- I stopped at Wethersfield Cove Saturday morning because it was reported that there were 7 immature Bald Eagles hanging out there. I found six Bald Eagles. Four were perched in the same tree across the cove and two were perched in a tree on my side of the cove. A couple of times two of them flew out together and looked as though they were going to lock talons but never actually did. I talked to one of the locals who was confusing Greater Black-backed Gulls with eagles. I made sure that I was ever so subtle in the way I corrected him because I've been there before-quite a few times. Maybe not with eagles but with plenty of other species.
- I've been taking the time to look at gulls a little more closely this year. Just simple things like paying attention to the color of their feathers, legs, and eyes. I think gulls would be much more interesting to me if I could just find one of those less common ones such as a Glaucous or Iceland Gull on my own. They never seem to be there when I'm looking for them though. I've had someone else point these gulls out to me once or twice but it just isn't the same unless you can find them for yourself. I recently read a nice article from the Jan/Feb issue of Birdwatcher's Digest about identifying the age of gulls based on plumage. The article explained how to do this in a way that seems so much easier than I ever thought it could be. I'm going to carry a chart with me that highlights the key points of the article. Being able to tell the age of gulls should be fun in the way that it's fun to identify a new species of bird. I'm actually looking forward to doing this.
- It might be a bit difficult to see in the top photo but there were a lot of Common Mergansers along with the gulls. I counted about 40 of them in the cove.
Sunday was a gorgeous winter day, warm and sunny! I stuck to to my plan of simplicity by staying right in town. Well almost, I did stop briefly at nearby Cromwell Meadows where I saw a Gray Catbird and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Those are birds that are a little bit harder than average to find in Connecticut right now, so I was pleased when I found those two. There were also droves of Northern Cardinals. The male Northern Cardinals seemed to be singing everywhere this weekend.
Most of the birding that I did in Portland was in between various weekend errands. I made a stop at a local boat yard (above) to have a look around with the scope. It was so nice, no one was even around . Unfortunately, neither were the birds.
I was able to find 3 Hooded Mergansers at Great Hill Pond. These mergansers seemed to be taking a nap. There was also one Hooded Merganser occupying a tiny patch of open water in The Brownstone Quarry. While I was at Tri-Town Foods grocery store, I saw a Black Vulture with its silvery tipped wings, flying very high above. I noticed what I think was a small scratch on its left foot, but my eyes aren't what they used to be.
My favorite birding moments of the day took place right down the road from my house at a place we call The Portland Riverfront Trail. There is one area that sits 20 feet below the main trail which is well hidden by brush. There is a secret path that leads to this flat, swampy area. For some reason, there always seems to be lots of active birds at this spot. There is a miniature stream that runs-no, not runs, I would say that it seeps through the area. It rarely has more than an inch of water in it but never seems to run dry. Oddly, it never completely freezes in the winter. I enjoyed watching a pair of Downy Woodpeckers race each other up a tree trunk like two lumberjacks in a tree climbing contest. The birds were seemed so lively here that I just sat still and watched them for more than an hour.
click on play button to view robin video
I'll leave you with this video of an American Robin probing for food in that tiny stream I described (the sound you hear is my lens cap bouncing off the tree that I was leaning up against) . There were actually 30 or 40 robins in the area, all looking for food in this inch deep stream. I know robins are very common birds but it was a serendipitous moment as I watched so many of them foraging for food. They seemed oblivious to my presence. For that hour, I felt like a welcome guest in their secret little world.