Birders who Blog, Tweet and Chirp outing – July 11th – Milford Pt CT

30 06 2009

Clapper Rail Chicks - AJ Hand

Clapper Rail Chicks - AJ Hand

Just thought I’d throw up some details for the BWBTAC outing on July 11th.With a little of Dawn’s prompting I am putting together a date for anyone who has a birding blog and wants to spend a day on the wonderful wild coasts of Connecticut (and at an airport and an industrial park or two!!!!) with other blogmeister generals.

Excited to see some old friends and meet some local bloggers as well as the ever-wandering Dawn and Jeff. Anyway details as follows: I suggest that we meet at Milford Point and start our days activities there at 10am (directions below) – which will let everyone who’s traveling get a reasonable start in the morning (and arrive a  little after low tide). Plenty to look out for at arguably CT’s  finest shorebird hotspot – hopefully Nick from ‘shorebirder’ will be available to find us another Red-necked Stint or something (was it really 3 years ago now?) amongst the likely throngs of peeps. After that I’d suggest a look at a few spots in Stratford for coastal sparrows, herons, clapper rail, shorebirds, terns, and the US’s most northerly breeding Boat-tailed Grackle population, a stop at Marnick’s for Lobster Rolls for lunch and then on to my local shorebird hotspot Grace Salmon Park post high tide and perhaps an early evening stroll on the rather spectacular Penfield Reef.

For directions to Milford Point by car check the CAS website here. If anyone wants to try make the trip up via public transport you can get a train from Grand Central NYC to Milford (New Haven Line). Drop me an email and I’m more than happy to pick people up at the station.

Bring yourself, some serious DEET infused insect repellent, beach shoes, water, bins, scope and sense of humor. Look forward to seeing people then.


My birding map updated!

19 06 2009
Pastries at SoNo Bakery!!!!

Pastries at SoNo Bakery!!!!

Just added a few notes to the Fairfield County Birding Map although I note that there are probably a good number of sites to add to it when I have a litle more time. I did however take a few minutes to add a couple of important sites – a few of my favorite post walk eateries. The above photo is from the amazing SoNo Bakery. I think it’s half the reason I get so many birders coming for walks in Norwalk each winter!

Sunrise Birding Walk – June 13 – Trout Brook

18 06 2009

Ovenbird - Luke Tiller

Spent a nice morning out with some of the usual gang at Trout Brook Valley in Weston/Easton. A little bit of a birding by ear experience as although there were plenty of interesting birds around singing up a storm there weren’t many all that keen on making themselves seen on the day. At this time of year I think birding can be a little frustrating if you don’t start to learn a few songs as the dense foliage rarely makes for excellent viewing opportunities.

Anyway it’s always nice to walk around TBV as it has plenty of nice breeding bird species and one or two such as Acadian Flycatcher that are as readily seen there as probably anywhere else in the state. After a couple of hours listening hard we had come up with quite a fine little list for the day and hopefully a few new songs had cemented themselves in everyone’s brains. We also had fun working out the Worm -eating Warbler song and trying to get everyone straight on that identification. Not easy as my previous post notes.

Species List

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, American Robin, Wood Thrush, Gray Catbird, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, House Wren, Carolina Wren, Red-eyed Vireo, Yellow Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Black-and-white, Black-throated Green, Ovenbird, Louisisana Waterthrush, Worm-eating Warbler, Common Yellowthroat , Scarlet Tanager, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, Northern Cardinal.

Birds and Baseball

12 06 2009

Once loved, now disgraced, Manny gives cricket a go!

Once loved, now disgraced, Manny gives cricket a go!

With no Cricket to be had out here I have rapidly become a big fan of Baseball and personally there is nothing I love more than watching my beloved Sox beat up on the NY Yankees – so this season has been so much fun thus far- especially as it allows me to give my father-in-law a good ribbing about the game afterward. It seems however that most gulls are Indians fans. Notice how this one dinks the ball past ex-Red Sox Center Fielder Coco Crisp on the way to giving the Indians a walk off hit last night (video here). Looks like the gull flew off ok so no harm done to the bird either.

Death Defying Hummingbirds

10 06 2009

Collared Inca (Ecuador) - Luke Tiller

Collared Inca (Ecuador) - Luke Tiller

A cool article about the aerial acrobatics of humminbirds. Seeing as the paper has illustrated the article with  completely inappropriate photo (of a Broad-billed Hummingbird). I thought I’d do the same. OK I just don’t have any picture of Anna’s Humminbird truth be told. Anyway pretty amazing stuff and goes nicely with the other recent hummingbird post (see below).  Article here. I have decided to make no comment about males doing ridiculous things to impress the female of the species!

Latest Trips – a couple of pictures

8 06 2009
Black Bear Cub - Luke Tiller

Black Bear Cub - Luke Tiller

I am busy finishing up trip reports from Colorado, New York and Montana. Just as a teaser here is one of the pictures. This one is a digiscoped snap of one of the Black Bear cubs that we found frolicking by the side of the road. OK, not a likely inclusion for any copies of National Geographic but it’s all my own work and is a memory that will live with me a long time.

