Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Visit To Ferd's Bog In The Adirondacks

I spent a few days in the Adirondacks on a fishing trip. Of course I was also interested in finding birds. It was my first visit to the area but one place I just had to check out was Ferd's Bog which is a spot that is well known by many birders. The first thing I noticed when I entered the forest area leading up to the bog was the silence effect. It reminded me of being in a soundproof room where hearing tests are conducted. the only thing I could hear was the sound of birds singing and a slight ringing in my ears. The boardwalk leading out to the bog looked so inviting. It was like the yellow brick road in the Wizard Of Oz only this boardwalk was designed for birders (and other nature enthusiasts).

White-throated Sparrows sang to each other from across the forest. There was also a singing contest going on between a Black-throated Blue Warbler on one side of the path and a Magnolia Warbler on the other side. They never stopped singing the whole time I was there. Red-breasted Nuthatches were in the area. I could also hear the song of Boreal Chickadees in the treetops which sounded like Black-capped Chickadees with a pollen throat allergy. Unfortunately, I could never get a good look at them.
There was also plenty of bird activity near the bog. Common Yellowthroats were especially vocal. Purple Finches could be heard singing from the edge of the woods across from the bog.there were Tree Swallows flying overhead and a species of sparrows that I failed to identify before they flew off to another area.They looked like Lincoln Sparrows but I only had a quick glance.
The lighting was not good at the time I saw this hawk fly over. The single white tail band on this buteo leads me to believe it is a Broad-winged Hawk.
What kind of flowers are these?
I'm guessing this is some kind of trillium.The trilium I usually see in Connecticut is red so I'll just call this White trillium.
This snake wasn't shy at all. It looks like a Garter Snake to me so I'll just call it a garter Snake.
I'm not usually overly interested about insects but I received a Field guide To Insects And Spiders Of North America for Christmas. I used the book for the first time to learn that this is a Golden Net-winged Beetle. It says they live in coniferous forests which fit the habitat I was in. This book made it easy to find what I was looking for. Now I'm looking forward to identifying more strange insects.
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My hope was that I would see my first Black-backed Woodpecker during my visit to Ferd's Bog but the only woodpecker I saw there was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. If I had been looking for black flies I would have hit the jackpot. I wouldn't be surprised if the BBWP showed up the day after I left. The majority of reported sightings there seem to start in June. 

  I may have came up empty in the Black-backed Woodpecker department but my visit to Ferd's Bog was definitely worth it. I leave you with the sweet whistling tune of the White-throated Sparrow (video) .

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Do You Dare Leave Your Camera Behind?

  I took part in a local field trip last weekend with a small group of birders. We started out at a place called Great Pond Preserve in Glastonbury. It has lots of old cedars and a ravine that leads down to a glacial pond. We were literally running away from swarms of mosquitoes and the birds stayed well hidden so we didn't waste much time there.
We had better luck at the next location which was a power line area in Portland. There were lots of Prarie Warblers there. It took a while before we were able to get good looks at them but we had a couple of instances when one landed just a few feet from us right out in the open. One of the birders in our group had never seen warblers before so that added some excitement.

 After leaving that area, we went a short way up the road to the reservoir area.We had lots of interesting birds there including an Osprey, a nice look at a Yellow-throated Vireo and several species of warbler.The bird of the day for us was the Canada Warbler. You don't see them around here as often as other warblers.We saw two at eye level. They were flying from one side of a path to the other near the edge of a metal gate. Awesome view!

  I had decided not to bring my camera with me because it detracts from my concentration while trying to help lead a trip. I wish that I had the picture to show you but then again I doubt it would be nearly as good as what I saw. Another thing is that I would have been staring at it through an electronic view finder and wouldn't have had such a great  view of it. All I have to show for the trip was these Least Sandpipers that we saw at the fairgrounds at the very end. I had to wiz though this post in 5 minutes because I'm off on a little adventure. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Viewing Birds From Different Angles

I find that it can be a challenge trying to get a good view of the birds this time of the year. Many times I can hear migrant birds singing high in the treetops but can't get a good look at them because there are just too many leaves in the way.

 During a visit to Great pond Preserve in Glastonbury I found a spot where I could lie on the ground and look up into the trees. I  heard a  Rose-breasted Grosbeak singing for several minutes before it finally came into view. A few minutes late I was able to locate the female too. The advantage of watching these birds while lying on my back was that I didn't feel any neck strain and the view seemed more dramatic from the angle I was looking at them.
   Another way that I was able to get a good viewing angle was to walk up a hill by way of a power line trail. I found a spot where I was able to get closer to eye level with this tree. I was catching a glimpse of a Northern Parula as it was singing and moving from branch to branch. It seemed to be moving toward the outer edge where I hoped that I would be able to take a photo of it. Instead, a Blue-winged Warbler showed up on the branch I was expecting the parula to be. It wasn't singing but it had the dark eye line mark, was mostly yellow, and had the slightly darker wing area.

 After the picture was taken several other species passed through including Black & White Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Scarlet Tanager, and Yellow-throated Vireo. Sometimes it pays just to stay still and watch one tree for a while.
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Later in the morning I stopped by the fairgrounds where I found so Greater Yellowlegs and Solitary Sandpipers racing across the mud puddles.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rail Trail Offers A Close-Up View Of Birds

I went birding on a section of the Air Line Rail Trail that passes through the Raymond Brook Marsh In Hebron. Parking for the trail is located on route 85 next to route 85 lumber.The trail is popular among bicyclists, dog-walkers, birders, and photographers but the trails are wide enough that there is room for everyone.

 There is an excellent photography website by Stan Malcom titled Along The Air Line.... that features photos of scenery and wildlife taken along the trail.
 Upon entering the wooded portion of the trail, I had a terrific view of a Northern Parula . The colored band along its chest was really vibrant. Soon after that I could here numerous towhees singing in the underbrush. The one in the photo was right at the edge of the trail scratching up the leaves as it searched for its morning meal. This is a view of Raymond Marsh through which the trail passes. This entire area has excellent habitat including streams, marsh, and low-lying vegetation. There are numerous small trees bordering trail that make convenient places for birds to land. Male Red-winged blackbirds are real posers in the spring. I find it difficult to get a picture of them that shows their eyes. The Tree Swallows were constantly flying across the trail and back. It appears they have found a nesting site in this dead standing tree. There are several dead snags on this portion of the trail, it is a lot easier to view and photograph birds when they land on these things.The Yellow Warbler is one of the most common of the warbler species in Connecticut. A lot of times they stay at or below eye level which makes them easier to find than other warblers that hang out in the tops of trees.  I followed this Common Yellowthroat for about 20 minutes. It was constantly bouncing around in the bushes and skulking through vegetation that was right near my feet. It was frustrating to have it so close but not be able to take its photo. Finally, it popped out for a few seconds. Some other notable birds for the day were: Wood Ducks, Great Blue Heron, Eastern Kingbird,Yellow-throated Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Baltimore Oriole, Black and White Warbler, and Blue-winged Warbler.

 The thing that makes this such a special place isn't so much the number of species you see but how well you are able to see them. This also means that you get plenty of good photo opportunities. I plan to return here and make visits to many other areas along the rail trails this year.