Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Local Birds Are Like Veggies From Your Garden

My search continued this weekend for first of year birds to be appreciated but not to be listed. I decided to keep my birding activities local so I could work around necessary errands like getting my oil changed. Staying in town is by no means a compromise for me though. There's no need to drive half way across the state to find a house finch when there are dozens waiting at the local power lines.
 I know there's at least one Mallard at the Brownstone Quarry.

I can't find every Connecticut species in Portland. Some birds can only be found near the shoreline. Rare birds are only found by luck or are tracked down using information from the daily rare bird reports.
One of the surprises this January was that I didn't see my first American Robin until this weekend. Last January I saw thousands of them. On the other hand, I had great difficulty finding any Common Grackles or Red-winged Blackbirds. On Sunday, I saw a mix flock of several hundred passing through the area with some landing in a corn field to feed on toasted corn flakes.
One of the most fun and rewarding parts of January birding for me is searching my hometown for birds that fall somewhere in between Red-tailed Hawk and Northern Shrike.Those species that aren't considered rare but can be challenging to find.

During a 3 mile walk through Wangunk Meadows I was able to find American Kestrel, Hermit Thrush, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and..............
 .....the ever-sneaky Brown Creeper (this a photo of one from earlier this year). 

 You can buy vegetables at the store or at a farm stand when they're in season but there's nothing like fresh-picked veggies from your own garden. I get that same sense of satisfaction when I find those hometown birdies! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

January Quest For Birds To Keep Off The List

Over the years there has been much gnashing of teeth from birders who are passionately for against competitive listing of birds. I've always found the drama involved with those sort of discussions humorous. I've decided to take a stand on this topic that only a politician would be proud of. I will be observe as many species of birds as possible in the month of January but I will not put them on a list!

I started my search at Hammonasset (above). I made 2 visits to there in with my most challenging January finds being Marsh Wren, Killdeer, and Purple Sandpiper. There were tons of Horned Grebe and Red-breasted Mergansers around too. This photo was taken on my second visit which was a bitterly cold and windy morning. I didn't last long that day and started  believing that the phrase Red in the morning-sailors take warning might have some truth to it. 
The very first bird that I saw this year was a Dark-eyed Junco.
Bluebirds plentiful in Connecticut these days, even in the winter. I found this one at Haddam Meadows State Park. There's been a shrike reported at that park which seems to have a talent for avoiding being seen by me. I've probably seen about 70 species so far but it's difficult to tell since I'm not counting them. 

Celebrating the variety of birds that you can see in the cold month of January is a great way to kick off the new year. I will give a summary of my sightings at the end of the month. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

American Mink Standing On A Log

I was out at a local reservoir early in the morning when I saw this American Mink. Low lighting made the picture grainy but it was cool seeing it standing on a log readying itself to dive into the water. I wasn't sure what it was at first because I thought minks were skinny like a ferret.This one looked chunky wearing its own winter mink coat. I found in reading about them that some of their behaviors and habits tend to be a bit on the naughty side. Here are some interesting facts about minks on Wikipedia.