A Connecticut native with an interest in birding shares his outdoor adventures
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Songbird Lyrics Game
Blue is unanswered-grey is incomplete and Black has been answered.
If you knew one that has been answered, go ahead and say so.
1) Worry, why do I let myself worry? Wond'ring what in the world did I do?
2)Sometimes I sleep, sometimes it's not for days-And people I meet -always go their separate ways.
3) While shepherds kept their watching-Over silent flocks by night-Behold throughout the heavens-There shone a holy light.
4) And it's a fair wind, blowin' warm, Out of the south over my shoulder, Guess I'll set a course and go.
5) Stars appear - and the shadows are fallin'
6) How can we be wrong-Sail away with me- to another world
7) And the battle's just begun-There's many lost, but tell me who has won
8)In my eyes -Indisposed- In disguise -As no one knows
9)So he's pawned all his hopes and he even sold his own car
10)it's been so lonely without you here-like a bird without a song
Monday, May 28, 2007
Introducing Someone To Birding
We had a great time Sunday. It was a bit of a cloudy day, but the rain held off. Kelly is looking forward to another birding trip.
Things you may want to consider if you're bringing someone on their first bird walk:
- Make sure the person you are bringing has a pair of binoculars that will work for birding. It may be a good idea to bring along an extra pair as well.
- Focus on getting good looks at birds. Don't worry about finding the uncommon ones.
- Spend some time listening to birds as well as seeing them. Assure the person that they need not learn every song. Just learn the songs of common birds and track down songs that you don't recognize.
- Bring along a field guide so that you can point out what you are seeing and hearing.
- pick a location that you are familiar with to make it easier to find the birds.
- Don't over do it. Keep the trip short and sweet.
- Give the person a list of birds seen or heard, so they can look them up later if they want to.
These are just a few quick tips.-Can you think of any more ? Have you ever introduced someone to their first birding experience, or do you recall your first time birding?
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Birding Isn't Just For Grown-Ups
Saturday, I went on a Mattabeseck Audubon field trip. There were a total of 10 birders including myself. We did quite a bit of birding by ear, as the birds are a bit harder to find in late May. The leader, Larry C. (wrote the spring at K-mart article), is the one looking through the spotting scope.
This was a nice change of pace from the last couple of field trips I went on, which had as many as 25 birders. This group included some beginning birders,which meant that we were able to bird at a slower pace . We weren't focused on species count today. There was a young girl-(pictured in the background) who came along. She made it through the trip with no complaints. I have a feeling she will be very interested in birding when she gets a little older.
Our best looks were of Yellow Warblers,Cedar Waxwings, Great-crested Flycatcher, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and an Orchard Oriole. We also had a nice but distant view of a large Great Blue Heron Rookery. There is an estimated 100+ nests on one island. We were able to get a distant view of a few dozen of the active nests through the trees.
I believe that this field trip is the last one I will have attended before fall migration. It was a nice way to end. Have you ever introduced a child to the wonders of nature? Should birding clubs do more to encourage participation of children ? Can you think of any ways we can help promote nature to children?
Thursday, May 24, 2007
What If Common Birds Were Rare?
Now here is something that I was thinking about. The Buntings I saw were both a bit drab in appearance and behavior. Both were feeding on the ground, and went about their business without exhibiting any unusual behavior. The field marks on both birds were very subtle, and their colors were somewhat plain. Despite these facts, I was still thrilled to be able to find them.
What if a Blue Jay was a rare bird that had never been seen in Connecticut? I'm using a Blue Jay as an example, but it could be a number of other common birds. Forget about the Blue Jay's negative reputation for a moment. Suppose you went to find a Blue Jay that was listed on the rare bird report. Would you be disappointed if you were seeing it for the first time? Or-Would you be excited to hear the odd vocalizations. Would you find the markings of the Blue Jay to be dull?-their behavior boring?
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Songbird Lyrics Game
1)All day long, wearing a mask of false bravado-Trying to keep up the smile that hides a tear-
2)Some try to tell me -Thoughts they cannot defend, Just what you want to be -You will be in the end-
3)Well daddy loved and raised eight kids on a miner's pay- mommy scrubbed our clothes on a washboard every day- well I seen her fingers bleed- to complain there was no need -she'd smile in mommy's understanding way.
4)So you said your lonely-well my friend i'm lonely too-
5)A note on the table he spied-He read it just once then he cried.
