Tuesday, December 25, 2007

2007 Salmon River Christmas Bird Count

I participated in the annual Salmon River Christmas Bird Count Sunday, which had been rescheduled from the previous Sunday due to inclement weather. I teamed up with Joanne, Barbara, and Mike (above photo) to cover the Portland territory. There was a very light drizzle throughout the day, but it was comfortable, with the temperature in the 40's and minimal wind.
Joanne is the team captain for the town of Portland during the annual Salmon River CBC. This is the third year that I've taken part in this annual tradition. We started our count near the Portland Reservoir, which was frozen over, along with all of the other ponds in Portland. Mike and I walked up the snowy path to investigate the edge of Meshomasic Forest while Joanne and Barbara searched near the main road.
For the first fifteen minutes, the area that Mike and I covered seemed practically devoid of birds. Our first breakthrough was a flock of 25 American Robins that passed overhead. We started pishing near a stand of tall pines. You know that it's a s-l-o-w day if I start pishing because I don't particularly enjoy doing this activity in front of others. The Black-capped Chickadees started to move in to investigate, followed by Tufted Titmice and Downy Woodpeckers. Shortly thereafter, we caught a quick glimpse of a Golden-crowned Kinglet. The final species we recorded in this area was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Joanne and Barbara said that their area was fairly slow but they did manage to add a Carolina Wren to the list before we left.
Other areas we searched included power line crossings, woodland habitat interspersed between houses, open fields , stream banks, a cranberry bog, and a small section of the Connecticut River.
Here are some of the highlights of the day:
  • While we were near the cranberry bog, I heard what sounded like a Red-shouldered Hawk in the distance (kyeer kyeer call). We had fun debating as to whether it was really a hawk or just a Blue Jay imitating it's call. The bird never came within our range so we decided not to count it. We traveled a little further down the road before hearing it call again. By this time, we decided that it must be a hawk because it was too consistent with its call. Mike played the Red-shouldered Hawk call using an Ipod recording. Sure enough, we could hear it respond and move in close to us. We all had a terrific view of a beautiful Red-shouldered Hawk, which faced us, perched on a branch . We saw it fly across the road and land on another branch. It was a great team moment! We also saw a Northern Flicker in the same area.

  • While at the Cox Road power lines, I heard the tiny ringing sound of a Golden-crowned Kinglet. It took the four of us about five minutes to track it down, but we all had a great view of the bird as it hovered at the edge of a bush. It gave us a great show of its pretty golden crown. We also spotted some sparrows at this location including American Tree Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrows, and a Field Sparrow.

  • All of us had a great look at a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. It displayed a brilliant red color on its throat and head.

I think that we all enjoyed watching the birds more than we did counting them, but we did our part. It is one of the smaller CBC's in Connecticut but I really enjoy the fact that it takes place in my own home town. The total number of species for the entire count (includes people from other towns) was 67. In comparison, the Milford/Stratfordcount which includes part of the shoreline had an unnoficial total of 117 species.

We took a lunch break at Rossini's Restaurant, in the town of East Hampton, and met up with two other birders (Rob and Alberta) who were also involved with the count. It was interesting comparing notes with them about the birds we saw. I will pass on the final results of the count when I receive them.

Saturday, I was in East Hartland trying to find some Pine Grosbeaks. I didn't have any luck finding the grosbeaks but I did see a flock of about 50 Cedar Waxwings and also recorded this video of Wild Turkeys eating something in the snow. This is the first time I've uploaded a video! Unfortunately, you can hear cars in the background, as well as me zooming in and out on the turkeys. If you listen closely, you can also hear the turkeys.


Jayne said...

Sounds like a fairly productive day Larry! Love the turkey video! :c)

Anonymous said...

Those costal counts and other places with a wide variety of habitat do run up some envious count numbers, but it sounds like you had a good time which is the most important thing about a CBC. You counted the birds that were there, which is what the CBC is all about.

Unknown said...

Great CBC! Merry Christmas and good birding always to you!

Ruth said...

You saw an interesting variety of birds. You have quite a bit of snow for robins to be about. I liked your video very much. It uploaded very nicely and I could hear the turkeys.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on a wonderful CBC and good to hear your second date was a safer one for everyone! I love your video of the Wild Turkey! Hope to see more from you!

Larry said...

jayne-Glad the video worked for you.-It played on realplayer for me but not media player for some reason.

birdfreak-right back at ya!

pa-birder-Yes I suppose I do get a touch of coastal envy but like you say-just count the birds that you see is the name of the game.

monarch-Boy Tom you are quick-I think you visited my blog before I finished posting my first comment on yours! -thanks for the comments -much appreciated!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Larry,
I'm glad you had a good day for your CBC--it makes it so much nicer when the wind doesn't blow, doesn't it?

I really liked your turkey video and was amazed to see how close they were to the road! It's fun to hear them "talking" to each other. I've learned to be a better turkey caller after listening to the real thing!

J. Karl Clampit said...

Larry, great use of the video. Video definitely offers another perspectve that a picture can't. Great day of counting for your team. Congrats!

Unknown said...

Love the turkey video. I've never done a CBC but hope to some day.
I'm visiting the Pacific Northwest Coast so I'll look out for some good birding here.
Happy Holidays.

dguzman said...

Our CBC was rain-drenched and I didn't even get to go (ill).

Sounds like you had a good day on yours, though. Congrats!

Larry said...

ruthiej-Yes-wind is not my friend.-I was actually surprised to find out that when you imitate a Turkey in front of a group of them-they talk back.-I haven't tried it on the wild ones yet though--just ones that were on a farm.

Larry said...

j. karl-One thing I like about video is that it shows more with less pixel quality.

sarala-sounds like fun-I'm sure you'll have good luck there.

dzugman-sorry it didn't work out for you but there's plenty of good birding to be done.

Mary said...

Merry Christmas! Your day was the definition of a "birdy" day. Congratulations!