Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Nice Stay In Madison Thanks To TripAdvisor

 My wife Joan and I stayed at the Madison Beach Hotel over the weekend. I was able to get a good deal through tripadvisor which is my favorite websites to use when I'm looking for places to stay. Tripadvisor has thorough reviews from customers about hotels, restaurants, and other travel related experiences.
  The original Madison Beach Hotel started out as a boarding house in the 1800's where workers from a local shipyard stayed. The hotel was completely renovated in 2012. The rooms are nice and the views of Long Island Sound from the balcony are terrific.
 I wasn't there for the birding but Hammonasset wass just down the road if I wanted to. There were a few peeps around along with Fish Crows, cormorants, goldfinches...
.....and of course gulls which were very well behaved as far as gulls go. 

The Ship

 I am standing on the shore as a great ship gently glides
 from the harbor and sails toward the horizon. She is beautiful. Sails billowing; and shining bright as sunlight sparkling on distant waters. She grows smaller and smaller until at last, her white sails shine as ribbons out where the sky and water mingle as one.

 And as I watch, a voice behind me says,
 "Well, she's gone." She's gone. Gone? "No," I tell myself. No, she is not really gone. Not really. She is gone only in the sense that I can no longer see her. In reality, she is the same as ever; just as beautiful; just as shining. And deep in my heart I know, that on another shore someone is crying out,
 "Look! Look everyone! Here she comes!" ~Author Unknown 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

No Shame In Putting Birding 2nd

 Summer is the time of year that my interest in birding seems to wane a little. I'm not a fan of humidity, excessive vegetation, or mosquitoes. Instead of trying to convince myself that I want to go birding, I just put it on the back burner for a while. That way I have time to get some tips on how to ride a bicycle properly.....
but still have time to find a catbird on a rock.

 While I'm eavesdropping on a conversation between Abe and Harriet....
....... I might catch a titmouse hiding in the branches doing the same .
 Maybe I just want to check out some flowers for a change...
......that doesn't mean all the birds are going to run away and hide. 

Birding can be anything from a casual hobby to a complete obsession. My interest lies somewhere in between. I find that taking a break from my usual routine helps to build an appetite for birding in the Fall.

Question for birders: Do you ever find the need to take a break from birding?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Seeking Access To Connecticut's Coastline

(Above photo was taken at Bluff Point Coastal Preserve which has no parking or entry fee)

 For many years I had a small fishing boat that allowed me the freedom to travel along the sound with an obstructed view of the scenic Connecticut coastline. Unfortunately, the last memory of being in my boat was not a good one. I was out fishing with my father when the wind picked up so suddenly that we were unable to make it back to the boat launch. Water poured into the boat as we struggled against large waves and strong winds to make it to the nearest landfall. We were approaching a small beach when a man came running across his yard to assist us, or so we thought. It turned out he just wanted to tell us that the beach was private property and that we weren't welcome there. Further down the coast we  managed to find another boat launch and hitched a ride back to the truck so we could pick up the boat. The boat was damaged so I ended up selling the motor. 
Now that I'm more of a birder than a fisherman my access to the coastline has been  by car or by foot. This summer I've made it a priority too see as much time at the shore as possible. This way I'll have no regrets but a few egrets would be great). This month I've been watching the way birds fit into the surrounding landscape as if I were looking at them in a painting as opposed to studying them.

Access to Connecticut's shore line from land is not as easy as it is from boat. There are some good birding spots likes Hammonasset or Rocky Neck if you don't mind paying a fee and the summer beach crowds. You can also go in the off-season for free.
(last 4 Photos taken at Sandy Point in West Haven)
There are also some places which are only open to town residents or require that you get a special parking permit from the local town hall. Many other areas are private property and are altogether off limits.
You may be able to avoid parking fees or tickets if you get up early enough and don't mind creeping around like this Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was one rainy morning.
.......So I'll continue  my search for terns perched on rocks. 
.......and leaving no stones unturned, especially Ruddy Turnstones.

A good website to check if you're looking for Connecticut Shoreline access is the DEEP Connecticut Coastal Access Guide. Some of the places listed on the site are very small and may not be worth visiting but I find that exploring things for yourself is part of the fun.