Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer Surpassed Winter As My #3 Season

Spring has always been my favorite season in Connecticut with the fall season being a very close 2nd. Winter has always been 3rd on my list and summer has always come in last place. This year, as of today, I have made the decision that summer has officially surpassed Winter as my 3rd favorite season!

It started with my first definitive sighting of the elusive (to me) Black-backed Woodpecker. I was able to capture a photo to remind me that it wasn't just a dream. Technically it was spring when I saw it but on my calendar summer starts at then end of May
Of course, the horrendous winters we've had in recent years had a lot to do with my sudden conversion.
 This year I decided to embrace summer birding instead of trying to avoid it as I have in past years which led to some fun sightings such as this which was boldly defending territory near the nest.
It the summer of Night-herons I was able to see Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned both adult and immature birds like this one.

 I want to apologize to summer for all the hating I've sent your way over the years. It's not your fault that blood-sucking bugs and humidity are your friends. As for Winter; I'll say we've had some good times together but you'd better get your act together if you want to make it back to number 3!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Less Sneaking & More Birding With Shore Pass

 There are a good number of protected areas with public access along the Connecticut shoreline.
Many of these protected areas seem to be comprised of marsh habitat that is a great place to find heron, Osprey (above) , and many other species of birds.
 American Oystercatcher
Gaining direct access to the Connecticut shoreline during the summer can be tricky. As you get closer to the sound you will start to encounter signs that read-no trespassing, private community- residents only, private beach- residents only, no parking anywhere on this street, non-residents $20 for parking, private marina customers only, private walkway-residents only and so on. 
Short-billed Dowitchers
It puts you in the uncomfortable position of having to choose between bending rules or parking in town and walking back to the shore. Even then you have to find a way to get beyond the barrier of houses and cottages which block the shoreline like an international border.

It might be easier if birders could purchase a parking pass that would allow you access along the entire Connecticut shoreline.This way the focus would be on birding and would eliminate the need to sneak around looking for parking spots and walking paths to reach the water.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Big Time Birds At Small Time Places

 I've been spending the last couple of weekends searching the Middlesex County portion of Connecticut's shoreline for birds. The major beaches are crowded in this area during the summer so I concentrated on finding small overlooked areas as potential birding spots. 

The gazebo you see above is located right behind the town hall and overlooks the Indian River Marsh. I'm sure I've drove by it a number of times but never noticed it. It's a nice place to relax and set up a scope if you get there first thing in the morning.Yellow-crowned Heron was among one of the interesting species I was able to find there. There's also a walking trail right next to it.
I've had good luck finding Yellow-crowned Night Herons this year along the shoreline in Middlesex County.
This one was right near a bridge on a tiny mud-hole of a river called Oyster River. I always thought that you had to head towards Milford to see yellow-crowned Night Herons so I've been plesantly surpised to find them closer to home.
This Cattle Egret has been hanging out near a small farm pond in Old Saybrook just down the road from a Macdonalds. Apparently it's looking for its own source of fast food. The bird was very active when I was there, picking bugs off the ground and what looked like bees from the bush. this is the first time I've seen one in Connecticut in breeding plumage.
As an added bonus, 52 Glossy Ibis dropped in next to some Canada geese to take a bath on the opposite shoreline. You'd never know that such an ordinary looking farm pond could attract such birds. That is why I have learned that a little bit of habitat can go a long  way when it comes to finding birds near the shoreline.