Date: 12/27/20 4:33 pm
From: William Freedberg via CTBirds <ctbirds...>
Subject: [CT Birds] How to see 100+ Dovekies in MA
Hi folks,

Dovekies are a tricky bird to see, but not that tricky. While they are
extremely rare and difficult to see in Long Island Sound, they are almost
reliable in MA in some years. Since some folks on the list felt the need to
publicly express how badly they wanted to see a Dovekie, I thought I'd post
some extralimital tips on how to see them with just a 3 hour drive from the
New Haven area.

First, I want to make one thing abundantly clear as someone who has
rescued, handled, and released rehabilitated Dovekies: wildlife releases
are not public spectacles. Nobody has a right to be notified of a wildlife
release. The crowds that show up to some rarity chases would make a release
much more stressful for the bird and would pressure on the rehabbers.

Now, on to the fun part.

The first step is to visit a weather modeling website like Windy dot com or
download an app like PredictWind or Windy, and check the forecast
periodically in November and December (and throughout the winter). You want
to look for a storm that begins with greater than 20kt winds from the NNE
or NE over outer cape cod (eg over provincetown) during daylight hours. If
the storm is forecast to move in such a way that the winds shift to NNW,
NW, or W by the following day at dawn, head to First Encounter Beach in
Eastham (or other Eastham beaches like Kingsbury or Herring Brook). Be
there at dawn. Again: be there...at... dawn. The last storm I birded like
this, I showed up at 8am and sorely, bitterly regretted it. Observers who
beat me there at 6:30 had an extraordinary count of 6,000+ Dovekies (they
were also much more skilled seabirders, so doubtless this has a lot to do
with their skill as observers).

6,000 Dovekie checklist from Williams/Seitz/Trimble and others:
https://ebird.org/checklist/S77232505
My checklist from later that morning (had about 55 more Dovekies at
Kingsbury and Sunken Meadows that day:
https://ebird.org/checklist/S77142170
One from Corporation Beach:
https://ebird.org/checklist/S50745810
Another one from Race:
https://ebird.org/checklist/S76555441

100+ counts of Dovekies can happen several times in a year in some years
(though 6,000 is exceptional). Other weather patterns have also produced
100s or 1000s of birds at Corporation Beach in Dennis and at Race Point
(not Race Point Beach) in Provincetown.

I am not an expert on this, and others on this list are welcome to correct
me if I'm wrong. A handful of excellent birders have stormbirding patterns
figured out much better than I do, but have legitimately better things to
do than write up tips for a listserv (some have published books on the
subject, some run major conservation orgs or museum collections, some work
as professors, and most have families). So, please understand that this is
my /impression/ of how finding Dovekies works and that I don't pretend to
be one of the crack stormbirders that have been keying in on seabird
patterns for decades.

Finally, I want to thank everyone on this list for the thousands of times
people /have/ posted and publicized rarities here (particularly the people
who were in the small group at the dovekie release, who are great about
this). I hope this list serves as evidence that there is no grand
conspiracy to keep "plebes" like me away from good birds. There are many
reasons why a rarity might not get posted-- a sensitive location, a
sensitive species, or just a lack of time or interest or willpower on the
part of the observer-- and that is OK. There is no moral exigency on expert
birder (or an amateur) to post a rarity. Pretending otherwise smacks of
entitlement.

Best,
Will
Boston MA and New Haven CT
<4mrfish...>
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