Sunday, March 11, 2018

Scenery Trumps Weather At Chatfield Hollow

 We were back to winter weather this weekend as it was in the 20's with a moderate breeze this morning. We had a snowstorm this week so I was looking for a place I could walk around without having to wear snow shoes which brought me to Chatfield Hollow in Killingworth.
It turned out to be a good choice because the access roads were plowed and the small amount of snow on the boardwalk was packed down for easy walking.
While walking around the state parks and forests in Connecticut you often come across work projects completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's. This little camp which is now being used as a nature center is an example of that. Most of the bridges,stairs in the forest, and bridges seem to be holding up well. It seems they did some quality work back then.
I didn't come across any rare or unusual birds but was happy to see a few familiar feathered friends like this White-throated Sparrow out catching a bit of sunshine. It was one of those mornings when the benefits of nature's scenery outweighed the discomfort of winter weather.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Feathered Friends Of The Fairground Fields

 It was a windy, overcast weekend and the fairgrounds along with the other fields in Wangunk Meadows were flooded from the recent nor'easter. Once March hits these flooded fields start to attract all sorts of birds.Hidden behind that distant clump of trees on the left were Green-winged Teal. Wilson's Snipe have also started to move in.
 Wood Ducks that didn't want to get their feet wet took breaks in the trees (sorry my point and shoot doesn't like cloudy days).
 I also counted 24 Great Blue Herons flying in ready to claim their own nest at the local rookery.

It's just the beginning of March which is a little early for so much activity. If the weather is decent then  Wangunk Meadows (eBird) will live up to its reputation as a local hotspot.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

By Land Or By Sea?

 It's only about a half hour drive for me to reach the shoreline which has a greater variety of birds than I can find further inland this time of year but I love being out in the local woods too. I ended up splitting my time between the two.

 I was searching around some farmy areas in Middletown the other day hoping to find a few birds I've yet to see this year like kinglets,robins, and Hermit Thrushes. I enjoyed checking out some new areas even though I didn't find what I was looking for.
 I love finding remnants of old structures hidden in the landscape.  I'm not sure what this silo type building was used for but it looks like a piece of farm history. Maybe someone who knows can clue me in?
 I struck out looking for shore birds down at the shoreline too. Getting the right tide at the right time is essential at the shoreline and I must have misread the tide chart.
Still, there was plenty of winter ducks around like this pair of Bufflehead. 

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!