Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ruddy Ducks Catching A Little Sun

  I had the pleasure of seeing Ruddy Ducks sunning themselves this morning. 
It is usually difficult for me to get a good view of the subtle plumage detail on the wintering Ruddy Ducks.- (breeding males have bold color)
From a distance I usually identify these diving ducks out by seeing their scoop-shaped bills and upright tales.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Don't Prejudge A Cloudy Winter Day

 When I looked out the window early this morning I was discouraged by the sight of piled up snow and grey skies. I decided to take a pass on birding for the day and headed to the local diner for breakfast but tossed my birding gear into my trunk just in case I had a change of heart. 

After breakfast I decided to take a ride down to the shore just to have a quick look around. I took my camera out to snap a picture of a Hooded Merganser that had his bill tucked in. I was happy to see that there was just enough light to get some bird photos.
 I found a nice flock of Horned Lark picking through piles of sticks and dirt protruding though the snow. I only spent about an hour at the shore but was able to add Brant, Horned Grebe, and Black Scoter to my year list. 
Just as I was about to arrive home, I noticed a large number of ducks down in the brownstone quarries. Not surprisingly, most of them were Mallards.What I didn't expect to see was over 20 Wood Ducks swimming near the shoreline. I rarely see them here and certainly didn't expect to find them in the middle of February!

Ignoring the cloudy skies and piled up snow turned out to be a good decision. I was able to see some unexpected birds and it turned out to be a warm and comfortable day considering it's the middle of winter.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Back To Scoping Birds Thanks To Good Service

It was during one of the Christmas counts that my  65mm Vortex Viper spotting scope came loose from the tripod and hit the ground hard enough to break the eyepiece. In the back of my mind I thought it had some sort of warranty on it but you never know if a warranty is any good until you have to use it. I brought the broken sand-covered scope back to the Audubon Shop in Madison where I bought it. Within two weeks my scope was fixed, cleaned, and ready for pick-up at no charge. That's what I call good old-fashioned service!
After picking up my scope I stopped at a few spots along the shore to see what I've been missing like this Common Loon down near Saybrook Point...
Common Goldeneyes just down the road at Cornfield point...
...and this Bufflehead which was standing on a log which is something I don't see often because they always seem to be in the water when I find them.

If you ever happen to be in the Madison area be sure to stop by The Audubon Shop where they carry Vortex and other quality optics. The store is loaded with all things birds and birding. They have a try before you buy policy so you can test out any scopes or binoculars they sell with no pressure to make a purchase. (I'm not getting anything for mentioning this. I  just appreciate good products and services which aren't always easy to come by). 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Winter Woodland Oasis At Highlawn Forest

 I love taking a hike through the woods on a sunny winter day but it can be tough to find birds in the forest this time of the year. I walked for about a mile on one trail and saw nothing but a crow flying over and heard only the lonely whistle of a distant titmouse.

On my way home I made one more stop at Highlawn Forest which is located in Middletown next to the Connecticut Forest And Park Association Headquarters. I sat on the bench and leaned up against that table to try to hide myself  a little. 
I visited this place once before during spring migration but thought-meh-not much out of the ordinary to see here. I was a bit spoiled at the time from seeing so many migrants at other prime locations so I didn't give it much of a chance. 

As it turns out, the vernal pools and damp leaves make this a winter oasis for woodland birds. In a time span of about 20 minutes I saw 30 robins, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, 5 titmice, 3 White-breasted Nuthatches, and 3 Golden-crowned kinglets, including the one in the photo.