Tuesday, May 9, 2017

5 Ways I've Been Taking Shortcuts While Birding

 There are so many new birds arriving this time of year that I find myself taking shortcuts while birding. Here are 5 examples:

1) Ears only:When I'm walking through the woods I rely mostly on my ears to hear signs of bird activity. If I don't hear anything then I keep moving unless...
2) Scanning for movement: I scan treetops for movement. I ignore common birds like robins and chickadees while trying to locate movement of warblers or other migrant birds.
3) Skip the list: Sometimes I don't keep a complete list of birds if I'm looking for particular species. I just look for new species and don't bother tracking birds I've already seen. Sorry eBird. I know that is frowned upon.
4) Right bird right location: After a while you get to know when and where you can find certain species of birds in your area. For example, Chestnut-sided Warblers can be tricky to find in my town so I went to the exact same spot I saw one last year and there was one waiting for me when I arrived.
5) Driving through the state forest at 5mph with my windows down and eyes wide open: this method allows you to cover a lot of ground that you wouldn't be able to cover by foot.

I'm not thrilled taking shortcuts. I'd rather just get out there and walk about slowly savoring every bird I see but there is just so much to see right now and getting warbler neck (pinched nerves from looking up in trees) is no joke. I need to get it out of my system before I can slow down again but that is something I am looking forward to.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Ibises And Egrets Break Prior To Warbler Rush

 There are a ton of birds to be seen over the next month as birders
try to figure out the most effective use of their time before warbler migration reaches its peak in May. This weekend I switched back to the shoreline to search for big birds that I haven't seen yet this year. There was about 200 Ibis hanging around the Clinton area.
 We made several stops along the shoreline between Clinton and Old Saybrook including the Stewart B. Mckinney Wildlife Refuge Salt Meadow Unit in Westbrook.
 I remember when I first started birding I was told some of the things to look for when identifying Snowy Egrets included: black bill with yellow lores, black legs, and yellow feet. I used to get confused before I realized that yellow feet aren't always yellow if the Snowy Egrets feet are covered with mud. This was my first snowy of the year.
The number of Osprey along the shoreline is amazing. You can see them at almost every turn. 

Despite the drizzly day we were able to see a number of new year birds before the arrival of the great warbler rush in May.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Field Sparrow Singing At Machimoodus Park

 I visited visited Machimoodus Park this morning which is one of my favorite local go-to spots in the area. One of the things I like about this park is the open areas which makes it easier to get better views of birds as opposed to being in dense woods.
 There were a lot of Field Sparrows around today. They have a pink bill, unmarked breast, and a white eye ring. They are pale looking overall compared to most of the other sparrows. I usually find them in open fields that are moderately overgrown. They also have a very distinct song that helps with identification.
click to play
 Machimoodus also has lots of woodland trails to explore.
I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of a Barred Owl tucked away in some evergreens off in the distance. 

It was a beautiful morning to be out with the birds this morning. The temperature reached 80 degrees in today in Connecticut.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Herons And Osprey Return To Their Nests

 I made my way down the long path to the local rookery to check on the status of the Great Blue Heron population. I counted 65 on or near the nests and saw many more in flight. This picture shows just a small portion of the numerous nests.
 Some of the nests are looking a little skimpy after the long winter and might need a little reinforcement.
 Someone built a single nesting platform along the river in Portland and it didn't take long for the Osprey to find it. Usually I see my first osprey near the shore where there are dozens of nesting platforms so it was a nice surprise to find my first pair right here in town!