6)Racing in the wind- And the feeling that I'm under
7)Days may be cloudy or sunny-We're in, or we're out of the money
8)Beatniks and politics, nothing in new-A yardstick for lunatics, one point of view
9)Send up a signal I'll throw you the line-The stained-glass curtain you're hiding behind
10)Leaves are falling all around, It's time I was on my way.Thanks to you, I'm much obliged-For such a pleasant stay. But now it's time for me to go, The autumn moon lights my way. For now I smell the rain- And with it pain- And it's headed my way.
11) Why can't you see, what you're doing to me-When you don't believe a word I say.
12) I want to walk with you On a cloudy day-In fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high-So won't you try to come
13)I was all right for a while-I could smile for a while-but I saw you last night-You held my hand so tight-as you stopped to say hello
14)Night and day and night, Wrong or right -
15)Beyond the seas of thought- beyond the realm of what-Across the streams of hopes and dreams where things are really not
16)And I'm floating in a most peculiar way-And the stars look very different today-
17)Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?-A smile from a veil?
18)See the market place In old Algiers-Send me photographs And souvenirs
19)She said there is no reason -And the truth is plain to see
20)I walk in shadows Searching for light-Cold and alone-No comfort in sight
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Since I posted a picture of a Northern Flicker the other day, I might as well follow up with these pictures of his cousin-The Red-bellied Woodpecker. Besides the woodpeckers, I am seeing a good number of American Goldfinches, House Finches, Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Grackles, and Red-winged Blackbirds.
Here's a brief summary of other birds I've been seeing around Portland:
- I took a short walk along the Portland Riverfront Trail tonight. I counted 16 Gray Catbirds, 12 Yellow Warblers, and 8 Northern Cardinals. Other birds in the area included nesting Baltimore Orioles, Indigo Bunting, Common Yellowthroat, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Brown Thrasher, American Redstart, American Robins, Wood Thrush, Eastern Towhee, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, and Tufted Titmouse. I didn't make it very far without bug repellent.-too many mosquitoes.
- Joanne L. sent me an e-mail about the summer breeding bird cencus count. She mentioned that she had 3 pairs of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in her yard.-if you're reading this-please send me some pictures Joanne.
- There are still good numbers of Swallows, orioles, vireos, Tanagers ,Red-breasted Nuthatch, and warblers (including Chestnut-sided and Prairie Warbler) at the reservoir. I had my best luck walking the trail that goes past the dam.
Monday, May 21, 2007
The Positives And Negatives Of Group Birding
- I generally see more species on a group trip versus going it alone.
- Social contact with people of similar interest can be enjoyable.
- I usually learn a little something on each trip.
- It is a good way to learn new areas.
- Many times I've seen new species on these trips with the added benefit of having an experienced birder point out the field marks.
- Someone often brings along a scope, and is willing to share a view-(which is nice).
There are some drawbacks to group birding. Here are a few that I've encountered.
- A trip with too many birders can be very distracting. It's difficult to stay focused when there's too much going on.
- When I'm with a group, I don't feel the same connection with nature as I do when I'm alone.
- If someone finds a bird for me, I haven't had to make use of whatever birding skills I have. Sometimes, it feels like I'm turning in to a mindless birding zombie.
- If top notch birders are on the trip, it's hard to spot any birds before they do.
- Some times you want to take extra time to track down a particular bird and you may not be able to do this when you're with a group. You have to keep up with the group.
- Seeing a new species found by a group is nice, but there's nothing like finding your own.
That's just a few of my thoughts about group birding. Despite the drawbacks, birding with a group is usually an enjoyable experience for me. It's really a nice benefit to have access to these trips. Birding with one or two other birders can be another nice option. You can enjoy some of the social aspects with fewer distractions than that of a large group.
I do prefer to go it alone most of the time. Birding, for me, is all about feeling a connection with the natural world. I love the feeling of being isolated, deep in the heart of a forest or field. Varying between the three choices helps to keep things interesting.
What are your thoughts on this topic?
Saturday, May 19, 2007
My Friend Flicker
The Northern Flicker seems to be the only Woodpecker in this area that prefers to eat from the ground. Flickers eat a variety of insects -especially ants. During winter months, their diet tends to be more fruit. When Northern Flickers comes to a feeder, you are able to see details on the bird that you may not otherwise see. This is the Yellow-shafted variety. If you look at the under side of the tail, you can see the yellow.
