Thursday, February 28, 2008

Songbird Mix Game

Name the song that the lyrics belong to and/or an artist who performed it. Let us know which ones you knew, even if it has already been answered: Blue=Unanswered Grey=incomplete Black=already answered

1) He's got a daughter he calls Easter-She was born on a Tuesday night

2) Goddess on the mountain top -Burning like a silver flame

3) Desmond has a barrow in the market place-Molly is the singer in a band-Desmond says to Molly - girl I like your face-And Molly says this as she takes him by the hand-

4) If you believe in forever-Then life is just a one-night stand

5) "No reason to get excited," the thief, he kindly spoke, "There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke-

6) Well no one told me about her -the way she lied-Well no one told me about her how many people cried

7)Ain't got no trouble in my life-No foolish dream to make me cry-I'm never frightened or worried-I know I'll always get by

8) You fill up my senses- like a night in the forest-like the mountains in springtime-like a walk in the rain

9)I can't light no more of your darkness-All my pictures seem to fade to black and white-I'm growing tired and time stands still before me-Frozen here on the ladder of my life

10)I’m gonna wait 'til the stars come out-See them twinkle in your eyes

11) Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day -You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way

12) There's a tear in your eye, And I'm wondering why, For it never should be there at all. With such pow'r in your smile, Sure a stone you'd beguile, So there's never a teardrop should fall

13) Mama told me, when I was young-Come sit beside me, my only son-And listen closely, to what I say. And if you do this-It will help you some sunny day

14)I searched everywhere- but none can compare..

15)Well, I heard some people talkin' just the other day- And they said you were gonna put me on a shelf- But let me tell you I got some news for you- And you'll soon find out it's true -And then you'll have to eat your lunch all by yourself

16) Has he lost his mind? Can he see or is he blind? Can he walk at all, Or if he moves will he fall?

17) With the thoughts you'll be thinkin'-you could be another Lincoln

18)Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan-Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan-Got what it takes to make a Mountain Man leave his home

19) Making your way in the world today Takes everything you've got; Taking a break from all your worries -Sure would help a lot

20) Something inside is telling me that I've got your secret. Are you still listening?

Famous Poems:

1)And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

2) Oh, no! it is an ever-fixed mark -That looks on tempests.. and is never shaken. It is the star to every wandering bark--Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken

Good luck! I have to work this weekend so I probably won't get to another post until Monday.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Keeping It Simple

The weather wasn't so great Saturday morning. It was cold and it had just snowed overnight. This wasn't anything that was going to stop me from spending time outdoors, but it limited my options a little. In a way, it's almost a relief when my options are limited because it's easier for me to decide what it is that I want to do. Fewer choices-easier to make a decision. I decided to stay local and keep things simple. Not just on Saturday but for the entire weekend.

