Sunrise Birding Walk – Dec 5th

8 12 2009

Pied-billed Grebe - Luke Tiller

Saturday I met up with a group of hardy birders for a tour of a few of the local Reservoirs in hopes of finding some interesting waterfowl. Instead of waterfowl we managed to mainly stumble upon a rather strange mix of raptors.

We started our tour at a vantage point over the Hemlock Reservoir where things initially seemed quiet, our first stop point landing us one American Crow and that was about it! However the next stop proved to be a nice and productive one when an adult Bald Eagle took flight across the reservoir as we studied a flock of distant ducks which included a couple of Buffleheads and a flotilla of Hooded Mergansers. The eagle was getting harassed by a group of local crows and therefore put on a bit of a show as it zigzagged across the reservoir looking for a quiet perch. Although I’ve seen huge numbers of Bald Eagles this year at the hawkwatch it never ceases to amaze me how much excitement a Bald Eagle sighting engenders even amongst the hardiest of birders. When you get the chance to share that first Bald Eagle moment with a group of kids or even non-birding adults at the hawkwatch it really is priceless.

Next stop we were on to the Aspetuck Reservoir. This really is probably amongst my favorite waterfowl birding spots as it always seems to provide something of interest. It didn’t disappoint Sunday either. We arrived to find a very late immature Osprey perched up in one of the trees I regularly see eagles in and even better it was in the process of chowing down on a rather large fish giving us plenty of time to observe it and note the pale fringes to the back and wing feathers that gave it the scalloped look of a young bird. Just a few trees along another unexpected raptor. This time in the shape of a rather out of place seeming immature Peregrine Falcon. The falcon was interesting to watch as it seemed to be rather intrigued by the number of waterfowl on the reservoir but rather than actually attacking them it seemed to be making rehearsal sorties out low over the water as if it was testing out its desire to fly low enough to try and snatch a duck off of the water. Whatever it was doing it was cool to watch this awesome bird of prey in simulated attack flight. There wasn’t a great deal of variety on the water however just a few American Black Ducks, Mallards and Ring-necks  to add to the already observed species.Next stop was at the far end of the Reservoir. Again the waterfowl mix was somewhat limited but we did manage to add a rattling kingfisher to our tally as well as a few Red-breasted Nuthatches that were calling from the surrounding pines which added to the  nice northerly feel to this beautiful spot (it’s the spot the banner photo was taken for my website!)

The third reservoir stop was at the Saugatuck in Redding. The nice thing about these three reservoirs is that they are all in close proximity to each other and also seem to attract different birds. The Hemlock is usually the least productive but both it and the Saugatuck seem to provide deep enough water for serious diving ducks (Common Mergansers) and even the odd sea duck or loon. The Aspetuck on the other hand seems to provide better puddle duck action – although it too can often have a nice mix of aythya’s on it – including Redhead. As we stopped at the Saugatuck we were not overawed by the number of ducks on the water, however we did manage to add a nice little grouping of Ruddy Ducks as well as a couple of rather pretty Pied-billed Grebes.

Final stop of the day was Saugatuck Falls for an explore of the Cedar stands. No sign of owls there this year so far it seems although we did find some white-wash and skunk remains that would lead one to think a Great Horned might be on the prowl in the area. A seemingly rather fruitless stop was enlivened by a little raucous mixed flock of birds that included a Brown Creeper or two just as we were about to leave.

Trips Species List: Pied-Billed Grebe – Mute Swan – Canada Goose – Mallard – American Black  Duck – Ring-Necked Duck – Bufflehead – Hooded Merganser – Ruddy Duck – Turkey Vulture – Osprey – Bald Eagle – Red-tailed Hawk – Peregrine Falcon – Herring Gull – Mourning Dove – Belted Kingfisher – Red-Bellied Woodpecker – Northern Flicker – Downy Woodpecker – Blue Jay – American Crow – Tufted Titmouse – Black-capped Chickadee – BROWN CREEPER – White-breasted Nuthatch – RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH – Carolina Wren – Golden-crowned Kinglet – American Robin – Cedar Waxwing – Song Sparrow – White-throated Sparrow – Dark-eyed Junco – Common Grackle – House Finch – American Goldfinch



3 responses

9 12 2009
steve tiller

Nice post vividly and beautifully described.

18 01 2010

missing my fix of news and views!

21 01 2010
Dawn Fine

I am finally catching up with some blog here I am..
Looks like you had a great day way back in Dec.
Have u put birding on hold? I cant imagine you would have..
Did u go see the ivory gull?
Take care
see u in cyberspace..

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