Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Proteus The Possum

I woke up early Saturday morning and headed down to the shoreline along route 1. I arrived there a little too early and had some difficulty finding someone open for breakfast at 6am. I finally came upon a new place called Jamms, in Westbrook. And Jam they did! They had Robin Trower (heavy-duty 70's guitarist) cranking on an mp3 boom box while I ate my spinach and mushroom omelet .
I hadn't checked out the tide chart and was disappointed to find that it was high tide. That kind of messed things up for finding shorebirds. I decided to check some of the marinas along the main road. I was pleased to find numerous Red-breasted Mergansers like the one in the top photo ( even though they had already been added to my January list) . You can see many of the field marks that distinguish it as an adult breeding male. It has a thin reddish bill which is not as thick at the base as a Common Merganser's is. Also visible, is the shaggy crest and dark area below the white portion of the neck.
I saw lots of Hooded Mergansers as well. I sat on a dock and took time out to enjoy watching them. Their markings showed up beautifully in the morning light and it was fun to watch them dive for food. I never get tired of seeing them. Here's a cool fact about Hooded Mergansers that I found in Cornell's All About Birds site:
The Hooded Merganser finds its prey underwater by sight. The merganser can actually change the refractive properties of its eyes to enhance its underwater vision. In addition, the nictating membrane (third eyelid) is very transparent and probably acts to protect the eye during swimming, just like a pair of goggles.
After checking out various places in the area to no avail, I stopped by Hammonnasset again. I added a few species while I was there including: Peregrine Falcon, Common Loon, Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, and Red-breasted Nuthatch.
Once again, I managed not to find any White-winged Crossbills that have been reported here lately. There was no shortage of Pine Siskins though.
It snowed on Sunday so I stayed pretty close to home. I had to work hard driving through snowy roads to add Hermit Thrush, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Ring-necked Duck (at Haddam Meadows), and Great Cormorant. On Monday, I was able to find a Merlin, and 20 Snow Buntings that were mixed in with hundreds of Horned Lark. That brings my January total to 68.
-Birds aren't the only thing I saw during my stop at Hammonasset. I also met Proteus the Possum while I was out on Willard's Trail.
click to play

- Proteus the possum lives in a tree
-he was searching for food but then he saw me
- he ran past the trail
-as I followed his tail
-now I've brought you this video to see


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I'm so impressed by your January count Larry. I've been in such a birding/January/it's too cold/it's too dark slump. I think my total is about 7...
Congrats on your blogiversary! This is a GREAT PLACE.

Chris said...

Woow, a very nice birding trip you had. The hooded merganser are so cute, I like them but have never seen them.... Looks like despite the cold and darkness, you had a good day!!!

Jayne said...

Happy Blogiversary Larry!

Ruth said...

The January birding in your area is great. It is too cold here this week to go out for more than a few minutes. Hopefully the temperatures will moderate a little soon.

Larry said...

Lynne-Thanks-Hope the weather improves for you.

Chris-I always enjoy geting out to see birds and the Mergansers are really nice.-I saw that you had a photo of what looks like a Common Merganser-but you refer to it as a Goosander over your way.

Larry said...

Ruth-Maybe you could rent an astronaut suit for birding purposes.

Kathie Brown said...

Happy Blogiversary Larry! Glad you started. I have to say that the photo of the Great Blue Heron is one of the best I've ever seen! I haven't seen a possum in a long time. What a cutie! And who knew you were a poet?!

Larry said...

Kathiebirds-thanks-rhyming words does not make one a poet but I felt I owed it to Proteus.

Mary said...

That's it. I will move to CT when I retire. I love your mergansers, Larry!

Your January list is longer than my life list. I'll bet you!

Anonymous said...

Hilariously cute video! Nice January totals as well.

Good birding to you and stay warm!

Einstein's Brain said...

I haven't been to Hammonassett in years. I used to camp there when I was a kid with the church.

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Beautiful picture of a Red-Breasted Merganser! We saw our first of the year today. A really smart looking bird.

Lisa and I are shooting for 100 species of birds in January - we're at 78. And counting.

Happy New Year!
The Birdcouple

Larry said...

Mary-Connecticut is okay to visit but I doubt it would make a worthwhile place to retire.-Glad you like the mergansers though.

Christine-Camping is quite popular at Hammo-too bad you didn't have your binocular with you-or did you?

Warren & Lisa-I have similar goals for January.-I haven't been able to og beyond 95 the past two years.I added quite a few birds today so I am at least withing striking distance.-Good luck!

Lana Gramlich said...

I like your poem. Glad to hear you've got your scope back! Mergansers are vastly underrated.