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.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Don't Trade Today's Birds For Yesterday's Birds


 One of the advantages of using eBird is that you can look to see what people are seeing in the area and then go to the same places to look for the same birds. The problem is that when birds are migrating they may not wait until the next day for you to show up.

I've been looking high and low for birds on the weekends. From high places like the above photo overlooking the fog-covered Connecticut river valley...
 ....to the low lying train tracks passing through the dynamite-blasted ledges. 

The other day, I was on my way to a location that had been crawling with exciting migratory bird sightings the just a day before. On my way there, I made a quick stop at a marsh and was surprised at how many birds seemed to be around. I was eager to get to yesterday's hotspot so I only took a quick look around before heading off to my desired destination.

There was only one problem when I got there. Yesterday's birds were gone. I should have stayed at the marsh and enjoyed viewing the many birds that I already knew were there!
 I decided to take a couple of photos of butterflies instead of stepping over them to look for birds.

I see plenty of eagles in our area but made sure not to ignore the one flying over my head.
There are tons of catbirds around in the summer but I'm trying to remember that I will be desperate to see one by the end of the upcoming winter.
It may only be the non-native Mute Swan but what if it was the last one I were to ever see? 

I hope I learned my lesson. Don't make the mistake of trying to trade today's birds in by looking for the ones that were seen by someone else the day before.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Cormorant And Gull Sharing Lookout Duty

 My birding adventures are brief and less frequent during most of the summer. I came upon a rocky area in Saybrook where a cormorant and gull seemed to be sharing lookout duty.
 The rock next to them seem to be a popular spot among the local terns.
I like when cormorants spread their wings to dry. It looks like a bird that should be guarding Dracula's castle.
Here's a little clip of the terns. I just noticed that some were banded.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Swallows On The Roof & Flickers On The Beach


 We are headed for a 5 day heat-wave so I got an early start this morning.I decided to take a quick walk through the farm fields to the river. Seems there are a few birds on top of the barn roof. Wonder what they could be?
 Seems to be barn swallows (hope they had their shingles vaccine).
It was a short walk down to the river and it seems that the Sycamore Tree was loaded with flickers, a pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and a couple of Cedar Waxings. They were all gone when they saw my camera come out.

I passed by a few butterflies along the way.
 Time for me to go. It's only 9am and already 90 degrees. Even the flickers are heading for the beach! 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Meditative Birding

Our minds have a tendency to wander and have repetitous thoughts that distract us from the present moment. 

A simple meditation technique can help. 

Focusing on our own breaths whenever our minds start to wander can help us relax and be more in tune with our immediate surroundings. 
If you can reach some level of a meditative state while birding your heightened senses can enhance the experience.

You become more aware of the sounds of your footsteps. Bird chatter in the woods suddenly sounds like a symphony with each bird playing its own instrument. Birds stand out in vivid detail through your binoculars.
Time becomes suspended with an hour feeling like a minute and a minute feeling like an hour.

It takes a little patience but meditative birding is worth the effort.





Sunday, July 22, 2018

It's Okay For Birders To Sit Quietly By A Brook

 Birders are often focused on the number, variety, and rarity of birds they can see.We may even use technology to call the birds to us. One of the things that sometimes get lost in the modern era of birding is the joy of letting nature find you as opposed to trying to chase it down.       

Sitting quietly by a brook is a soothing way to appreciate the beauty of an early summer morning.
 Watching as the sunshine lights up the mist rising from the water.
 Or watching birds land quietly nearby as you melt into the landscape that surrounds you.
Birds sometimes may give you a better glimpse of their natural behavior when they're not trying to avoid our presence.
 You can even take time to notice other things outside of birds like this gigantic fishing spider I came across a couple of years ago.

One thing that is great about birding is that you don't always have to approach things the same way. Sometimes birding seem more like a sport but it's up to each individual birder what approach they take. My rules say that there's nothing wrong with sitting down next to a cool, babbling brook.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Summer Birding: Nesting Osprey

I tend to slow down with the birding during the dog days of  summer. I was taking a morning walk down at the shore and came across some nesting osprey. That was good enough for me. Time to get in an air conditioned car as the temperature is racing towards 95!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

7 Advantages Of Birding Along A Rail Trail


They opened up a new stretch of the Airline rail trail which runs through Portland. The trail has always been there but by clearing away the path and putting down crushed gravel it makes it more accessible to every one. I had mixed feelings about turning a rustic trail into a public one but decided there were several reasons why I preferred the new version after using it for the first time. It has many advantages for birding. Here are some of the reasons why:
1) The widened trail makes it easier to see birds: It's easier to view birds when you have some space around you.
2) It reduces the bug factor: The gravel-packed trail helped reduce the number of ticks, mosquitoes, and deer flies.It also keeps the poison ivy away from contact distance.
3) The linear nature of the trail help keeps you on track: There is something relaxing about walking along one straight trail while birding. It feels very orderly and relaxing to move along focusing on birds and not having to decided which direction to walk next.
4)The trail brings you past a variety of landscape and habitat: When they built this railroad they blasted right though ledge and whatever else was in their way. This allows for miles of varied scenic viewing.
 5)There is lots of vegetation, berries, and flowers:This makes for a good place to find butterflies and other insects.
6) There are lots of birds! I saw and heard wall to wall birds along most of the trail. I also found a good variety of species (49).
 7) There are remnants of the historic past along the way:
 I used to think that these crosses were some sort of metallic memorial tombstone but it was actually part of a railway storage rack.

Naturally, rail trail habitat can vary depending on the area but I plan to make several trips to the Airline trail this year.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Sunrise At Harbor Park In Middletown


This sunrise scene along the Connecticut River In Middletown as viewed from Harbor Park precedes the first day of a week-long heatwave.
This is a view of the Arrigoni bridge along with the smaller railroad
bridge.