  • I stopped at Wethersfield Cove Saturday morning because it was reported that there were 7 immature Bald Eagles hanging out there. I found six Bald Eagles. Four were perched in the same tree across the cove and two were perched in a tree on my side of the cove. A couple of times two of them flew out together and looked as though they were going to lock talons but never actually did. I talked to one of the locals who was confusing Greater Black-backed Gulls with eagles. I made sure that I was ever so subtle in the way I corrected him because I've been there before-quite a few times. Maybe not with eagles but with plenty of other species.
  • I've been taking the time to look at gulls a little more closely this year. Just simple things like paying attention to the color of their feathers, legs, and eyes. I think gulls would be much more interesting to me if I could just find one of those less common ones such as a Glaucous or Iceland Gull on my own. They never seem to be there when I'm looking for them though. I've had someone else point these gulls out to me once or twice but it just isn't the same unless you can find them for yourself. I recently read a nice article from the Jan/Feb issue of Birdwatcher's Digest about identifying the age of gulls based on plumage. The article explained how to do this in a way that seems so much easier than I ever thought it could be. I'm going to carry a chart with me that highlights the key points of the article. Being able to tell the age of gulls should be fun in the way that it's fun to identify a new species of bird. I'm actually looking forward to doing this.
  • It might be a bit difficult to see in the top photo but there were a lot of Common Mergansers along with the gulls. I counted about 40 of them in the cove.
WINTERGREEN WOODS PARK-There are two must own books if you are looking for places to go birding in CT. One is called Connecticut Birding Guide (sold at Audubon Shop in Madison) and Finding Birds In Connecticut. I believe both are available at the ABA sales website or can be taken out from the library (Portland has them both). Finding Birds In Connecticut list a lot more sites (450) but does not give a lot of specifics. I found Wintergreen Woods Park listed in the Wethersfield section which worked out nicely as a second stop right down the road from Wethersfield Cove. It turned out to be a small park with paths leading through a small stand of pines and a few small boardwalks that lead past a few vernal pools. There is a small stream that runs through the area and a portion of the park that has what I call drabitat- (dull looking habitat). I did catch a quick glimpse of a hawk-probably a Cooper's, but possibly a sharpie-I'll just call it a Carpie. No matter how much I talked to that wren in the above photo, it wouldn't look at me and say "cheese".
Sunday was a gorgeous winter day, warm and sunny! I stuck to to my plan of simplicity by staying right in town. Well almost, I did stop briefly at nearby Cromwell Meadows where I saw a Gray Catbird and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Those are birds that are a little bit harder than average to find in Connecticut right now, so I was pleased when I found those two. There were also droves of Northern Cardinals. The male Northern Cardinals seemed to be singing everywhere this weekend.
Most of the birding that I did in Portland was in between various weekend errands. I made a stop at a local boat yard (above) to have a look around with the scope. It was so nice, no one was even around . Unfortunately, neither were the birds.
I was able to find 3 Hooded Mergansers at Great Hill Pond. These mergansers seemed to be taking a nap. There was also one Hooded Merganser occupying a tiny patch of open water in The Brownstone Quarry. While I was at Tri-Town Foods grocery store, I saw a Black Vulture with its silvery tipped wings, flying very high above. I noticed what I think was a small scratch on its left foot, but my eyes aren't what they used to be.

My favorite birding moments of the day took place right down the road from my house at a place we call The Portland Riverfront Trail. There is one area that sits 20 feet below the main trail which is well hidden by brush. There is a secret path that leads to this flat, swampy area. For some reason, there always seems to be lots of active birds at this spot. There is a miniature stream that runs-no, not runs, I would say that it seeps through the area. It rarely has more than an inch of water in it but never seems to run dry. Oddly, it never completely freezes in the winter. I enjoyed watching a pair of Downy Woodpeckers race each other up a tree trunk like two lumberjacks in a tree climbing contest. The birds were seemed so lively here that I just sat still and watched them for more than an hour.
click on play button to view robin video
I'll leave you with this video of an American Robin probing for food in that tiny stream I described (the sound you hear is my lens cap bouncing off the tree that I was leaning up against) . There were actually 30 or 40 robins in the area, all looking for food in this inch deep stream. I know robins are very common birds but it was a serendipitous moment as I watched so many of them foraging for food. They seemed oblivious to my presence. For that hour, I felt like a welcome guest in their secret little world.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Roast Meat Hill Road

