Friday, February 24, 2023

Common Merganser Farewell Tour

It's been one of the mildest winters I can remember so far. One of the benefits (or disappointments for some) of this has been that the lakes and ponds have remained ice free. This is a mucky little city pond right next to the main road. It's not the prettiest pond you'll ever see but it does hold fish and is popular with some waterfowl.
Common Mergansers, also called goosanders elsewhere in the world, have been guests at the pond much of the winter. We see plenty of these fish-eating diving ducks this year but most of them will probably be moving on soon so I thought that I would give them another look while I still can.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

A Fascination With Maps And Streams

Ever since I was a kid I've had a sense of curiosity. I'd explore the woods for hidden trout streams, search the night sky with a telescope, look for hidden creatures in pond water using a microscope, look for antiques at a tag sale, or use a metal detector to search for hidden treasure. 

  These days, my biggest hobby has been birding, but I'm still searching for that secret spot where the prize bird might be hiding. It's a lot of fun for me to look for birds where no one else is looking. I will look through map books for ponds and streams tucked away in a wooded area hoping to discover that magic spot.

At the same time, I check these little streams to see if they hold any wild brook trout that usually grow to no more than 8" long. I don't want to catch them all. It's enough for me to know that they're there.
These secret spots can't compete with whatever my imagination has already conjured up, and that prize bird may turn out to be no more than a Carolina Wren. Sometimes we lose that sense of wonder we have as a child. A good map and and a little trip to search for a hidden stream helps whet my appetite for birding and keeps my imagination alive.

Friday, February 3, 2023

February Is A Time To Chill, literally!

With January behind us it is time to change strategy. I am not likely to add many new bird species to my year list in February so I will take a more laid back approach until we reach the heart of Spring. I started out February by enjoying the scenery from this little beach along the river in Middletown. I did find one new first of year bird in the woods behind me. It was the sneaky little Brown Creeper.

It was such a nice sunny day and in the 40's. As I am posting this, the temperature is plummeting and will reach below zero with the wind-chill factor by tomorrow!
Beyond that, there were maybe a dozen species of birds including female Hooded Mergansers.
There were also some house finches around which were captured and shipped to New York City in 1940 to b enjoyed as colorful pets. They escaped and/or were released from pet stores and populated in northeastern United States. Now they are very common here in Connecticut.