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