Sunrise Bird Walk – May 2nd

4 05 2009
Least Flycatcher - Luke Tiller

Least Flycatcher - Luke Tiller

After a great trip to Colorado it was nice to touch down in Connecticut and to touch base with a number of the Connecticut regulars on the first weekend walk I had been around for for a couple of weekends. It was the first time that I had been out with some Eastern Migrants for a little while as well and it was good to see so many coming through. Trout Brook Valley is a really fine birding spot in Fairfield County and thank heavens that the plan to turn it into a mall and a golf course (or whatever the initial plan was) never quite transpired (thanks to the hard work of many local conservation groups and individuals). With a mixture of wetlands, trout streams, coniferous and deciduous habitats as well as grasslands and orchard, it is a spot that hosts a wealth of breeding bird species. It is also a fine spot to look for migrants and over the years it has provided me with some cracking birds including all of the regularly occurring migrant warblers including Connecticut and Mourning, Yellow Bellied Flycatcher, Dickcissel and Mississippi Kite.

I won’t bother with a grand explanation to the birding there as this will be covered in Frank Gallo’s forthcoming book but suffice to say an early morning hike of the Green/White main trail from the Bradley Rd parking lot through to the Purple Trail and back to the parking lot at any time in May should provide you with a wealth of good breeding and migrant birds. Paying attention to the clearings makes the birding easier but there is much to find all along the trails. Highlight breeding birds include both Cuckoos, Acadian Fly, Winter Wren, BT Green, Worm-eating, Louisiana Waterthrush etc.

The day itself was somewhat overcast, but apart from a spot of drizzle it was nice and dry. We were rewarded with a nice mix of warblers including cracking looks at a Worm-eating Warbler, whose subtle yet beautiful markings won over the group, even those who had initially as one of the less interesting warblers. Personally I have a real soft spot for this species, especially when it nested for a couple of years in the slope next to my house, it didn’t reappear last year but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for this one. We then tracked down a few more warblers in a nice clearing including eventual good looks at a Nashville Warbler, a somewhat bogey bird for at least one of the participants. I had a brief view of a Tennessee but I’m not sure anyone else got on it apart from maybe Katie. The numbers of Black and Whites were quite astounding as were high numbers of Ruby-crowned Kinglets and as many Blue-gray Gnatcatchers as I have seen in one wave of migrants.

We finished off the day with a hike down the purple trail where we managed to get outstanding views of three Louisiana Waterthrushes as they squabbled over territory seemingly oblivious to the watching group. This was a nice opportunity to discuss identifying characteristics for one of the harder to identify spring warblers. The close views however allowed the group to study the large bill, salmon pink washed flanks, bubblegum pink legs and to study the supercilium shape in close detail, the ony thing that might have perfected the experience would have been to have a Northern Waterthrush come and land nearby. The other highlight was the number of singing Winter Wrens. Last year was an off year for them at Trout Brook but they seem to have come back in force in 2009 with 3 separate birds singing from the wet, scree covered hillsides.  I know I have linked the Winter Wrens song before on the blog but I think it worth doing so again. It is after all such a treat to hear these amazingly diminutive songsters in action (here).

Although we didn’t get one on the walk, I thought I’d stick up my shot of a Least Flycatcher (which was kind enough to confirm my ID by calling) which I snapped midweek whilst out with AJ Hand. He kindly has loaned me his old camera and a decent lens. Anyway the picture came out fairly nice and sharp but it is proof positive that there is more to the amazing work of photographers like AJ than a big lens and a good camera. I think I need to work on my composition!!!

Trip Species List

Double-crested Cormorant, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Great-crested Flycatcher, American Robin, Wood Thrush, Gray Catbird, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Wren, Winter Wren, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue Headed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Warblers: Yellow, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue, Yellow-rumped, Blue-winged, Nashville, Black-and-white, Black-throated Green, Prairie, Ovenbird, Louisisana Waterthrush, Worm-eating, Common Yellowthroat and American Redstart. Scarlet Tanager, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, Rose Breasted Grosbeak

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7 responses

4 05 2009
Wendy K

Osprey too!

5 05 2009
steve t

Nice pic of the flycatcher, Luke. Your brother had better watch out

5 05 2009
Chrissie T

Great to see the blog’s back in action! Like the snap.

5 05 2009
Larry

I’ve never identified a Nashville warbler. I’ll have to check my local spots for the Worm-eating Warbler which I haven’t seen this year.

6 05 2009
underclearskies

Hi Larry,

Good luck. Nashville is one of those tougher ID’s although the clear eye-ring is a nice help and the white leg area shows up when you get nice and close. I wonder if Worm-eating gets up as far as you as a breeding bird? I kind of associate it with wooded slopes in Western Connecticut.

6 05 2009
lvn600

Yes-I’m pretty sure that they do in certain areas.-I’ve found them in Maromas section of Middletown in the summer for one. There is the right type of habitat in certain areas around here. -Also up in the hilly areas of Meshomasic Forest in the Portland area.

6 05 2009
Dawn Fine

Another place for me to check out when I get back to Ct. Thanks.
I saw a worm eating warbler for the first time this year and thought it was a very attractive birdie.

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