Thanksgiving Rarity Round-up Summary

Alex LamoreauxBird Sightings, Birding, Chase, eBird, General News and Info, Listing, Maps and Directions, Missed Birds, Photography, Rarities, Trip Reports1 Comment

It has taken me a month to finally post about all the rarities and other cool birds that Josh Lefever, Ian Gardner, and I chased through the southern New England states over the weekend before Thanksgiving. Since they are scattered around our archives throughout the last month, I thought I would make it easier and summarize the trip very briefly below as well as include links to the full, individual posts for you all to explore and enjoy.

Mountain Bluebird in Rhode Island. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Mountain Bluebird in Rhode Island. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

The three of us left for the trip on November 16th and returned on the evening of November 21st. We had planned for about a week ahead of time using the various state listserves, eBird, and local birder’s help. We mapped out all of the target birds and locations we wanted to visit, and kept tabs on everything throughout our trip. We had close to 20 specific target species that we wanted to see as well as a whole slew of other more common, but still cool species we wanted to try for. We were successful in finding all but 2 of our target species and ended up finding more other interesting birds than we had originally planned on. At the bottom of this post is our interactive Google map, showing exactly where we went and what we saw where.

For this trip, we really wanted the viewers of our website to be part of the rarity-chasing experience. At this link, I had our Google target map posted as well as a map showing our exact location as we traveled throughout New England, based off our my iPhone’s GPS signal using the Google latitude app. I was also posting live updates from the field, showing photos and video of our successes, mentioning our failures, and talking about other interesting info as the trip went on. No other birding site had attempted anything like this before and we thought it would be fun to test out.

Day 1 – We drove from State College, PA to New York City and attempted to find the Barnacle Goose in the Bronx before dark, but the bird wasn’t there. We drove over and camped out near Alley Pond Park in Queens to try for the Virginia’s Warbler the next morning.

Day 2 – We woke up and immediately started searching for the Virginia’s Warbler, which we found. After that we drove east through Long Island picking up Eurasian Wigeon, Greater White-fronted Goose, Barnacle Goose, Black-legged Kittiwake, and a bunch of other cool birds but didn’t find the previously-reported Northern Lapwings. More info and photos from Day 2 can be found at this link.

Northern Lapwing in Massachusetts. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Northern Lapwing in Massachusetts. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Day 3 – After taking a ferry over from New York the evening before, we woke up on Day 3 in Rhode Island and chased the Mountain Bluebird at Fort Getty Park (link to photos, info). From there we shot up to Bridgewater, Massachusetts and saw a very cooperative Northern Lapwing (link). To finish the day out, we drove out to Cape Cod and spent the rest of the day near Fort Hill, Massachusetts (link) watching three Western Kingbirds, an American White Pelican, a Yellow-breasted Chat, and a Nelson’s Sparrow among other neat birds.

Day 4 – The three of us woke up and birded around High Head near Provincetown, Mass and then visited a few other locations near Provincetown and saw a lot of great sea ducks, a late Snowy Egret, and a few other things (link). We spent the rest of the day sea-watching from Race Point Beach at the tip of Cape Cod (link). We had a really fantastic time there seeing loads of Razorbills, a few Dovekies, hundreds of Black-legged Kittiwakes, Common Eiders, Pomarine Jaegers, etc.

Day 5 – We had driven to Connecticut the night before and birded at Hammonasset State Park first thing in the morning (link). We had hoped to find both a Black-headed Gull and a Grasshopper Sparrow here, but neither were around. Luckily, a whole bunch of both Red and White-winged Crossbills made up for it. From there, we drove over to East Shore Park (link). Our target species at East Shore Park were “Audubon’s” Warbler, “Oregon” Junco, and other wintering warbler species and swallows. We were pretty lucky and saw all of them. The last stop of our trip was to Lighthouse Point Park (link), just a few miles away from East Shore Park. At this stop we picked up a Northern Shrike and our first Snow Buntings of the trip.

Blackpoll Warbler at East Shore Park, CT. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Blackpoll Warbler at East Shore Park, CT. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

By the end of the trip we had seen a total of 131 species across six states and entered 75 eBird checklists. I picked up Northern Lapwing as a lifer and Ian and Josh each got a handful of lifers. Overall, the trip was a great success and ended up going much better than we had ever hoped for. We hope to be able to continue to have interactive rarity chases and trips on this site, having learned from a few mistakes.

Here is our interactive Google map, showing exactly where we went and what we saw (or didn’t see). Check back soon for our next birding adventure!