Friday, August 31, 2012

Close Encounters Of The Green Kind

I've been taking advantage of the viewing platform at the Helen Carlson Bog this month. It is an excellent place to view Green Herons. Green Herons are only about the size of a crow. They are migratory, so it is rare to see one in Connecticut during the winter months. It's interesting to watch them when they're on the hunt. Their movements remind me of a cat sneaking up on its prey. 
The platform gives you a wide open view of the bog so a scope comes in really handy here.
Sometimes with a little patience, the herons will surprise you by landing on nearby branch. They raise their crest when excited. This is thought to be used as a threat by making them appear larger.
 I found lots of interesting information about heron behavior at this link: heron behavior terminology written by James A. Kushlan.
click to play
 This YouTube video shows a Green Heron using bread as a tool to entice fish into its striking range. I thought the play-by-play commentary was amusing.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sometimes It Pays To Break Your Own Rules

 We spend much of our bound by our own rules. We make judgements about what is right or wrong. We develop habits that dictate how we go about our daily living.
We can be very firm in our opinions and beliefs. That is why a friendly discussion over politics or religion can quickly turn into a heated argument. I enjoy discussing both, but not so much on the Internet.
We even have a special category for minor annoyances of things that don't meet our approval. we call pet peeves.
 Most of us could name a few. Here are three of my personal pet peeves:

1)People who throw lit cigarette buts out their car window- (especially if they bounce under my gas tank).
2)School buses that stop at each individual house even when the houses are right next to each other. What ever happened to bus stops? Is it that difficult to walk 10 feet to your neighbor's house?
3) Radio commercials that use honking horns in their commercials. They get me every time with that.
There's always going to be things that we don't like. Things are constantly changing and we don't always like change. Everyone has different points of view about things and they may be different than yours. The key is to try to be open-minded and flexible.
So what does all this have to do with birds? At some point I decided that I don't like crowded beaches and made a personal rule that I would not go to beaches during the summer on weekends. For this reason, I only visit Hammonasset during the off season when there is no admission or crowds.
 I recently agreed to make an exception to that rule. My cousin had just purchased new binoculars and wanted to go to Hammonasset to try them out. As I look back at the photos I took that morning I realized that avoiding Hammonnasset during the summer has been a mistake. There were lots of beachgoers at the park but not very many in the areas where I was birding. I had great views of cormorants, terns, plovers, Purple Martins, and many other species that avoided my camera.  
  Over the years I've changed my taste in food, work habits, and even my outlook on certain aspects of life. Sometimes it pays to take another look at our own opinions, habits, and self-imposed rules.
Do you have any pet peeves? Have you ever changed one of your own rules and wondered why didn't I do this a long time ago?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wilgus State Park Cabin Rentals In Vermont

Over the past couple of years I've enjoyed renting cabins from state campgrounds in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Recently, my wife and I spent rented a cabin at Wilgus State Park in Vermont. The cabin was constructed from trees that was cut from the surrounding area. The inside has a table, chairs, bunk beds, futon couch, 2 electrical outlets, and an overhead fan/light. They're nothing fancy but perfect for a short stay. There are showers and bathrooms near by on the campground property. Vermont has 10 parks that offer cabin rentals for $48 a night. There are also 6 Vermont Parks that offer cottage rentals. The cottages have multiple rooms, showers, stove and refrigerator for about $70-$80 a night.
We spent a lot of time sitting on the porch watching the antics of the red squirrel. Sometimes they would run right across the porch just inches from our feet. They're pretty bold for an animal that's only half the size of a gray squirrel.
Their  tails look like some sort of plant I might find in a field on a Fall day. It looks like a cross between a cat-tail and a pussy willow.
The chipmunks kept us company too until the red squirrels chased them off.
The campground is located right along the Connecticut River. It has a hiking trail and their are canoe/and kayak rentals available. This stretch of river is good for bass fishing but there are some trout and walleye as well.  
I didn't put a lot of effort into pursuing birds but we were able to observe a few interesting species right from the porch. Cedar Waxwings, Black-throated green Warbler, Northern Parula and American Redstarts were all observed as they landed in the sumac plants.The temperature in Connecticut was in the mid 90's but it seemed much cooler where we were. The evergreens provided shade and there was a light breeze coming off the river. Of course, you don't exactly work up a sweat when you're sitting on a porch watching squirrels.

note:.The cabin we had (eagle) was in close view of the next cabin over but had a decent river view. The Osprey cabin had the most privacy so that is the one that I would rent if I were to go back to this campground.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Peregrines Used To Help Protect Fruit Orchards

I recently visited Rose's Berry Farm in South Glastonbury. Erik Swanson was there with one of his falcons. Erik uses trained falcons to help scare berry- eating birds away from the crops. Which species do the most damage to the fruit crops at this farm? The answer to that question is the European Starling. Erik also uses falcons to keep birds away from the landing strips at certain airports.
I went to the farm to buy some fresh fruit but also wanted to get a close up look at one of the falcons. This one was wearing a hood which helps the birds to stay calm when it's not out in the fields working. The hood reminds me of a prop from a 1950's science fiction film.
Rose's also serves breakfast on the weekends during the summer. They use fresh fruit from the farm in their recipes. that's about all the posting I can manage for now. I'm still waiting for the humidity to go back to where it came from. Five minutes on the computer and I feel like I've been in a sauna!