Friday, April 5, 2024

Who Doesn't Love Owls?

Who doesn't love owls? Now that I think about it, probably rodents and other small animals! 

This is a male Great-horned Owl  probably doing security detail for a nearby nest.  I could imagine Clint Eastwood's voice coming out of his mouth-"Go ahead-make my day"

Sunday, March 31, 2024

California Condor Landed In My Yard!

How about "Belted Kingfisher landed on a branch?"

Notice the female is the one with extra color in this species with a chestnut-colored belly band and flanks which he male does not have. It's usually the males that are more colorful when it comes to bird species. 

"White-throated Sparrow visits Wadsworth Mansion grounds!"
"Great Egret Arrives from migration trip and is caught standing in the rain!" 

Oh well, sorry my headline didn't live up to expectations but Happy Easter to those who celebrated and since I'm actually posting this on the first of the month: Happy April 1st!

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Calling All Birds! Spring Has Arrived!

Today is officially the first day of spring! There are always some Red-winged Blackbirds around during the winter but it's around this time of the year that the males really start to make their presence known. Some spring migrants have already started to arrive but they will soon be descending from the skies in huge numbers!

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Breaking The Birding Addiction

Life is full off potential addictions. There are obvious ones like food, drugs, and alcohol but when you break one addiction another less obvious one can easily take its place

 Birding seems like a healthy and wholesome activity. I think that in most ways it is, but birding can become an addiction too! Usually this applies to listing or having an appetite to constantly see new species. It's happened to me before but at I'm usually able to recognize it when it starts to creep back in. I spent the month of January and February anxious to see new species and adding numbers to my list. That was a fine way to help avoid the winter doldrums but now it's time to move on.

 As March begins, I plan to find balance. I will take the emphasis off of chasing new birds around and instead just take things at a relaxed pace. If I want to go see a rare bird that's close by, it' not a problem. If I just want to sit around taking pictures, that's fine too. I want to enjoy each experience and not worry about any specific goal. There! that wasn't so hard! I'm pretty sure I've convinced myself to buy into my own bs! 

-The photo is of Ring-necked Ducks taken at the Helen Carlson Wildlife Sanctuary. The ring around the neck isn't usually visible unless sunlight reflects off of it. In this case, there was no sunshine. only clouds.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Turkeys And Vultures In All The Wrong Places

Sometimes, I can't get withing a 1000 feet of a bird but this turkey was right in the middle of the road! I know you might be thinking that the road is full of turkeys but I'm looking for the feathered kind that let's me take pictures. This tom was busy strutting his stuff for a couple of hens.
I was just busy deleting pictures from my camera when this female Bufflehead popped up in front of me. Usually, they fly off or swim off by the time I raise my  camera. It's nice to get a better look at the more subtly marked female for a change as opposed to the male who are all white on the back of their head.

This final picture is of Black Vultures perched on top of a convalescent home roof. There was a dozen of them all together. If I was in a convalescent home I don't know if I would want them hanging out up there! kind of creepy.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Most Birders Are Kind And Helpful But..

Birders learn about birding at their own pace. Some learn quickly and are experts in no time. Others take years to graduate from identifying birds at the feeders to identifying a few warblers and never reach the level of expert. I fell somewhere in between. I learned a lot quickly but never ascended to that expert level. I still make mistakes and second-guess identifications. There are still certain categories of birds I have difficulty with. 

The top photo is a female and male Gadwall. That was one of those duck species I wasn't confident with early on. The markings are subtle compared to some other ducks. The male is showing a silvery-gray color with a black patch near the tail here. The female which looks kind of like a Mallard is showing that patch of white but this is in good lighting. Sometimes they might be far away with poor viewing conditions and then they wouldn't be easy to identify.
 Birding is fun but some birders take it very seriously. There is something called a birder's code of ethics. It's basic things like don't destroy bird habitat, don't overuse bird song playback to attract birds (especially during nesting season), and don't give false reports about seeing rare birds etc. There are many variations of the birding code of ethics. Here is one of the more well known ones: ABA Code Of Birding Ethics.

Some birders might shame someone for breaking one of the rules in the code of ethics, or be hypercritical when someone misidentifies a bird. They forget that one of the most important rules in the code of ethics is to always be kind and helpful to other people who share an interest in birds. This is especially true when it comes to new birders. The last thing you want to do is to say something that will discourage or embarrass them! Give them a break! Fortunately, the majority of birders go out of their way to be kind and helpful when it comes to sharing their knowledge with others.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Brant Were getting On My Nerves!

I took several trips down to the shore in January and not once did I see a Brant. Other people were reporting them and I even went to a location 10 minutes after they were reported there. No dice. Finally, I came across some in Clinton. There were about 3 dozen in total. I was relieved to put that behind me!

Saturday, February 10, 2024

No Repeat February Breaks The Monotony

Last month I was able to spice up January birding by trying to see as many species in my county as possible within the month. 

