7.14.21 ~ banded American oystercatcher ~ Eastern Point

I submitted my sighting of this banded American Oystercatcher to the American Oystercatcher Working Group and have now recieved a history of this bird’s travels. He was caught on Cape Cod in July of 2012 and has been spotted along the shoreline from the Cape down here to southeastern Connecticut and southern Rhode Island over the past nine years. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you so much, Donna, for letting me know I could do this!

7.23.21 ~ northern mockingbird
Fort Trumbull State Park, New London, Connecticut

On a visit to Fort Trumbull last week the northern mockingbird, above, landed on top of the rampart while we were up there enjoying the views. I was surprised to see one so high up as the ones I’ve seen so far have been on the ground.

Monday night at the beach seemed to be reserved for ring-billed gulls. I looked in vain for the Captain and for any laughing gulls. Looking back now at my older posts I’ve noticed that all my pictures of laughing gulls are dated August and September so perhaps that’s when they ususally show up here. I’m learning.

7.26.21 ~ ring-billed gull on the rocks ~ Eastern Point

Tim noticed several osprey flying above the Thames River estuary but we couldn’t identify them until we got home and the helpful people from the Whatโ€™s This Bird? Facebook group assisted us. ๐Ÿ™‚


The sky was gray and hazy from the smoke from the fires out west. We’ve been under an air quality alert. The birds have no choice but to breathe this air, though.

ring-billed gull on the Thames River beach
great egret in Thames River estuary

I almost missed the tiny killdeer skittering about on the island in the estuary. They’re fuzzy because they were on the move and the island was so far away from my camera!

killdeer on island in Thames River estuary
great egret
juvenile gull
great egret
one of my little song sparrows on the stone wall near the thicket
sun setting in smoky haze over Thames River

I started feeling a little nostalgic as we walked around. Years ago I was so busy keeping an eye on my children at the beach that I didn’t notice the shorebirds. But as I watched the lifeguards gathering up their equipment for the day, the sights and sounds and smell of the salty air filled me with a longing for those happy summer days so long ago…

for Leelah: my mossy fairy garden

30 thoughts on “sightings”

    1. Thank you, Frank. No surprise at all — Cincinnati isn’t located anywhere even close to its Atlantic shoreline range. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Have you seen any on the Gulf coast beaches?

  1. OH the fairy garden! lucky you – adorable! and how are you doing in the smokey air – can you go out at all? I am so lucky to live where I live – may you feel safe trough the ordeal. Sending warmest blessings

    1. Thank you, Leelah! We were under an air quality alert for a while there and could smell the smoke some days, but we didn’t go out much. What we’re experiencing is nothing compared to what people living closer to the fires are going through, though.

  2. Hey Barbara, How were the oystercatcher people able to identify the specific bird? By it’s markings? What a great story!

    1. Hi Susan, fortunately I could make out the “2F” written on the yellow band on its leg. The band color, number and letter combination are unique to this bird. Hope I see it again some day!

  3. A refreshing visit to the shore, Barbara, and much enjoyed. I loved hearing about your ways of learning the birds, and observing all the beautiful birds you enjoyed that day. Sweet little fairy garden. And how wonderful to have learned of the American Oystercatcher’s journeys. That individual has lived what I thought of as a long time, 9 years, but then I looked up their lifespan and it’s up to 23 years. So your friend in photo #1 has many more sea adventures to enjoy.

    1. So happy you enjoyed the visit, Jet. ๐Ÿ™‚ It seems that this American Oystercatcher spent a year on Cape Cod, then wasn’t spotted for two years and then showed up at Napatree Point in Rhode Island in 2014. It’s been sighted at several beaches in southeastern Connecticut ever since. This was the first time at my beach! There is so much to learn about birds and the fascination all started with that gull with the mangled leg who befriended me ten years ago.

  4. We’re dealing with those hazy/smoky skies, too. They make for some fantastic sunsets, though, don’t they? Isn’t it wonderful how varied our birds are? Look how BIG that egret is, compared to the sparrow!

    1. Waterbirds, a songbird and a raptor all in one evening — it was wonderful! I never know what to expect when we go down to the beach. ๐Ÿ™‚ The sunsets have a mysterious feeling to them, beautiful and unsettling at the same time.

  5. Woohoo, Barbara! How awesome to get your ID feedback, and so quick! I just love hearing this. ๐Ÿ™‚ And look at the fine variety of beautiful bird captures, well done! You go, girl!!

