September 7: The nocturnal Eastern Whip-poor-will is a notoriously difficult bird to see, never mind photograph. Its eponymous call is familiar to anyone who has camped in the woods, but it is not often seen, except perhaps as a momentary darting shadow. I have staked out Meshomasic State Forest in Portland, CT at dusk a number of times hoping to spot one at the roadside while there was still enough ambient light to photograph, but although they are numerous here, while there is still light they remain silent and invisible and begin to call only just when the last vestige of useful light has finally waned. They don’t become really active until it is actually dark. Frustrating.
I well remember when in May, 2014 a migrant was discovered one afternoon sleeping in plain view at eye level no more than ten feet from the boardwalk at Green Cay Wetlands close to home in Boynton Beach, FL, but I only learned about it that evening, and when I so hopefully got there first thing in the morning it was already gone. Only a small handful of people had gotten to see it at all.
So when Tina Green posted a perched Whip-poor-will at Sherwood Forest State Park earlier today, and since after eleven years of photographing I still had never managed a single decent image of one, it wasn’t much of a decision to drive the 55-minutes down to Westport where Tina was kind enough to meet me in the parking lot and point out the spot. The perfectly camouflaged bird had moved from its earlier unobstructed position just enough to now be partially screened by a fir branch, but from a different angle was still viewable in profile through just one small opening amidst the tangle of branches. How Tina ever managed to find this bird remains a mystery to me, but over the years she has consistently been one of the best in the state at repeatedly doing just that. Thanks, Tina.
Earlier in the afternoon at Hammonasset, small sandpipers were still around, with Baird’s, White-rumped, and Least all in the same rain puddle, and an unusual opportunity to capture the two long-winged small sandpipers directly side by side for a nice plumage comparison, Baird’s in front and White-rumped behind.