I was a kid when I first passed by a street called Skunk Misery Road and remember being very impressed with such a bold name. Were the skunks miserable or the people who lived there? Skunk Misery Road was the strangest name for a road in my book until the day I saw: Roast Meat Hill Road. Over the years I passed by that street sign many times but never actually drove on the road itself. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe I was afraid of what I might find there. Last weekend something told me that it was time to finally go down that road.
I actually drove past it a couple of times because the top of the road sign had been removed where it intersects with Route 81. Why did someone remove the top of the street sign? Did someone want it as a souvenir or is someone or something trying to keep people away from this mysterious area? Then I noticed this little stone sign set on the ground and covered with leaves. When I brushed the leaves way, it revealed the street name I was looking for. It looks like a scene from one of those movies where a hand is ready to pop up out of the ground, doesn't it?
Even before I started my drive along Roast Meat Hill Road, many questions came to mind: Do any vegeterians live on this road? If a child becomes a vegeterian, is he excommunicated from the neighborhood? Do the neighbors get together for a yearly ritual in which they partake in the roasting of meat? Is there a neighborhood cookbook which features a variety of roasted meat recipes? What's it like for residents of this road to place phone orders? Do people believe them when they give their address? --And the most important question: How did Roast Meat Hill Road get its name?
I came across some strange and interesting things as I passed through this area, like this old well , for example. Perhaps it was used by people many years ago to quench their thirst after they gorged themselves on roasted meat.

I walked down one of the nature trails that I found and was shocked to find this piece of meat wedged between some sticks. Was it roasted? It had the consistency of beef jerky and was actually quite tasty! Is this evidence that the descendants of ancient meat roasters may still exist in these very woods? If so, where are they? Where do they live?
When I saw the inner structure of this tree it all started to come together. That's it! They're living inside the trees! They must be a carnivorous version of those cookie-baking elves!
Just around the corner on Route 80, I found this car wedged up in the middle of the tree. Is this just the work of someone with a warped sense of humor, or was it those meat-roasting gremlins wreaking havoc on the neighbors?
Is this really a nature center or is it just a front for a secret meat-roasting factory?
Okay, let's get a little bit serious now. I apologize to any residents of Roast Meat Hill Road who may come across this blog post. Of course, none of these wild ideas are true-(at least not that I know of). I was just having a bit of fun with such a unique name for a road. Roast Meat Hill Road is actually a beautiful country road with nice homes, farmland and a few historic buildings. I found out that they even have a nature center called The Platt Nature Center (above). There are hiking trails behind the nature center and another one across the street that leads to a reservoir. I did see some birds along the nature center trail including Tufted Titmice, Northern Cardinals, House Finches, and a few woodpeckers. I decided my best bet would be to come back in May and search the reservoir vicinity for spring migrants. It is also right down the road from Chatfield Hollow State Park which is known to be a pretty good birding spot.
My favorite sighting was that of this little Black-capped Chickadee searching for bits of??? -in this dying tree. Hmmm-I wonder what kind of food he found?
Oh yes-I almost forgot. What is the origin of the name Roast Meat Hill Road? An internet search turned up an urban legend about how several cows were struck by lightning on a farm along this road many years ago. If anyone has more information about how this road got its name, please let us know.
What is the strangest name for a road that you've ever seen in your area?
By the way, don't forget there's a total lunar eclipse tonight. It will be in its totality between 10:00pm and 10:52pm here in CT.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The 2008 Eagle Festival Offered More Than Just Eagles

The above photo was taken Saturday morning at the Essex Town Dock in front of The Connecticut River Museum in Essex, CT. From this vantage point, there is a distant view of 3 eagles nests (it is no secret). The overall number of eagles seen during the festival is probably way down this year because there is too much open water on the river. This makes it less likely to see a concentration of eagles in one area. I did have a thrilling view of a light-morph Rough-legged Hawk that a Swarovski rep was able to line up in a scope for me. You could really see the dark patches on its wings and tail band as it hovered above the water much like a kestrel does. That was a life bird for me!

I didn't stay for some of the events that took place here, such as the live raptor demonstration. I was able to try out several binoculars. I thought that I had finally decided that Swarovski 8.5 x 42 EL were the best for me. Then I had to try that one last pair.-Zeiss 7x42 . It was the first time I ever tried Zeiss and boy, what a view! It is going to be a tough choice between those two when I can afford them. I did finally purchase a sturdy tripod and head. I cannot believe the difference! I have been struggling with a scope on a video camera tripod for two years. It was a foot too short for me and very difficult to adjust. This new one works like a dream and can be used for my camera, too.
Here is one of the Lady Katherine Cruise ships. They were kind enough to donate the use of one of their ships for a school kids program on Friday called "Eagles in Flight". This is not the usual boat used for eagle tours. Eagle viewing boat tours can be booked through The Connecticut Audubon Society's Ecotravel.

