Thursday, December 16, 2010

Birding Along The River Of Dreams

This is a view from the overlook at Selden Creek Preserve . It is one of the unique areas along the Connecticut River which is featured in the book: Tidewaters of-the Connecticut River- An Explorer's guide to Hidden Coves and Marshes . The book contains excellent information about the geological history, flora, and fauna of the Connecticut River. There is one chapter in the book about birds of the Connecticut River which was written by Noble S. Proctor. He is a Professor of Ornithology and botany at Southern Connecticut State University.

One of the more interesting aspects of the book was reading about the history of the towns located along the river. Here's one example: In the early 1800's there were privateers who would leave ports in Lyme, Saybrook, Deep River and Essex that would head out onto the high seas to steal cargo from other ships. They would bring the stolen cargo back to town and sell it. The town authorities condoned these actions because they were getting a percentage of the profits. In 1814, the English sailed up the Connecticut River into the town of Essex and destroyed 28 ships from one of these privateer fleets. It was the greatest financial loss inflicted on American soil by a foreign power until Pearl Harbor.
I recently came across an article that reminded me Billy Joel's "River Of Dreams" video featured a lot of footage taken along the Connecticut River back in 1994. This is the "Come On Over" sign which is featured in the video. It is situated between the Arrigoni Bridge and Railroad Bridge here in Portland, Connecticut.
During the past few weeks I have been birding at various locations along the Connecticut River. There is a trail near my house that is a convenient place for me to go birding when I want to save time and gas. In the past, I've seen Fox Sparrows, Great Horned Owls, Brown Thrashers, Brown Creepers, Black-crowned Night Heron (once) , American Kestrels, Bald Eagles, and a variety of other raptors in this area. It is pretty good for migrating warblers as well. The photo show where the walking trail ends. Just around that point is a line of oil tanks and the brownstone quarries.
This is a view overlooking the brownstone quarries where the Brownstone Discovery Park recently opened. It did a good business over the summer. The Connecticut River is just beyond the blue tanks in the far left background. Some say there are underground tunnels that connect the river with the quarries but I'm not sure if that's true or not. I've heard many people say over the years that the Connecticut River used to empty into the sound in New Haven at one time until it changed course and emptied into Old Saybrook. I learned that this is not true according to the book "Living Resources and Habitats of the Lower Connecticut River" that was written people from the Connecticut College Arboretum in New London. I can't believe that I bought into what was nothing more than geologic folk history for all these years.
During the summer months, I come across lots of Green Herons in the swampy areas along the river.
During certain times of the year I'm able to see interesting ducks in some of the flooded fields near the river. This is one of the Northern Pintails I saw at the flooded fairgrounds one morning.
Double-crested Cormorants in large groups sunning themselves on pylons and other structures in the middle of the river.
Over the last month I've seen Peregrine Falcons near the river in the towns of Portland and Glastonbury. There are numerous places worth exploring on the Connecticut River but the use of a kayak would open up many more opportunities. I'd like to buy a kayak so that I could explore out some of the coves and inlets which are only accessible by boat. I'm not interested in a kayak that rolls over in the water. My whole purpose of using a boat is to stay above of the water, not in the water. My other concern is that I want to be able to bring along a camera and binoculars without worrying about getting them wet. Here's one that I was looking at called the Coleman Hooligan. If anyone has experience with kayaks I'd appreciate some advice about what type of kayak would work best.


birds fly said...

I love that middle photo with the cloud reflection! Great shot.

Larry said...

I almost mentioned the reflection under the photo but it's nicer that you noticed it-thanks

Kathie Brown said...

Larry, what a lot of info. For growing up in CT I did not know most of it, especially about the fleet being destroyed! You sure get to see some great birds! I want to explore more of the CT river whenever I get down to CT. I saw my first great blue heron there when I was a teenager but I couldn't tell you exactly where. I was canoing with a boyfriend at the time!

Larry said...

Kathie-There is a lot of history and habitat to explore along the Connecticut River.I'm thinking about maybe just getting a Jon boat so I can use it to carry amping gear with me.