Listing of some of the great CT birding spots. Connecticut has more than its share of great birders , but the one area of the state that receives less attention than it deserves is the northeast quarter. I'll define this area as anywhere east of the Connecticut River and North of Willimantic (Windham), although, of course, I may stretch the boundaries at any time. 2013 - I'm traveling more - to the SW so far, and I'll add some info about my adventures there.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cardinal Flower, Swallows on the move!

This is a native wildflower which is just coming into bloom now, at least in northern Ct.  It grows in wet places, marshes, swamps and the banks of small streams.  This plant and many others near it are just starting to flower.  I'm including it here because it is a wonderful Hummingbird flower!  There are cultivated versions of it which require a little less water and can be grown in a moist yard.  It is a short-lived perennial.

I have noticed that I have seen relatively few swallows this summer, never more than an occasional one or two.  Today, I noticed in late morning that in the vicinity of Bigelow Brook there were lots of swallows in the air, mostly over the stream bottom marshes.  Most of them were quite high, several hundred feet at times, and I almost never saw one lower than a hundred feet or so.  They were not in a close group, but spread out over the entire area of the stream bottom that I could see - at least a couple of miles.  I'm sure there were at least 100, probably many more.  All that I could ID were tree swallows.  I don't think it was just a feeding frenzy, the birds are on the move, probably to their staging areas along the coast.  I'll be interested to see how long this lasts.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Red-breasted Nuthatches - again - and thoughts on Boston Hollow habitat

Today, Tuesday, July 27, I found 2 adult Red-breasted Nuthatches about 200 yards from where I found the juveniles last week.  As I have said, it is a species I expected to find there, and personally satisfying  to finally see them.  The location of these finds is the extreme northwest end of Barlow Mill Rd.  (Don't waste your time, that portion of the road doesn't even show up on a Google map, although it is a paved road at that point).
Specifically, both sets of birds were in an area which has been basically clear cut, either by Yale forestry or Hull Forest Products.  Clear cutting is a dirty word (phrase?) to many people, including me on occasion, but both entities have really done it right!  They cut relatively small sized parcels and left a number of mother trees, mostly white pine, but a few deciduous trees as well.  Both areas appear to have been mined for gravel sometime before the cutting - in the case of the Yale property, probably a long time before.  As a wild guess, the Yale cut was about 15 years ago, Hull more recently.  These sections have become absolute meccas for migrant birds!!  Young pines are growing in impenetrable stands, other young trees and brush of all types abound, and there are still considerable more open, weedy areas.  The mature pines (150 feet or more tall, I'm sure) seem to serve as sky islands for some species such as Pine Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Cedar Waxwings.  Of course the brushy areas are havens for many songbird species, including many of our warblers. Birds such as Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Pine, Yellow-rumped and Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Ovenbirds, Chipping Sparrows, Eastern Towhees, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Phoebes, etc., absolutely ABOUND in May and June!  If you think I am exaggerating or kidding, LISTEN TO THE SOUND FILES BELOW.  When I was recording the files my hearing was absolutely on overload, so I could not begin to ID everything I heard.  See what you can come up with.  The only place I have possibly seen/heard the warblers in greater numbers is Magee Marsh in Ohio.  In addition, I heard and finally was able to see a Cerulean Warbler there, although he was on the more wooded side of the road.  (I heard a second bird in the same area, and another 1 not too far away that I'm sure was a Cerulean).  This is my first year of really exploring the area (only from the roads) and I'm sure many more species are to be found there than I have yet discovered. 





Saturday, July 24, 2010

Additions to Boston Hollow 2010 list

I have spotted a few more new birds for the BH area in the last week or 2.  The total is now 88.  Recent additions include Belted Kingfisher, Red-breasted Nuthatch,  Mallard, Brown Creeper, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Black-billed Cuckoo, Least Flycatcher.  There were 2 Juvie RB Nuthatches, fluffy and blotchy - obviously recently fledged.  I Still have not found an adult, though I have been looking, but obviously, they are there.
UPDATE:  I first used my sound recorder on June 21st, and made a large number of recordings that day, trying to get the hang of using the thing.  I discarded alot of the bad ones, but conditions were excellent that day, there was almost no wind and the birds were still singing quite lustily in places, so I still had quite a few decent tracks.  I have been trying to catch up with editing my recordings now that the birds are not  giving me as much new material, and when I went back to that day I found one recording with the faint but clear sound in the background of a Red-breasted Nuthatch calling.  At the time, my ears were so overloaded with sound that I hadn't noticed it!  It was in the same area, so it seems likely that it was the dad of the 2 juvies I just spotted! 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Boston Hollow "news" and some new recordings

