Sunday, March 29, 2009

Top 5 moments in the first week of Spring

Spring seems more like the beginning of the year than winter does. Wouldn't it make more sense if the year started in Spring and ended in the Winter? Any way, here are 5 of my most memorable moments from the first week of Spring. They are listed chronologically, not in order of importance.

1) The American Robins: There were robins everywhere in the first week of spring. I see them here throughout the winter in Connecticut but they are usually in the woods eating berries. This week I came upon a flock of about 100 American Robins scouring the ground for earthworms and other goodies. If they weren't eating, then they were singing from the treetops.

2) Gravestones with no names-I saw a flock of Wild Turkeys at the Connecticut Valley Hospital Cemetery in Middletown. CVH is a state funded mental health and substance treatment facility. As I was looking at the turkeys, I noticed something else. There were no names on the gravestones, just numbers. A memorial plaque was finally put up a few years back listing the names of the deceased. I found this article telling the sad history behind this cemetery.

3) Northern Pintails, Wilson's Snipe, and Green-winged Teal at The Portland Fairgrounds-
There is a muddy little skating pond located at the fairgrounds here in Portland. Every March around this time the area in and around the pond attracts some interesting birds. On Saturday March 22nd, I saw 14 Wilson's Snipe, Mallards, Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, Green-winged Teal and 8 Northern Pintails! I was excited because this was the first time I've ever seen Northern Pintails at this location. These elegant looking ducks are somewhat uncommon in Connecticut.
There are a couple of drawbacks to this spot. The background is somewhat drab looking for taking photos and 4 wheel drive vehicles generally show up scaring the birds away, but it was fun while it lasted.
click to play
Here is a short video of a few of the ducks I saw enjoying the first weekend of Spring.
I was looking for birds but found this frog instead at a small nature preserve in Glastonbury located off of Great Pond Road . Do you know what kind of frog this is?
I ended my first week of Spring at the Pine Brook Bog in East Hampton. You wouldn't know it from this photo but I spotted about 80 Ring-necked Ducks, along with some Hooded Mergansers and Common Mergansers here. I saw my first Tree Swallows of the year zig-zagging over the water. Red-tailed Hawks flew overhead while Red-shouldered Hawks called out from the woods. I was surprised to find an immature Bald Eagle perched in a tree along the opposite shore. There are plenty of eagles in Connecticut these days but they are usually along the Connecticut River or some other major body of water, not in a little bog like this. A young boy and his father who lived up the street came to ask me about what I was seeing. I was happy to share views of the birds in my scope with them and they seemed to be impressed with what they saw. It was a nice way to wrap up the first week of Spring.
What were your favorite moments during the first week of Spring?


Unknown said...

The Robins! They seemed to come early this year (February I think).
Do you ever compare numbers of water fowl, year to year?

Ruth said...

This has been a great month for birding in SW Ontario. Love the Pintail picture;- I have only seen a couple of females. Much as I enjoyed your bird stories, the sad story of the cemetery is what I will remember the most. Thanks for sharing.

Dawn Fine said...

My favorite moments the first week of spring...Dogwoods blooming all over the place here in GA. Northern Parulas singing from the treetops.

Looks like you had a great time birding...always love the video.

Lana Gramlich said...

Very cool on the turkeys! Sad on the story of the gravestones, but at least they're trying to correct that now (at least we don't stigmatize it so severely now!)
GREAT pintail shot!
Wish I could help you out w/the frog. Sometimes I try to narrow things down in Google. For example, try searching for "Conneticut Frogs" (with the quotation marks.)

Jayne said...

He looks like a Grumpy Toad to The Robins are always the first sign I look for during that first week or so of spring. Once they come, it seems as if everything kicks into high gear. You'd never know it's spring here today though. Cold front brought us a temp of 34 this morning.... brrrr.

Allison said...

My favorite first moment of Spring was when a pair of cardinals began to visit the ground beneath our feeders every evening ON THE DOT at 7pm. Hey Larry, I have a post up today about a bird I can't identify. Any thoughts?

Kim said...

Such a sad story behind the cemetery. They were human beings, not numbers. :o(.

My favorite part of spring is waking up every morning to a symphony of bird song.

mon@rch said...

Woodfrog you have there!

MaineBirder said...

Excellent photos as always Larry!

My favorite part of spring is ice out and the return of ducks and geese to our cove.

RuthieJ said...

What a great post Larry. I especially liked the video--hearing the birds in the background and seeing those feisty ducks.
My favorite moment of the first week of spring was visiting the bald eagle's nest and seeing both Mr. & Mrs. at the nest site.

Larry said...

Whitemist-Not in a very scientific manner.-I think Greg Hanisek does though.-His blog is Talking Nature with Greg Hanisek:
I have a book by him that gives you an indicator of how prevelant each Connecticut Species is during certain times of the year.-Very helpful.

Ruth-It shows that not everything was better in the good old days.
dawn-It won't be long before the parulas arrive in CT. There was even a suspected Parula reported here already.

Lana-Things have improved in the mental health field over the years and it is true that there is not as much stigma attached these days.

Tutta-Sounds nice and I see several birders came to the rescue on the id.If you ever have a difficult id-try birdforum.

Kallen-The return of the birdsong is definitley one of the highlights of Spring's arrival.

Monarch-Something tells me that was way too easy for you.

Mainebirder-Oh yeah-you're in Maine so that's probably like a month behind us in the weather.

Ruthie J-Mr.and Mrs. Bald Eagle? How do you know they're not living in sin?

NCmountainwoman said...

My favorite signs of spring are when the birds start singing early in the mornings.

That photograph of the turkeys in the cemetery is absolutely fantastic. It says so much! I love it and I'll keep coming back to look at it again and again.

Chris said...

Wonderful Larry... A beautiful set of pictures. I love the pintail!!!
Well my favorite moment of Spring will be when spring will be there, Even if it is spring on the calendar, we still do have winter here with minus temperature and a cold wind from the arctic!!!

Unknown said...

Some times, a non scientific manner gives you the best gut feeling and can be proven later on.

Patrice said...

I love the frog! I don't think Spring has made it to the Pacific Northwest yet. Saturday it snowed. We built a fire and watched a movie on television. But I expect Spring to come any day now..

dguzman said...

Soooo jealous of your great photos! Your wood frog photo is much better than Wikipedia's, BTW.

Having been sick with a bad cold, I still haven't even gotten to go out and enjoy our wet and cold spring yet--but I'm planning to do it this weekend. Here's hoping I have as wonderful an experience as yours.

Larry said...

NCmountainwoman-Thanks-I initially thought that seeing turkeys walking through a cemetery was interesting but it led to me learning something more.

Chris-Interesting to hear about the weather from different parts of the world.

dzugman-Thanks-It's great to have resources like wilkepedia on the Internet.