Monday, February 19, 2018

Birders Shouldn't Overlook Tiny Parks

 It was a pleasant Sunday morning with a light coating of freshly fallen snow decorating the landscape. I decided to visit a handful of the tiniest parks in town. 

My first stop was Ravine Park. It consists of a short trail that follows along side a tiny brook. It is well protected by a steep hill making it a very comfortable place to visit on a windy day. I could visualize sitting here on a warm summer day sipping iced tea as chickadees came down from the trees to pick sunflower seeds from my wide-brimmed straw hat. Birds seem to take a liking to shallow brooks like this one as I can imagine that most birds prefer to avoid drowning.I saw a handful of finches,sparrows, wrens and woodpeckers here.

I don't particularly enjoy count huge numbers of birds. There are some places I just decide that there are too many to count but it only took me 15 minutes or so to make a list of all the birds here. There are huge parks with that you can spend hours hiking around taking in the scenery to the point of exhaustion. But it only took me 20 minutes to slowly walk around and take in all that natural beauty of this tiny park.
 I found this Goldfinch at the miniature Middletown nature gardens. one of the advantages of coming here is that there is always food for birds to eat. They seem to be more tolerant of human presence here because people are always walking there dogs here.Birds seem to be easier to observe right after it snows too. their behavior seems to change as they seem to be to be too preoccupied eating to pay much attention to people.
 I also stopped at Butternut Hollow which has a little pond located next to an apartment complex.My first thought was there was probably just the usual Mallards and Canada Geese here.
 Upon closer look I was pleasantly surprised to see their were a couple of hooded Mergansers mixed in.
I took one more careful look and was shocked to find 3 Northern Pintail swimming around in this little urban pond! It's always better to check than to assume you know what's in that little pond you're passing by!
 My last stop was at a puny little city park called the Frank S. Merszalek park. It had a small open ball field thinly bordered by deciduous trees and brush. I almost kept driving because I thought, surely there is nothing special to see here. Then I took a closer look and saw some old industrial buildings with a waterfall behind it. That type of scenery appeals to my nostalgic side. I decided to walk the property which would take me no longer that 10 minutes anyway.
I walked to the back corner where there was an old broken foundation bordered by a chain link fence. I did a little pish pish sound and up pops a Gray Catbird! I see plenty of these during the year but in the summer, not in the middle of winter! 

It was a pleasant morning of birding for me requiring very little time and effort. It made me think that we shouldn't judge a park just by it's size or popularity. I know that birds certainly don't!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Blackbirds Galore Video And Birding By Car

I spent the morning checking the fairground area along the Connecticut and then cruising the back roads for more birds.
My most interesting find at the fairgrounds was a large number blackbirds moving through the area.There was a flock of probably over a thousand Red-winged Blackbirds and grackles which was quite a sight!

I usually don't see this many until March. From what I understand, the birds have been in close communication with local groundhogs who share valuable information about the arrival of spring based on whether or not they see their shadows.The video shows just a small portion of the total flock departing from one of the trees.
While I was cruising around in the car I came across a Pileated Woodpecker working over a tree. Birding by car can be a bit dangerous because you tend to be distracted while searching for birds. For that reason, I try to stay on quiet back roads, make use of emergency flashers while I'm driving, and pull off the road whenever I see a car coming. Birding by car is advantageous because it allows you to get closer to birds without scaring them off.

The reason this video has a color effect was so I could hide the fact that the woodpecker was out of focus. Now when you watch it you'll think I am creative genius and won't know I'm a lousy videographer! 
Another note: I thought that I was just labeling the video files for my own reference. I did not realize titles like "cartoon pileated" and "red wing fury" would end up in the post!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Birding With The Emphasis On Comfort

 I've been continuing my strategy of putting minimal effort into my birding during the winter months. The Wadsworth mansion grounds provide a nice landscaped area to walk around that includes a large number of mature pines and cedars bordered by a deciduous forest.
It by no means qualifies as a hot spot but it is a comfortable and pleasant area to walk around.I have neglected to list many woodpeckers this year so I was pleased to find all of Connecticut's woodpeckers on these grounds with the exception of the Red-headed Woodpecker (rare).I don't have any photos to back them up though.
Finding this Wood Duck along with 11 others at our local brownstone quarry was a nice mid-winter surprise. I had to take the photo with the sun in my face so it didn't come out so hot. All in all my local lazy weekend birding wasn't too bad. Our state woodcuck calls for an early spring so we have that to look forward to as well.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Common Birds Are Great For A Scavenger Hunt

 My birding jaunts this month have been short and almost painful (coooold!). That all changed this weekend as we had sunshine and 40 degree temps on Saturday.I visited Machimoodus Park in East Haddam which has a healthy population of Eastern Bluebirds.
 The habitat has a nice mix so the birding is always good there. I've avoided looking for the more common birds so far knowing that they would be there for me to enjoy and appreciate on a warm sunny day like it was this weekend.
The nice weather made me appreciate birds like the Dark-eyed Junco. It was fun to search for birds like chickadees and titmice that I hadn't added to my year list yet. It felt like a good old-fashioned bird scavenger hunt!