Date: 6/8/19 3:08 pm From: Stephen Mirick <smirick...> Subject: [NHBirds] Little Egret in Rye and incubating Mississippi Kites in Newmarket!
The NH Coast was absolutely dead this morning with spring migration now
over. I worked my way quickly up the coast and was almost ready to head
inland when I searched through a group of Snowy Egrets in Rye and found
a nice breeding plumage LITTLE EGRET with 5 Snowy Egrets! Fortunately,
the bird stuck around all day and was seen by lots of birders. It had
two beautiful lanceolate shaped head plumes and nice gray-blue lores.
Photos were difficult for everyone today due to the heat shimmer:
This species has had a "checkered" and controversial history in New
Hampshire as follows:
4/28/1990 - A Little Egret was found and identified by Pam Hunt in Rye
and I subsequently relocated it in Hampton Falls. I remember walking
way out into the marshes on a cold, raw, windy, foggy day in April to
photograph this bird and then running to find a phone booth (remember
them?) and pouring money into the phone calling people. This sighting
came just months after the first United States record from Plum Island
in Massachusetts so there was a lot of excitement! This bird was seen by
lots of people and (at the time) was thought to be the 2nd US record for
Little Egret. Some caution about the ID grew over the years and the
record was ultimately REJECTED by the NHRBC and it is believe that this
individual might have actually been a hybrid. David Sibley used my
photo of this bird in this article:
8/2/1992 - Steven Abbott (Denny Abbott's son) documented (with drawings)
a Little Egret (without head plumes) in Hampton Falls marshes. Denny
got to see it, but it was gone by the time I got over to look for it,
and it was never seen again. The record was accepted by the NHRBC, but
was only seen by 2 people so it would not qualify as a first State record.
6/30/1998 - I found a Little Egret in the saltmarshes off Bay Road in
Newmarket that stuck around into mid-August. At that time, it was
private property, but it is now known as the "Lubberland Creek Preserve"
owned by TNC. The bird had only a single neck plume and became quite
famous as this species was still very rare in the United States. People
from all over the US came to see this bird in the 6 weeks that it
visited the marsh. One person flew in from Seattle just to see this
bird and then turned around and flew back to Seattle as soon as he saw
it! Another group of young birders all piled into a truck and drove
straight from Michigan to see it!
6/8/2019 - Today's bird is the first in full breeding plumage for NH.
Remarkably, it took 21 years for another NH record as the species has
increased dramatically in the eastern US and Canada and has been
annually reported in Maine since 2015. Many of Maine's records likely
represent a single individual bird, but there have been distinctly two
birds this year in Maine with one at Scarborough Marsh last weekend. It
is likely this bird is one of Maine's recent birds. For the last two
decades, EVERY SINGLE TIME I see a Snowy Egret, I take the time to check
to make sure it isn't a Little Egret. It finally paid off today! :-)
In other news......I checked the Stratham Mississippi Kites nest spot
from last year, but no luck. I talked to my contact in this
neighborhood and she had a nice photo of a single bird, so at least one
bird (and hopefully two) are back on territory. In Newmarket, I checked
the nest spot from last year and bingo! Almost, or perhaps exactly, in
the same spot as last year, a female is now incubating in a nest high in
an oak. I didn't drive to Durham and check out on this nest area yet.