Sunday, September 16, 2018

Wandering The Rail Trails And Fairgrounds

 I haven't posted lately but continue to wander out with the binoculars and camera on the weekend.The photo above shows the entrance to the new rail trail which has become one of my favorite birding spots to visit. It is loaded with an unusually high number of wrens and seems to be a good fall migration area too.
 I made an attempt to walk through the fairgrounds a couple of weeks ago before they cut down any of the grass.I didn't come prepared with waterproof boots and ended up with soaking wet socks and pants.Realizing what a dumb move that was made me feel like...
.....well I can't really put it into words but you get the idea.
 Fall migration has already started so I've been seeing a mix of everything including lots of Common Yellowthroats, hawks and
......a mix of sparrows. Savannah Sparrow seemed to be the special of the day.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Don't Trade Today's Birds For Yesterday's Birds


 One of the advantages of using eBird is that you can look to see what people are seeing in the area and then go to the same places to look for the same birds. The problem is that when birds are migrating they may not wait until the next day for you to show up.

I've been looking high and low for birds on the weekends. From high places like the above photo overlooking the fog-covered Connecticut river valley...
 ....to the low lying train tracks passing through the dynamite-blasted ledges. 

The other day, I was on my way to a location that had been crawling with exciting migratory bird sightings the just a day before. On my way there, I made a quick stop at a marsh and was surprised at how many birds seemed to be around. I was eager to get to yesterday's hotspot so I only took a quick look around before heading off to my desired destination.

There was only one problem when I got there. Yesterday's birds were gone. I should have stayed at the marsh and enjoyed viewing the many birds that I already knew were there!
 I decided to take a couple of photos of butterflies instead of stepping over them to look for birds.

I see plenty of eagles in our area but made sure not to ignore the one flying over my head.
There are tons of catbirds around in the summer but I'm trying to remember that I will be desperate to see one by the end of the upcoming winter.
It may only be the non-native Mute Swan but what if it was the last one I were to ever see? 

I hope I learned my lesson. Don't make the mistake of trying to trade today's birds in by looking for the ones that were seen by someone else the day before.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Cormorant And Gull Sharing Lookout Duty

 My birding adventures are brief and less frequent during most of the summer. I came upon a rocky area in Saybrook where a cormorant and gull seemed to be sharing lookout duty.
 The rock next to them seem to be a popular spot among the local terns.
I like when cormorants spread their wings to dry. It looks like a bird that should be guarding Dracula's castle.
Here's a little clip of the terns. I just noticed that some were banded.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Swallows On The Roof & Flickers On The Beach


 We are headed for a 5 day heat-wave so I got an early start this morning.I decided to take a quick walk through the farm fields to the river. Seems there are a few birds on top of the barn roof. Wonder what they could be?
 Seems to be barn swallows (hope they had their shingles vaccine).
It was a short walk down to the river and it seems that the Sycamore Tree was loaded with flickers, a pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and a couple of Cedar Waxings. They were all gone when they saw my camera come out.

I passed by a few butterflies along the way.
 Time for me to go. It's only 9am and already 90 degrees. Even the flickers are heading for the beach! 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Meditative Birding

Our minds have a tendency to wander and have repetitous thoughts that distract us from the present moment. 

A simple meditation technique can help. 

Focusing on our own breaths whenever our minds start to wander can help us relax and be more in tune with our immediate surroundings. 
If you can reach some level of a meditative state while birding your heightened senses can enhance the experience.

You become more aware of the sounds of your footsteps. Bird chatter in the woods suddenly sounds like a symphony with each bird playing its own instrument. Birds stand out in vivid detail through your binoculars.
Time becomes suspended with an hour feeling like a minute and a minute feeling like an hour.

It takes a little patience but meditative birding is worth the effort.





Sunday, July 22, 2018

It's Okay For Birders To Sit Quietly By A Brook

 Birders are often focused on the number, variety, and rarity of birds they can see.We may even use technology to call the birds to us. One of the things that sometimes get lost in the modern era of birding is the joy of letting nature find you as opposed to trying to chase it down.       

Sitting quietly by a brook is a soothing way to appreciate the beauty of an early summer morning.
 Watching as the sunshine lights up the mist rising from the water.
 Or watching birds land quietly nearby as you melt into the landscape that surrounds you.
Birds sometimes may give you a better glimpse of their natural behavior when they're not trying to avoid our presence.
 You can even take time to notice other things outside of birds like this gigantic fishing spider I came across a couple of years ago.

