A very special visitor including Plum Island in September

American Avocets have been one of my favorite birds ever since I traveled west with my family when I was little. I haven’t seen any since. They are quite rare in Massachusetts (check out this AllAboutBirds map of their range). A female Avocet – apparently visiting Plum Island for several years – arrived this August and stayed until September 15th. I spent some time looking for it because I mistakenly thought it was somewhere where it would be difficult. lo and behold…he turned out to be in a fresh water pool by the side of the road with a good vantage point. I was able to get a video of it through the marsh grass on the other side of the road when other people were at the spot. The two videos I made about him are near the end of this Bucket.

Some recent pictures I took on Plum Island, roughly from the entrance on the north end of the island to the south end…

Sandy grass near Boardwalk #1 and Seaside goldenrod
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Monarch butterfly on seaside goldenrod
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Plum Island, Massachusetts, September 2022
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Snowy Egrets and Big Fish in Salt Pannes, Plum Island MA
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Beach Plum, Pines Trail, Plum Island MA
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Butter and eggs, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Plum Island, MA
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Wild apples (full size apples, not Crabapples), Plum Island, MA
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Snowy Egrets flying over Stage Island, Plum Island, MA zoom
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Stage Island, Plum Island, MA zoom
Tidal marsh across the road from where Avocet is, at high tide
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Stage Island, Plum Island, MA…Freshwater pool with Avocet
(zoom… the Avocet is the white, larger patch next to the mud flat.. the smaller ones are Greater Yellowlegs)

Click “enlarge” for a better view of these next photos. I took the next two before I realized the Avocet was there! I was expecting more of a white, black/rust and black bird than a white and black bird (with a bit of gray on the head and neck)… but the non-breeding adults and immatures don’t have much black. /rust color. Several expert birders who reported it on the Plum Island bird list said it was a mature female. According to AllAboutBirds, female Avocets have shorter and higher bill than males.

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American Avocet and Snowy Egrets (zoom)
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American Avocet, Snowy Egrets and Greater Yellowlegs (zoom)
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Snowy Egrets and Great Yellowlegs (zoom)
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Snowy Egrets and Great Yellowlegs (zoom)
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American Avocet at sunset (zoom)
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American Advocate
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Greater Yellowlegs
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Greater Mallards and American Black Ducks (zoom)
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American Avocet and Greater Yellowlegs (zoom)
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Greater Yellowlegs (zoom)
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Road to Stage Island, Plum Island, MA (zoom)
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Northern Mockingbird, Stage Island, Plum Island MA

These are the two videos I made of the Avocet, the two days I’ve seen it. (The first video is 3 ½ minutes and the second is 5 3/4 minutes, one of my favorite pieces of music by the Dutch minimalist composer Simeon ten Holt.) Normally I apologize for the length of the video, but I was very happy with how these turned out, so I won’t 🙂 The second in the video you can see how the Avocet sweeps its beak back and forth in the water in search of food. Other birds in these videos are Greater Yellow Wagtails and American Black Duck.

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Boardwalk Seven, Plum Island, MA (enlarge)
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Adult and immature Great Black-backed Gulls (zoom)
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Garnet sand, Sandy Point State Preserve, Plum Island MA
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Plum Island, MA
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Harvest month on Plum Island, September 9, 2022

September 22, 2022: It’s raining again! All over Massachusetts (and drought-stricken Rhode Island and Connecticut). Had a thunderstorm this morning with heavy rain…now a light shower. The last day of summer (yesterday) was gorgeous here. I saw many monarchs on Plum Island, including over 30 goldenrods in the sand grass and a group of them settled for the night in a cherry tree by the dam near the two freshwater pools. A picture of the sunset that evening and a two-minute video of the tree with butterflies…

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North Pool, Plum Island, MA

September 27, 2022: It’s in the mid 60s and overcast this morning on the North Shore of MA. A few days ago it rained a little more. I saw a dozen Myrtle Warblers yesterday in New Hampshire…they will probably be in MA soon. I have only seen two Monarchs in the last few days. I hope you all stay safe in the path of Ian or other storms.

IT’S YOUR TURN, SNAPPERS: WHAT’S IN THE NATURE IN YOUR AREA?

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