Monday, September 26, 2022

From Atop Of The Old Dump

I remember as a kid going to the old Middletown Dump. It wasn't called a transfer station, a landfill, or a recycling center then. It was just a plain old smelly dump. I do remember seeing all the gulls there. In fact, going to the dump was a form of entertainment for a kid back then before there was cable tv and video games! 

They did bury things in the ground that weren't good for the environment back then (like just about everything). Today, it is kind of secretly open to the public again. There is a gravel path to the top of the hill and I must say, there is a great view of the surrounding hills in every direction!
There is the top of the biggest business building in Middletown. I believe it's called the Middlesex Corporate Center. You can also see the hills well beyond it.
I love seeing Canada Geese in flight making that "V" formation.
In just about an hour I had views of four different species of hawks in flight, Black and Turkey Vultures as well as 2 Bald Eagles!
I also saw the biggest hawks of all known by many as "gas-hawks"!

Monday, September 19, 2022

Migration Time For Hawks

The old saying is "Red in the morning, sailors take warning" We did end up having some storms later in the day so maybe there is some truth to the old saying.
I have been getting out birding with one eye to the sky because there is a major migration of hawks that takes place in mid to late September. In this case, I followed the river at my old stomping grounds along the Connecticut River at Wangunk Meadows in Portland.
Generally you don't see to many hawks in flight until mid-morning when it gets warmer so they can ride up on the thermals. 

I was  out early and finished before 9am but there are other birds migrating this time of the year too. I saw my first Lincoln's Sparrow of the year. They have that fine streaking with a little bit of caramel splashed along the side.
I did encounter a hawk that was perched in a tree. I have a hard time identifying young hawks. I was thinking this might be a Cooper's Hawk but really wasn't sure. Anyway, It's great fall weather to be out bird-watching now!

Monday, September 12, 2022

Stay In The Present And Turn Off The Clock

I've still been going out for short jaunts on Sunday mornings. Being on a short time schedule can make it difficult because you end up trying to see the forest through the trees when you should start by looking at the trees. This reminds me of one of those horror movies when someone is getting chased through the woods but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
It hasn't been for a lack of trying. I even broke through an elf fortress looking for birds. 
I took a couple of rides down to the shore which isn't so cheap with the gas prices these days. I was looking for rare reported birds like a Brown Pelican but I seem to be surrounded by herons and .....
brown ducks everywhere I turn. Speaking of terns, I did see a Royal Tern and a Forster's tern while at the shore. Those are two of the less common ones around here. For the next week or 2 hawks will be in the midst of migration with a chance to see big kettles of hawks in the sky as they make their journey.

The next time I go out birding I need to make it count. It's best to stay in the present and turn off that imaginary clock in your mind.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Near The End Of The Connecticut River

I took a ride down to Deep River and Essex. These are two towns that have excellent viewing areas of the Connecticut River. This was the site where 28 American ships were destroyed by British marauders in 1814 (there's a little more to the story than that) 
The next town up is Deep River. There is an old historic passenger train that brings passengers from Essex down to this location.
 You have the option of getting off the train to take a boat ride on the Connecticut river or you can continue traveling further south by train. 
I was there looking for a particular species of tern(Forster's) which had been reported. I had no luck with that but of course, there are always birds to see like Osprey.
Cormorants are also very interesting birds to observe. The summer is going by quickly and fall is approaching quickly!

Saturday, August 6, 2022

On My Way To The Hardware Store...

I was on my way to the hardware store to pick up some supplies. I pulled into the parking lot and as I looked across the way I saw what looked to be 3 Killdeer having a group discussion. Killdeer are technically shorebirds but I guess they forgot to tell them because I see  more Killdeer inland than I do at the shore.
I left my binoculars at home but I was glad that I had my camera with me! 
One of them was sunken down into a small pothole. Maybe not the best place to keep your eggs. I hope that's not the case but I'll have to take a distant peek into that pothole tomorrow!

Birds are all around us and they don't wait for us to go birdwatching to make themselves visible!

