Monday, May 24, 2010

Breaktime Lifer

A quick walk to check out the MOST ridiculous robin nest today yielded a life bird for me. A couple of the facilities guys today mentioned that they had a robins nest on some fencing that they use every now and then. They asked us to come take a look because when someone needed it they would just dump the nest. We headed down to take a look and found one failed nest with one egg in it, another nest with 2 eggs in it that was falling apart and a stray egg on a different section of the fencing. This was a very strange nesting site, in a stairwell, on 4 pieces of plastic barrier that must have blown in the wind.

On the way back to work we took the long way and heard a new call for campus. It turned out to be a Warbling Vireo. Granted these birds aren't considered uncommon, and the song sounded rather familiar, it was still the first time I had officially seen this bird. We saw it fly down into a tree and I pished for a few minutes, turning up a Cedar Waxwing, American Robin, Bluejay, and a pair of Yellow Warblers, but the Vireo just kept his position and sang away. I refused to budge till I got a good look and patience was the key. Finally, this drab little guy popped out onto the end of a branch and hopped around singing for a couple of minutes.

I can't wait to see what turns up tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Post or Poster

I've been working diligently all week on finishing up my poster presentation for the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections annual conference. Less than two weeks to go and I realized how quickly I've been needing to get it done. My posts have therefore been remiss but I thought I would quickly catch up on some of the sightings I've had. This past Friday I stopped at some open space in Orange for a quick walk before meeting a friend for a drink. It was a great stop with 2 foy's for me and a life bird. Life birds are really easy right now since I've never been birding in the spring before. LOL. I added Blue-winged Warbler to my list! Luckily I've been studying enough so that when I finally pished him in I was able to get the ID. Other great birds were Indigo Bunting, Eastern Phoebe, nesting Tree Swallows, and a viewable Ovenbird. I think Ovenbirds like me because it seems like I trip over them.

Monday my coworker and I made a quick stop at Long Wharf in New Haven on our way into the museum to move some elephant bones out of the attic. At Long Wharf were a few Brant milling around, one Lesser Yellowlegs, a Spotted Sandpiper, and a raft of about 150 Double-crested Cormorants, every pylon in the harbor had a cormorant on it.

Before we had even made it into work that morning though we had added three new birds to our work list and 2 more life birds for me. Easy pickings with the warblers, both Black-throated Blue and Magnolia Warbler were in the trees in the parking lot. The Baltimore Orioles, Chipping Sparrow, and American Redstart were all present as well. It seems so early in the season but last week we already found a nest of fledgling American Robins and Monday morning I found a fledgling Mourning Dove with mom nearby, sitting on the curb a few rows from my car.

I've already taken Friday off to wind down from the busy work week. And there is a good birding forecast. So, I think I might try to get back up to Orange for an early morning hunt for Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. The first species was there the other day according to someone I ran into and the later I had while trail running a few years ago. This time I'll leave the running sneakers behind and pack the telephoto instead.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dogs and Rails

I scooted out of work a few minutes (2 hours) early today to head over to Milford Photo to look at some cameras for an upcoming digitization project for work. While there I also looked at a few macro lenses both for work and for me. I'll always be a mushroomer at heart so a macro lens for my camera will quickly be a necessity as fungus season starts. While I didn't buy any cameras OR lenses, I did buy a UV filter that fits on both my regular lens and the telephoto. Of course at that point it needed some testing so I stopped at Silversands State Park on the way home. I don't see too much difference but maybe it'll be obvious once I compare with the other blog pictures.

Silver Sands was a fun little stop with a few good opportunities to try out the filter and mostly to get ME more practice at using the camera. I started out by heading across the wood bridge/path thingie toward the beach. Quite a few Red-wing Blackbirds were viewable singing away. While I was taking a few pictures a dog on the other side of the marsh started barking and created a cacophony of rails clattering away. I never saw one even though a call was so close to me that I nearly jumped it was so loud. Going back to song recordings I believe that they were Clapper Rails, maybe it'll be worth just parking it sometime to get a peak.

Barn Swallows were flying around everywhere and I thought it would be funny to see what kind of picture I could get. The result wasnt the best but still IDable.

There was a great chance to get a picture of a Yellow-crowned Nightheron. I found one here back in April, when I was able to get a few pictures, and maybe this is the same one. I watching him stalk a crab on the mudflats and gobble it down quickly.

Something caught my eye while I was looking at the nightheron, which then led me to a Savannah Sparrow. I thought it was interesting to watch him hop around on the ground. The two-legged hop reminded me of a broad jumper. It would be interesting to compare sparrow hopping kinetics. LOL. Other species present: Song Sparrow, Yellow Warbler, Snowy Egret, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Grackle, House Sparrow, European Starling, Canada Goose, American Robin, Mallard, Mourning Dove, Semipalmated Plover (?), and Killdeer.

