I've been leading a few local birdwatching trips for Mattabeseck and Hartford Audubon over the last couple of years. I like having trips during the winter and summer when groups tend to be smaller. I was in for a shock when 22 birders showed up for my first field trip of the year! I'm sure the 65 degree weather had a lot to do with that. I was out of my comfort zone with a larger group but everyone pitched in to help things run more smoothly.
One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to a Great blue Heron Rookery. Many of the people on the trip who were seeing the heronry for first time were amazed at the size of it. We counted about 85 herons on the nests but I wouldn't be surprised if there were over 100 in the area. (Above photo shows less than half of the nests).
They were often seen flying in and out of the nests.
I like watching them circle around and come in for a landing. This is when you can see the most details.
One of the benefits of having a lot of observers is that someone might find something that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. Look at the nest to the right of this heron. Do you see a little head poking out? Who- Who-Who could it be?
Wilson's Snipe were already hunkered down in the grass at the skating pond near the fairgrounds but they were very difficult to pick out. This is a photo from the same area taken last year.
During the trip we saw a variety of ducks including: Ring-necked(above), Green-winged Teal, Black, Mallard, and Hooded Merganser.
There were also man Wood Ducks around but many times they would fly off before we could get a good look at them. I went back to the same areas the day after the trip to take most of these photos. Here are a male and female Wood Duck seen together. The eye mark on the female really stands out in this picture.....
but the male Wood Duck still insists on being the star of the show.
A few other notable birds seen on the trip included: Pileated Woodpecker, Belted Kingfisher, Peregrine Falcon, Tree Swallows, Eastern Phoebe, Bald Eagle (on nest), Osprey, and Eastern Bluebirds.It turned out to be a great day of birding, especially for March!
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Some of the nests blew down during last year's storms but there are still dozens of them.