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Kicking Back Watching One Bird At A Time

I've continued to treat summer as a time to take a break from active birding. Instead, I have taken to passive birding in summer months. That means short trips or in this case, a spontaneous stop at Haddam Meadows for a quick look around.
Instead of doing a thorough search of the entire park, I keyed in on what appeared to be a family of Easter Kingbirds. I saw one in the grassy field.
I saw another kingbird perched in a tree surrounded by tangled greenery.
Then there was a couple of them sitting on a wood rail playing a game of stare. I have the attitude of no expectations in the summer so spending 20 minutes following kingbirds around was enough birding for me on this particular morning.
After that, I stopped at a store. I've noticed that Fish Crows, that which look almost the same as regular crows, often hang out in large plaza parking lots. They have a nasally call compared to American Crows and appear a bit smaller. I ignored them all year so I decided why not take a picture of one?

Summer is fine for kicking back and watching one bird at a time!

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Heron Caught Something With Legs

I'm used to seeing herons catch things in the water like frogs or fish but this one looks like a land dweller. Just a reminder that as beautiful as nature is, it's also brutal.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

2 Different Heron Species Out In The Open

Yellow-crowned Night herons used to be a species that I was trying hard to find for the first time. Once I found my first one, it seems that I see them fairly often down at the shore. This is the first time that I've seen one standing on a deck, giving me a very good view. it flew off after my first attempt at a photo though.
Great Blue Herons are by far the most common herons I see. There's even a few hanging around Connecticut in the winter. Sometimes I don't bother trying to take pictures of them because I see them so often that I take them for granted.

  I decided to snap a photo of this one out in the water on a somewhat foggy morning. I forgot I even took it until I uploaded my photos. I'm glad I did take the photo because it reminds me of the way an artist my paint it, with the blurred reflection. It gives it a different look with such a plain grey background.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Birds At The Shoreline In The Summertime

I have less of an appetite for birding in the summer but there is still lots to see, especially along the shoreline. It's always nice to see the young Osprey on the nest with their parents.This Snowy Egret seem to be opposites in more than one way.                It's interesting to compare wading birds side by side.
This is a very blah photo but at least it showed me the yellow-tinted crown on the Yellow-crowned Night Heron. Usually, it appears to be more white than yellow.

Summertime is my least favorite time of the year to be out bird-watching but it is scenes like these that continue to keep me interested.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

A Peak At A Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

This is not the picture I would hope for but is my only in-focus picture of a Rose-breasted grosbeak this year. It is sightings like these that keep me going in the summer.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Summer Break

There comes a time in June when the migrant action slows down. it becomes more difficult to see birds through the expanding foliage and bugs start to stalk you. When I find myself running from deerflies it's time to take a break and change strategy. I will try to make it out earlier in the morning at select spots for shorter durations.
During my last trip out I watched some nesting Killdeer. At one point, they chased after a hawk.
There has been a Bald Eagle hanging out at this same branch for many months now. Not a bad set-up when you're king of the marsh!

I hope to get back out to a place that is cool and shady early in the morning this weekend. One or two hours of sedentary birding and I will be done for the day!

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Tree Fungus And Faux Flycatcher

I snuck out to a small nature preserve early one rainy morning .I wondered what are these orange things in the cedar trees?A closer inspection showed me that his must be some sort of orange spaghetti fungus? I don't know what it is but I plan to search for an answer after I post this.My biggest excitement of the morning. This is a bird I've only encountered a few times and only once before away from the shore. The first time I saw one it had me baffled because the call sounded like some sort of flycatcher to me but it is in fact, a White-eyed Vireo. In this grainy photo you can still see the white eye ring, some yellow on the sides/around the face, and wing bars. 

Things have slowed nearly to a halt as far as new inland species for me to see so this was a great addition. I'm still waiting on a few such as green heron but I will turn my attention to the shoreline next.

update: The fungus is called Cedar-apple rust. It doesn't harm the cedar trees but can cause deformed fruit on fruit trees.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

A Warbler That Refuses To be Ignored

The Yellow Warbler is one of the most commonly seen warblers in Connecticut this time of year. The males are bright yellow with black beady eyes, and red streaking on the breast. They move around a lot from bushes to tree branches and back again.

