New Year's Day
I started my January list on New Year's day. I started out by checking the local ponds in the area for waterfowl.These local ponds are usually frozen by now but it has been an unusually warm start to the winter in Connecticut so far. I was able to find Common Goldeneye on the Connecticut River, Hooded Mergansers at Great Hill Pond, and Ruddy Ducks at a reservoir in Wallingford. My biggest surprise of the day was probably a Ring-necked Pheasant that was hanging out near some bushes while I was scanning the Connecticut River. I was having a bit of an issue with my lower back muscles tightening that morning. I must have resembled Frankenstein's monster the way I was staggering around with my tripod. I managed to pick up 27 species on the first day. During the week I added Red-bellied Woodpecker and Turkey Vulture to the list.Hammonasset State Park January 6th
I've learned from previous years that the shoreline is the most productive area to find birds in Connecticut this time of the year and there's no better place to start than Hammonasset. I was pleased to find that the same shorebirds that I had Meig's Point a couple of weeks ago were still there. I started with Ruddy Turnstone on the rocks, better make that a double.
There were also Dunlin, Sanderlings , and Purple Sandpipers (above). Out in the water were a few more birds to add to the list including a Common Eider.
I found a flock of Horned Larks (above) at the nature center parking lot. There was also a couple of Snow Buntings mixed in with the flock.
I found this Great Blue Heron near the nature trail. Yellow-rumped Warbler, Hermit Thrush, and Northern Harrier were other birds I found during my walk along the trail. All together, I was able to add another 17 species to the list while at Hammonasset. The best part of it was the weather. It was sunny with temperatures that reached the upper 50's!
Westport, Stratford, and New Haven January 7-I followed up my trip to Hammonasset with a visit to the western shoreline the next day. This involves quite a lot of driving so I decided to carpool with my cousin Bob. He has only a casual interest in birding but does like to see new birds like the Brant in the above photo.
There was a lot to see at Sherwood Island in Westport , especially out on the water. I counted 2 dozen Long-tailed Ducks. That's not something I get to see very often. There was also a Horned Grebe which can be a lttle bit of a challenge for me to find.
He was impressed with the bright green Monk Parakeet but I think the bird of the day was the Great Horned Owl. I'll just say they were somewhere along one of our stops. We were able to view 2 owls though a scope from about 30 feet away. A fantastic view! I was afraid that I might disturb the owls if I tried to move into a good position to capture a photo.
We also searched the Stratford area which has several good birding areas. We first walked the old rail trail that leads to some salt marshes. There were some juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons there. We next checked an area behind a nearby warehouse. That is where we found the Golden-crowned Kinglet in the photo as well as a Great Egret. We were able to find Canvasback and a Double-crested Cormorant at Frash Pond.
Our last stop of the way was at Long Wharf in New Haven. There were a few Scaup around and lots of Ruddy Ducks.The final species to be added to the list was a Peregrine Falcon which had been sitting on a sandbar before flying past us.
My species list for the month at the end of the day was 68 but I've added a couple more since then. I'm not holding myself to any rules but I tried to green it up a little by staying local on the first day and then carpooling on my western shore trip. You can see my total list of species for January here. This list is also located at the top of my sidebar.
click to play video of rare Long-tailed Kite