Saturday, December 29, 2018

Stopping For Pileated Woodpeckers Only

 I decided to work off a few holiday calories with a brisk Christmas day hike through Wadsworth Park. I did have my camera and binoculars but vowed not to stop unless I came across an owl, a rare bird,or a Pileated Woodpecker.
 Well, so much for the exercise. I actually encountered 3 Pileated Woodpeckers. They had a loud squabble and 2 of them flew off.  This photo shows how woodpeckers use their tail for balance.
 You can tell this is a male by the red malar stripe and the entirely red crest. Pileated Woodpeckers are the largest woodpecker species in Connecticut  at about 16" in length.
 And now a word from our sponsors.........

Monday, December 24, 2018

Urban Birding Birds

 I usually think about fields and woodland out in the country as my ideal birding spots. I tend to dismiss places that are in an urban setting.

 There is one area that I've driven by numerous times that  caught my eye. It is a trail that follows a river which floods the surrounding woods. It is sandwiched between condominium complexes and the highway.

Today, I decided to park my car in a plaza then I snuck under the highway to pick up the trail.
 Once I started walking the trail I noticed nice pockets of habitat along the way.
 Of course, you would expect to find house sparrows in an urban area as well as common woodland birds like titmice,chickadees, woodpeckers, and wrens.
 There were plenty of noisy Blue Jays patrolling the area. This particular Blue Jay was doing a first rate impression of a Red-shouldered Hawk.
I have to wonder what the Red-shouldered Hawk thought about the Blue Jay's imitation? 

The walk was a reminder to me that birds don't judge habitat the same way we tend to. While we might complain about how much land is being developed,  birds are just interested in finding  food and shelter.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Sleepy Owls, Hoodies, & Dogs On Skateboards

 December has been a slow birding month for me so far. I've been reading the local eBird lists and noticed that birders have noticed that the species lists have dropped down to 10-20 species per outing.

One reason I prefer fishing to birding is that I've never been "skunked" while birding. there have been many times that I've gone fishing and didn't even get a bite but I always see at least some birds. The other day I caught a Barred Owl napping in a tree. 
I must admit that I was disappointed that it wouldn't open his eyes.I realized that the eyes of an owl are what give it that mystical appearance.
One thing I enjoy about winter birding is seeing the return of winter ducks like the Hooded Merganser.
This dog on a skateboard stopped me in my tracks. It wasn't just standing on the skateboard but actually propelled itself by using one of its feet.I wish that I had the chance to make a video!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Goodbye Duck Rage And Hello Vultures

 I spent 20 minutes trying to get a picture of a Bufflehead that seemed to only take 2 seconds between dives. I kept on missing the shot and then when I finally got a photo the lighting was no good. I felt like Curly from The Three Stooges when he was trying to eat his oyster stew.
 Turkey Vultures may not be the prettiest birds on the planet.....
 ....but at least they stay still long enough to take their picture.
 I think they look a little better when they're facing the other way.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Winter Birding One Bird At A Time

 I can't believe that we already hit 0 degrees in some places and it's not even December! When the weather is like that I'm happy to find a single bird that makes the inter seem a little warmer like a Red-shouldered-Hawk nestled in a tree. 
 Intoxicated Cedar Waxings that continue to fatten up on berries.
........ and the first arrivals of Common Mergansers. If they can take the cold then so can I! (or at least I try to tell myself that).

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Trolling For Birds By Car

I used to have a boat and did quite a bit of fishing. If fishing as slow in one location we would cast a lure or a streamer out and ride around the lake until we found some fish.We called this trolling.I wasn't mentally prepared for 30 degree weather yet so I decided to troll around town in my heated car looking for birds.I searched the wooded hillsides.
I drove by the old railroad tracks here I found a mockingbird that stayed in the middle of a berry bush.
Then I found a Cedar Waxing getting drunk on crabapples. If you drive around enough you'll eventually run into birds.until then at least you have a heater and a radio!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

I Got Birds In Forgotten Places

 I made a point of looking for birds in forgotten places today. I made one stop along the Connecticut River and took a walk along a 10 foot wide strip of grass that is owned by the town but it looks as though it's part of someone's yard.
The Dark-eyed Junco is a sure sign that winter is not far away.
 I checked below these colorful fall trees to see what bird was making chip notes.
 The White-throated Sparrow is another bird that will keep us company for the rest of the winter.
 This is a little pond that has no name. It sits behind a few houses and isn't much more than a flooded patch of woods.
Which is all it takes to satisfy a Green-winged Teal.I was happy to find him in a forgotten little pond, especially this time of the year.

