Thursday, December 29, 2022

An 18,000 Square foot Mansion For Only 90,000!

This is the 18,000 sq. ft. Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown, Connecticut. It was named after the original owner, Colonel Clarence S. Wadsworth. I could just imagine what it was like pulling up to grandpa's house for Thanksgiving 100 years ago! 
There's been a trend for many years now to put little informative signs along walking trails. What caught my attention on this sign was the original cost of the mansion being $90,000! That kind of gives another perspective to our recent inflation woes.
I go to the Wadsworth mansion grounds when I want a little fresh air and birding but I'm not feeling physically ambitious. It has nice, wide, nice flat manicured trails and plenty of country scenery.
I would imagine that Colonel Wadsworth probably rode around his 500 acre estate on a horse. The property has been sold off over the years and only 100 acres remain. This sign show colonel Wadsworth was a man with a plan.
There are a couple of nice little bridges to cross over. As far as birds I saw a few sparrows, a Pileated Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, and 1 Red-shouldered Hawk.
There is enough habitat to keep a few birds around in the winter. Here you can see a tiny trickling stream and some brushy area.
There were several berry bearing bushes that attracted birds like this robin. I also spotted a Northern Mockingbird taking advantage of some ornamental crabapple trees.

Winter is a good time to slow down the birding pace and a nice walk through a country setting is a good way to kick the winter blues!

Friday, December 23, 2022

Basic Winter Woodland Birding

Some of my favorite local birding spots are located along the Connecticut River. I walked a trail located in an area call Maromas which has the most natural habitat in the city of Middletown. Maromas was an old farming village many years ago. Only a woodland cemetery and abandoned foundations mark the history of the area.

 I like walking along the rail trail which passes by a nice marsh on one side and has access to the Connecticut shoreline on the other side.The marsh and river shoreline provide good opportunities to see a variety of birds like ducks, waders, Bald Eagles, and other birds of prey. I did see one eagle flying off with a duck as well as Hooded and Common Mergansers in the river. Meanwhile, there was a winter-hardy Great Blue Heron in the marsh.I spent most of the time viewing woodland birds like American Robins, Hermit Thrush, and Eastern Bluebirds as seen above. All 3 of those species are in the thrush family. Not bad, 3 of a kind. In the springtime I can add Veery and Wood Thrush to the list and then I'll have a "Royal Thrush"!I like winter birding on a sunny day when their is very little wind. The lack of foliage allows birds like this White-breasted Nuthatch stand out on bare branches.

Winter Birding plans: 

1) woodland birding walks on sunny days with little wind.

2) An occasional visit to the shorelines when the conditions are right.

3) Cruising around in my car with the heat on rolling down the window to take pictures of birds when I see a good photo opportunity.

Winter is a time to stop and appreciate the basic woodland birds that birders tend to overlook in the spring because they are too busy seeking out the newly arriving migrant species. 

Thursday, December 15, 2022

No Agenda Birding Then Along Comes An Owl

It's almost the end of the year and I've run out of any birding-related goals. I've got a Christmas bird count coming up this weekend and it was pretty chilly this morning. I decided to take a walk in a small nature preserve and really wasn't worried about what I would or wouldn't see. It was all about just taking a slow walk and observing whatever bird I might happen to come across.
I was perfectly content watching typical winter sparrows, finches, woodpeckers, and Northern Cardinals like the one in the above photo. We kind of take the brilliant colored cardinals for granted but they really seem to stand out in the winter months.
I was on my way out and ready to head home when Baam! I came face to face with a Barred Owl! It's always a good day when you get to see an owl!
Especially when they're staring straight into your eyes! Who-cooks-for-you? is the call of the Barred Owl. Of course, no one cooks for them. They prefer organic woodland sushi!

Friday, December 2, 2022

2 Vultures Are Black But Only One Black Vulture

A lot of times people around my area tell me about seeing a vulture flying overhead but when I ask them if it was a Black Vultures or a Turkey Vulture they often draw a blank. They say it was black but both vultures are somewhat black. Most of the time you can see the silver wingtips on the Black Vulture, especially if you use binoculars. They are also have a little more compact look and keep their wings straighter more like a hawk.

Turkey Vulture may be a little lighter at the wingtips but don't have those distinct silver markings. They are a little bit lankier and often keep their wings in a dihedral and oscillate from side to side when in flight.