I generally tolerate cold weather fairly well but I was not ready for the sudden shock of temperatures in the 20's when I first walked out the door on Saturday. A persistent breeze made it even colder. I consulted with my car and we made an executive decision that it was going to be a birding-by-car-only day.
We started out at the Durham Meadows near the fairgrounds. I believe the area is called White Farm. There is a long line of dead tree snags that you can pull your car up to in case a bird lands to perch on one of them.
It seemed like a good idea but the only birds that landed on them were starlings. They may not win and popularity contests but they are sort of pretty this time of year. The white spots on their breast are a forecast that snow will soon be on its way.I caught a few waxwings chomping on some berries. they say that these birds sometimes become intoxicated by some of the berries they eat.
I stopped by a skating pond along route 68 which is off of 16 in Durham. At first, it looked like nothing was around but then I noticed several American Pipits working their way across the pond picking out bits of food from the weedy debris sticking up through the ice.There are a whole circuit of ponds off of route 68 between Durham,Wallingford, and Meriden. Besides the American Wigeon in the photo I found Buffleheads, American Coot, Hooded Mergansers, Green-winged Teal and lots of other good stuff.
I probably would have seen more if I had put more effort in getting out of the car but there are several advantages of birding from your car such as:
- you can stay warm
- you can listen to sports, NPR, or music on the radio
- it's a good location from which to drink your coffee
- your car makes an excellent blind so that you don't scare off good birds and makes it easier to take pictures of them
- you can cover a lot of ground by driving directly to some hot spots without spending a lot of time walking around