I walked along a trail that took me through the woods of Meshomasic forest and around the Portland Reservoir. The entrance to the reservoir is at the end of Old Marlborough Turnpike in Portland. I was glad that I chose to ignore the forecast that was calling for periods of rain. It turned out to be a sunny morning that reached a temperature of seventy degrees. I came across several flooded streams but managed to get across them without giving my hiking boots an unwanted bath. As I walked further along the trail, I could hear the call of a Barred Owl echoing through the woods.
I found these plants growing along the banks of a stream. At first I thought it was Skunk Cabbage but it doesn't seem to fit the description of what skunk cabbage looks like in the spring. if you know what it is please tell me.
The path eventually circled around the opposite side of the reservoir. There was a wonderful smell of fallen pine needles that had been dampened from the heavy overnight showers. I saw several interesting species of birds during my walk including: Pine Warblers, Chipping Sparrows, Wood Ducks, Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfishers, Wild Turkey, Hooded Mergansers, Pileated Woodpecker, and Red-tailed Hawk. There were still some Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows around but not as many as there had been in previous weeks. Eastern Phoebes seem to be abundant this spring. I've been seeing them everywhere I turn. I also saw two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers for the first time since last year's Christmas Count.
The birds that I had the most fun observing today were Northern Rough-winged Swallows. They are the only swallow in Connecticut noted for nesting in drain pipes. This species also lacks the distinct breast band seen in the similar looking Bank Swallow. Rough-winged Swallows nest singly as compared to the Bank Swallows which nest in colonies. Here are a couple of "Cool Facts" about the Northern Rough-winged Swallow from Cornell's All About Birds:
- The barbs on the primary feathers of the male Northern Rough-winged Swallow are distinctly hooked; those of the female are smaller and straighter. Running a finger from base to tip along the barbed wing edge yields a sensation similar to that of touching a rough file.
- The function of the rough wing edge of the Northern Rough-winged Swallow is not known.
- In one documented case, a Northern Rough-winged Swallow pair nested inside a Civil War cannon.
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It looks as though one swallow is bringing nesting material to the other. I also enjoyed watching these birds skimming the top of the water to catch small insects-(not visible in this video).
How is Spring Migration progressing in your area?