I know I have gotten behind and I have lots I'd like to mention.  I have a great time taking pictures and now, recording sounds, but I am finding that getting them ready to be posted can be very time consuming - when I would like to be out in the woods.  I saw "my" Barred Owls for the sixth time a couple of weeks ago (July 9) and this time I heard them first.  Both were perched quite near the road and "talking to each other", first calling back and forth "who cooks for you",  then the more intimate chatter a pair seems to engage in.  Also,  at least 2 of their fledglings can be heard on some of the recordings, with their high-pitched hoarse screams, but I know there are 3 fledglings.  The higher voice of the adults is the female.  These files are both composites of several I made.  During some portions of them you can also hear  a hoard of chickadees and titmice going nuts.  The background noise is not wind or static - I was near a small stream and could not move far enough away to eliminate the sound.
First the calls: 


Next, Adults calling and fledglings adding their 2 cents, then a little discussion

Barred_Owls_By_Stream_juvie_screams, adult chatter

I have lots more I want to mention, but I want to get this post out.  More files, coming soon.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fledgling Phoebes, angry Ovenbirds

I found 3 fledglings all jammed together on a branch, waiting for mom and dad to fill them up. While they were waiting, a Veery stopped by to welcome new arrivals.  (see videos).

Here are links to a couple of Videos of the Phoebes:


Today (7/9/10) I pulled over and stopped to listen, and heard a loud chip note, which I thought sounded like a La Waterthrush.  I searched for the bird and didn't see anything at first, but then an Ovenbird came out of the grass on the side of the road, chipping loudly and  doing a sort of broken wing act.  At the same time, I realized I was hearing a whole lot of chipping, alot of it from the trees above.  A quick look showed me 5 more Ovenbirds flitting around and making a racket. I didn't even realize that Ovenbirds make that sound.
Here's a link to a sound file:


The odd thing was, the birds didn't look like fledglings, all were flying just fine, high in a tree, and appeared to have adult plumage.  Obviously they were upset with my presence, but I really don't know why.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What's Up with Me and Boston Hollow?

Anyone who has looked at my Ct list posts or followed this blog knows that I have concentrated almost exclusively on the Boston Hollow area, Ashford, for more than a month now.   In fact, I have gone there almost every day that I have not had to work (and once after work).  There are two reasons: I have seen and heard more birds there than any other place I have ever  been in Ct, and it is a wonderful place for me to re-learn (or just plain learn) bird songs, now that I am using the "Songfinder" hearing aid.  Because there is such a high concentration of birds and they are so vocal, I have been fairly successful in actually learning a great many of the birds there, probably a majority of the birds I will ever hear in CT.  I hope you can imagine how exciting this is for me, since I have been barely able to hear a bird at all ever since I started seriously birding.  As I've said before, my biggest regret is that I did not get and use the device much sooner.  I can't imagine how many birds I have passed by, never knowing they were there.  The biggest struggle I sometimes now have is remembering to keep looking for the bird at the same time I am listening to it.  I find myself with head down, concentrating on the song.  Of course, now I often hear a bird but never see it, something new to me but, I'm sure, normal to people who have always been able to hear them.  I have even developed a new hobby as a result of my new-found hearng, trying to record bird songs.  Unfortunately, I have to wear the headphones even to hear my own recordings. Below are links to some files I have recorded in the last couple of days, when there was little wind and it was fairly quiet.  The Ravens gave me a present by returing and calling loudly for most of the day, sometimes right over my head.  A blue-headed Vireo must have decided to clear out the pipes one more time, as he sang lustily for most of the morning.  Links to recordings below.  By the way, if ever you would like to download any of my recordings for any reason, don't hesitate.  I believe there is a link for that on the site where you can listen.
(see if you can hear the Ravens in the background)

I'd love to know what you think of these.
By the way, my cumulative count for birds in Boston Hollow year-to-date is 82.  That is not a very impressive number, but there is little if any opportunity to find shorebirds, waterbirds, or ducks and geese, etc. there.  I have now found a couple of places that might produce a duck or two in season this fall or next year.  Also, I did not know the area well enough or spend enough time there to exhaust all the possibilities for migrants this spring.  I figure a realistic total to shoot for is about 100 birds that could reasonably be expected to be seen there.

About Me

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Old enough to know better (but I don't) and finally retired so I have the free time I've always wanted to pursue my interests - like Birding and Hiking!!