Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Taking It From The Top In Middlefield

 We've had some refreshing fall-like weather this week. Connecticut is not known for mountains but the the trap rock ridge does provide great views from the top. The trap rock ridge was formed by volcanic activity long ago. 
 I had better luck finding birds at ground level. I caught a sneaky Green Heron hiding at the edge of a pond.
The Mute Swans don't feel the need to be sneaky. They boldly hold their ground or in this case, their water.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Up Up And Away!

 I took a ride out to Plainville this morning to catch the morning to catcch the 6am morning launch at the annual hot air balloon festival.
 There is some dispute as to when hot air balloons were invented. History indicates that the Chinese were experimenting with a simple form of hot air balloon technology back around 220 AD.  The first recorded manned flight took place in Paris France in 1783 in a hot air balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers.
I was surprised by the size of the crowd at 6am and almost couldn't find a spot to park in time. 
 I arrived just as the first balloons were taking flight.
 I liked the elephant design on this balloon.It looks as though it could have come from a land far away.
 Don't worry, this balloon got past the trees without a problem.
I wonder what this red-tail would say about all the excitement if it could speak English?
Here's a video of one of the balloons taking flight.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Easy Birding Along Your Daily Driving Route

 Sometimes it's a struggle trying to find the perfect spot to find birds. The funny thing about it is that birds are everywhere we go. The tiny nature park above is right along my daily driving route. It is called Middletown nature gardens and is loaded with natural food for young summer birds.
This one looks like a young Indigo Bunting
On the same tree was a young House Wren.
As I drove back through town I passed by an old industrial pond that used to sit beside Wilcox Crittenden, a well known factory in it's day. I remember hearing the pounding of the machines from miles away. It provided jobs for a lot of people though.
The remains of the factory have been converted to apartments. This morning I spotted a Great Blue Heron there.

Sometimes the best birding are the places that are the ones that are most available.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Always Look A Gift Bird In The Eye 100x's

 I had a chance to get down to the shoreline this morning with a full agenda planned of where to go and what I hoped to see. I'm always interested in seeing new birds and hope to get some bird photos along the way. My first stop was behind the Clinton town Hall at a spot they call McCusker Landing. 
 I was pleased to see a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron. I only had an hour or so to spare so instead of rushing around I decided to just stay and watch this one bird and any others in the immediate area.
Juvenile birds will sometimes let you get closer. I've learned that when you can get close to a bird without  it taking off it is best to take advantage of the opportunity.
 I've also learned that just being close doesn't always mean your going to get a good picture. I'm not satisfied until I take at least 100 pictures in these situations but must admit that I get tired of sorting though all of the photos when I get home. It's a tedious process of deleting the bad ones and tweaking the good ones. Usually there are only a handful of good ones out of the 100 if I'm lucky.

I still use a point and shoot and only use settings like auto or sports mode. Since I don't know how to manually set the camera i have to rely on getting closer and getting the right lighting angle but once in a while even amateurs get lucky.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sitting Quietly On A Deck In The Forest

I spent 30 minutes relaxing on a deck in Highlawn Forest in Middlefield Connecticut. It was a very comfortable August morning with cool,dry air. Sitting still never comes easy for me but it paid off with a couple of interesting sightings.

I was expecting to see something on the smaller side like a warbler or chickadee but it was a Black Vulture, aka known as the Carcass Warbler, that came crashing in to the trees above me. I did a little math and figured it would take roughly 250 American Redstarts to equal the weight of one Black Vulture.
And on the other side of the deck was a beautiful Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Just An Easy Summer Stroll Around A Field

Once we get into the heart of the  summer I like to find easy and relaxing ways to get a bit of birding in. This past weekend I went to Haddam Meadows and slowly circled around the field with my windows down. 
I had some nice views of a family of Eastern Kingbirds working out their daily food rations.
I also had a 10 second view of an Indigo Bunting but you can see a lot in 10 seconds.
No field is complete without a butterfly. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Childhood Places That Still Exist

There's something comforting about seeing places from your childhood that still around today. Vecchitto's Italian ice has been open for business at the same location since 1930. I remember their delivery trucks circling my neighborhood in the  1960's selling their Italian ice when I was just a kid. It amazes me their business has survived all these years. I preferred the ice cream truck when I was a child but recently tried their lemon ice and it was refreshingly good on a hot day!
I used to live right down the road from Wadsworth Park. I returned there last week with my binoculars and camera. The wide paths bordered by stone walls are just as I remembered them. I was able to see pileated woodpeckers and some noisy Red-shouldered Hawks.
Back when I was a kid bird identification was simple. Birds were birds and ducks were ducks.
Seeing a deer would have been a real thrill back then! I don't think they were as plentiful. Childhood memories are bittersweet. It's nice to indulge in nostalgic recollections but sad to know that you can't go back even to visit.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Watching Birds From A Single Stretch Of Track

