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.

Monday, July 16, 2012

You know a Hermit Thrushes' song, but how well have you really heard it?

All of us have heard the beautiful sound of a Hermit Thrush singing, but how well have you really heard it? As some of you know, I don't have any high frequency hearing and have to use a "birder's hearing aid" to hear most birds, except those with very low voices. But I love the sound of a Hermit Thrush, even with the "Songfinder", and I often stop just to listen to them. On occasion I have sat so long I've dozed off, only to wake with the birds still singing.
My hearing aid works by reducing the frequency of the high frequency sounds by half, 1, 2 or 4 times, but I never have to set it for more  than 1. It doesn't affect the "normal" lower frequencies. But sometimes, like today, I have noticed that some of the choruses of the thrush are so high that I hear them as squeaky and "small", even with the aid. With or without, when I hear that I know the sound is at or above the upper limit or my hearing.
So today I tried an experiment; I set the aid up a notch to 2.  And to my amazement, I discovered that a few times the songs went so high I had trouble hearing them! When I pushed it to 4 I could finally hear the entire song, but that is almost unimaginably high! Only someone with very seriously impaired hearing or almost deaf would need to use that setting.
And that makes me wonder if the vast majority of people can ever really hear that song. I believe it would require very exceptional hearing such as they say young children have. I know a few birders whose hearing is exceptional and perhaps they share that gift, but I'm guessing most of us just don't. I'd love to know what others think and what they can hear.

Boston Hollow, Birds are still singing, Originally posted Sunday, July 8, 2012

I went to Boston Hollow today for the first time in about a week and was surprised and pleased to find that a lot of birds are still singing. Of course some have gone silent and many are singing less, with less enthusiasm or even just call notes now. Perhaps the noisiest ones now are the Red-eyed Vireos.

At my first stop, when I arrived I heard a lot of chattering, which I Id'd as a large flock of BC Chickadees, but it sounded like something was up. Sure enough, after I looked around for a few minutes I spotted a Barred Owl staring back at me from a branch about 50 feet away, in the center of a maelstrom of angry Chickadees, Titmice, WB Nuthatches, etc. I don't know if it was me or the birds, but after about 30 seconds the owl took off and flew a couple of hundred feet to another branch, with all its little friends following close behind. When that didn't work it gave up and flew off down the road.

The odd thing is, that's at least the 7th time this year I've seen that owl, always within a couple of hundred yards of the same spot, but the first time I've seen it being mobbed or even noticed. I suspect the birds are hyper because of all the fledglings currently fluttering around the "Hollow." There is no doubt this has been a great year for the nesters so far, and I see signs that a lot are trying for a 2nd time. In fact I think a few may have already fledged a 2nd batch.

While I'd been watching the "show" I was hearing one bird I shrugged off as a Black-and-white Warbler, but I knew it didn't sound right. Once the action died down I could still hear it and finally found it in the tops of some tulip trees. To my surprise it was a Blackburnian Warbler, singing a song not quite like any I've heard them sing before. As a bonus I got to watch it as it foraged in bright sunlight for a good 5 or 10 minutes. A little bit later I heard a 2nd Blackburnian, this time with a much more normal song. At the beginning of the season I had trouble even finding one, and now I see/hear them quite often.

I heard several Waterthushes today, but they were only "clucking" their loud call notes, not a single song from either species.

I also heard 2 Winter Wrens and saw a third, and one of the singers either has a totally new song or was not there till the middle of June. The song is very different from any I heard earlier in the year. But the other bird I heard also now sometimes sings a longer version of his formerly short song.

Another bird I'm hearing new song versions from is the Black-and-white Warbler. In the spring their song was very standard and somewhat monotonous as they squeaked their 2 notes back and forth. Some only sing quietly now, but I've heard others with extended songs, sometimes with 2 or 3 parts and sometimes so different I had to listen a minute to be sure that's what it was.

There are still a few Canada Warblers singing, sometimes cutting their song short but other times getting excited and repeating it 2 or 3 times. A couple of weeks ago I walked down the road a bit and heard a very loud and angry sounding chip note practically right next to me. It was so loud I thought it was a Waterthrush, and I was amazed when I realized it was a Canada, staying not more than six or 8 feet away from me and flying frantically from one side of the road to the other. I assume he had fledglings somewhere close by, but I was being careful to stay in the middle of the road so as not to go near anything. I never knowingly even heard a call like that out of a Canada, before or since.

I heard 2 birds this morning that I thought were Wood Thrushes, which I've hardly heard in weeks now, but the songs were short and I'm not sure they were not different thrush. Definitely not Hermit or Veery though.

Still quite a few Yellow Warblers singing and flying around, and I wonder if they are trying again. Seems kind of late for them to be so obvious now.

I don't hear any flycatchers calling any more.

There was also a pair of BG Gnatcatchers chasing each other anound and feeding together, just like 2 months ago. Could be juvies but I had a feeling it was an adult pair.

Also, a juvie Towhee, looking like he was just out of the nest. Good thing he had white wing patches or I might have wondered for a minute. It did have a long tail and looked a little like a miniature Roadrunner. Gawky and awkward. Actually I cut my trip a little short this morning, and never went down Barlow Mill Road. Still ended up with a fair species list though, Ebird follows:

Boston Hollow/Barlow Mill, Windham, US-CT
Jul 8, 2012 7:45 AM - 12:15 PM
Protocol: Traveling
4.0 mile(s)
40 species (+3 other taxa)

Turkey Vulture 4
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Broad-winged Hawk 3
Mourning Dove 2
Barred Owl 1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee 4
Empidonax sp. 1
Eastern Phoebe 8
Blue-headed Vireo 4
Red-eyed Vireo 10
Blue Jay 2
American Crow 2
Black-capped Chickadee 12
Tufted Titmouse 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Winter Wren 3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
Veery 8
American Robin 10
thrush sp. 2
Cedar Waxwing 4
Ovenbird 8
Black-and-white Warbler 6
Common Yellowthroat 1
Blackburnian Warbler 2
Yellow Warbler 2
Black-throated Blue Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Black-throated Green Warbler 8
Canada Warbler 3
warbler sp. 4 Waterthrushes - Call notes only
Eastern Towhee 8
Chipping Sparrow 4
Song Sparrow 1
Scarlet Tanager 5
Northern Cardinal 1
Red-winged Blackbird 6
Baltimore Oriole 2
Purple Finch 1
American Goldfinch 3

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!!