Sunday, December 28, 2014

Redheads And More At Meriden's Hanover Pond

I visited Hanover pond in Meriden for the first time the day after Christmas. Much of Meriden is an urban area but they do have their share of hiking trails, ponds and birding areas. This is a photo of the undeveloped side of the pond.
I've been curious about this particular area and when it was reported that Redheads were seen there I thought I would go look for them. It was the first time I've seen this species of duck. Their heads are round, puffy, and rufous (that word always sounds odd word to me). The black-tipped bluish bill was also noticeable. 
As I was watching the ducks a sharpie was watching my every move from the tree above me.Later in the day I also noticed a Bald Eagle perched in one of the trees. Interestingly, the ducks started swimming toward the other side of the pond when the eagle showed up.
There was also plenty of Common and Hooded Mergansers (above) in the pond.
On the other side of the pond was a parking area near a ball field. I tried to take photos of the birds over there but the goose in charge said no Paparazzi!
I like when swans display their feathers like this. It gives them a more elegant appearance.
 I'm looking forward to a return visit to explore some of the other trails in the same area. This historic red bridge leads to the linear trail which follows alongside the Quinnipiac River. 

It's always nice when you come across a new local spot that is good for birding.The weather was great, there were lots of birds and I seeing the Redheads for the first time was like getting another Christmas present.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Innocent Snow Goose Vandalized By Elves

I found this Snow Goose in a corn field near Lyman's orchard this morning and I must say that I am disappointed that those pesky elves would take things this far. I can understand decorating Santa's reindeer but leave the poor Snow Geese alone!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Holiday Tradition For Birders

 It's that time of year when the annual Christmas bird counts are taking place all around the northeast.  Prior to 1900 it was tradition to shoot as many birds as possible. Counting them seems to be much more in the Christmas spirit. I participated in a local count over the weekend. 

The day before the count I started out early in the morning crossing the train tracks and heading down toward the river to start a dry run through the count circle territory.
I found a Merlin on top of a wooden post out on the water.  I believe it was just outside the count circle so I tried to signaling it to fly up river.
While Santa decides who's naughty or nice I'm searching for ponds free of ice.
On the day of the count some people are curious as they see us wandering through the neighborhood in search of birds. Some stop by to say hello or wish us luck. Others fill their bird feeders to help our efforts.Even the deer are curious about what we're doing.
For me the Christmas count is not just about collecting data. It is a way for birders to participate in a fun tradition around the holidays.  It is also a reminder that all birds big and small are of great importance to us all. That includes Song Sparrows.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Eagles Offer A Gateway To Birding

There are many times when I'm out birdwatching that I here the question-"Have you seen any eagles?". Sometimes I'm just asked if I've seen any with the assumption that I must be looking for eagles. Every winter people in Connecticut who have little interest in birds beyond what they see at their feeders venture out on the weekends with their binoculars in search of Bald Eagles.
It was over 10 years ago that I was doing the same thing. I was amazed by how many eagles could be found right here in Connecticut as they traveled down from the northern states in search of open water. Now they regularly nest here and can be found along the Connecticut River year round. Once I saw my share of eagles I started to point my binoculars in the direction of other birds. That was the turning point when I went from someone who looks at birds to someone who actively seeks them out-(aka-a birder). 

For some it may have been the sight of their first bluebird, oriole, owl, or Great Blue Heron that first lured them away from their backyard birdfeeder and into the local farm field with their binoculars but the eagle has got to be near the top of the list of birds that have served as a gateway to the world of birding.