Peregrines in Port Chester

28 02 2010

Peregrine Falcon - Catherine Hamilton

Port Chester doesn’t strike one as a birding Mecca, however I pretty much always have my eyes open and my binoculars secreted on me somewhere when I am out and about, as one never knows what you might run into. With a little time to kill on the way to the train station I decided it might be worth having a little scan through the gulls that tend to congregate on the ice/water around the mall in Port Chester. With the ice pretty much all gone, so it seems were the gulls, and it seemed like there wasn’t going to be much to amuse us while we waited for the train. That however all changed with the arrival of the pair of falcons below.

Whilst we were about to scan for the non-existent gulls, Catherine spotted a  falcon alight atop the Loews Cinema (the rather small male) followed by a second much larger bird.  It was amazing to see the amazing sexual dimorphism in size in the birds with the female obviously much larger (they can be as much as a third the size again as males and weigh more than double). Perhaps this was the reason that the male was just waiting for scraps from the females plate as she snacked on a freshly dispatched Rock Pigeon. This certainly looked like a pair so perhaps the mall in Port Chester or some building nearby might find itself home to a breeding attempt. As with the Pigeons, the Peregrines seem to be right at home in cities where they find the ledges of skyscrapers a perfect simile for their natural clifftop home.

For me it’s always a joy to see Peregrines here in the east. Where once they were extirpated, they are now thriving. A conservation success story in action, which are so very few and far between. It does though give one confidence that where there is a will, that we can actually do something positive for species on the brink of disaster. It’s just a shame with Peregrines that we essentially had to lose the eastern population before anything was done about it.

Sunrise Birding Walk – Saturday Feb 27th

28 02 2010

2CY Glaucous Gull - Mike Ferrari

With an incredible amount of snow engulfing inland Greenwich I was wondering whether this weekends walk was going to go ahead. Whereas most of Coastal Connecticut seemed to escape pretty much scot free I awoke on Friday to find the yard covered in a blanket of heavy wet snow. Pretty nasty stuff all in all and the local roads and power scenario wasn’t looking great either. We managed to get by without a brown out but did manage to lose internet activity somewhere along the way. Thankfully a warm Saturday meant that with a slightly delayed start I was able to escape the confines of Greenwich and meet everyone for a much-needed breath of fresh air.

Stratford is probably one of the more reliable spots in Fairfield County to dig up some nice winter birds. Amongst the business parks and industrial development lies a wealth of great birding spots including marshes, ponds, beaches and coastal grasslands. We started the trip at the end of Long Beach Blvd but apart from a few of the regular waterfowl there wasn’t much happening in the highly flooded marshes. Onwards then to Long Beach where we hit our first nice sightings of the day in the shape of a second cycle Glaucous Gull and a couple of distant Northern Gannets gliding eastwards out over Long Island Sound as well as a confiding gaggle of winter shorebirds in the shape of a good few hundred Sanderlings and Dunlin.

Other stops at Frash Pond, Short Beach and Silver Sands didn’t provide too much else of note apart from a couple of Lesser Scaup a Pied-billed Grebe and a couple of Canvasbacks amongst the more regularly occurring waterfowl species. That said though there were a large number of ducks off of Charles Island including large numbers of Greater Scaup and impressive concentrations of  Long-tailed Duck however many of the ducks were just all that bit too far out to go through them what with the heat haze that goes hand in hand with a beautifully sunny and warm winters day. A great day to be out and nice to dig up the Glaucous. Must say I’m looking forward to less snow and some signs of spring soon though.

Trip Species List: Common Loon, Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, NORTHERN GANNET (Long Beach), Great Cormorant, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Brant, Mallard, Black Duck, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Canvasback, Lesser Scaup (Frash Pond), Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-tailed Hawk, Sanderling, Dunlin, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, GLAUCOUS GULL (Long Beach), Great Black-backed Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, American Crow, Fish Crow, European Straling, American Robin, Song Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, House Sparrow, American Goldfinch.