#505 Hudsonian Godwit

Sunday morning Janet Schumacher and I drove out to Cupsogue Beach County Park on the south shore of Long Island to look for the Hudsonian Godwit that had been reported there since the previous weekend. I first saw it at low tide around 9:15 AM on the first sandbar in the bay, visible from just past the trailer parking area. However the bill looked a little off and I wasn’t sure before the bird took off. Could have been a Dowitcher in intermediate plumage. Then, after walking a mile out to the point and back again, we relocated it at exactly the same spot and got much better looks at it, including a few (bad) photographs.

Hudsonian Godwit on sandbar with Gulls, Dowitchers and other shorebirds

At least I hope that’s the bird. (Lower right foreground) It was easier to see through the scope which gives you much several times more magnification than my 400mm lens (roughly equivalent to a pair of binoculars). To get this much I had to scan along the sandbar snapping away and then blow up the photos later at home.

If anyone wants to try for it:

  1. Check the tide tables. Aim for low tide.
  2. Drive to the far west end of the parking lot.
  3. From there, walk down the unpaved sand road till just past the trailer camp.
  4. Scope the sandbar in the middle of the bay (right hand side of the road) until you spot a Dowitcher sized bird with a noticeably ruddy breast.

Also, if it’s a weekend get there early. Although there were few folks around when we arrived, by the time we left at 11:30 the parking lot was completely full, and the police were turning away a long line of cars.

The bird may be associating with some Dowitchers, or it may just be a coincidence. At one point we saw the Dowitchers appear to get annoyed with the Godwit and chase it off. However the color and patterns are clearly distinct from the Dowitchers. I would have been less confident in the ID if we hadn’t had both species standing right there for easy comparison. By itself, the Godwit is easy to mistake for a Dowitcher at this distance. interestingly, we could see that the feeding pattern was also distinct. The Dowitchers probe the mud much faster than the Godwit does.

Other birds seen included:

  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Great Egret
  • Osprey
  • Black-bellied Plover
  • American Oystercatcher
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Willet
  • Hudsonian Godwit
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Red Knot
  • Sanderling
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • Great Black-backed Gull
  • Least Tern
  • Common Tern
  • Forster’s Tern
  • Tree Swallow
  • Barn Swallow
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Song Sparrow
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • House Finch
  • House Sparrow

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