One thing that is great about birding is that you don't always have to approach things the same way. Sometimes birding seem more like a sport but it's up to each individual birder what approach they take. My rules say that there's nothing wrong with sitting down next to a cool, babbling brook.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Summer Birding: Nesting Osprey

I tend to slow down with the birding during the dog days of  summer. I was taking a morning walk down at the shore and came across some nesting osprey. That was good enough for me. Time to get in an air conditioned car as the temperature is racing towards 95!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

7 Advantages Of Birding Along A Rail Trail


They opened up a new stretch of the Airline rail trail which runs through Portland. The trail has always been there but by clearing away the path and putting down crushed gravel it makes it more accessible to every one. I had mixed feelings about turning a rustic trail into a public one but decided there were several reasons why I preferred the new version after using it for the first time. It has many advantages for birding. Here are some of the reasons why:
1) The widened trail makes it easier to see birds: It's easier to view birds when you have some space around you.
2) It reduces the bug factor: The gravel-packed trail helped reduce the number of ticks, mosquitoes, and deer flies.It also keeps the poison ivy away from contact distance.
3) The linear nature of the trail help keeps you on track: There is something relaxing about walking along one straight trail while birding. It feels very orderly and relaxing to move along focusing on birds and not having to decided which direction to walk next.
4)The trail brings you past a variety of landscape and habitat: When they built this railroad they blasted right though ledge and whatever else was in their way. This allows for miles of varied scenic viewing.
 5)There is lots of vegetation, berries, and flowers:This makes for a good place to find butterflies and other insects.
6) There are lots of birds! I saw and heard wall to wall birds along most of the trail. I also found a good variety of species (49).
 7) There are remnants of the historic past along the way:
 I used to think that these crosses were some sort of metallic memorial tombstone but it was actually part of a railway storage rack.

Naturally, rail trail habitat can vary depending on the area but I plan to make several trips to the Airline trail this year.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Sunrise At Harbor Park In Middletown


This sunrise scene along the Connecticut River In Middletown as viewed from Harbor Park precedes the first day of a week-long heatwave.
This is a view of the Arrigoni bridge along with the smaller railroad
bridge.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Failure Presents Opportunity Says Green Heron

I was on my way to doing a little weed whacking when I realized that I had forgotten the battery pack and would have to go back to drive 10 miles back to go get it. Instead of lamenting about it, I used it as an excuse to look for birds along an urban pond o the way back. I was happy to find a Green Heron looking at its own reflection in green water. A reminder that failure can lead to opportunity.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Very Productive Power Line Cut Birding

 I was disappointed when the power company started doing some heavy cutting along the power line cuts in our area.I didn't see nearly as many birds in some of my favorite spots but that led me to a further investigation of this section of power line cuts on East Cotton Hill Road.It's a hilly path that turned out to be loaded with birds (52 species) for about a 2 mile stretch. I recorded numbers of Prairie Warblers that prompted eBird to question if I was really seeing that many (12 but it was probably closer to 20).

 Now that I am out of the mode of chasing new year birds for my list I can take my time carefully counting every bird and taking pictures of species like Chipping Sparrows.
 and Indigo Buntings.
 I wish I could have gotten a better photo but was thrilled to get such great views of Scarlet Tanagers.
It was quite a hike up the hill and back. I wish that I brought some water because I was worn out by the time I started back and I didn't like the way this vulture as looking at me. I considered laying down to see if the vulture would come down to check me out but I ruled that out because there were too many ticks.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

It's Time To Change Routines Birding Routines


 It was a good morning for me birding along the shoreline. I added 5 new species to my year list: Marsh Wren,Willow Flycatcher, Clapper Rail, Little Blue Heron, and Yellow-crowned Night Heron.
I'm at 164 species for this year in Middlesex County. I only reached 172 last year and had a lot more free time so I think that it's time for me to switch gears again.
 During the summer when the pace slows down I'll start to do things like look at grackles in a puddle or rabbits on the patio.
I'll feel a need to change my routine by taking different approaches to birding, birding with different people and taking things as they come instead of trying to make things happen.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Good Birds In Bad Weather


 I went out birding at a stretch of powerline cuts in Portland last weekend. As you can see, it was a very foggy morning.
If it weren't for the fog I might have captured a really nice photo of a Scarlet Tanager.
This is another crappy photo of a Wilson's Warbler which I rarely ever see.
 They have been clearing a lot of trees and vegetation this year  from some of my favorite spots which has decreased the number of migrating birds I usually see there. 

 I've never walked the whole length of this particular stretch of powerline cut before and was very encouraged by the large number of Blue-winged Warblers, Eastern Towhees, and Prairie Warblers (in photo) that I saw (about 15-20 of each species). I downplayed my numbers on eBird a little because they wanted evidence to justify the high number of particular species I was seeing.