Sunday, December 24, 2017

Gift Birds On The Day Before Christmas

 On this busy holiday weekend I somehow managed to steal an hour to go down to the shore. Marinas can be a great place during the winter to get a close-up look at certain birds.
 One of these geese is definitely not like the other!
It was a nice surprise to come across a snow goose which aren't all that common around here.
 Birds like this American Coot like to hang around marinas in Old Saybrook.
I was especially excited to get such a close look at a Surf Scoter which are usually much further out on the water. I'm glad I squeezed in this little birding excursion. It turned out to be like an early Christmas gift. Merry Christmas and happy holiday to all!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Return Of The Traditional Christmas Count

On Christmas day in 1900 a new tradition started. Instead of shooting birds on Christmas Day people started counting them instead. Here's the whole story.

Many birders,including me, look forward to the Christmas each year. It helps motivate me to get out in the colder weather with a purpose; to look for birds.It's all about watching birds,the camaraderie of birders, and enjoying the beauty of nature. Part of our territory was around the Great Hill area. Unfortunately, all lakes were frozen during the count so we missed out on some of the water birds.
 Our search led us along snowy paths out in the country........
 along side little streams deep in the middle of the forest....
 .....and along the old rail trails which provide a nice walking trail.
We were too busy to take pictures of birds but we made an exception for this Golden-crowned Kinglet who briefly flashed his crown before flying off. After that our group was off to lunch at a local restaurant. Another Christmas count tradition that we all enjoy!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Boardwalk Built By Reform School Kids In 1978

This sign at the entrance of the Helen Carlson sanctuary caught my attention today. Long Lane started in the 1800's as a school set on farmland for troubled girls. In the 1970's it became a high security reform school for boys.
 The boardwalk and nature trail were built by some of those students as seen listed on the sign.I wonder how those former students are doing today, almost 40 years after this project was completed? Did their lives turn around for the better? Maybe some went into the building/construction trade?
  As more land is developed for commercial projects and housing nature preserves become all the more valuable.
This is not some birding hotspot but does provide valuable habitat for a variety of birds throughout the year.
.........including birds like this Eastern Bluebird (older photo)................

Friday, November 24, 2017

In The Scraggly Brush Of An Old Tobacco field

 I visited an old tobacco field in town. It's hard to believe I worked here as a teen almost 40 years ago.It looks like the old shed needs a touch of paint and maybe a wee bit of duct tape.
This scraggly looking brush pile caught my attention as well as the attention of a few birds.
 I had a nice look at some Savannah Sparrows.
 This one was not as colorful but noticed it had a distinct eye ring. It is a Vesper Sparrow which was a nice find because I don't see many around here.
Of course, I wouldn't want to ignore this male cardinal that was hanging out in the same patch. I wonder if his beak would be shinier had he used his crest?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Birding On The Rocks

 There's a parking space in Old Saybrook at Cornfield park where you are allowed to park for 30 minutes and take in the view. Scoter and loons are among the birds commonly seen on the water here during the winter.
 I followed the shoreline and found a few shorebirds like this Black-bellied plover.
I know that starlings are unpopular among birders since they aren't a native species. I like their markings which remind me of snowflakes.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Pectoral Sandpiper At Frozen Fairgrounds

I can never pass by the fairgrounds without having a quick look to see what's around. This morning started out with temperatures in the 20's. That kind of put the kibosh on finding ducks as the shallow skating pond was already frozen over. In fact, there wasn't any birds to be seen except for a brown blob that lloked like a morning dove in the distance.
Upon closer inspection it turned out to be a Pectoral Sandpiper! I didn't see that one coming. A nice surprise for a cold November morning to be sure!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Just Passing Through The Shoreline At Sunrise

 I was traveling along the shoreline early in the morning and hoping to make a quick search at Meig's Point at Hammonasset. I was disappointed to find the road closed but not disappointed by the sunrise.
 It was a little difficult to make out these Cedar Waxings this early in the morning.
A littler down the road the hawks have come out to play hide and seek with the little birdies. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Last Bird Stop In October Was Parmelee Farm

 My last birding stop of the month was at the 132 acre Parmelee Farm preserve in Killingworth. The area has a nice historic country feel to it.They have community gardens which can be a good place to look for fall sparrows.
I've found that pumpkin fields are a good place to look for interesting bird species like pipits, once the remaining pumpkins start to rot.
 There was plenty of bird activity including Cedar Waxings, Field Sparrows, and Song Sparrows like this one.
The month seemed to go so quickly. Halloween is on Tuesday and then we're in November already!(photo is at Colchester town green)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

In Search Of Fall Color

 The Fall foliage has been a little slow to develop this year but I started seeing a little more color to the leaves this weekend. I visited the reservoir on Saturday and was pleased to see my first White-throated Sparrows and Juncos of the season.
This is also the time of year that I like to check big flocks in the farm fields to see if their are any rare geese mixed in with the Canada Geese. No luck today but their was still several Killdeer flying around.
I didn't have much luck getting bird photos but this Red-bellied Woodpecker was kind enough to stick his neck out for me and show off its red head.
The skies at night have become clear and crisp with lots of color at sundown. I hope there is more color on the way for the next upcoming weekend!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Wild Turkey And Pumpkin Pie?

Why are they in such a hurry? Let's at least get past Halloween first!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Grey Skies, Un-listable Birds, And The Town Fair

The sky stayed mostly grey this weekend but not all the leaves were brown. They are just starting to take on some fall color.
 I didn't have much luck finding wild birds before the rain started coming down but this one caught the corner of my eye before I realized what I was looking at.
 Plastic pink flamingos seem to be popular these days but wouldn't count on most birding lists. I'm sure that someone keeps a list of artificial birds they see though.

 Looks like the animals have it good in this town, even the goats have their own sports cars.
 Domestic geese like these look similar to Snow Geese.
 The fair had some musical entertainment with the first act being the Tony Rome band. He changed his outfit after almost every song and did a lot of stones-type classics.
And of course we don't want to forget to mention the horn section!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Comfort Of Routines

I took a walk along the Connecticut River this morning. The twists and turns of life we all experience have kept me away from my  weekend birding routine. Today was the first day I was able to get back to the birding basics. Routines can become mundane and make us feel like robots, traveling though life on autopilot. Breaking away from the usual way of doing things is an opportunity to make some changes and approach things differently.
I know for myself, that I sometimes look but don't really see. It's sort of like when you drive in a trance but don't remember the journey. 

 Today, was one of those days I was able to slow down and look at one, or in this case, two birds at a time. I got back to the habit of writing down what I saw and seeing, not just looking. 
Today I was following a familiar path but I found it comforting, not boring because I missed my routine birding. 
(birds in photos 2 and 3 are Savannah Sparrows).
I was also able to view things from a different perspective.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

September Just Blew Right Past Me

It's hard to believe that September is almost over. The weather in Connecticut this month was as a perfect mix of warm days and cool nights with very few extremes. I came across 37 Bobolinks at the local meadows.
 They were in heavy cover so I only managed to get glimpses of them.
 I wasn't able to do much birding but carried my camera during some travels. This is an American Goldfinch taking in a puddle at a ball field. The colorful yellow male birds probably didn't want to get their feathers dirty.
 Many of the days were dry with clean, cool air and vivid blue skies.
September seemed to blow right past me along with the Black Vultures and Broad-winged Hawks. I Plan to take time to take in the fall foliage while I'm out searching for sparrows.