Sunday, April 4, 2021

2 Egrets For The Price Of 1!

I took a ride down to Clinton this morning hoping to see my first egret of the year. There are 2 types of egrets that are seen regularly along the shoreline once spring arrives, the Snowy Egret and the Great Egret.
I was lucky enough to find both of them together on my first attempt! The larger of the two on the left with the orange bill is the Great Egret and the smaller one with the thinner black bill is the Snowy Egret. A great way to celebrate Easter morning! 

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Spring Migration Starting At The Bog

I was out at the Helen Carlson Bog yesterday. This is a special place to visit. It is easily accessible from the road but a nice piece of bird habitat that makes me feel like I'm up in a remote part of northern New England somewhere. 

It didn't take long into my walk to see spring migration is well underway. There was at least 30 Tree Swallows, 2 Eastern Phoebes, and 2 Palm Warblers, none of which I took pictures of.
I did, however, manage to catch a Pine Warbler perched on a branch.Northern Flickers remain here throughout the winter but are nevertheless always a pleasure to see.

I'm hoping that next weekend will bring warmer weather and more neotropical migrants will start to descend from the sky and cover the trees like drops of rain.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Herons On The Nests And Superzoom cameras.

It's become kind of a local tradition for those who know where to find the heron rookery (aka heronry) to check on the status of the number of herons on the nests. It's about a half a mile walk down the hill to the flood zone of the Wangunk Meadows. If you look carefully you might be able to make out the little dark spots in the tops of those trees.
Those little dark spots are actually nests with Great Blue Herons on them. Sometimes it's amazing what a $300 dollar camera can do. The picture quality can't compete with an slr but the zoom capability is really amazing! I've had my Canon sx50 for a few years. It allows up to 50x but there is one that I saw that goes up to 125x!
 If you compare the nests in the top picture to this one it gives you an idea of how much magnification we're talking about.  The high magnification comes at a cost though. The more you zoom in the more the image degrades. On a nice sunny day it can do okay though and it sure helps people like me who hate fiddling around with camera settings.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

I Had Some Rare Sightings Along River

My favorite inland spot over the years has been the Wangunk Meadows which has a variety of habitat including open fields, marsh, woodlands and is bordered on one side by the Connecticut River.
I've seen many unusual birds over the years but seeing a seal in this far up the river so far from salt water was one of the strangest sightings I've had. I hope that it is healthy.
On the same day I heard a strange bird call coming from the opposite end of the field. They were large and not Great Blue Herons. I started scanning though my mind the possibilities as I took a picture of them taking off. I compared the sounds I hear to the Sandhill Crane and sure enough that's what they were! My first sighting of them right in Portland! They are still considered a rare sighting but have been showing up in Connecticut on occasion over the last few years. I'm glad I took the picture for verification even though it doesn't show too much detail.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

A Touch Of Spring And Ducks

We had a touch of Spring this week with temperatures reaching the upper 50's! I visited some small ponds like this one buried out in the middle of the woods somewhere in East Haddam. There wasn't much in the way of ducks there but I did find a Red-headed Woodpecker which had been previously reported.Ring-necked Ducks have been at many of the local ponds this week some times in numbers over 100. It's really hard to notice the ring. It's that dark area where the neck meets the body.

The Hooded Mergansers are pairing up. Most of us are used to seeing them around Connecticut in the winter but they become very secretive and hidden in the woods while nesting in warmer weather. They, like the Wood Ducks nest in cavities of trees.

I remember the first time I saw a male Wood Duck I was shocked! I'd only seem the green-headed mallard previously and the wood duck by comparison was exotic looking to me! 

It was only a few days that we got our first taste of Spring then it was back to to the 30 degree range again this morning, but soon Spring will be here for good!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Killdeer Are Here!

Killdeer are considered a shorebird but we often see them inland in grassy fields. they are very conspicuous making lots of noise. They also make believe like they have a broken wing to lead potential predators away from their nests.
Wilson's Snipe have also started to arrive. They prefer to hide in the tall grass near the muddy edge of ponds. Snipe are also a shorebird. The word sniper originated from hunters in Britain who had to be a good shot to pick these birds out in the field because they blend in so well with their surroundings. 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Is A Coot A Duck?

The American Coot seen here may look like just another duck to some. If you look at their feet they have long, lobed-shaped toes. Their bill is very small compared to an average duck and they have reddish eyes.
They do swim around like a duck and even spend time in the company of other ducks but they are not a duck. They are actually related to rails

Monday, February 22, 2021

Is A Merganser A Duck?

A merganser, like this Common Merganser is a type of duck that dives and catches fish. It has a long narrow bill which are equipped with look like little teeth (not actually teeth) to help grab onto their prey.

So yes, a merganser is a duck.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Not An Eagle And Not A Hawk

Many times people see vultures like this Black Vulture soaring in the skies in the company of hawks or eagles and assume that they too are a type of hawk or eagle. It's easy to understand because they are similar in size. Although a Black Vulture is not an eagle or hawk, it is considered a raptor or bird of prey.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

I'm No Better Than The Groundhog

Like the groundhog, I reluctantly climbed out of my hole. After breakfast at the local diner, I was off to find a nice spot to look for some birds. Then I looked at a snowy ridge overlooking a frozen pond and decided to call it a day.
I'll just have a cup of coffee and watch birds out my window. Next week may be a different story but for now I'm no better than the groundhog.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

A Need To Accomplish And Organize

I think birders fall get into keeping lists and counting bird species because of an instinctual need to have a sense of purpose and to organize things. I recently tried out a music app that lets you organize your music and make folders for as many kind of music categories that you can think up. I was thinking Spotify could be a dangerous service for a bird lister who also enjoys music.
I had one sighting this weekend which was particularly exciting for me, a Canvasback.
I rarely get to see this particular species of duck unless I want to travel down to the western shoreline during winter. Seeing one right in my own area was unexpected and it served a purpose. Species number 56 for this year in Middlesex county!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Why Do They Call It A Red-bellied Woodpecker?

People that aren't specifically into birding sometimes refer to a Red-bellied Woodpecker as a Red-headed Woodpecker which is a  different species. It is understandable because the Red-bellied Woodpecker does have a lot of red on the top of it's head but where is the red on the belly?
Unfortunately, back in the Audubon days they had to shoot the bird if they wanted a close-up look at them. Otherwise, they probably would have came up with a different name. See that little splash of blush color on the underside? Apparently, that is supposed to be the red belly!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Peripheral Birding

I think that one way we spoil the magic of bird-watching is by trying too hard. Instead of going out in the woods seeking birds like a bounty hunter it sometimes works better not to look for them at all. By focusing on things like the beauty of your surroundings.....
or the sound of your footsteps and breathing as you head down abandoned tracks, you can open your mind and view things in expanded dimensions.
In this way, you can detect birds using your peripheral vision and you might even say the peripheral part of your mind.
Then when you turn your head to really look at a particular bird it seems to stand out in full-dimensional living color!