Yellow Warblers are a frequent target of Brown-Headed Cowbirds who lay their eggs in the warbler's nest so that their young can be raised by the warblers. The Yellow Warblers fight this forced adoption system by covering the cowbird eggs with another layer of nest and then lay a fresh batch of their own eggs.

These birds are not shy. If they are around you will most likely hear them and see them which is a treat much like their song.....sweet, sweet, sweet, sweeter than sweet!  

Thursday, May 12, 2022

If Elves Exist They Might Live Here

I visit the Sexton Hill Preserve several times a year. It's not because it's big or has the most birds. I like it here because it has just the right combination of forest, falls, moss, and rock that give the place a mystical quality.
I do find Acadian Flycatchers here which are one of the trickier flycatchers to find. The birds here are more often heard than seen but that's okay.

 If I believed in elves, fairies, and leprechauns this is the first place I would search for them. I could imagine that Robert Plant might have been in a place like this when he wrote the words to Stairway To Heaven

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Veery Cooperative Butterfly

This turned out to be the week when I couldn't avoid seeing first of the year species if I wanted to, and why would I want to? My list jumped from 100 species seen in my county for the year to 135 within a span of about a week.

 Above is my first veery of the year seen at Miller's Pond. I was the only one at the park. It was my 134th species seen this year in my county. I try to stay local so I won't burn much gas. This bird was Very cooperative. I followed it as it jumped to the ground for bits of food and then back into the base of Mountain Laurel. I followed it for a good 10 minutes for a distance of about 30 feet talking to it along the way- (Yes, I know birds can't understand me but it seemed we had an understanding).

I don't spend too much time chasing butterflies but if they pose then I'll snap a shot. This is one of those tiny blue butterflies. I know that the name of this species has been pointed out to me before but I can't remember it. I'll have to see if I have a butterfly book hanging around.

So the birding action has been superb for me this week! I hope everyone else has been seeing their share of birds as well!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Searching Everywhere For New Arrivals

It seems to me that the big spring migration wave has been more like a trickle so far. I got my share of exercise searching through Guida's Nature preserve this morning. It's a nice mix of open fields, edge habitat, and woodland trails-lots of trails. I was wandering around all over the place wondering if I covered every field and trail. In the end I found just 2 new species for the year, Magnolia Warbler and Ovenbird.

I wish that I could get a picture of all the new birds to see but some are high up in the trees bouncing around and others like this one are just plain camera shy and that can be a bitter pill to swallow!Fortunately, there are others like this female Eastern Towhee that are too busy building nests to worry about who's watching!

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Ways To Keep Birding Fresh Without Traveling

One of the realities of being a birder is that after a few years of active birding in your state you will have seen most of the species you are going to see. If you are fortunate enough to be able to travel then there are many new species of birds around the world. Unfortunately, this may not be an option for everyone due to a variety of reasons. 

However, there are many ways to keep your birding experiences feeling fresh without traveling. Here are a couple of examples:

Get off the beaten track: If you take the time to seek out places that require a little hiking then you can do your birding in a place that is isolated and quiet. This type of setting enhance your birding experience because you may be seeing familiar birds but in a different setting. You will be able to hear the birds better and seeing them in different backdrop can alter your visual perception in a positive way.

Sit still and get closer: Sometimes I will try to find a natural blind in an area that looks appealing to birds. I sat still on a tree stump that had a pile of brush in front of it for about 20 minutes before this young Bald Eagle came in for a landing right in front of me! Watching an awesome bird like this can be much more exciting when you can observe their every move and see details that you don't normally get to see in the wild!
Choose an overlooked local park to see some first of year birds: Instead of going to one of the warbler hotspots to seek out some first of the year warblers I chose a tiny little park  just down the road (Ravine Park in Middletown) .The entire trail here is only a 2 minute walk from end to end but I was surprised to find my first of the year Palm and Black and White Warblers here! It was much more rewarding than if I drove to a proven hotspot where i would have expected to see something good or be disappointed.

So that is just a few ways I try to keep my birding experiences fresh but I know that there are numerous variations on how you can approach birding to keep things interesting.