Poetry in Motion

30 04 2009
Osprey - AJ Hand

Osprey - AJ Hand

Finally getting my brain back into gear after an amazing tour of Colorado. So many highlight moments to enjoy including standing knee deep in snow looking for Williamson’s Sapsucker, rounding up all three Rosy Finches and even getting to hold a few in my hand, Boreal Owl tooting from a mountain pass at midnight, lekking Greater Prairie-chickens surrounding our car on a ranch in Wray and maybe best of all a sunset encounter with my first Moose and a Golden Eagle perched above it as we swept across the plains of Northern Colorado. This week I’ll be putting together the numerous stories from the trip and posting a report here. Details on next years tour can be found here.

Whilst I work on the report I thought I’d share this little poem that my mother sent me from the RSPB site. We have covered bird art, photography and music so lets throw a little prose into the mix. In his final month as poet laureate Andrew Motion (clever post title huh!) has contributed the linked piece to the RSPB ‘Moments’ campaign (poem here). Whilst on the subject of Ospreys, here is a little piece I put together for Windcheck Magazine The artwork for the piece (and above) is provided by my good friend AJ Hand – if you haven’t done so already check out his photography on the Friends of Sherwood Island State Park site in the links.

House Sparrows…they’ll nest just about anywhere

29 04 2009

The humble house sparrow and other ‘trash’ birds get a bad press all in all. Obviously being non-native species in the States there are concerns about the way they affect our native species, and if truth be told it would probably be better if they weren’t here at all (here’s a site with some of the history of their introduction). I however have to admit to a kind of begrudging affection for the little blighters. It seems to me that one has to have some kind of respect for a bird that has adapted so compltely to the general mess we have made of its planet. Rather than going the way of many extinct or declining birds (the most pressing problems for most birds is habitat loss), the humble House Sparrow has not only survived, but has thrived right here along with us. Anyway, my wife sent me a link to this website which has House Sparrows nesting on a host of commercial signage (here). I guess you could call the photography art?

Back Soon…

25 04 2009

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. I am just rounding up an absolutely amazing trip to Colorado but internet service is somewhat difficult to find in small town Colorado. Lots of amazing birds, beautiful scenery, fun and memorable moments. Normal service to come soon. Look for some great photos and a trip report soon here and on http://www.sunrisebirding.com.  Lots of other new bits and pieces to add when I get back.

ps. Congrats to Tina Green on the Western Meadowlark – almost sick of seeing them here as they are everywhere – but in Connecticut!!!!!! – what a find and with no small amount of skill involved in the ID!!!!

Sunrise Birding Walk April 11

13 04 2009
Lapland Longspur - Michael Ferrari

Lapland Longspur - Michael Ferrari

After a weekend off in the UK for my mothers birthday we were back into the swing of things looking for spring migrants at Sherwood Island on Saturday. The weather forecast was at best unpredictable, and in the end we had a somewhat shortened morning. Still in the couple of hours we got under our belts the going was pretty good, with a Lapland Longspur (captured above by Michael Ferrari) being one of the mornings highlights. Truth be told though as I caught it’s rattle-like call I was hoping that the bird was going to be something more exciting like the Smith’s Longspur that Larry Flynn found on my birthday two years back (see picture from COA Website here).

Whilst we were busying ourselves with the Longspur I however we might have inadvertently distracted ourselves from a more interesting bird. I had spotted a group of Green-winged Teal in the marsh as we were walking over towards the Longspur but had switched focus from them to follow the little passerine. However as the ducks flushed I had a momentary glimpse of small duck in the group in flight which had the possibility of being a Cinnamon Teal, however views were so brief I just couldn’t pin it down enough to be sure and it will remain the one that got away. This would have been only the second record for the state (see pictures of the first on the COA website here) had it been accepted but the views were just to brief and poor to be sure of anything, although I can’t imagine it was a Blue-winged from what I saw on the bird. Not the first frustrating bird I’ve had on a Sunrise Birding trip at Sherwood. A couple of Decembers back Sara Zagorski spotted a late oriole sat in the spruces at Sherwood but it was flushed by a Mockingbird before we were able to pin down the ID and was never relocated despite numerous attempts by a few different birders!

The rest of the trip added a few nice species including a briefly singing Brown Thrsher. A species of concern in Connecticut due to the disappearing shrubland habitat it requires (even at Sherwood it’s not safe, in the past areas have been cleared in the park which they have been known to breed in). The Thrasher song is reminiscent of Mockingbirds but the way it couples or doubles up repeated phrases is very distinctive compared to the Mockingbirds runs of repetitive phrasing. Thrasher song here, Mockingbird comparison here.

Other notable species included a Northern Shoveler (with another pair being seen post walk when I picked up my car) as well as a nice female Kestrel and a load of Bonaparte’s Gulls, accompanied by the first Laughing Gull of the year for everyone at Southport Beach.  With the rain well and truly tipping it down by this point we all decided to retire early and go and get a well deserved cup of coffee and some breakfast over at the Sherwood Diner. Despite the downpour, a very nice morning out. Walks are now on hold for a couple of weeks as I head off for Colorado although I do have a midweek walk at New Canaan Nature Center on Wednesday before I go.

Trip Species List: Canada Goose, Brant, Mute Swan, Gadwall, American Black Duck, Mallard, NORTHERN SHOVELER, Green-winged Teal, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Loon, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Red-tailed Hawk, AMERICAN KESTREL, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Bonaparte’s Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull,  Laughing Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Monk Parakeet, GREAT-HORNED OWL, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay, Fish Crow, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren,  American Robin, European Starling, Northern Mockingbird, BROWN THRASHER, White-throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, LAPLAND LONGSPUR, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Common  Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow

Bird Ditties

10 04 2009

Twilight - movie soundtrack

Twilight - movie soundtrack

In keeping with my posts on  bird related music, here are a couple of bird themed tunes that I picked up on recently. Firstly Scottish band De Rosa and their track Robin Song Another goody from the Twilight soundtrack is Iron & Wine’s Flightless Bird (I could have gone for their Love Song of the Buzzard as well I guess). I must admit that I actually quite enjoyed the movie (it was free on the flight back from the UK – that’s my excuse anyway) but then again I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for terrible teen movies ever since I was one, and deciding that  The Breakfast Club was the greatest movie ever made. I guess teen angst TV and movies are my guilty pleasure – I’m sure I’ll grow out of it some day!