During the breeding season, Northern Flickers can be found as far north as Canada and as far south as Central America. The ones in the Northern range migrate towards the south and west in the winter.
- Numbers have shown that the number of (Yellow-shafted) Northern Flickers is declining. This might be due to an increase in lawn chemicals and decrease in preferred habitat.
- Call a long series of loud "wik-wik-wik" notes. Also a softer "wik-a-wik-a-wik-a," and a strong single-note "peah."
What's your favorite woodpecker? Do you see Northern Flickers in your area?
Thursday, May 17, 2007
2)This Hawk has a territorial call that is a high, clear, squealing keeyuur, keeyuur -steadily repeated.(according to Sibley)______________
3)This small backyard bird used to be sold in pet stores . ____________
4)Name a bird that is a thrush but does not have the word thrush in its name_________
5)Hint-American Beauty-Pheucticus ludovicianus_____________
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Carrying A Camera Provides Some Insurance
A couple of years ago, I decided to buy a camera so that I could get photos of any birds that were new to me. I have been able to identify several new birds this way that I was unable to make a positive i.d. on in the field. It is also nice to have pictures to back up your stories when telling someone about good birds you have seen. Every so often, you may come across someone that seems to have some doubt about one of your proclaimed sightings. A photo makes for nice evidence in these cases.
How and when to use the camera to take a photo of a new species varies. I think you have to take a really good look at the new bird through the binoculars, while you have the chance. I won't attempt taking a picture until I've memorized enough field marks to have a decent chance of making a positive identification.
Photo number 1: I identified it without the photo but was glad to be able to confirm it later .
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Catching My breath
Song Lyrics Game.
1)When through the woods, and forest glades I wander, And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees. When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur -And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
2)You know what-I didn't realize this Dylan tune had such a strange title-I knew it as you've got a lot of nerve but the Title was positively fourth street.
3)My daddy left home when I was three-And he didn't leave much to ma and me-Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.
4)Though I know I'll never lose affection-For people and things that went before
5)I'll always remember that magic moment,When I held you close to me.
6)Pale moon shining on the fields below-Needn't tell me so because I know
7)Do you remember those days hanging out at the village green?-Engineer boots, leather jackets,and tight blue jeans
8)And the years rolled slowly past -And I found myself alone Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends
9)The mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake- as the children of the sun began to awake.
10)I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps-
11)Playing a fools game, hoping to win-Telling those sweet lies and losing again.
12) Childhood living is easy to do- The things you wanted I bought them for you -Graceless lady, you know who I am -You know I can't let you -slide through my hands
13)Her eyes they shone like the diamonds-You'd think she was Queen of the land
14)I can still feel the breeze-That rustles through the trees-And misty memories of days gone by
If you are interested in taking part in future games, please let me know what categories of music you would be familiar with.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Seeing Birds Through Someone Else's Eyes
The final bird that I would like to mention is the Yellow-billed Cuckoo that I saw. I actually saw a Cuckoo yesterday but since it made no sound, I wasn't positive whether it was a Yellow-billed or a Black-billed Cuckoo. Today the Cuckoo did call out and I was able to compare it to my c.d' at home which made it clear that it was a Yellow-billed that I had heard.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Shorebirds Continue At Wangunk Meadows
Prairie Warblers,(8), Blue-winged Warblers(6), as well as a few Chestnut-sided Warblers. All three of these Warbler species seem to like the habitat that is common in power line right- of- way -areas. If you have time, compare the songs of these three species. They are distinctly different. I really enjoy hearing the escalating song of the Prairie.
Wangunk Meadows is not the prettiest looking area. It is a collection of abandoned farm fields, marshes, streams and woods located along the Connecticut River in Portland and South Glastonbury. ATV's and 4-wheel drive vehicles are always driving though the muddy roads, making deep ruts. The picture below is of an isolated area that is home to abandoned vehicles. I don't know how these cars ended up there. Hunters like to take target practice on them.Despite the fact that the area has been abused, it still has a great variety of birds.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Part two-Solitary Sandpiper On A Sunday Afternoon
My first stop was at the field that had been flooded. I was curious to find out if the Thrashers had returned. I noticed right away that there were many Gray Catbirds in the area. Then, as I entered the field, a Brown Thrasher popped up on a tree branch. It started singing a series of songs, repeating each one twice.