It had me singing "I got birds in forgotten places-where the trees are broken and the sign are faded-but that's okay-I found a teal today". Does that song sound familiar to anyone? 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Wile E. Coyote Versus The Kingfisher

I remember a cartoon from Looney Toons that featured a coyote that was constantly trying to catch a roadrunner using elaborate contraptions.The coyote failed every time as the roadrunner would always avoid the trap at the last second leaving the coyote caught in his own trap.

 I always think of that cartoon when I approach a kingfisher because they always seem to sense when I'm going to take a picture and slip away at the last second. I finally managed to get very close to this kingfisher but of course it had to be cloudy and raining! My camera doesn't like cloudy and raining.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Habitat Search Led Me To Purple Finches

Sometimes I will just drive around country roads and look for habitat that I think might be good for birds rather than go to places I'm already familiar with. I'll look for things like water features, berry bushes, weeds, cedar trees, tall grass, and shrubs.If I see signs of bird activity I'll stop and check it out. this time I as rewarded with a nice view of a pair of Purple Finches stuffing their bills.The male Purple Finch is on the top.It has more of a raspberry color to it versus the reddish color of the male House Finches. I don't see a lot of Purple Finches so I'm always happy to come across them.
The female has a sort whitish eyebrow mark.
Sometimes my initial roadside search I will explore the area in further detail. I came across this little area near some hilltop power lines where someone created a nice little stone sanctuary. 

Birding can become routine and predictable so heading out blindly with binoculars and using your own instincts to look for birds can be a rewarding way to go about it.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Birding And Solitude Are A Natural Fit

George Dudley Seymour State Park is a place I have visited several times over the years. I've yet to encounter another person during my visits there. It has steep gorges with lots of rocks and flowing streams that serve to calm a restless spirit.
 It is a place that I can enjoy without worrying about the next bird I'm going to see. the birds are a bonus but the scenery and solitude are what makes the place special.
 I did manage to find a butterfly that wasn't ready to head south of the border...
and an Eastern Towhee as curious about me as I was about he. 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Little Fog Can't Stop That Birding Vibe

 It has been raining by the bucketful this week and a the fog has been rolling in every morning.
The birds are out there but can be a little hard to see.
I new it as going to be one of those special birding days when I came across 8 Wood Ducks as soon as I stepped foot on the rail trail.It took me an hour to travel 50 feet because every bush was saturated with birds such as warblers and sparrows, some of them  uncommon. There are some days when you just know within the first 5 minutes that it's going to be a birdy day.
It's nice when the fog finally lifts so you can get a clearer view of the birds.
It's been a little slow on the birding front the last couple of weeks but all that changed this weekend. I'm hoping next weekend I can get some photos of some of the smaller birds.It was too difficult this morning because I constantly had my binoculars pointed upward. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Fall Begins This Weekend

It was the official start of Fall this weekend.There is just a touch of color in the leaves so far.
 Broad-winged Hawks and other birds of prey are making their long journey south. 
I try to keep my eyes on the sky as I was shocked last year when an American White Pelican flew over my house.
I hope we get some colorful foliage this year!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Wandering The Rail Trails And Fairgrounds

 I haven't posted lately but continue to wander out with the binoculars and camera on the weekend.The photo above shows the entrance to the new rail trail which has become one of my favorite birding spots to visit. It is loaded with an unusually high number of wrens and seems to be a good fall migration area too.
 I made an attempt to walk through the fairgrounds a couple of weeks ago before they cut down any of the grass.I didn't come prepared with waterproof boots and ended up with soaking wet socks and pants.Realizing what a dumb move that was made me feel like...
.....well I can't really put it into words but you get the idea.
 Fall migration has already started so I've been seeing a mix of everything including lots of Common Yellowthroats, hawks and
......a mix of sparrows. Savannah Sparrow seemed to be the special of the day.