Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Holiday Camping & Birds With Attitudes

My wife, Joan, and I camped out at Austin F. Hawes Campground in the American Legion State Forest over the weekend. The forecast called for a chance of rain and thunderstorms. I usually just ignore weather forecasts but I picked up a tarp to protect the tent from rain just in case. My plan was to tie the tarp to surrounding trees in order to form a roof over the tent. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the campground I found out that tying anything to trees was strictly forbidden and it had already started to rain. Now what do I do? Then I remembered that I had brought some old tomato stakes to use as kindling for the fire. I decided to use the stakes as posts to attach the tarp to. It may not be a work of art but it kept us dry for the weekend.

Outside of a few showers, the weather was nice and we had a terrific time together playing cards, listening to music, enjoying the fire-all that fun camping stuff. I didn't attempt to do much birding but some species that caught my attention were Black-throated Green Warblers, singing Brown Creepers, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and a singing Winter Wren.

When did bicyclists lose their fear of automobiles?
I noticed that there were a lot of bicyclists in the area. I like to see people riding bikes. It's a good way to keep in shape and it's much better for the environment than driving a car. One thing seems to have changed over the years though. It use to be that people riding bikes were expected to stay as close to the side of the road as possible in order to avoid being hit by a car. When I used to ride a bike years ago, a driver would lay on his horn if you were too far out towards the middle of the road. Now it seems to be the other way around. I often see groups of bicyclists riding in the middle of the road with seemingly no fear of automobiles. The drivers of the cars are expected to wait until the bicyclists are good and ready to move over before the car is allowed to pass. This is not a major complaint of mine, just an observation.

Pleasant Valley Drive-in Theater-I passed a drive-in theater on my way to the campground and decided to check it out the following day. There used to be numerous drive-in theaters in Connecticut, but now there are only two remaining: The Mansfield Drive-in and Pleasant Valley Drive-in. I decided to remove the section of the post that was previously here).
After returning home from our camping trip I checked on one of my local patches, Wangunk Meadows in Portland. It seemed that many of the birds here were also telling me to get out. As I passed by a patch of thickets there was a family of Common Yellowthroats yakking at me.
Notice both the female and male yellowthroats have their bills open and you know what their message is-"Get Out"!
Other birds that complained of my presence included Spotted Sandpipers, Yellow Warblers, and an endless supply of Gray Catbirds. I'm not sure if the gray Catbird wanted me to get out too or they were just looking for an excuse to show off their repertoire of nonsensical songs. They do seem to enjoy making noise. A couple of other interesting birds I saw there were an adult Bald Eagle and a Willow Flycatcher. Sort of at the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of size but they both chase after prey.
I also made a visit to Hammonasset on Sunday morning. One of the first species I saw were Cedar Waxwings. They were acting like flycatchers as they swooped out over the pond to feed on flying insects.
I ran into a couple of birders who had seen a Tri-colored Heron there that morning. I spent an hour searching for it hoping to get my first glimpse of one but didn't have any luck. I took a photo of this Great Egret just because it was there for me to see. The bright sunlight glared off the back of the bird and a green goblin got in my way just as I was taking the photo. I like its pose and the way the feathers are showing on its wings though.
I did manage to see plenty of Glossy Ibises, Willets, and this adult Little Blue Heron. The adults are dark grayish birds and have a grayish bill with a dark tip. The immature birds are white with dark wing tips.
click to play
I captured some video footage of the Little Blue Heron hunting for food. At the very end of the video, a tern plunges into the water. Hope you all had a great holiday weekend!


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

What is that plopping down into the water at the end of your video ?

It sounds like you and Joan had a nice time. Sometimes it's good to just get away from the distractions and noise of our lives.

I watched Waxwings flycatching up at Hasty last week too.

Hey Larry- GET OUT!! LOL!

Carol said...

I have a friend who does a lot of bike riding. He used to stay as close to the shoulder as possible until one car tried to pass as another was coming the other way...it forceed him off the shoulder and damaged a wheel as well as body scrapes. Now he holds his lane and makes them wait until the way is clear to pass.

Carol said...

I don't ride a lot..but after hearing my friends story I stay in my lane for the same reason.


Larry said...

Lynne-Yeah it was a nice getaway-that's a tern diving down.

Carol-Thanks-I'm still a little surprised as too how bold some of the bicycle riders have been about controlling the center of the road, sometimes in large groups. Your comments do however give me some insight as to what the rationale of some these bicyclists might be.

Kim said...

You got some great shots of some really cool birds Larry. Love the Little-blue Heron and Glossy Ibises, two birds I don't have yet!

I feel your pain on bicyclists! I am always afraid I am going to hit them on those windy roads. I used to bicycle a lot in my 20's and would always stay on the side of the road because car drivers were crazy! I guess they don't have the same element of fear as I had though. ;o)

Love your tent set up too. Very clever!

Jayne said...

Perfect cover for the tent! Glad you all stayed dry. :c) Sounds like a great weekend.

Unknown said...

I have never heard of the American Legion State Forest.
Looks like you had a great time.

Nick S said...

Lovely stuff. I have a friend who's wife is from Connecticut living here in Saskatchewan.
I saw my first Black-throated Green Warbler the other day too :-)

Larry said...

Kim-It seems that bicycles have equal rights with cars on the roads but you don't have any protection when riding a bike so the idea of riding in the middle of the road seems dngerous to me.-The canopy thing was definitely definitely a MacGyver wanna-be idea but it worked.

Mathew-If it were along the shoreline I'm sure you would have heard of it but it's not even close.

Nick S- Saskatchewan-that's a long way from home-which does she like better? Bt-green is a handsome bird when you can get a good look at one. I hear them much more often than I see them.

Unknown said...

I went and looked it up.

troutbirder said...

Looks like you had a lot of fun. And its always neat to see what the summer birds are in various parts of the country.

Dawn Fine said...

Nice outings..
funny stories...weird about the drive in..scary.
Great photos...
and the video was cool..love that you caught the diving tern!
See u tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

Hi. I have a blog at www.picturecamping.com where I feature people's posts about camping, and I would like to send my readers your way. Of course I would give you credit for quotes and would link back to your site.

Thanks for considering this,

Jean B. in SC

Larry said...

Richard and Jean-Sure-go ahead-thanks!

Kathie Brown said...

Sounds like a fun weekend to me. It's nice to see Yankee ingenuity is still alive. Clever use of those stakes there!

Unknown said...

The birds in this site are displayed are the best categories of the world birds the 2 categories of the birds are best one in that Cedar waxwings &
Tri-colored Heron.