One of the most convenient features of Chickadee Cottage is that the famous Airline Rail Trail is right in the back yard. All you have to do is follow a short path through the pine trees and you're there! I followed the trail to Bafflin Sanctuary. Some of the birds I encountered along the way included a Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebirds and noisy flock of American Goldfinches that were making a squeaky call that sounds like eeeeat!
During my travels, I noticed a sign for place called Cat Hollow Park. I thought it was sort of funny that I had to drive down Dog Hill Road to get there. I wondered if there was a story behind it. Is this where the cats went to hide from the dogs? I took a short stroll through the park which was formerly had several mill along the banks of Whetstone Brook. The brook still has a nice mill pond and scenic waterfalls. The variety of species in the woods during March in Connecticut is a bit limited until Spring Migration gets into full swing. I enjoyed watching a Tufted Titmouse which was fluttering its wings while perched on a branch like a juvenile bird does when begging for food. I imagine this is part of the courtship process that occurs during this time of the year.
After a long day of hiking and birding I stopped at the The Courthouse Bar & grille for a bite to eat. I like the atmosphere here which was friendly and laid back. The had a pretty extensive menu but I decided to keep it simple. The angus burger, cole slaw, and fries I ate were very good. The interior design of the place was interesting too. It actually was a courthouse during the early 1900's.
After a restful night's sleep, I took a ride out towards Killingly. When I'm in an area that has a lot of undeveloped land, I love checking out nature preserves, and bodies of water that I find on maps. I feel like I'm on a treasure hunt. There were several ponds and reservoirs listed on the map in Killingly. One particular pond that I located , Bog Meadow Reservoir, which was loaded with ducks.
This is a photo of two male Buffleheads (left) and 1 female (right). I'm not sure about the one taking off. Go ahead and guess if you want to.
When I first started birding, I got confused between male Buffleheads and male Hooded Mergansers when I was viewing them from at a distance. The male Buffleheads have white that extends all the way to the back of their head. The male Hooded Mergansers have heads that show white completely surrounded by black .
This is an adult male breeding Ring-necked Duck. If you look closely you can see the dark, purplish ring at the base of its neck. This is one of the less reliable fieldmarks for this species because the ring isn't usually visible. Not the peaked head, dark back, white spur on the side that extends into the black, and the white bands that cross the base and front of the bill. He's a handsome duck isn't he? There were about 80 of them on the pond, both male and female. Other ducks seen at this reservoir included Wood Ducks, Mallards, and Hooded Mergansers.
My journey ended at Trailwood Preserve, the former homestead of Pulitzer Prize winning author Edwin Way Teale. He gave each trail on the preserve a specific name -( Veery Lane, Beaver Pond trail etc.) - so that he and his wife could have a point of reference if something notable happened during one of their walks. It's not hard to see how Edwin Teale could find inspiration for his work while living at such a special place. I've never read any of his books but just checked out one of his last works, A Walk Through The Year, from my local Library. His writing cabin, seen in the above photo, overlooks a small pond. It wasn't open at the time of my visit but I hope to have a look inside when I return later in the Spring.
I had a wonderful time during my short stay in the Quiet Corner. I saw a nice variety of birds but I'm looking forward to seeing a whole lot more when I return with my wife in May. There should be plenty of warblers to see here during spring migration. The last bird I encountered before my departure was a White-breasted Nuthatch. Goodbye my feathered friend. Hope to see you again in May!