After leaving the Essex Town Dock, I spent some time at some of the other eagle-watching locations. The Chester Ferry location seemed to be the most consistent place to see them. I had a nice view of an adult Bald Eagle perched on a branch eating a fish. I won't bore you with the photo which was much too distant to be of use. Some people took some nice digi-scoped photos but I am not equipped for that. Most of my fun came from locating eagles for other people that have never seen them before. Many of them were very impressed upon their first sighting, particularly some of the kids. Notice I said some; a few of the kids appeared to be less that interested (imagine that!). I actually saw a second Rough-legged Hawk here. This time it was a dark-morph, which still showed the tail band, but overall had less distinctive markings compared to the light-morph.

I was a bit surprised to see this seal taking a nap on the ice. It was at a marina near the East Haddam Bridge. Apparently, it has been there for a few days. I didn't know that seals swam up the Connecticut River. I don't know much about seals at all. The only ones I've seen have been in a tank. What kind of Seal is this?
After leaving the area near the East Haddam Bridge, I took a wrong turn that led me to this scenic waterfall that I've never noticed before.
I was mostly focused on the events surrounding the Eagle Fest this weekend but I did capture this short video of Ring-necked Ducks. You might as well turn the volume down when you play it because there is traffic noise in the background.
"Where are you guys going?" "Is it something I said?"
Although there weren't the usual number of eagles in the area this weekend, The Eagle Fest is still a fun event. There was other events in the surrounding towns including a chili cookoff, chowder cookoff, and an ice sculpture event. I really like visiting this part of Connecticut. I came across something very unusual when driving along the back roads of Killingworth. I will tell you about it on Wednesday.
How was your weekend? Did you see any interesting birds, plants, or animals?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Spinning My Wheels

This weekend's birding was more like a series of unrelated events. My attempts at enjoying time outdoors seemed to be fragmented and lacking their usual natural flow. On Saturday, I took a walk with some Connecticut Audubon Members as they gave a tour of some of the properties they own in Wethersfield Meadows. Some of the people who joined the trip had binoculars but most didn't. It was okay to talk about birds on this walk but only to a certain extent. The main purpose of the trip was to give those who attended a history of the land parcels owned by the Connecticut Audubon. I pointed out a few birds to a some people who were interested but had to avoid being a distraction when the leaders of the trip were speaking. At one point I saw a Bald Eagle fly right over our heads but didn't say a word. It was an odd conflict of interest. I handed out a Hartford Audubon field trip schedule to 2 people who said they would like to get more involved with birding as a hobby. Birds seen on this walk included: Belted kingfisher, Bald Eagle, Great Blue heron, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Common Merganser, White-breasted Nuthatch, Tufted titmouse, and Red-tailed Hawk. There was one bird that was perched on a tall, dead tree that may have been a Pergrine but it was too distant to tell.

-------------------- click on play button to play gull video-----------------
On Sunday, I decided to search for Bald Eagles and other birds at stops along the lower Connecticut River. It was a beautiful sunny spring-like day on the drive down but it started to rain shortly after I arrived at Haddam Meadows. Species I saw there included one immature Bald Eagle and ten Common Goldeneye.

My next stop was at Chester Ferry. It was raining pretty good by the time I pulled in. I chatted a while with a friendly birder named Keith that I met there. He showed me a nice collection of bird photos including one of a Golden Eagle and another of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. He is interested in attending some Hartford Audubon trips. We saw a Great Cormorant perched on a snag in the river but neither of us saw any eagles here, which is unusual. It must have been the weather.

