Date: 10/5/17 5:43 pm From: eric masterson <erictheirish...> Subject: [NHBirds] Star Island report
I led the last of the 2017 weekend trips to Star Island this past weekend, Friday to Sunday. It was postponed from the previous week due to high seas on Friday Sep 22nd (Hurricane Jose). It might have been fun to be on island with a scope, given the tremendous seabird haul that Jose brought to the Cape, but getting there would have been inadvisable with seas 8-11 feet. Anyway it worked out, as this was definitely one of the better weekends since I have been leading these trips, although it is becoming difficult to choose, there have been so many good ones.
The tiny island "smelled rare" from the get go and did not disappoint. Michael Pahl remarked at dinner on the "Attu" gestalt of the place. The total of 87 species was one of our highest, and high totals don't happen without a few surprises, chief amongst which was an apparent western wood-pewee.
Hightlights 16 species of warbler, including Blue-winged and the now relatively common Cape May Warbler. 10 species of sparrow, including Lark and Clay-colored Sparrow. Dickcissel American Oystercatcher Lesser Black-backed Gull A late Great Crested Flycatcher
And of course the western wood-pewee. The bird was picked up on call, which in itself is odd for a fall pewee. They are usually fairly silent. It was to my ears clearly wrong for eastern and responded aggressively to western wood-pewee playback, but not to eastern. Fortunately, and courtesy of a contentious vocal flycatcher in a previous fall that went unrecorded, I went out and invested in recording equipment. I don't think an iPhone would have clinched this bird - the call is critical to identification. I sent some media out for review and the consensus opinion so far is that the bird is a western wood-pewee, which will be a state first if accepted. In the last two years, these trips have produced a state first lazuli bunting, a state second chuck-wills-widow, and a state third white-winged dove, in addition to numerous lesser rarities. Not bad for a 46 acre rock.
Thanks to Louis Bevier, Curtis Marantz, and Cin-ty Lee for feedback on the ID, and all the participants who make these trips possible.