Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Bringing Attention To Nature Preserves

There are many land trust organizations in Connecticut and throughout the United States. They buy up pieces of property that they feel has habitat with some importance. Some of these properties have trails that make them accessible to bird watchers and other nature lovers.

I recently visited the Harris Preserve on Wilcox road in Middletown Connecticut for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised by the habitat there. I found that there was a lot of evergreens, some wetland, streams, and overgrown fields that provide great cover for birds. There was also an ample supply of berries providing food for the hermit Thrushes, American Robins, and  late-season catbirds I found there. 
It is important to get places like this on the map and make people aware of them. One way to do that is to find some nice birds like this Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (old photo) and then report them on eBird so that other birders will want to go check these places out themselves first hand. 

I encourage you to find nature preserves in your own area and get the word out. People work hard to secure these properties and it would be a shame to overlook them!

Sunday, December 5, 2021

One Of The Most Overlooked Birds Amongst Birders

One of the most overlooked birds amongst birders is the ones in their own backyard. I spend much of my free mornings traveling around looking for birds. It's not until I need to do yardwork that I really pay close attention to the birds that are lurking around my yard. 

In this case it is a Red-shouldered Hawk perched silently in a tree. I knew we had them around because I heard them all summer. They have to be one of the noisiest hawks on earth. Kee-yar kee-yar kee-yar all day long. I don't mind though. It's a stern warning to the rodents in the area that they better stay out of trouble!

Monday, November 15, 2021

Just A Little Sun To Take The Chill Off

I do like early morning birding in November. Many of the leaves have fallen from the tree and the frost has tamed the wildweeds. Some of the birds have headed south for warmer climates but many still remain. 

I stopped at a patch of woods with a little bit of cover underneath. A winter coat and a nice spray of sunshine was all I needed to make me forget the temperature was down in the 30'sBirds are easier to see without vegetation blocking the view. 

Birds like to find a sunny spot too in the colder weather.

I also checked some of the local ponds. There was many geese and a few Bufflehead ducks swimming about.
This cormorant seemed quite content with a nice rock and a little bit of sunshine to take the chill off. It seems that the bird and I had the same plan this morning!

Sunday, November 7, 2021

A Pond So Pretty I forgot The Birds

I can't believe that I've only been 10 minutes away from Miller's Pond. I remember going there as a kid but haven't been back since. The water was crystal clear, the trees reflecting off the water looked like a painting, and not a house or cottage was anywhere in sight. 
I walked the trail that circled the pond and admired the rocky formations I came across. There were some birds along the way. The expected chickadees, robins, titmice, woodpeckers, and one Ruby-crowned Kinglet to top things off but this morning was all about the scenery.
I came across this 1895 marker. I'm not sure what it means but hopefully nobody is buried there.
I was shocked to see a group of about 10 swimmers out in the water since the temperature was in the 30's!

Parks that have ponds unspoiled by human habitation are a treasure and I know that I will be back here with a fishing pole and then again in the spring for the return of the warblers!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Before The Sun Rises

It's been some time since I've managed to get out birding before sunrise. I heard a little activity when I fist a arrived at fields but it was difficult to get a good look at what I was hearing so I pointed my eyes to the sky and the moon was right there looking back at me.

Everything else is hiding in the shadows. The air is clear in more ways than one. There is no covid news or politics, just peace and quiet.

A point and shoot camera has a small sensor and doesn't like low light conditions but the milk spilling out of the weed was easy to see.
Eventually the fields started to show a splash of red. As the morning light increases, the beauty of nature begins to reveal itself.
Finally, the sun peaked over the horizon a few minutes later warmed my back to a comfortable level.
Eventually the birds start to reveal their identity. Some birds come to say hello and others just seem to mock me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Stick Heron, Wood Ducks, and yellow-rumps

I visited a very peaceful Highland Pond Preserve this morning. I am thankful for the little places around Connecticut that are set aside for preservation that provide a respite from today's world. It's a perfect place for quiet contemplation.
My first bird turned out to be nothing more than a stick heron that looked like it was designed by the professor from Gilligan's Island.
A pair of Wood Ducks provide natural jewelry to decorate the pond.The trees have been dripping with Yellow-rumped Warblers this week.

They seem to be filling up on fruit and berries. In this case I only saw the splash of yellow on its side.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Any Bird Anywhere Is Just Fine In The Fall

Rather than focusing on one particular birding spot, I've just been wandering from place to place enjoying the start of fall foliage. I'm not concerned about what birds I see or where I find them.
Seeing a flicker on top of a big rock is just fine with me.
A killdeer in the parking lot is better yet!
Even a starling on the guardrail is okay in my book! (Although I must admit I thought I had a less common grassland bird at first glance). 