A nice weekend is in store after a few more passing rain showers. Hopefully these 2 nice days have brought in a few more migrants that will stick around till the weekend. I'm still keeping my eye on 2 hummingbird feeders and waiting for my foy (first of the year) Ruby-throated.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Avert Your Eyes!

I had a great day at work today as far as birding goes. I got out of my car and spent the next 10 minutes around the parking lot chasing a Blue-headed Vireo but I found him! Of course as I was trying to take a picture another bird flew in and took my attention, it turned out to be a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Mourning Doves, House Sparrows, Barn Swallows, American Goldfinch and Red-tailed Hawks all greeted me on my way in.

At lunch, Sue and I headed out to see what might have flown in to our section of the Oyster River. We had the usual feathered creatures along our walk, House Wrens, American Robins, Gray Catbirds, Common Grackle, and the occasional Bluejay. Then we heard a less often heard sound, a Baltimore Oriole! Having not yet seen one this season I was encouraged to try pishing and once again it worked! It was a still molting male who peered curiously at us from behind a tree.

While this was going on in flew two Yellow Warblers who seemed to really like each other. Take warning below are a few of the images that were captured. Interestingly, the bird on top is rather drab for a Yellow Warbler and the brighter individual is... well... on the bottom.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Today I headed out to the trail at Roosevelt Forest in Stratford. Although, I have been to this park many times before, I had not yet actually explored the trails and subsequently a portion of this open space. I spent about three hours hiking around a few of the major trails, trying to get a glimpse of a few birds and just enjoying this slightly chilly day.

Once again, my lack of auditory bird identification skills came into effect as I failed to ID at least 5 species that were only apparent by calling. But with perseverance or at least patience I was able to see a few great species today. Two Carolina Wrens greeted me beside the parking lot, one of which has a leg band. I wasn't able to get the numbers off of it but I'm sure they'll be around the rest of the season.

A pesky Vireo was calling but I couldn't find it. I did however get a great view of a Scarlet Tanager picking caterpillars off of leaves. My first view of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher also helped to make it a great afternoon. The best sight of the hike was an Ovenbird that flew up onto a branch about 20 feet away from me in full view and seemed as interested in watching me as I was in watching it. I really wish I my camera at that point! It figures.

At home I have my 'new' hummingbird feeder out after having finished the last few touches. My feeder is made out of things I pulled out of the recycling bin. I just have to wait and see if it'll work! All I know is if I were a hummingbird today, I wouldn't be out flying around in these 30 mile per hour wind gusts.

I did have a fly over of a Snowy Egret though at the house, a first yard sighting for me since moving in just about a year ago. Well, I guess I should go listen to some bird calls and see if anything rings a bell or song from earlier. Good Luck to Brian as he embarks on his cross country birding journey!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A little warbler here, a little warbler there

I took a half day yesterday and finally got outside. I am almost overwhelmed by the songs that assault my ears as soon as I step through the door. It's definitely intimidating to try to even begin to learn the birds and I admit I have not risen to the challenge as of late. Although, I grabbed my coworker Sue yesterday, and dragged (didn't take much) her through a small wooded area at work. The prize of the day for me was to actually be able to put a 'face to the name', with a Yellow Warbler both singing and showing off his bright plumage. The mystery warbler with him is still up for debate.

Gray Catbirds have also come back this week, there is just something about them that I love, maybe it's that I can identify them. LOL. One 'pishing' stop down by the river pulled up a nice mix: House Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, American Robin, Common Grackle, Gray Catbird, and Bluejay.

On my way home I stopped off at the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center, saying a quick 'hi' to director Frank Gallo, I headed out to the beach. It was great to see the nesting area roped off and being used. A beautiful day with some fun birds even if it was just a quick stop. Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird, American Blackduck, Purple Martin, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Cardinal, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Osprey, Mourning Dove, House Sparrow, Baltimore Oriole (heard only :( American Oystercatcher, Brant, Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Double-crested Cormorant, Least Tern, and lots of peeps I wont even begin to try to ID. It's getting close to being time to buy a scope.

Today's list is off to a start as well. Roaming around campus this morning before work and at break: Mourning Dove, Bluejay, House Wren, Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Flicker (at the nest), House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Barn Swallow, Red-tailed Hawk, Song Sparrow, flyover Great Blue Heron, and a falcon (probably Merlin). If the rain doesn't consume the woods, I want to head to the far side of campus and see what over warblers are hiding out. I'll edit and add more if I have a chance and try to add some pictures!

It's tough to hear this video but there are 2 singing birds that I could not ID nor get them to show themselves. If you can hear it and have an idea, lemme know!