Sunday, December 4, 2016

Return To Dead Man's Swamp


 Dead Man's Swamp is about a 500 acre area that is situated along the Connecticut River in Cromwell. It used to be the favorite birding patch for a local birder named Dave. He was known for his great skill in finding birds by ear. He could not only identify a species by its song but also the key it was singing in and its date of birth.He insisted on carrying around cheap, beat up binoculars while every other birder felt the need for Swarovski or Leicas.

I'm not sure why the area is called Dead Man's Swamp. I heard one story that many years ago a couple of hobos tried to hitch a ride on the nearby train bordering the swamp. One of them had his hand severed at the wrist as he was reaching out to grab a bottle of whiskey from his traveling companion. He then fell off the train and into the swamp. The hand was supposedly found in the swamp still holding on to that bottle of whiskey but the rest of the body was never recovered. 

There have been stories that people have seen a shadowy figure wandering the fields. It is supposedly the ghost of the victim searching for his lost hand. I couldn't find any evidence of any truth to this story on google so it's probably just a local campfire tale. I'm not about running into the ghost but the place is heavily hunted and I don't like the thought of being pelted with bird shot.
It seems like every time I go to the Cromwell side of the river I see something interesting across the river in Portland. The last time I was here there were White-winged Scoters on the opposite side. This time it was a pair of adult Bald Eagles. If you look closely  you may be able to see them on a platform which is mounted on top of a very tall pole.
I took a ride across the river to get a closer look. It seems they were still there waiting for me to return to my hometown. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Skunk-headed Coots At Saybrook

I stop and check Saybrook Point several times during the winter. It's a good place to find winter ducks and loons.
I found it amusing to learn that Surf Scoters have the nickname skunk-headed coots. There were about 30 of them there along with several Ruddy Ducks.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Horned Larks Are Back In Town

 Over the last couple of years I've spending a lot of time along the shore during the winter months. There are a lot of birds I get to see at the shore during the winter that I don't see other times of the year.
 The Horned Lark is one such species.They stay mostly on the ground and have a look of their own.
 I especially like their colorful black and yellow facial pattern. I can't say that I'm excited about the approaching winter but I do look forward to winter birding.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Red-headed Woodpecker Caching Behavior

 I was near a little nature area called Whalebone Creek in Hadlyme last week hoping to find a Red-headed Woodpecker that's been hanging out in the area. I found the woodpecker which turned out to be just a few hundred yards outside over the New London county line (making it ineligible for the Middlesex County list I'm keeping).
 I attempted about 100 photos of it but the bird was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. During the failed attempts of getting the right photo I ended up doing something different altogether; studying the caching behavior of Red-headed Woodpeckers. 
I made an informal count of 40 trips of this bird flying from one side of the road to the other side of the road. After a while I realized it was collecting food (mostly acorns) and then caching it in a dead tree. Afterwards I googled and found out that Red-headed Woodpeckers are known to do this.

I wasn't thrilled about getting crappy photos in the wrong county but getting a first hand look at the caching behavior of a Red-headed Woodpecker made it feel as like it was time well-spent.