Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Stops Along The Big January Trail

1/9/11 Wangunk Meadows: I spent the morning walking along the river trail at Wangunk Meadows. Bright sunshine made a seasonably cold January morning feel more comfortable. A fresh coat of powdery snow covered the wooded trail, softening the sound of my footsteps as I made my way along the path. This section of trail is filled with rotting, vine-covered trees that makes it an ideal location to search for woodpeckers. I was able to add Brown Creeper, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hairy Woodpecker, and Belted kingfisher to my list.
There were a dozen Ring-necked Ducks on the Connecticut River next to route 17. I used an ice scraper wedged into a guardrail as a makeshift tripod with the squeegee end serving as a nice base for the camera.
I entered Wangunk Meadows from Glastonbury instead of Portland because the Portland entrance hadn't been plowed. There was a flock of birds picking through a sparsely weeded area in the field. At first, I thought they were going to be Horned Lark since there were so many of them but after taking a closer look, I realized the vast majority were Snow Bunting with only a couple of Horned Lark mixed in. I counted 50 bunting before the birds were scared off by some dogs which were running loose in the field. I wish that I had a chance to see if there were any longspur there as well. 1/8/11: I was heading home, traveling along route 154 Haddam when I saw a hawk perched on a power line. I stopped the car and cleverly disguised myself as a snowman so that I could get closer at species #53 on my January list-Red-shouldered Hawk.
1/8/11-Old Saybrook: I took a ride to Old Saybrook on Saturday morning to look for water birds. This is scene looking out from the causeway.
As I had expected, there were some Bufflehead there but I was surprised to find a few American Coot there as well.
I found a flock of Monk Parakeets on a road right before the causeway. Some of the birds seemed to be exhibiting amorous behaviour. I don't think their mating season begins until spring, so maybe they were just practicing.
I saw these Bufflehead Just down the road at Saybrook Point. I was also found two new species for January there, Red-breasted Merganser and Long-tailed Duck. It took me an hour before I was finally able to find the Long-tailed Duck.
Sunday 1/2/11-Hammonasset- It was a foggy morning with temperatures near 50 degrees. The birds were unusually quiet throughout most of the park. I had my best luck finding birds at Meig's Point. My favorite find for the morning was the Common Eider seen in the photo. Other birds that I was able to add to the list included: Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, American Pipit, and great Blue Heron.
My plan for this month is to keep a list of species seen in January but to go about my birding at a relaxing pace so that I can enjoy what I'm seeing along the way. ( I'm at 61 species now which is about 10 behind where I was last year at this time).


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Happy New Year, Larry! I'd love to see a Common Eider. I'm trying out doing a year list this year. We'll see how I do.

Kathie Brown said...

Well Larry, you have double my total so far! Will post an update this week sometime but you are off to a blazing start! Glad to see you joined the game! I think we have about 4 people who said they would do it for fun. I, too, am taking it casually but I really wanted to see what I could do here in the Northeast! Great post and great job! Guess it's time for a trip out to Plum Island again!

Jen Sanford said...

Wow there are so many awesome birds in your post I don't know where to begin! The Red-shouldered Hawk is a beauty, and wow, Monk Parakeets?? Who knew?! Wonderful post, I hope the rest of January treats you well!

John at BDL said...

Even if it's freezing outside, if the view is like that, nothing is cold.

Chris said...

Hi Larry and happy new year...
wow I'm so happy when I see a ring-necked duck over here as it is rare, and you saw a dozen... Only a dozen!! And I would love to see a bufflehead!!

Andy said...

The Monk Parakeets reminded me of a colony of them in Warwick, RI which is long gone. Hurricane Bob I think did the colony nest in.

Larry said...

Lynne-Happy new year to you as well!good luck on your year list. I've started them before and then forgot to keep up with them.

Kathie-The experience of doing this for the last couple of years helps me by knowing where to find certain things but it always slows down after I hit about 70 species.

Jen-thanks for the encouragement-January may be cold but the birding is actually pretty good, especially along the shoreline.

John-As long as the sun is shining and the wind isn't too bad-the winter is nice.

Chris-neither one of those species is rare over here but I'm still happy to see them as I only see them at certain times of the year.

Andy-there were three nests at Hammonasset that I found on the ground.

Ruth said...

Those Parakeets look very out of place. I thought they liked warmer climates. Your list is impressive as usual. I am enjoying my JAnuary birding too and hope to post an update soon.

Larry said...

Ruth-There is some interesting information at the Connecticut Audubon Society link:

It talks about how their unique nests help provide protection during the winter and also about how Great Horned owls make use of the Parakeet nests as well.

FAB said...

Hi Larry. I'm with you on taking the relaxed approach .. so far my County list is just 64 without travelling too far.
Those Monk Parakeets look just as exotic as the Ring-necked do over here!
Good luck with the birding list. FAB.

steadyjohn said...

Wonderful photos as usual Larry!

Nan said...

Thanks for the link to Monk Parakeets. It was fascinating to read. Lucky you to live where they have moved in. It is a little miracle to me that they are happy way up north. Lovely birds.

Lana Gramlich said...

I love the shot of the hawk!
In our area, nesting starts in February, so it's not implausible that birds may be giving an eye to potential mates these days.

dguzman said...

Wow, Monk Parakeets in CT?! Nice nice bird list for January, Larry! I use eBird which makes it easy for me to compile lists by year or month or whatever -- so I'll have to see how I'm doing so far for January, but I can tell you already that your list is far more interesting than mine! I really need to make it farther north up the East Coast than Cape May--I want to see an eider!

Larry said...

Early Birder-thanks-The winter weather is dicatating my birding pace over here right now.

Nan-I'm glad you found it as itneresting as I did-thanks to Connecticut Audubon for the great information.

Lana-The seem like very sociable birds-it seems there is still more to learn about their habits in Connecticut.

dguzman-It seems you've developed good habits using e-bird.I use it but not consistently.