One of the things that can detract from a bird watching experience is moving around too much. Sometimes you can see more birds sitting in one spot than you can walking through miles of trail. I made a compromise this morning by confining my birdwatching to a single 100 yard stretch of railroad track. 
 I moved around a little bit to get different views of the marsh but was able to keep my focus on observing, not walking. 
There were plenty of birds to be seen in the marsh including cormorants,blackbirds, Wood Ducks, and Great Blue Herons (above).
There was also several Belted Kingfishers, with this female being the noisiest of the bunch.
 I could hear more birds in the woods than I could see but there were plenty to be heard. I believe this mystery bird which was perched quietly in the woods is a young cowbird. I don't feel like double-checking it so correct me if I'm wrong.
 It's always worth looking up too. I caught an eagle and hawk in the midst of airplay. 

Memo to self: Make sure that you spend more time observing birds than just walking around looking for birds to observe!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Indecision, Procrastination, And Birdwatching

  One of the things I struggle with at times is making a quick decision. Sometimes it is necessary to analyze things carefully in order to make a decision but when you spend more time thinking than doing it can lead to missed opportunities and procrastination.
Lately I've been trying to get out early with my camera and binoculars before I have time to think about it. 

I remember a poem which I can relate to titled: "When Thomas Takes His Pen" that I found in an old book. I got a big chuckle when I first read it. I found a copy of the Poem by Elsie Hill on HistoryProfessor.Org

Friday, June 30, 2017

3 Favorite Moments 1ST Tablet Post

     I still use a flip phone and have avoided touch screens up until now. My lack of familiarity with this technology has caused me to miss out on a couple of opportunities.
Trying to write this is like trying to thread a needle while wearing mittens.  
I will get right to the point. My 3 favorite sightings from top to bottom are:  Black-Backed Woodpecker from Victory Vermont ,Fork-tailed Flycatcher from Hadlyme ferry, and American White Pelican which flew over my back yard. The end and Amen!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Back To The Kid-In-The-Field Mentality

 When I was a young boy I didn't know that people who called themselves birders walked around fields specifically looking for birds. Any field meant a treasure hunt for me. I was curious about everything I found whether it be a rusty old farm nail or a dragonfly. It really didn't matter. Everything was fascinating.
 As the years went by, I lost some of that curiosity and excitement. I became more selective about what I was willing to take the time to look at. Now I find myself walking along the predetermined paths looking mostly for birds (Bobolink above). When I as a kid there was no such thing as a path. The only path was between where I was standing and where I wanted to go.
As I wandered around the Frederick White Farm in Durham my memory carried me back to what it was like being a kid out in a field. I was still there looking for bird like I do now..... (Eastern Kingbird above)
 but I also spent time looking at the butterflies (Cabbage White above) and damselflies (Ebony Jewelwing below).  
I can never truly be a kid in a field again but maybe remembering what it was like can add a little spark. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Just Enough Time For The Power Lines

 I think that many of us, including me, wish we had more time to do the things we want to do. Birding falls into that category. I had only had a little time to spare this weekend so I took a quick trip up to the local power lines. I just noticed that my car is down at the bottom of the picture.
 Another category are the things that I should do. There a lot of things that I should have done but put them on the back burner and went birding instead. The deer seems to be looking down at me in judgment.
 It was only an hour of birding but it was a valuable hour. My trip to the power lines was worth it as I had nice views of Indigo Buntings  and this Prairie Warbler hiding in the cedars. Right now I am locked me into category 3: things that have to be done. Some times you don't get a choice. Birding will have to take a back seat for now but I'm going to try to squeeze in an hour of birding each week.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Cuckoo Birding

 I haven't posted on the blog for a while but I've still been out and about birding over the last couple of weeks randomly visiting places with no real strategy in mind.

 I'm not sure what that Killdeer (above) is eating but it looks as though whatever it has passed the "sell by" date. 
 I made a visit to Devil's Hopyard. A singing Winter Wren, Magnolia Warblers, and Acadian Flycatcher were among the more interesting birds I found at this location.
 I like to get out early as we start to enter warmer weather and have seen deer like this one which was crossing the road at Gillette Castle state park.
 I did a little cabin camping at a privately owned campground. State campgrounds that I usually stay at are opening late this year and some have been closed due to budget cuts. It was a different experience staying at a private campground which had a store, swimming pool, and even had music playing in their bathrooms.
I was happy to get a nice view of this Yellow-billed Cuckoo at Gillette castle park. They seem to be plentiful this spring but are more often heard than seen. I usually have a difficult time even getting a glimpse of one. 

Yellow-billed Cuckoos eat as 100 tent caterpillars at one sitting.You can find more information about these unique and interesting birds on Cornell's All About Birds website.