        1. ๐Ÿ˜Š ๐Ÿ™
          “A day is happily spent that shows me any bird that I never saw alive before.” ~ Elliott Coues

  6. How nice they could track your Oystercatcher and it had been banded nine years ago already! A fellow blogger sent banding info from a Trumpeter Swan in Tofino, B.C. and got the info back on where it had been sighted since banding it. I never knew before that one you had ability to track the bird a banded bird – I thought the info was just for the birding experts. You had a great outing here Barbara – lots of different birds. It is fun to reflect on the past … more and more I realize the good old days were the best of all,

    1. Most of the information is really for the experts. I had to agree not to share the names of the others who have sighted the bird and other specifics so I didn’t mention all the exact dates and places this bird showed up. I wonder if different kinds of birds have their own research organizations. It’s all so fascinating. Focusing on these birds has been a blessing, distracting me from my COVID fears, health problems, wistful memories, and missing my grandchildren. I’m starting to doubt it will be safe (for them or us) to go visit them in Septemeber for Kat’s birthday. Sigh… I hope the universe keeps sending me birds! (Haven’t seen The Captain since July 16th.)

      1. I wondered if you were still planning your trip – is it better if they come here to see you insofar as no hotel stays or stops for gas, eating, etc.?
        The birdwatching is so fulfilling, especially in this time of COVID – I’m sorry you haven’t seen the Captain. I feel a camaraderie with my squirrels at the Park, especially the one I called Parker who incessantly begs but I have not seen him much this year. Last year, they shut the Park down for one month as people were congregating too closely at the pavilion/picnic tables and eventually just removed the picnic tables altogether after the Park re-opened. I walked in the neighborhood, but did sneak down to the Park and fed the squirrels about 6-7 times. I did not sneak around, but cut through the parking lot and one time encountered firemen who were removing caution tape that secured the playground equipment, picnic tables area and front of the Park at the entrance. The caution tape was flying into the Creek and they told me they were concerned waterfowl would ingest it or get tangled up in it. They did not remove the picnic tables until the Park was opened again, so I dumped a lot of peanuts on/around the tables as I always did when we were expecting rain or snow the next day. The squirrels saw me in the parking lot and were waiting. I told the firemen because I was already there and said I went there and left after making a “drop” … they said it was people who disobeyed the Mayor’s orders to socially distance and were okay with me doing that.
        That is interesting about the restrictions on relaying the information about the Oystercatcher. I just looked at the fellow blogger’s site re: the Trumpeter Swans … he had sent info originally in 2013 on the “ballet of swans” and again in 2019. The band on the swans are on the legs and also around the neck. Here is Wayne’s post:

        1. They had a rough time traveling here in May with the little ones and trying to keep everyone safe at all those stops. Honestly I think it’s just as hard for them to travel as it is for us. They thought of flying but it’s so expensive for four people and with all the disruptions in service and passenger behavior problems… We’ll just have to play it by ear and see what happens. I’m so glad we squeezed in that visit in May.
          I guess the Captain and Parker are laying low for the time being. Animals are sensitive to shifts in energy and on some level I think they know the world has changed.
          Thanks for the link. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m off to check it out.

          1. I know you had some concerns about making that long trip and yes, thankfully, you got to see each other in May. I suspect that our little buddies are foraging and out and about more than usual, so we are not seeing them. Two-Tone does not miss a beat though … this morning she was standing up across the street waiting for me to open the door. The squirrels have begun burying their nuts at the Park … we’ve had coolish weather since Friday. They are in tune with the weather and what is going on … I agree with you. You’re welcome Barbara. He is the only blogger besides you who has written about banding birds. He does some incredible eagle photography.

          2. Happy to hear that Two-Tone is still visiting you! She’s so pretty! I’m following Wayne’s blog now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Hi Barbara, Iโ€™m new to your blog by way of Ms. Ally Bean, that is

    I am thrilled to find another coastal birder! To answer your question if the American Oystercatcher is found on the Gulf coasts: the answer is Yes! (Attached link)

    I live in Corpus Christi, TX which is on the Gulf of Mexico coastline. I lived on the island for over a decade and during the beginning of the pandemic I moved to what is considered more inland on the Bay Area of Corpus.

    I have been coming to the area for more than (yikes!) 50 years and have not seen an American Oystercatcher! So I am more thrilled to read of your sighting!!! I wii be on the lookout!

