Tuesday, January 29, 2008

One Day Birding Marathon Helps Bring Total Number Of Species To 93

The first 78 species on my January list were compiled independently. In order to exceed 90, I would need to visit the western part of the state looking for species that I am less familiar with. On Saturday, I met up with a group of birders who had one common goal; to add as many species to their January list as they could. I arrived at a commuter parking lot in Chester, CT at 7:30am so that we could carpool for the trip. We didn't return to that parking lot until 6pm!
I like the idea of carpooling if you're going to be putting on a lot of miles for a birding excursion. It's cheaper, more efficient, and seems like the environmentally conscious thing to do. Adrian and Beth led the trip, which focused on the Connecticut shoreline. We made numerous stops between Old Saybrook and Stratford.

Here are some of the highlights of the trip:
  • At Hammonasset State Park (Madison) we saw several robust Fox Sparrows scratching for food beneath cedar trees. We missed out on seeing a Western Tanager, which has been reported being seen here, but we all had a nice view of a Pine Warbler, which seems strangely out of place in the month of January.

  • While at the Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge in Stratford, we had a fairly close-up view of a Black-crowned Night Heron. We also spotted an American Kestrel which could only be identified by using a scope.

  • We visited several other ponds and river inlets in Stratford, which led to sightings of Canvasback, Ring-necked Ducks, Greater Scaup, White-winged Scoter and Long-tailed Ducks (only males have the long tail).

  • Our final stop was in New Haven. We were able to see some Northern Rough-winged Swallows which were flying around near a sewage treatment plant in East Shore Park. The last species of the day was a life bird for me! The Brant (below) were seen right at sunset in Fort Nathan Hale Park. From what I understand, they are fairly common in this area. They look similar to a Canada Goose but have some unique features including a smaller bill and an all-black face.


I received a lot of help with finding and identifying the birds that I saw on Saturday, but I was careful to make sure that I could recognize the identifying field marks on each species that I added to the list. This final big day of birding was very enjoyable as well as a great learning experience. I was also able to surpass my goal of seeing 90 species in the month of January!

Here is my complete list of species for January: Red-throated Loon, Common Loon, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Cormorant, American Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Turkey Vulture, Canada Goose, Brant, Mute Swan, Gadwall, American Wigeon, American Black Duck, Mallard, Canvasback, Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup, Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, Ring-necked Pheasant, Wild Turkey, Black-bellied Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Greater black-backed Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Horned Lark, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Carolina Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Bluebird, Hermit Thrush -(seen Sunday 1/27/08) , American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pine Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Eastern Towhee, American Tree Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Snow Bunting, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Purple Finch, House Finch, Red Crossbill, Common Redpoll, American Goldfinch, and House Sparrow.

So there it is.....the final list. I actually saw 3 less species than last year, but I was able to find 80 species without help versus finding only 68 on my own last year. A few species that I was surprised not to have seen during January included: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker-(update-just seen today-1/30/08), and Brown-headed Cowbird. Next year I would like to see if I can find ninety species on my own. I had fun this month but I'm looking forward to taking a different approach to the type of birding I do in February. I hope you all enjoyed your January birding! -(This post was edited 1/30/08 to add Pileated Woodpecker).

18 comments:

PA-Birder said...

Larry,
You are now officially a Lister! Sorry bud nothing you can do to convicnce me differetnly! I can see it now, a list while driving to work, a list for birds seen while going to the mail box, a list for those birds seen by yourself, with one other birder, with 2 or more others! As you see the list just goes on and on. Seriously though, glad you had fun with your January listing efforts. Enjoy your Feburary biriding list or not, and all through the year,
Vern

Larry said...

PaBirder-I'm officially a Jamuary lister but there are other aspects of birding that I enjoy much more.-I'm not planning any other lists for this year-and thanks-

Tom Pirro said...

Way to go Larry! You have some very nice birds on your January list! Rough-winged Swallows!.....It'll be a few more months before I'll even be thinking about swallows up my way!

John said...

Great list! I am most surprised by the rough-winged swallows. They really shouldn't be here at this time of year.

dguzman said...

Very impressive! I'm surprised by the palm warbler as well. I haven't seen any warblers at all in PA this winter, which is only serving to sharpen my impatience for the spring migration.

RuthieJ said...

Hey Larry, Congratulations! That's an amazing number of birds and I'm glad you had a nice day to go out searching with other birders. I think it's great you've seen so much improvement in your bird ID skills and now have more confidence in your own ability to ID them on your own. 2008 has started off as a good birding year for you.

Lana Gramlich said...

Wonderful! I was delighted to learn (through my eBird reports,) that I've seen almost 1000 birds in my yard this month. Woo hoo!

Larry said...

Tom - The Rough-winged Swallows were an added bonus. They had been reported on the rare bird report in previous weeks.

John - I guess I should have told those Swallows that they don't belong here! I don't think they know.

Dguzman - Actually, it was a Pine Warbler. Hammonasset is known to have unusual species show up in the Winter months.

Ruthiej - Thanks...it's always easier to identify a bird after you've seen it a few times.

Lana - That's great Lana - keep up the good work!

J. Karl Clampit said...

Way to go Larry! One I'm waiting for is a Pileated Woodpecker. My bro-in-law made me a bird house for a Pileated Woodpecker so I'm hoping!!! Congrats on your hard work!

Mary said...

Ok. I've been keeping a list and it will most definitely pale in comparison to yours! Bravo, Larry! I'm very impressed. I hope you have many lifers in 2008.

I'll show my January list in an upcoming post (within a week).

Patrice said...

Way to go Larry! I am beyond impressed. I am proud of you.

Jayne said...

Wow, wow, wow Larry! What a list you have there! Congratulations!

Ruth said...

You efforts have been well rewarded. What an impressive list. My January list stayed at 30 birds and the weather here has been too frightful for bird-watching. Spring is coming...

Birdfreak said...

How cool is it to see a lifer in January? Listing can be amazingly fun AND it I have found that you go birding more when you have a quest such as a big month! Good birding to you and may you see even more birds in February!

Kathiesbirds said...

Well Larry, I was wondering how you would do. Congratulations! I made it to 86 species, though if I was better at identifying sparrows I may have gone higher. I am researching one last sparrow I saw last night but I haven't counted it yet since I am unsure. My final day of birding will be posted soon. I just finished writing Tuesday's post which has a big surprise if you want to see it! Congrats on the pileated. I love them!

Larry said...

j. Karl-That would be really something to have a Pileated Family living in your yard-I'd love that.

Mary-It doesn't matter how many species you see-the fun is all in the effort.

Patrice-thanks.

ruth-thanks for playing along.

birdfreak-It is nice to know that birding can be good even in the month of January.

Kathiesbirds-I know that you gave it a great effort and saw a lot of great birds.-I'm glad you participated!

mon@rch said...

Larry, what a wonderful day and love your photos as always! The horned lark has to be my favorite for sure!

Kathiesbirds said...

Larry, my final total is now posted and though I tried hard, you still beat me. I made it to 89though. I'll be ready when 2009 arrives to give you a run for your money!