning and seen into the evening.

Here is our trip list so far:

Greater White-fronted Goose**
Barnacle Goose**
Cackling Goose**
Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Eurasian Wigeon**
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Common Eider
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Hooded Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Northern Gannet
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Cooper’s Hawk
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Greater Yellowlegs
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
American Kestrel
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Winter Wren
Carolina Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Virginia’s Warbler**
Eastern Towhee
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Alex Lamoreaux November 17, 20128:09 pm

No luck on owls. Stopping at Dave’s Market for food. Working on getting the current trip list together. Will post shortly.


Alex Lamoreaux November 17, 20127:38 pm

If you are wondering why we are sitting at a dead end street, it’s cause we are calling for owls.

Alex Lamoreaux November 17, 20126:20 pm

Just rode the ferry over from New York. We are in Connecticut now. Heading to a hotel to plan tomorrow.

Alex Lamoreaux November 17, 20124:24 pm

Barnacle Goose! Greater Whited-fronted Goose! An unplanned stop at Marratooka Lake makes up for two of misses from earlier. And there was another Eurasian Wigeon!

Barnacle Goose-

Greater White-fronted Goose-

Alex Lamoreaux November 17, 20122:19 pm

Seems like the Montauk Northern Lapwings have officially moved on. Fingers crossed for the ones in Massachusetts to hold for a couple more days. Still had a good time watching the sea ducks off Montauk Point-

Alex Lamoreaux November 17, 201212:23 pm

No sign of the Greater White-fronted Geese in the Hamptons. Hoping for some better luck out at Montauk Point.

Alex Lamoreaux November 17, 201211:15 am

We easily found the male Eurasian Wigeon at Mill Pond plus Ian spotted what is likely a female Eurasian Wigeon as well. Below is a short video I took of the male. Heading east towards Montauk now.

Alex Lamoreaux November 17, 20128:47 am

Things weren’t looking good for us to find the warbler in the amount of time we had blocked out for it, but then New York birder Derek Rogers spotted it and called me so we ran over to where he was and got multiple quick looks at the bird both perched and in short flights. Sadly, it didn’t give us any opportunities for a photo. Heading east through Long Island towards the Mill Pond Eurasian Wigeon now.

Alex Lamoreaux November 17, 20128:29 am

Just got a few visuals of the Virginia’s Warbler!! Working on getting photos.

Alex Lamoreaux November 17, 20126:56 am

Searching for the Virginia’s Warbler now.

Alex Lamoreaux November 16, 20125:40 pm

Plan for the rest of the night is to find a place to camp in the Xterra that is close to the Virginia’s Warbler location. Then we will be right there at first light tomorrow. Currently getting some pizza at Grandpa’s Pizza….pretty good stuff.

Alex Lamoreaux November 16, 20125:16 pm

Chad – the cookies were ‘Holiday Chocolate Chip’.

Alex Lamoreaux November 16, 20124:58 pm

First dip of the trip. No sign of the Barnacle Goose anywhere in the park. Only Canada Geese, Mallards, Ring-billed Gulls, and a female American Black Duck. Going to find some pizza now.

Alex Lamoreaux November 16, 20124:26 pm

Just made it to Inwood Hill Park – hopefully the Barnacle Goose is still here.

Alex Lamoreaux November 16, 20123:50 pm

Moving (slowly) through NYC. Picked up Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead, Great Egret, and Great Black-backed Gull.

Alex Lamoreaux November 16, 20122:56 pm

Picked up Black Vulture and American Kestrel in New Jersey. And just got our first Ring-billed Gull; almost to the city!

Alex Lamoreaux November 16, 20122:21 pm

Made it to New Jersey, hopefully we’ll get to the Barnacle Goose by 4:00

Alex Lamoreaux November 16, 20122:14 pm

A monotanous ride east just got livened up by an adult Bald Eagle souring over the highway! Only 50 more miles on I-80…

Alex Lamoreaux November 16, 201212:50 pm

Cruisin’ across Clinton County – Red-tailed Hawk, Downy Woodpecker, and multiple Blue Jays!

Alex Lamoreaux November 16, 201212:11 pm

The cookies are pretty good. Hopefully it didn’t cost us a shot at the Barnacle Goose before dark though.

Drew Weber November 16, 201211:50 am

Were the cookies worth it?

Alex Lamoreaux November 16, 201211:43 am

Leaving now!! Finally!!

Drew Weber November 16, 201211:29 am

I have distinct memories of leaving Ian behind for some chases….Black-tailed Gull in Ashtabula Ohio comes to mind.

Alex Lamoreaux November 16, 201211:24 am

Still haven’t left yet. These cookies better be delicious.

Alex Lamoreaux November 16, 201211:09 am

Haven’t left yet. 40 minutes behind schedule now. Ian wanted to make some cookies first apparently.

Alex Lamoreaux November 16, 201210:35 am

About to leave State College, PA….waiting for Ian and Josh to get to my apartment and load up their gear.