    I happened to be on a 3 week work & vacation trip with my husband at the time in the area where you live now. This was way back and I wondered if you were there then? If so do you remember, Hurricane Bob and Cape Code? I donโ€™t remember the exact date, but this was before internet when we received our news by a newspaper slipped underneath our hotel room door. Luckily my husband read that morningโ€™s newspaper! Curious if you were there then?

    Either way, Iโ€™m glad to meet you on your blog as Iโ€™m into all types of birds! For the love of birds, I say Hello from Texas!

    1. Hi TD, thanks for stopping by! I love Ally’s blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thank you for the link. I hope you will get to see an American oystercatcher down there on your Gulf Coast since we now know they should be there. The first time I ever saw them here, a pair, was in 2014, and then we didn’t see any for seven years until this summer, a whole family of five. Their pictures were in this post:

      I remember Hurricane Bob in August 1991 very well. At first we didn’t think we’d have to evacuate but then the authorities drove through the neighborhood with a bullhorn telling us we had to evacuate after all. My husband was at work so I piled the kids into our Dodge Caravan and drove ten miles inland to stay with a friend. My oldest son, who was 15 at the time, was sulking because he wanted to stay and see all the excitement of the storm. (I don’t think he’s forgiven me to this day! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) There was a 5 foot storm surge but since we live about 20 feet above sea level we had no water damage, just a lot of trees down from the wind. My grandparents were still living on Cape Cod, then, in Dennis Port. They were fine and didn’t have to evacuate!

      I’m happy to meet you, too! Although my mother was a passionate birder I used to find birdwatching boring but in recent years I’ve become more and more enthusiastic about it and have been noticing more of them since we’ve been taking more walks during the pandemic.

      1. Oh, Barbara, Iโ€™m so glad that you put the link to the photos of the pair. What great photos! And yes, I was curious to who is Captain? I imagined perhaps a son, or husband, or dog, but never did I imagine a Sea Gull! That was fun!!

        Isnโ€™t it wild that we were in the same hurricane and meeting here on your blog thirty years later. Hurricane Bob was Aug โ€˜91 indeed. We saw the same destruction of trees and power lines down. What I remember driving from our hotel through the cape area were the amount of people out searching for ice! No power and ice was no where to be found. And of course nothing was open for food. At the time, it was the most bazaar landscape we had ever seen.

        I pulled out my photo album of our 3 week work/vacay just to see what I had documented. I had a few photos of a red brick hotel where someone was taping the large windows which is were we pulled in to hunker down. Oddly enough, I remembered during part of the storm we were told by management that all guests had to go into one very large room together for our safety. It was the room that they had taped the windows. Good that it was a category 2 that travel through rapidly. I only kept one photo of the devastation on Cape Cod. I suppose my heart didnโ€™t want to relive seeing all the loss and chaos, but I certainly remember.

        We were heading from Boston towards Hyannis Port to take the tiny plane to Marthaโ€™s Vineyard and Nantucket. It was during the days of the TV show โ€œWingsโ€ so that was the fun part and I took lots of photos from the sky of the landscape below!

        I appreciate you for sharing your experience story of the event with me. I look forward to reading your blog of life now! Nice to meet you!!

        1. I didn’t have a name for my gull friend for many years but since sailors in the past believed gulls hold the souls of drowned sailors and fishermen I finally decided to honor all the sea captains on my family tree by calling him The Captain.

          Wow — thirty years ago. 1991 was quite a year. My mother had died in May during an unusual heat wave and the weather was strange for the rest of the year. My irises bloomed again in November… That is amazing we were both in New England for that storm. We live in a small city with its own electric company so our power was restored quickly, but my father, inland, lost power for about a week and had to navigate roads blocked by downed trees on his search for ice, too. What a disaster.

          Sadly, Cape Cod is slipping into the sea. It’s my soul place, home to so many of my ancestors, but I haven’t been able to get up there so much in recent years. When our kids were growing up we spent almost every summer vacation there. In 2015, when Tim & I were flying home from Europe, we saw the Cape and the Islands clearly from the jet’s windows and I got a lump in my throat to see my beloved landscape from above.

          Thank you for sharing your Cape Cod story with me! I’ve never been to Texas, and unfortunately, due to health problems, my travel days are mostly over. But it’s been a pleasure meeting you and I look forward to more of your visits!

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