I slowly walked in to the field. Most of the water had receded but there was a small patch that was still flooded. I was pleased to see a few Wood Ducks walking in the marshy area. Wood Ducks do not pose for me. If I try to get too close, they are gone.
As I started to scan the field, I noticed this shorebird near the edge of the water. I don't know shorebirds well at all, but I did observe that this guy was wearing a snazzy pair of spectacles.It later flew to this little brook near the entrance. I knew it was some kind of Sandpiper but was not sure which one. When I checked out Sibleys, it noted that Solitary Sandpipers have distinct eye rings and relatively short bills. A Solitary would be a lifer for me. I would appreciate it, if someone would confirm my i.d.
The Yellow Warblers have also returned to this area. I spotted about a dozen. They thrive in this habitat which is comprised of tangled thickets and vines. There were also good numbers of American Redstarts around.
By this point I was satisfied and decided to return home. Before going back, I decided to have a look at one more area people call Sleepy Hollow-or the Hollow. There weren't many birds there but here's a picture of me at Sleepy Hollow. Well, I think that about wraps up part 2.
Monday, May 7, 2007
Part One-Sunday Morning At Machimoudus
When they weren't putting on an air show, they would rest in trees, like the one above .
Some of them didn't want to be bothered with a crowd, so they reserved a private table.
I had a chance to get a decent picture of this Black and White Warbler, but came up short.
In all, I saw eight species of Warbler: Blue-Winged, Black and White , Yellow Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler,
Northern Parula-(eye level view-very nice!), and Ovenbird.
Then it happened, I saw my first Scarlet Tanager of the year. The brilliant color of the breeding male Tanager seemed to momentarily make the clouds disappear. There was a time, when I thought that I would never get to see a Tanager. I was always looking up in the trees hoping to see one. Now that I know their song, they are much easier to find but no less striking.
I also caught a glimpse of some Common Ravens which were making some of their trademark Raven sounds. I saw lots of other species of birds but I prefer to just mention the highlights.
On the way out, I was hearing a bird song that sounded very familiar to me. I knew it wasn't a warbler but what was it? Just before exiting the park, my question was answered. It was the rather dull looking Warbling Vireo. The song was very familiar, but I hadn't heard it since last year. -That concludes the morning session-stay tuned for part two (The afternoon session)-on Tuesday.
Saturday, May 5, 2007
Quarry Park And Connecticut Flood Plain
I attended The Quarry Park and Connecticut Flood Plain Field Trip with The Hartford Audubon this morning. There was a total of nine birders for this trip. I was not the only Larry on the trip.
This guy must have been having a blast flying around on a day like today. Have you ever tried this? What's it called?
Well, what can I say? It was another great day of birding. Hope you had a great day of birding as well.
Friday, May 4, 2007
Bird- Song Lyrics Game
1)Well you knew all along-That your dad was gettin' wise to you now.
2)If you hear that same sweet song again-will you know why? Anyone who sings a tune so sweet is passing by
3)There’s a little bird Somebody sent down to earth -To live along the wind -Blowing on the wind
4)And butterflies are free to fly-Fly away, high away, bye bye
5)But please don’t take it badly-cause lord knows I’m to blame.
6)Can't get a red bird, blue bird'll do.
7)Fly like a bird -Take to the sky- I need you now Lord -Carry me high
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Stuff Growing On My lawn.
I despise these mini-maples. There are literally thousands of them on my lawn this time of year. I don't even have a maple tree in my yard. I will definitely look forward to getting rid of them. Maple trees are tough cookies.
AMERICAN ROBIN IS PLASTERING OUR VEHICLES.
When the employees see the robin do its little flight dance on their car, they go running out to try to minimize the damage. I'm actually just laughing to myself. I have a small pick-up truck that I bought at an auction. -So no big deal to me. A lot of people own shiny new SUV's, so they aren't too happy about this situation. The robin won't relent if you move your car. It follows it to the next parking place. This bird must be eating good. I must admit, I have to admire the tenacity of this robin. Too bad it has to waste all its energy on a useless cause.
Have you ever run in to a situation like this ? What did you do about it? I've heard of birds responding to their reflections as if it was a competitor but this robin is getting a little carried away.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Avian Sampler Bird Quiz