I drove a little further down the road to Deep River landing. there I saw some Mute Swans, 1 Bald Eagle, and some gulls. The Ring-billed Gull in the video seemed to be trying to tell me something-like "Go Home-it's just not your day." On my way back, I stopped at my favorite breakfast place in Tylerville. At least I knew that I could be successful eating breakfast--or so I thought. Would you believe they closed down the restaurant for not paying their taxes!

On Sunday afternoon, the rain stopped and the sun came out. I headed out to Wangunk Meadows in Portland to make one last attempt to do some birding before the weekend was over. Of course there were 40 mile per hour winds to contend with and it started to snow soon after I arrived. As I started to walk along the river trail, I looked down and saw this jeep turned on its side. Fortunately, no one was in it. People like to go four wheeling in the meadows but it looks like someone took too wide of a turn.

I didn't see a lot of birds during my walk but I enjoyed getting out for some fresh air. There were a few American Tree Sparrows, Northern Cardinals, chickadees, and woodpeckers around. The last bird that I saw was a Northern Harrier hunting in the fields. It was kind of distant but I made an attempt at getting some video. I call this bad hawk cinema. Yes, this weekend seemed to have a strange feel to it. I'm looking forward to next weekend in hopes that I can spend more time in the field.

click on play button for Northern Harrier Video

Friday, February 8, 2008

A View From Both Sides Of The Hill

The above photo was taken from the top of the former Middletown CT Landfill. It is a view of Boggy Meadow (also called Cromwell Meadows). This is a large marsh that changes with the tide in the Atlantic Ocean, and the fact that it is freshwater (tidal waters are generally salt water) makes this an uncommon wildlife habitat. I have visited this marsh from the other side in a State Park called Cromwell Meadows State Wildlife Area. I knew that these marshland were sandwiched between route 9 and route 3. I was not aware that you could get such a nice view of the marsh from the Middletown side until recently when I read about a project called "The Jonah Center For Art And Earth" on the Conservacity Blog . It is an ambitious project that involves transforming a former landfill into a walking trail and car top boat launch that allows access to marshlands. There are many other aspects of the project including one idea that involves making use of the methane gas which is escaping through the capped landfill hill. Here is a paragraph from their webpage explaining their vision:

"Our ultimate goal is an educational and cultural facility that brings scientific and artistic endeavors into intimate contact with each other. We want to promote eco-friendly technologies in a way that excites the imagination, celebrates the cultural richness of Middletown, and helps people in very practical ways to live their lives and support their families. The Jonah Center will not simply entertain visitors; it will inspire and educate them to see, think, and act in a new way."

You can read more about this project

It strange how I've passed by the street where the former landfill is located hundreds of times but had no awareness of what lies behind it. It is in an area of Middletown that is surrounded by old factories covered with graffitti and littered with trash. I vaguely remember visiting the old dump with my father when I was about 5 or so. I was fascinated by all the gulls and by the huge pile of trash. The smell of the dump is something that I have never forgotton either.

Here is a view from the top of the same hill but from the other side. You can probably see why this area of town hasn't held much interest for me. It is human nature to ignore that which is not attractive but if you take the time to look beyond the surface, you may be surprised at what you find.

