Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Surviving January In A Bird Eat Bird World

 January has just about come to a close and my "Big January" list never did get that big. If my tally is correct then I'll end having seen just 81 species of birds this month which is  about 10 -20 species less than what I usually see in Connecticut during January. Finding 100 species requires putting in some full days of birding on the weekend but the dismal weather seemed to suck the ambition right out of me. In a bird eat bird world you have to be tough and I must confess that I "chickened out" this month.
 It was just too cold and windy most of the time. I spent one morning looking for Snowy Owls at Milford Point where 5 had been seen the day before but none on the day I was there. 
 All was not lost though. I enjoyed getting out to see some of my favorite winter visitors like this Great Cormorant chilling out on a pier at Long Wharf in New Haven.
 I came across a few American Pipits in my travels that were doing their best impressions of a shorebird.
I ended the month with American Coot as species 81. not a bad way to end the month. Now it's on to February to find some of those species that eluded me so far this winter. I'll print my full winter list at the end of February.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Winter Weather & The Canon SX50 HS Camera

I've been reading about the impressive 50x optical zoom on the Canon SX50 HS camera and recently decided to purchase one that I found on sale at a local store.  Unfortunately the weather has been lousy whenever I've had a chance to try this camera out.
 I've added a few species to the January list like these Hooded Mergansers. I'm off to a slow start with only about 70 species so far for January.
 Horned Lark are common this time of the year at Hammonasset. 
I know I saw a longspur at Hammonasset too I can't tell from this photo if this was it. The zoom on the camera is great but it is more difficult for me to operate than my Panasonic Lumix FZ35 was. I'm trying to learn how to custom set shutter speeds, Iso etc. to get better bird photos but I'm not really sure what I'm doing so I'm still relying on auto settings. Hopefully I'll figure out how to work the camera properly one of these days because I've seen this camera produce great results for those who know how to get the most out of it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Starting The Year With A Big January Bird Count

I got out to do my first birding of 2014 this weekend. I got off to a slow start on Saturday. We had wicked cold temperatures the previous two days that froze all the area ponds and the woods that I checked seemed fairly quiet.
I tallied up a few of the easiest species such as Canada Goose but didn't come across anything out of the ordinary.
I participated in one of the bird counts on Saturday and out territory happened to be Hammonasset. I was with a small group and we only covered a small portion of the park. We had a cold, drizzling rain that was freezing on contact and making conditions slippery. It also made viewing difficult because our binocular lenses kept getting wet.

 Finding a Pine Warbler this time of the year was one of the big highlights of the day. We also had Clay-colored Sparrow, Horned Grebes, Snow Buntings and a Peregrine Falcon. I think we tallied about 48 species in our little section. 
On the way home I came across some ducks in the Brownstone Quarry. At the time I only noticed Hooded Mergansers and Mallards but snapped a quick photo. When I came home I noticed that I had missed seeing the Ring-necked Ducks that had been mixed in with the others.

If there wasn't a bird count to go to I might have just stayed home and watched football on Sunday. It turned out to be worth while despite the somewhat dismal weather.