I also note that Gary Howard has started to post a few of his shots from our tour of Colorado in April. Check out the Rosy Finches and other stuff here, Some absolutely cracking photo’s!

Hummingbird Tags and more

7 06 2009

A really cool article here about attaching electronic tags to hummingbirds for the first time in order to try and figure out some of the issues behind what is being considered a global pollination crisis. It seems that forest fragmentation is causing much of the problems from initial research. As birders we are already aware of how fragmentation of habitat affects the breeding success of our woodland birds. It also seems to be an issue for the plant life in the tropics that rely on these little gems for pollination. More from the article here.

If you just want to find out more about Hummingbirds or get involved in some hummingbird projects check out these cool sites. NE Hummers has loads of ways to get involved in recording data about your own New England Hummingbird experiences. They are currently looking for birders to carry out yard counts on July 25-31 (more here) and you can report or just reminisce about out of season rarities (such as last years first Connecticut record of Broad-billed Hummingbird) as well. The Hummingbird Society has loads of info on attracting hummingbirds, video links, galleries and other great stuff including details about endangered hummingbirds around the world check out their website here. You might also want to check out Operation Rubythroat a project aimed at getting students involved in an international project to study the only hummingbird that regularly calls the local vicinity home (more here).

Montana and Wyoming – great finale to a great trip.

6 06 2009
Lewis's Wodpecker - Luke Tiller

Lewis's Wodpecker - Luke Tiller

We finished up the trip with two days in Billings MT. After being shut out of the Beartooth Highway due to snow – on June 2nd!!!!! (which we had luckily already hit for Black Rosy-finch and breeding Pipit) we swung through the Chief Joseph Highway and managed to pick up some nice birds en route including finding a Golden Eagles nest with two accompanying chicks!

After touching down in Billings we wandered in at a leisurely pace, and after a relaxing early afternoon a few of the group decided to roll out to a couple of Billings local birding hotspots. First on the list were the Pictograph Cave State Park. What an amazing place, with stunning scenery (hasn’t it all been?!) and interesting history (see website here). We soaked up the atmosphere (pretending we were Native American’s watching over our Bison herds) and then picked up a few nice birds as we strolled including killer views of the usually skulky Yellow-breasted Chat and we also worked hard for some great view of our first Canyon Wren at a nest site – what a fantastically characterful little bird – the very definition of cheerful!

After that we hit another couple of nice spots including the nice city park Two Moons. In the end we had managed a few better looks at some desirable birds (like Lazuli Bunting) and managed to add a nice Wood Duck to the growing string of sightings. A stop at Lake Elmo was somewhat disappointing but with a flyby Caspian Tern we still had another great day under our belts.

The final day and we had an appointment with Helen Carlson, local birder extraordinaire and she quickly started to produce some of the local specialty birds of the area including such goodies as Pinyon Jay (I love their calls!) at a friends feeders, Chestnut-collared Longspur, McCown’s Longspur as well as such goodies as Says Phoebe.

All in all a simply brilliant trip with loads of great birds, great scenery and most of all great company to what is surely North Americas own Serengeti. If you haven’t considered a trip to Yellowstone yet, start thinking about it right now!

Attached one of my horrible digiscoped pictures of the Lewis’s Woodpecker – better ones to come I hope.

Yellowstone Park/Grand Tetons – the story so far…

1 06 2009

Scarlet Tanager - Luke Tiller

Scarlet Tanager - Luke Tiller

Is it me or is Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons a vastly underrated birding destination? It seems like there aren’t many birders here (we’ve met one – who strangely enough I met during my time with another tour company). Anyway the highlights thus far have been legion including: my GPS taking me down a wrong turn in Jackson and stumbling upon the towns best feeder setup, with multitudes of Western Tanagers, Bullock’s Orioles and in the stream nearby a spritely little American Dipper, 4 sightings of Three-toed Woodpecker including crippling views of a pair, Great Gray Owl, Sandhill Cranes aplenty, Trumpeter Swans all over the place, both Crossbill species, Jackson’s second record of Broad-winged Hawk (trust me to stumble on a mega that barely raised any eyebrows amongst the US contingent!) and today’s highlight – drop dead views of two Lewis’s Woodpeckers at a nest site. Throw in Williamson’s Sapsucker, Lazuli Bunting and Calliope Hummingbird and you have a host of wonderful accompanying beauties.

I have to say though, even as a hardcore birder, the mammals somewhat steal the show with great looks at Grizzly Bear and Gray Wolf amongst the ubiquitous Bison and Elk. Today’s special was a sow Black Bear with two young cubs that were putting on quite the show climbing trees, pouncing on each other and generally just behaving all too cutely for words. Anyway my useless laptop isn’t compatible with the card in my new point and shoot so for now you’ll have to make do with this snap of a Scarlet Tanager from my yard until I get home.

If you are desperate to see some great pictures of the local birds and animals check out Dan Hartman’s online gallery – we just snuck in there today to do some shopping (link here).