As I walked around the perimeter of the pond, I could see fog rising off of the water. I reached the entrance to a trail that would lead me deep into a little known area of Connecticut woods. Although I wouldn't consider myself a lister, I decided that I would try to find at least 35 species this morning. I didn't want to pick a number that would be too difficult to reach. I figured 35 would be just enough to make a game out of it. The first species I saw was a Blue Jay that hopped out on the edge of a gnarled Oak Tree branch. It called out with brashly with an its alarm that sounded like- thief! thief! thief! The Jay scraped its bill across the bark at an angle that showed off its crest nicely. I started to add to the list as I moved along : Carolina Wren, American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Belted Kingfisher, White-throated Sparrow, American Crow, and Chipping Sparrow were quickly added to the list. I went a bit further and a loud squeeeak! came for the top of the top of a dead tree-Northern Flicker-#9, 21 more to go. A Red-shouldered Hawk cried out kyear kyear and flew from a nearby tree to another one further off in the distance.
As I approached a chain-lined fence reached the first fence, I noted my species count was at 17 .
I really don't want to specify the exact location I was birding in. It is a private area surrounded by multi-million dollar homes with advanced security systems. Behind the homes is a large tract of woods which is of limits to the public. It is bordered by an old chain link fence covered with vines and hidden behind heavy shrubs. A friend of mine who does landscaping told me about a portion of the fence which had been pulled away, creating an opening through which to enter. I crawled through the opening , pushing away the vines and shrubs as I forced my way through. My shirt temporarily got caught on a sharp piece of the metal making my adrenaline rise as I didn't want to get caught in the act.
Many years ago, when I was just a young boy, I used to fish in this area with my father. I miss the days when we were able to catch feisty native trout in some of the streams that run through here. They were darker than the stocked varieties and covered with brightly colored spots.
I couldn't find any trails so I had to walk straight up the middle of a small stream. I continued to walk for about a mile. Most of the stream was fairly shallow and the banks were lined with a massive tangle of shrubs and thickets. I added Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pine Warbler, and White-breasted Nuthatch along the way. As I was climbing out of the stream bed, I slipped and managed to get one of my feet wet. Fortunately, I had extra socks in my vest.
An old trail went at least 2 miles deeper into the woods before leading me to another fenced in area. I remembered my father warning me to stay away from this particular neck of the woods. He never went into much detail as to why I should stay away, just that it was dangerous. Over the years I have heard stories about this area. Everything from UFOs, government experiments, haunted woods, to Bigfoot like creatures were rumoured to have been seen here. I wasn't buying any of it. The UFOs were probably attributable to swamp gas or some sort of military aircraft. The Bigfoot-like creatures were reported by kids but they may have been Black Bears which have been known to wander through on occasion. Still, other people have said they have heard strange voices seeming to come from underground. If you've ever spent long periods of time in the deep woods like I have, it's easy for your imagination to get carried away. The sounds of trees rubbing together on a windy day can create eerie sounds that can make your imagination run wild.The second fence would be much tougher to penetrate. As I approached it, a Gray Catbird popped on top of a shrub near the fence. It let out several of it cat squawks as I approached it, almost as if it were forbidding me to go in-"hello to you Mr. Catbird"! I said to it quietly.
I'm sure it's obvious that this post is completely fictional but I just wanted to make this clear. I saw no mutant chickadees, Morse-Code tapping woodpeckers or hooded people. I didn't break through any fences or get transported to my truck in a state of unconsciousness.