On Sunday, February 3rd, I parked my truck in a factory parking lot. I entered the landfill area through an opening in a chain-linked fence which was lined with a single row of very tall pine trees. There was toilet paper and garbage bags hanging from the trees. I passed through pricker bushes and stepped over a little gully filled with mud and water. There was old tires and other bits of junk on the ground. The whole area smelled like mulch piles comprised of used cigars. I started to feel like I was in a chapter of one of Stephen King's novels and that some form of mutated beings might suddenly emerge from the toxic soup that surrounded me.
It wasn't long though before I realized that there was more to the area than meets the eye. I could hear the sound of birds singing and plenty of them at that. Sparrows, woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice were all there and let their prescence be know. I saw a quick flash of a dark raptor quickly pass by me. I could not determine with any certainty what it was. I walked the around the border of the landfill mound and saw a portion of the Mattabasset River. It is a slow- running, murky river. No doubt that work needs to be done to improve the quality of the water, but rivers of this type are often more appealing to wildlife than fast- running , clear rivers are. I heard Carolina Wrens from multiple directions. By the time the morning ended, I counted at least a dozen Carolina Wrens. I cimbed to the top of the hill and enjoyed the view. Looking though binoculars, there appeared to be dozens of gulls, Common Mergansers, Mute Swans and Canada Geese. I could see a Red-tailed Hawk perched in a tree. I didn't see any Bald Eagles on this morning but often see them circling the area. As I looked around I saw numerous American Goldfinches, White-throated Sparrows and Song Sparrows.
After enjoying my view, I worked my way back down the hill passing to Eastern Cottontail Rabbits on the way down. When I reached the bottom of the hill, I had a splendid view of a Northern Harrier swooping and hovering over low over the grass that I had just passed over. That must have been the dark hawk that I had seen pass by and by the looks of things it must have been eager for me to leave. Seeing this large but graceful hawk hunting on top of an abandoned dump made me think that wildlife often survives in spite of us not because of us. I explored the area a little further by following some railroad tracks westward where I crossed a tressle that passed over the Coginchaug River. I always get a little nervous when crossing these things because you can see the water in between the railroad ties. Some of the wood always seem to be rotted too further adding to the uneasiness. The key is not to look down to much. There were some no trespassing signs so so I did my best not to trip over them. As I ventured a little further, I came across a Belted Kingfisher, and several Red-bellied Woodpeckers. My journey ended at a vacant lot that led to another nice view of the marsh seen in the above photo. Exploring this area by canoe is really the best way. You can work your way through the whole marsh and the surrounding areas.

My last stop was at Saint John's Cemetery. It offers limited access to The Coginchaug River and surrounding woods. I was rewarded with a nice view of a Sharp-shinned Hawk (?-or Cooper's) perched on a branch.
I came away from this day with a new appreciation of the rivers and marshland that border the north end of Middletown. It may not be the most attractive part of town, but birds don't care about that. They are looking for food, water, and habitat. This area offers all three. I'm look forward to further exploring this area as the seasons change. If you come across an area that is lined with old factories or the site of an old dump, you may want to see what's behind them. Who knows, you may be surprised at what you find.-Please note that there are no walking trails in the area as of yet although there are plans to add trails in the future. It is easier to gain access to the landill hill through the recycling center entrance when it is open.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Western Tanager At Hammonasset!

I had the day off from work Monday and decided to take a ride to Hammonasset State Park hoping to find a Western Tanager that has been reported there recently. Sunday night I was very dissappointed to see the New England Patriots season end in a Superbowl loss. Those of you who aren't fans of any particular sports team may not understand this but the game left me feeling emotionally drained. An exciting day of birding was just the cure to lift my spirits.

The first bird that caught my eye was a very strange looking American Robin. As you can see from the photo above this robin is partially leucistic. This is a genetic condition in which pigment cells for color are not present in parts of the skin or feathers. Have you ever seen albino or partially leucistic birds?

Here was the star of the show today. A Western Tanager is a pretty rare bird to see in Connecticut (also a lifer for me). Last time I checked, Connecticut is in the eastern part of the country, not to mention it's the middle of winter! Luckily for this bird, there is more than enough berries in the park for her to eat. There was a handful of us watching it this morning. We stayed fixed in one location for about an hour so that we could get more viewing opportunities. I was pleased to see that it was a bit more colorful than I expected. We did have a nice view of it but I didn't want to risk scaring it off so my photo had to be taken from a distance. We also observed three species of warblers from the same location. These included a Pine Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler-(another lifer!), and a Yellow-rumped Warbler. Not a bad for day for warblers in February!

