Monday, January 11, 2010

Birds To Get Before The Sun Has Set

Late Thursday afternoon, I found an adult Bald Eagle and 3 Great Cormorants along the Connecticut River in Portland just before the sun went down. It's encouraging to know that as the month progresses we will have a little bit more sunlight each day. As you can see in the photo, the river is starting to freeze up. By the weekend it became increasingly difficult to find areas of open water inland.

I had a welcome visitor show up in a patch of woods near my work site. This is the third year in a row that a Pileated Woodpecker has shown up at the same location in the month of January. I am curious if this is just a coincidence or if there is some particular reason for this annual occurrence. Is it the same bird? Is there some particular food source that is only available in this area during the month of January? Inquiring minds want to know. On Saturday, I headed toward the western portion of the sound. I started my morning at Long Wharf in New Haven where I was able to add scaup and Ruddy Duck to the list. Afterwards, I drove down to the Stratford area. I ran into a group of birders from the Greenwich Audubon who pointed out some Gadwall to me. My next stop was to Long Beach which was only a short drive down the road. The first birds that caught my attention were Brant which were busy adding to their frequent flier miles as they flew from the bay side to the sound and back again. I walked along a narrow strip of beach and scared up a few American Pipits along the way-pip pip hooray!
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I met a birder from Minnesota who was looking for a previously reported Orange-crowned Warbler. I joined him in the search but we were unsuccessful. I was on my way out when a second birder came looking for the same bird. Something told me that he was going to find the warbler the minute I left so I decided to stay and join him in the search. We reasoned that the bird may have moved up near an area near the old cottages to gain protection from the wind. We eventually found the warbler which was more colorful than what I had expected based on what others had described to me. It was not only a nice addition to my January list but it was also a lifer for me! Afterwards we searched for evidence of roosting owls which didn't add anything to my totals but was an interesting process nevertheless. My last stop was at Frash Pond and I was happy to see that the Canvasbacks were there as expected. It was a long day of birding and I didn't add as many species as I had hoped to. I wasn't as efficient with my time as I should have been. I took some wrong turns and didn't make it to some of the places that were on my agenda.

On Sunday I made a stop in Old Saybrook. I saw both Common and Red-throated Loons at Saybrook Point. Afterwards I took a ride over to Fenwick Point. I came across a sign advertising the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and was reminded that Miss Hepburn used to have a house in the Fenwick section of Old Saybrook. I read somewhere that Katherine Hepburn continued to swim in the sound until she was in her 80's. I wonder if any birders ever met her while they were out at Fenwick? My best find athis location was a flock of 31 Surf Scoters which made for an interesting view in the scope. I enjoyed watching them taking turns dunking and diving. I ended my morning early and headed back home. I decided to take a picture of this American Robin which seemed to be suffering from a shortage of crab apples until I noticed that there were plenty of them on the ground beneath the tree.
I wonder if this was the robin's way of trying to "curb" its appetite?
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My total as of today is 70 species. From 70-100 gets much harder. There's still time but the month is going by very fast for me. I will post the list in its entirety at the end of the month.
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Big January participants:

14 comments:

Ann Nyberg said...

Please do drop by the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook,CT.
http://www.katharinehepburntheater.org

madcobug said...

It's amazing to me how birders go out searching for a certain bird after one has been spotted. I probably would do the same if I was physically able to do it. I have a bad back and can't walk very far but would love to be able to. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures. Helen

Lana Gramlich said...

Look at all the canvasbacks! Aren't you the lucky one! Kudos on your diligence about birding. I've been managing a report a day on eBird, mostly from home, though (I just can't handle below-freezing temps like I used to.)
As for your "annual" pileated woodpecker, I have a similar phenomenon. The migrating indigo buntings have arrived here on Apr. 7th every year but one (when they arrived on the 6th.) Yes, it's only been a few years since we moved here, but still!

Chris said...

HI Larry,
70 species already!!! Gosh I'm not even at half of it sir!! I guess we are living in a different world, but it is fun to read all the species you do have around nowadays...
I love your first landscape shot a lot....

Larry said...

Helen-You should give it a try some time.Some times you don't have to walk far at all to find a bird.

Lana-Maybe Pileated Woodpeckers migrate locally.I'll have to check that one out.E-bird is a good idea. I'll be looking for your January totals. I'll bet you've got your species count for January stored some where in your memory.

Chris-I guess the species numbers are all relative to where you're birding.It's just fun to get out and do it.

Ruth said...

I like your river picture and your nice assortment of birds. I hope to go to Lake Ontario soon where there is some open water and some winter ducks. Good luck on your last 30 birds.

Patrice said...

Beautiful photos! The river moves beneath the ice.

Erica Houskeeper said...

Hi Larry,

Nice shots. It's definitely encouraging to get a little more sunrise each day. Sounds like you've had a very good month for birding!

forestal said...

Larry, looks like a great day. YOu saw some great birds. My year list is up to 19 now hehe, just backyarding so far.

dan

Larry said...

Patrice-Yes- The ice makes some mysterious noises when the river moves beneath it.

Erica-I feel as though I'm getting the most out of a month that wouldn't normally be at the top of my list.

forestal-It's time to seek out some birds Dan. This could be your test year for Big January-See how many species you can find before the month's end. It will be fun!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Larry,
You're fortunate to be in an area where waterfowl seem to be plentiful......most of our water around here is frozen solid, but I did find some open spots on the Mississippi over the weekend and was happy to spot some Trumpeter Swans!

Larry said...

Ruth-Open water is the key-hope it works out for you.

Ruthiej-Most lakes have been frosen around here but if you go near the shore you can find some partially open ponds.

dguzman said...

Nice month list, Larry! Mine's probably at about 20, but my Rio Grande Valley trip in two weeks is gonna help a lot!

dAwN said...

Love your first photo!
Good luck to you and all those that are going for the Big January!