Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Penfield Reef- Fairfield, CT

-Yesterday (2/22) in the late morning, Charlie Barnard and I took a walk out onto Penfield Reef in Fairfield in hopes of some shorebirds, ducks, and seals. All were present in OK numbers except the former. Only a few Sanderlings.

-The water level was higher than normal, and the whole reef didn't become exposed, so we scoped from the 'half-way point'. I suspect that it was this mess of winter weather moving from the west that altered the tides. What was interesting, the west side of the reef was much choppier than the east.... and it was getting windier by the minute. We both had a feeling there were more shorebirds further out, but scopes only go so far!

-Another interesting aspect was the Horned Grebes. We counted (probably tentative) 42 Horned Grebes to the west of the reef. Zero on the east. And a grand total of zero Common and zero RT Loons. A fellow birder from Stratford, Frank Mantlik counted 20+ during his scouting of the Stratford shores. Good day for the Horned Grebes!! Thanks to my more experienced birder buddy, Charlie, I just learned that in February the Horned Grebes grow in numbers and stage here in L.I.S. before moving along to continue their legacy and create new generations of this really neat bird.

Below is our tally for the hour or so we spent out there:

(15) Brant (I expected to see more)

(350) Greater Scaup... very well could have been Lesser mixed in, but conditions and distance made it hard to ID

(36) Long-tailed Duck

(400) Goldeneye (a huge flock came up and there were at least 200 in just that one)

(6) Red-breasted Mergansers

(42) Horned Grebes (again... ALL west of the reef)

(3) Great Cormorants

(4) Sanderling

-We also saw about 6 Harbor seals looking quite content and lazy off the reef. A few were just floating on the water. One of which was clearly an adult bull Harbor. Another male, floating on the water, was laying on his side with a fin in the air... reminded me of Humpback Whale behavior. Perhaps courting??

-After Penfield Reef we scanned a few other local Spots like St. Mary's by the Sea and Captains Cove. Other than 2 Ring-necked Ducks at Captains Cove, and a single Great Cormorant near St.Mary's (out on the lighthouse/rock island thingy), there was nothing of note out of the norm.

Below are a few of the few photos I shot while on the reef.

(Sanderling pair)

(Common Goldeneye flock in flight)


(Two Harbor seals being lazy out past the gull flock. Both are Harbor seals, you can see the one big'un on the right and another on the left)



  1. Brian,

    While viewing the second (bottom) photo of the Sanderlings, I noticed all the oyster shells. I hadn't noticed them while we were out there.

  2. Interesting.... me neither. Should have grabbed a few for dinner!


  3. The oysters that is.... not the Sanderlings. =)