Friday, October 3, 2008

Towhees In The Mist

It rained most of last weekend but not enough to make me stay indoors. I took the blue trail into the Cockaponsett Forest from the Beaver Meadow Road entrance in Haddam. I'm not that familiar with this stretch of woods, although I did camp there once when I was about 12 or so. I saw the usual assortment of woodland birds including my first White-throated Sparrow since winter and a Brown Creeper, but the ones that interested me most on this particular morning were Eastern Towhees. There were at least two males and one female (seen above) that were making round trips from the edge of the woods to the tops of some barren bushes. These jumbo sized sparrows like to jump backwards as they scratch up leaves and dirt looking for food. I didn't hear them sing their signature Drink-Your-Tea song but they were continuously doing their Toe-weeee calls that are not considered to be uncommon in Connecticut, but I really don't see all that many of them. Cornell's All About Birds, their populations are declining throughout range, most severely in New England .

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This video shows a female towhee preening her feathers shortly after the rain ended.

I saw several mushrooms during my hike including this one. Does anyone know what type of mushroom this is?
As you walk through Cockaponsett Forest, you will find remnants left behind by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program started by President Roosevelt, for young men from unemployed families. This forest was once home to three CCC camps. With the way the economy has been going lately, maybe they should start construction on a new camp!
The trail system was well-maintained; thanks to volunteers like these.
I came across this little salamander enjoying the rainy conditions. It was actually red, but it lit up like a neon sign when I used the flash.
I also visited Rocky Hill Meadows . This is a good place to go when it rains because you can drive around and watch birds through your car window. The American Golden-Plovers were still around, along with Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Stilt Sandpiper (neither of which was seen by me but were reported by others).
I did see quite a few American Pipits for the first time this Fall. This is a photo of an American Pipit that was taken in 2006. It is worth clicking on this photo to get the full view, which shows a surprising amount of detail. I took some more photos of pipits sitting in mud but the photos were very drab.

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I will leave you with a short video of the American Golden-Plover ploving around in the grass.
"I'm looking over a Golden-Plover that I overlooked before. It's searching- for morsels- out in the rain... People driving past me -think I'm insane.." :)


Anonymous said...

What fun, sounds like a great time in the great outdoors.

I like that last snippet of poetry (I've so been there, done that). What's it from?

Larry said...

Wren-Thanks-No poetry there I just reworded the song four-leafed clover to fit the moment.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

No need explaining
the one remaining
isaploverI've never seen before-


Jayne said...

I love the Towhees and look forward to seeing them soon. Great videos Larry!

Ruth said...

I saw my first and only Towhee this summer. Another very interesting post. Are you taking out any more birding groups this year? You are a good teacher.

steadyjohn said... relief program started by President Roosevelt, for young men from unemployed families. This forest was once home to three CCC camps. With the way the economy has been going lately, maybe they should start construction on a new camp!

Wow, I didn't know things were that bad. In 1933 when the CCC was created the nation's unemployment rate was around 25% vs today's rate of around 6%.

What would we have those folks do out there in the woods? I think there presence would disturb our quiet walks in the woods listening for birds. Oh, and don't forget political correctness dictates men and women in the camps and that sounds like a party in the forest to me! I enjoy walking vicariously with you Larry; great posts!

Larry said...

Lynne-That's the spirit!

Jayne-thanks-Towhees are great birds.

ruth-Thanks-Probably not this year Ruth but I plan on eading a couple next year.

Steadyjohn-I must admit that I intended for that comment to be slightly sarcastic and provocative-I was waiting for someone whose political opinions lean toward the right to notice the comment-and you did-Good for you-you didn't let it slip by.

Lana Gramlich said...

Can't help you with the mushroom, I'm afraid.
I love the salamander!
Our local resident towhee pair seems to have flown the coop since Gustav, unfortunately. I miss them...

Unknown said...

My favorite is the salamander. I haven't seen one in the wild since I was a kid.
Great pics as always. We've had white throated sparrows here for a few weeks. (Chicago area). On my last bird outing I found lots of goldfinches and two kinds of woodpeckers.

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

I haven't seen a towhee for awhile. Sad to hear their numbers are in decline. Neat video.

Birdinggirl said...

It's interesting to read about the CCC camp in your local forest. We have one too here in Massachusetts in the Blue Hills Reservation. I enjoyed reading about the work they did and seeing some of the remnants of their camp.

I really enjoyed your plover pics. Very jealous!

dguzman said...

Wow, great pics. And I love that neon salamander!

Kathie Brown said...

Larry, I did not know that Eastern Towhees are on the decline in the NE. It would be sad to lose them! I love the photo of the trail through the woods.

Mary said...


Looking for towhees - hear them on campus. Can't miss their song.

You are not insane. I'd like to travel with you one day :o)


troutbirder said...

Neat blog. I especially enjoyed the video of the barred owl. Almost like being there myself!