November 18th saw my friends and I frantically birding in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. It was our 2nd day of a 5 day birding trip through New England, chasing all the rarities we could. We started off the 18th at Fort Getty Park in Rhode Island, where we saw the beautiful Mountain Bluebird. We expected it to take a few hours to find and watch the bluebird, but it happened to be the very first bird we spotted upon arriving to Fort Getty, so we were back on the road much earlier than anticipated.
The ultimate goal of our trip to New England was to hopefully see one of the multiple Northern Lapwings that had been reported around the region. Potentially due to Hurricane Sandy, this fall had turned in to a lapwing invasion in the northeast US and was totally unprecedented. Ian, Josh, and I all needed Northern Lapwing as a lifer, in fact it was really my only chance for a lifer on this trip. Not to mention, we didn’t know when the next time a situation like this would occur, where there were so many lapwings around to chase.
As far as seeing a lapwing went, we had 3 options at the start of our trip – there were 2 birds on Long Island, 2 birds on Nantucket, and 1 missing bird at Bridgewater, Massachusetts. We had spent the entire day before on Long Island, and sadly it appeared as though the lapwings there had moved on – no one had seen them for 2 days at that point. The Nantucket birds would be a hassle. We would have to take a very expensive ferry out to the island and then hike out to where the lapwings were being reported. Luckily, we heard reports that the Bridgewater lapwing, which had been missing for almost a week, had been re-found near the same spot it had been at and was showing nicely. We couldn’t waste time on this guy – if we wanted to have a good shot at seeing a lapwing on this trip, we had to go for the Bridgewater bird right away. The three of us quickly put together some plans and as soon as we left the Mountain Bluebird location, we shot up towards Bridgewater.
We arrived at the site by 9:50am, where many birders were already gathered. We grabbed our spotting scopes out of the back of my car and walked over to join the other birders, who let us know that the lapwing was here but kept going in and out of corn stubble and was occasionally difficult to see. Luckily, we positioned ourselves in a nice spot and within minutes had great looks at the Northern Lapwing – basically Europe’s version of our Killdeer, only WAY more crazy looking. We spent about an hour and 40 minutes watching, photographing, and taking videos of the lapwing as it walked around and foraged in the corn field. It was a really amazing bird to see, especially since just the day before, it had looked like we weren’t going to be lucky enough to actually see one on our trip. To make things even better, my friend and former boss, Jay Carlisle from the Idaho Bird Observatory was visiting family in Connecticut and happened to be at the lapwing spot while we were!