Thursday, January 12, 2023

Pileated Woodpeckers In My Backyard!

I live in a suburban neighborhood but I do have a nice patch of trees in the backyard. We've had a few nice surprise birds like bluebirds, owls, and now Pileated Woodpeckers. It would be nice if they nested here. This male was digging out a good-sized hole, so maybe. You can tell a male because they have a red moustache and the red feathers extend to the entire top of the head. The female has a grayish-black forecrown with no moustache.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Ring-necks and Otter At Preserve

Middlesex Land Trust has preserved about 50 different pieces of land in my area. One of them is the Highland Pond preserve in Middletown which has turned out to be a nice little honeyhole of a pond. It is a small pond that is surrounded by a small residential neighborhood but has yielded a lot of nice finds for me over the years. it is good for a nice variety of ducks in particular.
The last time I visited there it was a gloomy, raw day but it was still worth a visit. I saw Green-winged Teal and a few Ring-necked Ducks. There is a ring on the necks of these ducks but it is subtle and you don't always see the ring. If you look closely at the neck you can see how it has a slight change of color near the base of the neck. Something else caught my attention. At first, I couldn't make heads or tails of what I was seeing. I saw the head and thought that doesn't look like a beaver?Then I saw the tail and knew that definitely isn't a beaver tail! There were actually 2 river otters in the pond! They were rolling around flipping up their tails and having a grand old time. One even caught a fish but with the poor lighting I had a tough time getting clear pictures with my point and shoot. River Otters aren't that rare in Connecticut but you don't get to see them often. They travel up and down streams and rivers moving from one pond to another. They are tough, agile predators that eat all sorts of things including ducks,  beavers and raccoons!

Thursday, December 29, 2022

An 18,000 Square foot Mansion For Only 90,000!

This is the 18,000 sq. ft. Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown, Connecticut. It was named after the original owner, Colonel Clarence S. Wadsworth. I could just imagine what it was like pulling up to grandpa's house for Thanksgiving 100 years ago! 
There's been a trend for many years now to put little informative signs along walking trails. What caught my attention on this sign was the original cost of the mansion being $90,000! That kind of gives another perspective to our recent inflation woes.
I go to the Wadsworth mansion grounds when I want a little fresh air and birding but I'm not feeling physically ambitious. It has nice, wide, nice flat manicured trails and plenty of country scenery.
I would imagine that Colonel Wadsworth probably rode around his 500 acre estate on a horse. The property has been sold off over the years and only 100 acres remain. This sign show colonel Wadsworth was a man with a plan.
There are a couple of nice little bridges to cross over. As far as birds I saw a few sparrows, a Pileated Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, and 1 Red-shouldered Hawk.
There is enough habitat to keep a few birds around in the winter. Here you can see a tiny trickling stream and some brushy area.
There were several berry bearing bushes that attracted birds like this robin. I also spotted a Northern Mockingbird taking advantage of some ornamental crabapple trees.

Winter is a good time to slow down the birding pace and a nice walk through a country setting is a good way to kick the winter blues!

Friday, December 23, 2022

Basic Winter Woodland Birding

Some of my favorite local birding spots are located along the Connecticut River. I walked a trail located in an area call Maromas which has the most natural habitat in the city of Middletown. Maromas was an old farming village many years ago. Only a woodland cemetery and abandoned foundations mark the history of the area.

 I like walking along the rail trail which passes by a nice marsh on one side and has access to the Connecticut shoreline on the other side.The marsh and river shoreline provide good opportunities to see a variety of birds like ducks, waders, Bald Eagles, and other birds of prey. I did see one eagle flying off with a duck as well as Hooded and Common Mergansers in the river. Meanwhile, there was a winter-hardy Great Blue Heron in the marsh.I spent most of the time viewing woodland birds like American Robins, Hermit Thrush, and Eastern Bluebirds as seen above. All 3 of those species are in the thrush family. Not bad, 3 of a kind. In the springtime I can add Veery and Wood Thrush to the list and then I'll have a "Royal Thrush"!I like winter birding on a sunny day when their is very little wind. The lack of foliage allows birds like this White-breasted Nuthatch stand out on bare branches.

Winter Birding plans: 

1) woodland birding walks on sunny days with little wind.

2) An occasional visit to the shorelines when the conditions are right.

3) Cruising around in my car with the heat on rolling down the window to take pictures of birds when I see a good photo opportunity.

Winter is a time to stop and appreciate the basic woodland birds that birders tend to overlook in the spring because they are too busy seeking out the newly arriving migrant species.