Sunrise Birding Walk – October 17

21 10 2009
Great Meadows - Catherine Hamilton

Great Meadows - Catherine Hamilton

After a little change of the planned route, we met up for a tour of Stratford and Milford on Saturday. We started off at the railroad tracks on Long Beach Boulevard and took the rather beautiful hike out to the viewing platform there. It’s amazing when you get out into the marshes at Great Meadows to think that you are just a stones throw from an industrial park and I95. Personally I love it when you can find that little secluded area of peace, beauty and serenity within the shadows of concrete and steel.

The forecast had been awful all week however we were greeted by a stunning blue sky and a brisk and invigorating northerly wind. As we tracked along, Yellow-rumps (the hangers on from the summer warbler party) chipped to our right and left and sparrows skulked in bushes paralleling the trail. We were joined on the walk by renowned, New York based, bird artist Catherine Hamilton (blog and artwork here) and it was her sharp eyes that spotted the first ‘goody’ of the day, a small group of Wilson’s Snipe weaving their way high over the marsh. The scenery was stunning, especially in that somewhat hazy morning light and we were soon on the platform overlooking the marsh and soaking up the beautiful surrounds. As we enjoyed the view, an adult Peregrine Falcon slid by us ,sending a shockwave through the surrounding birds and small groups of Tree Swallows floated past us – almost close enough to reach out and touch.

Returning back to the cars we soon discovered a small flock of sparrows hanging out in the lot (and perhaps using the cars as a little wind break). In amongst the group was a rather nice White-crowned Sparrow that had decided that feeding under the cars was the best way to stay out of the wind. There must be something about White-crowneds and cars because we found one doing the exact same thing at Silver Sands!? Mike noted many sparrows proclivity for perching on industrial steel fencing and pondered whether it might be worth installing a few stands of the stuff  in his yard 😉 After discussing the possible reaction of neighbors and spouses I think the group decided the fencing might just fit in that much better in an industrial estate in Stratford.

After a quick caffeine stop it was on to Stratford Point for a quick mosey around. Here we managed to flush up a nice small flock of Eastern Meadowlarks and had rewarding looks at a hovering Kestrel. We were somewhat battling the elements, and although there appeared to be plenty of sparrow activity around the birds seemed to be fastidiously staying out of the wind and in deep cover. It was much the same story at Silver Sands, with most birds resolutely staying buried in the bushes. A rather elongated looking and back lit Eastern Phoebe perched on a wire caused a frisson of excitement as we entered the site and an all to brief Lincoln’s Sparrow that avoided most of the group were about all we had to show for a little hike around. Still it was a beautiful day to be out in the field and all the more a pleasant bonus considering the dire weather reports that had been predicted for the whole weekend.

Trip Species List: Mallard, American Black Duck, Green-winged Teal, Canada Goose, Ring-billed Gull, Bonaparte’s Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-Backed Gull, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, Black Crowned Night-heron, Wild Turkey, Turkey Vulture, Northern Harrier, Coopers Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, PEREGRINE FALCON, Greater Yellowlegs, WILSON’S SNIPE, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker, Downey Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Black-capped Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, American Robin, Hermit Thrush, Northern Mockingbird, Cedar Waxwing, European Starling, American Crown, EASTERN MEADOWLARK, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, Chipping Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Savannah Sparrow, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, White-throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, House Sparrow.



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