Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Canada Geese Put A Halt To My Camping Plans

 I recently decided to camp overnight at Hammonasset Beach State Park. Normally I would prefer a campground in a tranquil, wooded setting but I thought I would give hammo a try since the birding is always good there. My plan was to get an early start so that I could do some birding before the weekend beach crowd arrived.
I arrived at my site (1) on Beach Road and the first thing I noticed was a flock of Canada Geese hanging out right about where I would be pitching my tent. I took a few photos of them but then realized that they had thoroughly blanketed the area with goose droppings. There may be some that might consider this an opportunity to add an organic touch to their camping but the idea of kneeling down to set up my tent on a pile of goose droppings wasn't appealing to me, especially on a 97 degree day. I asked the park office if I could borrow a rake. They said maintenance would come down to clean it up but by this time it was already getting late.
I spent a little time wandering around the grounds looking for birds. I saw Osprey, Red-winged Blackbirds, terns, and a Barn Swallow which was temporarily trapped in the men's room. I was confused when I saw the Yellow Warbler (above). I know that a yellow Warbler is basically the only warbler that's all yellow but I've never noticed one with an eye ring. Maybe it had something to do with the angle of the lighting.
It was 9:00 pm and the maintenance crew hadn't made it out yet. I watched the sun sink below the horizon and then decided to pack up and head for home.

  I returned the following morning in time to see a rabbit enjoying his breakfast. I was reading that these rabbits thump their hind feet on the ground to communicate with each other and can let out a blood-curdling scream when attacked by predators.

I don't get a chance to see many gulls other than Herring Gulls, Greater black-backed Gulls, and Ring-billed gulls. It was a treat for me to see a Laughing Gull for a change.Some other birds I saw around the park included Glossy Ibis and Little Blue Heron.

There was also this flycatcher singing away near the Willard Island parking area. I believe it was a Willow Flycatcher based on it's call. I made a nice video of it but unfortunately, I haven't been able to upload videos from my camera lately.
  During my travels along the shore I  picked up this antique washbowl and pitcher. It was so nice that I almost kept it for myself but I decided that in the long run, taking a shower is probably a more efficient way to stay clean. Instead,  I brought it to a local antique shop where they promptly set it up for display.

 Although my camping plans didn't work out the way I had intended,  spending time at Hammonasset was still worthwhile. I plan to make more visits to shoreline areas before the summer is over, but I think I'll save the camping for fall.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Going On A Field Trip In Your Own Back Yard

It was 6am Sunday morning and I was enjoying a cup of coffee as I admired the view through my kitchen window. I was struggling to decide where I should go bird watching and then it occurred to me. Why not spend the day in my own back yard? I picked out a nice viewing area beneath a tree and set up my camera on a tripod. I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out the flower mode on my camera while I was waiting for the birds to show up. This flower is from a plat called Rose Of Sharon. Hummingbirds are attracted to these flowers.
I have lots of berries in my yard this summer which attract catbirds. I'm not sure if they're territorial or just curious but this one landed on my tripod and stared at me as I was looking though my binoculars. 
The petals on these Purple Coneflowers are almost gone but I leave them standing well into the fall because birds like to eat their seeds.
I spotted a Baltimore Oriole feeding on the cottony flowers in this Mimosa Tree.
I often see the palm-like branches in this tree shaking from the birds  like this Cedar Waxwing eager to get at their flowers. This tree isn't native to Connecticut so I wouldn't have planted one in my yard but since it came with the house I might as well enjoy it!
 It was a nice change for me to spend the day in the backyard  instead of driving all over wasting gas looking for birds. It was also convenient to use the tripod for the camera in the backyard and to have use of a table and chair. I didn't need to worry about getting home in time to do yard-work. I was able to work on the gardens and cut the grass in between what I was doing. The manual reel mower I use doesn't make much noise to scare the birds away. By observing birds from one set location, I was able to observe some interesting behaviors that I might have otherwise missed.
 Besides the birds that visited my yard I also had some interesting flyover birds including an Osprey and a Black Vulture. I don't plan on spending all my weekends birdwatching at home but it's nice to have that option to fall back on.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Searching For Lazy Summer Birds

Now that the hot weather has arrived, I'm taking a much more casual approach to birding. Instead of putting in a lot of effort to finding birds, I'm content with the birds that seem to find me. The Turkey Vulture in the photo was stretching his wings early one morning near aircraft road in Middletown. They do this to regulate body temperature, dry their wings, and to bake off little critters. They probably think they look cool doing it too.
I spent too much time trying to get a decent photo of a Prairie Warbler up at the power lines in Portland. I finally managed to catch one out in the open, although it wasn't very close. As I was concentrating on taking this photo, two Ruffed Grouse crossed the path right in front of me!
  During a recent early-morning visit to the Maromas area of Middletown, I found a young family of Wood Ducks playing follow the leader.
There was no need to track the deer as the deer were on the tracks.
I've come to like snakes since I started using a camera because snakes stay still when you're taking there picture. I think this is a water snake.
The Great Blue Herons start leaving their nests in our area during July.There are more of them around and they seem easier to approach. I found this one near Wethersfield Cove.
This was one of about 20 hanging around the Portland Fairgrounds early one morning.
I've also been making short trips out to local areas during the evening. The Helen Carlson Bog in Portland is a great place to find Green Herons this time of the year.
This Cedar Waxwing seems to be yawning as it must be close to bedtime.
    I'm sure I'll become more adventurous before the summer ends t but for now, I'm satisfied with sitting by a pond watching the Mallards stare back at me.