This month I decided on a different approach to keep things fresh. I'm doing a no repeat February. Meaning that I will go to a different location every time I go out birding. Many of us get into a routine of only going to places that consistently have a great variety of bird species. Meanwhile, there are tons of nature preserves, wildlife management areas and land trusts that people rarely visit. They might try it once but if nothing out of the ordinary pops up they might not go back to that location again.One such place I visited this month was the Bamforth Wildlife Preserve. A name like that kind of builds up expectations. People might expect to see wild animals roaming everywhere. I did see a few deer and I'd bet there is a bobcat or fox hiding around that might come out at dusk. I noticed that the field is being managed to have certain types of beneficial native grasses. 

I was committed to giving this place my time and patience and was rewarded with a nice view of a hermit Thrush warming itself in the sun. Someone thought to build a couple of brush piles out in the field that attracted what Ebird says is a high number of Field Sparrows for one location (5).I see Red-bellied Woodpeckers everywhere I go but it's always nice when you see them hard at work.Visiting different areas that aren't the usual hotspots doesn't guarantee you'll see anything new or exciting but how will you ever know what species of birds are at those forgotten nature preserves if no one ever gives them a try?

There's a place nearby called Miller road. It's just a country road with a little bit of marshy woods and a stream running through it. Birders stop by the area occasionally but it's certainly not a top location. That is, until recently when someone had a rare sighting of a Northern Shrike! Now there are dozens of people going there to see it every week!

At one point I was watching the shrike perched in a tree with bluebirds and goldfinches. They are both right at the top of the menu for a shrike! Maybe they didn't know what a shrike is capable of? These birds have the nickname butcherbird because they have been known to impale victims on a branch to create their own version of a shish kebab.

Anyway, trying to focus on seeing as many different species as possible is one way of going about things but after a while you've seen just about everything there is to see. By focusing on appreciating places you are visiting then the birds you see are just icing on the cake. Using this approach is a good way of breaking the monotony and bringing you that much closer to spring.

Friday, January 19, 2024

There's Lots Of Birds Even In January!

One of the ways I've tried to make the winter pass by more quickly is by keeping track of how many bird species in can find in the month of January. There are more species in Connecticut during the winter than you might think. I've found 100 species in the Connecticut during the month of January and there are others who have found many more than that. Driving around Connecticut gets to be tiring so now I only pay attention to what I find in my own county. A lot less time consuming and a lot more fuel efficient. 

It was 20 degrees and windy on the morning I saw this great Blue Heron. It was standing completely still. It's hard to believe it was out there day and night while I could only tolerate a couple of hours in that kind of weather before packing it in and calling it a day.

Colorful ducks like this male Hooded Merganser are one of the premier attractions during the winter. I'm not going to get anywhere near to seeing 100 species in Middlesex County before the end of January. I am at 82 right now. My next goal is to try to hit 85. I'll worry about the next goal if I can accomplish that. The best part about it though is that January seems to be going by so fast!

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

What Is The Rarest Breeding Bird In Connecticut?

The rarest breeding bird in Connecticut is the Red-headed Woodpecker. The birder who saw the most species in Middlesex County last year (Danny) started this year by finding this rare species near his home turf. That allowed many other birders like myself to go see one for myself. I've seen a few over the years. The adult Red-headed Woodpecker is the only species of woodpecker with all red head and neck. I saw it on a cloudy afternoon high in the tree so not such a great photo but better than nothing. As  it turns out, there are now 2 of them at the same location!

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Where The Treetops Glisten

I looked out the back door this morning and admired the view of ice glistening from the tallest treetops.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

The Importance of Flexibility

I would have to admit that being flexible does not come naturally to me. I like to analyze, strategize, and follow a plan. For example, when I'm in the gym I like to do exercises in a particular order and want the weights and equipment to match each other.

 I've come to realize over the years that life is much easier to deal with if you can be flexible. It gives you a lot more options and it is a lot less stressful and efficient if you can quickly analyze and pivot when things don't go according to plan. It can lead to new opportunities and experiences that you may have been missing out on for years. When I think of the opportunities I've missed out on over the years due to stubbornness I feel like a (see above photo).  This photo of a Peregrine falcon is an example of two ways that I've added some flexibility to my birding habits.

 One of my rigid birding habits has been that I only go birdwatching in the morning feeling that it is the best time of the day to go birding. This may be true, but I saw this Peregrine Falcon in the afternoon. I made use of 30 minutes of free time and was able to add a great bird to my January list! The other rule I broke was posting a crappy picture. Going forward, I am going to make use of  bad photos when necessary. Here's a grainy one. I might as well get 2 off the books before I delete them. 

In other news, I'm off to a good start for January as I've seen 76 species in Middlesex county so far which is ahead of my usual pace. I like to start off strong for the year. Focusing on birds in January makes the month more enjoyable and seems to shorten the winter.