Saturday, July 18, 2015

Yellow-crowned Night Heron At Saybrook

. I plan on spending most of the summer exploring areas in Middlesex County so I made a visit to Saybrook Point this morning. There is a little park next to the area where Dock and Dine used to be that has some marsh habitat. I was surprised at the number of Marsh Wrens there ( at least 4). I made a little squeaky noise that brought the wren a foot away from me but it only showed itself for a couple of seconds before hiding behind cover again.
I saw a heron skulking through grass on the opposite side of Oyster River and was surprised when I realized it was a Yellow-crowned Night Heron. I checked eBird and found out that they are a lot more common along central Connecticut shoreline than I had realized. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Surprise! I'm A Lister On eBird Top 100 !

 If you were expecting to see bird photos in a post about eBird then you'll have an idea about the surprised reaction I had when I first found out that I was unknowingly on eBird.
Here are a few photos from our town fireworks display this weekend. They were taken from a cemetery atop of a hill from a couple of miles away.
Now let me tell you how I learned that I was a lister on the eBird Top 100. It was during a Christmas count that I was having a conversation about listing with a fellow birder who also enjoys listing ( keeping track of number of bird species seen on a list and actively trying to increase that number). I mentioned that I wasn't a lister other than keeping track of birds I see in January to help pass time in the winter. Then he told me: "But I've seen your name on the eBird Top 100 for Middlesex County"! 

I recently took at the fine print in eBird and found out that you are automatically enrolled in eBird top 100 (in explore data tab on right side of page) if you submit your sightings publicly but you can opt out at any time. I prefer a laid back approach to birding and I fear that if I pay too much attention to the eBird top 100 then I might become overly obsessed about it. I've already been scrolling through my personal list wondering how I've missed recording some of the most easy to find species. I also realized that I need to submit more complete lists instead of entering partial lists. 

I do like the option of keeping track of species that I see in my own county. It encourages me to focus on local sightings instead of driving all around the state.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

State Park Pass For Summer Birding

I've tended to avoid the shoreline state parks during the summer  due to beach crowds and not wanting to pay the state park fees. Splitting the cost of a season park pass ($67) with one or more birders and then carpooling for birding trips is one way to save a buck.The summer birding is good at places like Harkness Memorial, Hammonasset, and other state parks.There's a lot of nesting activity and young birds roaming around that don't get spooked as easily as the adult birds. This makes for good viewing opportunities. Osprey (above) are everywhere because of all the nesting platforms but I enjoy seeing them in a more natural setting.
This was taken at Harkness Park which offers a nice change of pace from the more popular Hammonnasset. As you can see there are some nicely landscaped areas of the park but there are also wild meadow areas and areas that are good for shorebirds. I was able to see a Dowitcher while I was there which is a shorebird I don't often see.
Hammonasset is always good birding just about any time of the year. I regularly see Little Blue Heron (above) there during the summer as well as Glossy Ibis.
I like to call this spot cormorant rock. There are often seals spotted in this area as well.
We saw dozens of Great (above) and Snowy Egrets while we were out birding. I'm no longer using the excuse of it being too crowded for birding at the shore in the summer. The beaches don't start getting busy until about 10am so that gives you a few hours of morning birding before the crowds show up. I decided paying  the State Park fees to have access to some of the best birding spots during the summer is worth it in the long run.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Birds Outnumbered Mosquitoes At Meadows

 The Wangunk Meadows can be brutal in the summer when it comes to biting flies and mosquitoes but there are also plenty of birds to see as well. On this particular morning I was lucky because the birds outnumbered the mosquitoes.
There were plenty of flycatchers around including  6  Great-crested Flycatchers.
I'm used to seeing Tree, and Rough-winged Swallows here but there was also several Bank Swallows.
 As always, we are fortunate to have a lot of  Great Blue Herons in the area which are always nice to see.

In addition to the birds in the photos I came across may Common Yellow-throats, Indigo Buntings, 9 Northern Flickers, and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. There are a large number of Mourning Doves here too. I counted 80 this time but was amused when I triggered an alert on e-bird once when I reported 100 Mourning Doves.
I keep one eye on butterflies too. I'm not a butterfly guy but I think this one is a slightly tattered Red Admiral. They like the sun and every time I cast a shadow over it I noticed it would open it's wings.

I think it's best to pick a cool, dry morning when it hasn't rained for a while.That seems to limit the number of mosquitoes.