Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Savannah Sparrows Hiding In The Cornfields

 I made a visit to my local patch at Wangunk Meadows this weekend to check on the state of the sparrows and other birds. I walked along the river past the fairgrounds to the northern end of Wangunk. Along the way I counted 8 Swamp Sparrows, 12 Eastern Bluebirds, 4 White-throated Sparrows, 2 Red-shouldered Hawks, 2 Bald Eagles,1 Northern Harrier, 2 Osprey, 1 Sharp-shinned Hawk, and 1 American kestrel. I saw about 35 species in total. 

 You might not know it by looking at this picture but I counted at least 40 Savannah Sparrows near these cornfields. They were very hard to see on the ground and when I got close they would pop up into the cornfields and disappear.
 I finally managed to catch one at the top of a corn plant looking around.
There were a few warblers too including Black and White Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, and several Palm Warblers. Not surprisingly, the majority of the warblers I saw were Yellow-rumped Warblers

When I was in the deepest part of the woods, 2 Alaskan Huskies ran toward me. I pet one of the dogs but the second dog didn't like it. A dog argument broke out and I was standing between 2 alpha males aggressively barking, snarling, and baring teeth. I like dogs but I was a wee bit nervous there for a minute.

Sparrows of the corn, surrounded by birds of prey, and being cornered by angry dogs made the morning feel like an early Halloween birding trip.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Some Nice Sightings At Sharon Audubon Center

 I camped out at Macedonia Brook State Park this weekend. During the day I decided to take a ride over to The Sharon Audubon Center which was within close driving distance. There are several well-marked trails on the property. with a couple of nice ponds on property. The progression of fall foliage was still in the early stages.
They had a blind conveniently set up on the edge of the first pond. I was able to get a good view of Wood Ducks from this location and imagine that it would come in very handy once some of the migrating ducks arrive. The second pond featured boardwalks and  benches set at the edge of the pond making my birding experience very comfortable.
 They also have a raptor aviary with hawks,owls, falcons, and a Bald Eagle which are unable to survive in the wild.
 I caught a nice view of a Swamp Sparrow at the edge of the pond.
 This Blue-headed Vireo was a nice find for me but I don't think I've ever seen one with so much green color!
Another surprise was 2 animals that were swimming around in the reeds. They didn't allow me much of a view but they looked like otters. I've only seen otters maybe once or twice in my life so that was exciting.

It was perfect weather and the scenery in Litchfield County is beautiful in the Fall. I spent a lot of time hiking up hills, checking out back road scenery, and visiting other parks such as  Mowhawk Mountain but the highlight of my trip was my time spent at the Sharon Audubon Center. It was the perfect way to end the month of September.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Walden Preserve & The Woolly Bear Caterpillar

I recently visited the Walden Preserve in Salem Connecticut. It is owned by the nature conservancy and managed by the Salem Land Trust. It contains 400 acres of fields,woodlands, streams as well as some small ponds and is also part of the 8 Mile River Watershed.

 I've heard from other birders that this an excellent place to visit during spring migration with plenty of warbler action but timing is everything and the birds were a little quiet during my visit. I'm guessing that in a few weeks there will be plenty of sparrows hopping around these weeds. 

The grassy paths led me through fields of wildflowers like asters and the smell of wild grapes was so strong that I could actually taste them as I brushed past the vines.
 I found a Woolly Bear Caterpillar making its way through the grass. There's an old wives tail that you can tell how severe a winter is going to be based on the amount of black that these caterpillars have on their bands. There are also several Woolly Bear fall festivals in the US and Canada. It just so happened that I was wearing brown pants and a black shirt on the morning I found him. I think we were kind of bonding.
I didn't see much sparrow activity but sometimes I forget that an Eastern Towhee is actually a jumbo-sized variety of sparrow.
Both Turkey Vultures (above) and Black Vultures were flying overhead. I love the way their wingtips look when they are in flight.
I found a couple of tiny ponds tucked away in the woods where the leaves were just starting to change color....
..... turtles were trying to keep warm by catching some sun on their backsides......
....and a beaver tried to sneak past me without being noticed.

Fall is in the air already...can you feel it?