Sunrise Bird Walk – Penfield Reef

21 01 2009

Red-shouldered Hawk - Luke Tiller

Red-shouldered Hawk - Luke Tiller

It was a freezing Saturday morning when I rolled out of bed to see the temperature reading -1 degrees f. I called a few people and the general consensus seemed to be that everyone was staying tucked up in bed for the morning however after calling around a couple more participants it seemed like some hardy souls were braving the weather and heading out for the walk.

Penfield Reef in Fairfield is usually a great spot to look for shorebirds, gulls and ducks in winter but unfortunately for us on the day the ducks had attracted the attention of the local hunting fraternity (mental note for self to do this trip on Sunday next year when the hunters won’t be out!!!!!) With the constant boom of gunfire and the bitter cold temperature we decided to skip the hike on the reef and head for more sheltered climbs.

Another spot that is good for a host of wintering birds nearby is Pine Creek. We stopped in there and were quickly greeted by a pair of raucous Red-shouldered Hawks who seemed to be either wooing or trying to drive each other away. It was cool to hear them vocalizing so vociferously on such a frigid morning. In between the two duelling Red-shouldereds a young Red-tail sat looking pretty doleful – perhaps they were cramping his style? A couple of other nice finds there included 2 FOX SPARROWS.

After losing a member of the group we then headed towards the bottom of Reef Rd where I have had good luck with half-hardy species in the thickets around there. Even I was surprised to find a total of 6 FOX SPARROWS all fighting for space in a tiny little bare patch of grass along with a cracking male EASTERN TOWHEE and a Field Sparrow.

All in all a nice day out. Just to confirm for me that Sunday was the day to go Charlie Barnard emailed me to say he had a decent day out on the reef on Sunday with 100 Ruddy Turnstones, 1 Glaucous Gull and 1 Iceland Gull (next time!) Thanks to everyone who braved the elements on the day!

Trip Species List:

Canada Goose, Brant, American Black Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Hooded Merganser,  Red-tailed hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Monk Parakeet, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, American Robin, Blue Jay, American Crow, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, House Finch, EASTERN TOWHEE, American Tree Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow,  Savannah Sparrow, DE Junco, FOX SPARROW, European Starling, House Sparrow

Bigby Surprise – Common Redpolls

21 01 2009

Northern Cardinal - Jamie Van Acker

I was thrilled to add a most unexpected yard and BGBY bird to my list for the year in the shape of a flock of Common Redpolls. I had popped outside to digiscope a Red-shouldered hawk that was loafing around the yard and managed to spot a flock of finches fly in. To my surprise they turned out to be a little flock of Common Redpolls. Bigby year bird 38 and yard list bird 106.

There haven’t been many Redpoll reports this year thus far in Connecticut but I was mentioning to people last weekend that they are creeping ever closer to us, still I was surprised to find the flock here. So far the birches in the yard have made up for the lack of filled Nyjer feeder but today I popped out to get some seed to fill her up. Of course the little buggers didn’t linger long enough to get there photo taken, ditto the camera shy Sapsucker that flew across the yard.

As I don’t have a picture of the Redpolls, I thought I’d post this picture taken by my friend Jamie Van Acker. I think this partially leucistic Cardinal looks kind of cool.

BGBY List – 38 Species (highlights in bold):

Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Coopers Hawk, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Barred Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Winter Wren, Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebird, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, COMMON REDPOLL, House Sparrow.