Other birds of note included Cedar Waxwings, Horned Lark, Lapland Longspur, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Fox Sparrows, and Red-breasted Nuthatch. When I was walking along a nature trail, I thought I heard the squeaky toy call of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. It turned out to be just the sound of my boots. I was also fooled when my lungs made whistling sounds as I exhaled cold air. I enjoy birding by ear, not by air! Oh well, nobody's perfect (not even the Patriots). I also saw all three of the Connecticut mimids today; Brown Thrasher, Gray Catbird, and Northern Mockingbird. The poor lighting made it a difficult day to take photos, so I decided to record the ever-accommodating Northern Mockingbird.

I'll leave you with this short video of a Northern Mockingbird plucking berries from a tree.
Can you name the bird heard in the background?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Field Trip To Machimoudus Park & Notable Blogs

Eight birders met at Machimoudus Park in East Haddam on Saturday for a Mattabeseck Audubon Society field trip. It was a sunny morning with temperatures in the 40's. This park features a trail that takes you through woodlands with a splendid view of the Salmon River Cove from the top of a hill. It offers a good vantage point from which to observe Bald Eagles in flight. One immature Bald Eagle flew directly over our heads and hovered for a few seconds as it took advantage of an updraft. We saw a total of five at Machimoudus Saturday. It's hard to believe that it was not that long ago that eagles were rarely seen in Connecticut.

There are many more eagles in Connecticut during the winter. As the waters freeze north of us, many travel south along the Connecticut River looking for open water. This open water allows for them to search for their primary meals, which is fish. I have also observed them eating ducks and other animals on occasion. If you are interested in view Bald Eagles on the Connecticut River, your best bet is to make stops at the
Chester Ferry, Deep River Landing, and the Essex Town Dock. They are all within close proximity of each other. If you stop at all three locations, chances are you will see your share of Bald Eagles. Other promising areas from which to search include Salmon River Boat Launch, Haddam Meadows, The Goodspeed Opera House parking lot, and the former Camelot Cruise parking lot on the opposite side of the river. If there are no eagles flying, you can try to spot them perched in trees along the banks of the river. If it is an adult, the white head will give it away.

We moved along at an extremely casual pace on this day. When we saw a bird or birds that interested us, we spent a lot of time watching them before moving on. I would say that we were more birdwatchers on this day than we were birders. It was a nice change of pace from January when the main focus was adding birds to a list. We saw a total of 28 species, which is actually more than what I would have expected at this park during this time of the year. We saw at least a dozen Eastern Bluebirds during the trip. The brilliant blue color of the males really showed up well on this brightly lit day. One couple were delighted to get their first view of Cedar Waxwings. Do you remember the first time you saw a Cedar Waxwing? Other notable birds included Hermit Thrush, Brown Creeper, Great Blue Heron, and numerous Golden-crowned Kinglets. The sound of the kinglets seemed to be coming from every direction and the Hermit Thrush stared right at us while flicking its wings and bobbing its tail.

The field trip leader also pointed out various plants and fungi along the way. This tiny British Soldier Lichen (seen above) displayed a nice touch of red on a winter day. I hope to learn a little bit more about plants and trees this year.

Here are some new birding blogs that I've recently added to my blogroll:
Tom Pirro has a blog called Birding North Central Massachusetts And Beyond. He does some serious birding in his area but he doesn't mind venturing out into the woods for the sake of exploration, even if it means that he will see fewer species. I like that. I see that he has recently seen a Bohemian Waxwing which has been on my list of birds I'd like to see for a while now.

Sycamore Canyon is by "Kathiebirds" of Arizona. This blog has very descriptive, well written accounts of Kathie's birding adventures. There are very colorful photos of species that I don't get to see around here, such as Roadrunners and Vermillion Flycatchers.

The Birdcouple-This blog features the birding experiences of a husband and wife team. I have found several of their posts to be very informative including this one.

When you get a chance, check out these excellent birding blogs.