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).