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Sparrows First Then The Foliage

I can sense the changes coming. The fields are just starting to get a tinge of color change.
I've always felt that this time of year has a mystical feel to it.
I always see these spider webs but rarely see a spider in them. They may be lurking in the tall grass safely tucked away.
Sparrows are already starting to arrive. They are one of the prime attractions for fall birders. Hopefully, the colorful foliage is not far behind!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Looking For Hawks From The Hilltops

There's a two week period every September when hawk migration is at it's peak. I could do things the right way and go to an established hawk watch site an hour away but I hold out hope that I'll be able to find a kettle of Broad-winged Hawks from out local hilltops. I went to the nearby town of Middlefield for my search.
It's amazing how the scenery can change so much just by driving 10 minutes into another town. I parked above Lyman's Orchards and set up a chair. There were some migrating warblers and sparrows traveling from tree to tree. The wind was from the north and a few clouds in the sky which makes for perfect hawk-watching conditions.
Well after 3 hours I counted  up a total of about 20 birds of prey including 10 Broad-wings, not what I hoped for. I found myself looking at kites and picking pears from the orchard. Hawk-watches are like meteor showers. Unless everything is just right-time, conditions, locations etc. then you might be disappointed. I'll just have to borrow one of my photos from an old hawk-watch. this is the type of scene I hope to see.

 I wasn't disappointed though because it was such a beautiful morning with temperatures in the low 70's, a light breeze and low humidity. I'll continue to watch the skies because you never know when they'll be passing overhead.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Not Sure Where To Look Next?

Fall migration has begun in the northern hemisphere and the weather is becoming more pleasant. The next thing to decide is where do I look for birds. I guess the answer would be anywhere and everywhere. I found a Green Heron in a flooded field (above). 
There was also several shorebirds like this yellowlegs hiding in the tall grass.
Of course, we always need to be looking up. In this case I found a nuthatch which are with us year round but the Broad-winged Hawks are starting to pass through  as we speak. I am looking forward to the formation of kettles and plan to make a visit to an established hawk-watching site. To me, though, finding a large kettle of hawks passing over your yard is the biggest thrill!

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Summer, My 4th Favorite Season

(Prairie Warbler)
It's hard for me to believe that summer is almost over. I won't miss it much. I prefer the cool spring weather when the leaves are few and the migrants are many. Spring might be my favorite season but I would give a slight edge to fall.I like those clear sunny days of winter where eagles dare to perch where the branches are bare. Winter would be my 3rd favorite season unless you ask me after a week of subzero weather and snowstorms. For a brief time, summer may seem to be a better option.As the summer arrives the leaves start to get in the way along with the humidity and mosquitoes. There are still plenty of cool birds to see, just under less pleasant conditions.Great-crested Flycatcher

All seasons are worth celebrating but I'll soon be leaving my least favorite season and entering my favorite one!

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Box Of Chocolates Birding

July and August has been a partial break from birding for me. I've approached birding this time in the same way some people approach a box of mixed chocolates (not me). I check out a spot, take a bite and then move on to another spot if it doesn't immediately appeal to me. The top picture was at the power lines.
It was awfully quiet there but I took a moment to appreciate a bird that I admittedly overlook when there are other birds around to see. This Mourning Dove was didn't fly off in a noisy panic as they often do. It seemed the epitome of Peace.
It was the horses the healthy looking horses that first caught my attention but if you look towards the left edge of the pond you might see something perched along the shoreline.
A Great Blue Heron silently keeps guard and looks for opportunities.

My birding has been few a far between these days. Once the air cools down, the foliage starts to turn, and fall migration picks up I will once again be bitten by the birding bug.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

An All You Can See Buffet!

As the month of July came to an end I had the urge to get back out in the woods to experience the wonders of nature again. So I followed the tracks out into the wildest section of the city of Middletown.
The tracks lead you to a nice marsh out in what they called the Maromas section of Middletown.
It's not unusual to see a Great Egret or 2 inland when visiting a marsh but I counted 12 of them which is something I would only expect to find along the shoreline!
Everywhere I looked I could see and hear wildlife.There was butterflies in the bushes.
Handfuls of Green Herons perching in the trees.
Young hawks watching carefully for an opportunity to strike.
There were even deer hidden within the thick, lush greenery near the shoreline.

I didn't manage to get out much in the month of July but I hit it lucky in the end with a cool, sunny morning. I counted up 40 species without even trying. Everything from flycatchers to kingfishers, shorebirds and egrets. It was an all you can see buffet of bird and wildlife! A nice way to end one summer month and begin another.