After our good luck at East Shore Park (link to photos), we drove over to nearby Lighthouse Point Park. Our primary target here was a continuing immature Northern Shrike plus we wanted to find as many Connecticut birds as we could since we knew this was our last stop of our entire 5 day trip through New England. On the drive over to Lighthouse Point Park, I spotted an adult Red-shouldered Hawk sitting on the ground along the road, in someone’s yard. I quickly turned down the nearest side street and began taking photos of the hawk once it flew up into a nearby tree. I had never had an opportunity before to get such up-close photos of an adult Red-shouldered and couldn’t believe how tame the bird was – in fact, we left after I took a few shots and it was still perched in the same spot!
We arrived at the park a little after noon, and began searching for the shrike. The directions on the Connecticut listserve said it was often seen near the bird feeders. On the drive in, we noticed the feeders so we walked over and found a trail that bordered the feeders on one side and a small canal on the other. American Wigeon, American Black Ducks, and a few Brant were floating in the canal while Red-winged Blackbirds, House Finches, Black-capped Chickadees, various sparrows, and Carolina Wrens were flitting around near the feeders and nearby brush. Ian, Josh, and I stopped every few feet to scan trees and brush, looking for perches that we felt would be satisfactory for a Northern Shrike. A few minutes later, Ian spotted the shrike right in front of us – perched in a tree along the right side of the trail and at eye level. Woah! I had never been so close to a Northern Shrike and it didn’t seem to mind us at all. I began taking some photos but the lighting wasn’t ideal. Later we saw the shrike fly over to another tree on the other side of the canal.
We walked back towards the parking area and decided to make one quick lap around the park and see what was around as well as stop to chat with the hawkwatcher that had set up shop in a grassy area, scanning the horizon with his spotting scope. Sadly, the man reported that he had only had 4 migrant raptors pass throughout the day but did mention he had recently seen some Snow Buntings fly in. This was really great news for us because for some reason, we had no come across Snow Buntings anywhere else during our 5 day trip even though we had figured they would be fairly easy to find. So easy in fact, that before the trip I had put a photo of one on the live feed post. We walked in the direction the hawkwatcher had said he last saw the buntings and quickly spotted 5 Snow Buntings foraging in some short, dead grass. In typical Snow Bunting fashion, they let us approach fairly close and seemed not to care about our presence.
After our time with the buntings, we scanned the open water and spotted a few Common Loons and Bufflheads and then decided we should go get lunch and start driving back to PA. On the walk back to the car, the hawkwatcher yelled to us and then pointed up into the air. Soaring around not too far away, was an immature female Sharp-shinned Hawk! Here is a link to our full eBird checklist from Lighthouse Point Park.