Trout Brook Valley – Blue Grosbeak

7 06 2010

Blue Grosbeak - Saurabh Mehandru

A trip to one of my favorite breeding birding sites in Fairfield County didn’t disappoint as we found a wealth of nice breeding regulars as well as a goody or two on the weekend walk at Trout Brook Valley. There are a couple of approaches to birding the site with the Bradley Road entrance usually being the best bet for breeding warblers and other woodland birds (this is an area where I have picked up migrant Mourning Warblers late in the season as well) including such uncommon local breeders as Acadian Flycatcher and the orchard being better for open country breeders such as Indigo Buntings, Bobolinks and Field Sparrows.

With landbird migration as good as done, and woodland birding usually fairly frustrating at this time of year (lots of hearing very little seeing) I decided to strike out for the orchard area where the birds tend to be a little easier to view.The deciduous woodlands on the hike out to the orchards tend to be of little interest apart from for the usual woodland suspects but on today’s trip we managed to strike it lucky and run into one of the number of Barred Owls that regularly nest at the site – complete with fledgling owl. We managed to observe both the young bird and the adult for a little while, the adult seemed to be somewhat caught between trying to pick off a nearby chipmunk and keeping us away from its baby. With a little bill clacking ensuing from the adult, and with a couple of pictures snapped, we decided to leave the scene and let them get on with it, I didn’t want any of our group ending up like Eric Hosking after all!!!!

Out in the orchard we were soon hearing and seeing some of the regular cast of breeding birds: Indigo Bunting, Baltimore Oriole, Field Sparrow, Blue-winged Warbler and Eastern Towhee. One song however piqued my interest. Having  just come back  from a rather fun tour of North Carolina (and having spent the last couple of months boning up on southern bird songs) I thought I recognized the rather husky warble of Blue Grosbeak. The bird was not initially showing itself and I wondered whether there was a more prosaic solution to the mystery bird song. However a couple of minutes patient waiting allowed us to eventually see the mystery singer – a young male grosbeak – nicely illustrated by Saurabh’s photo.

Having managed to get good looks at the rather accommodating Grosbeak we spent a little time with a few of the sites more regular denizens, including a number of Cliff Swallows that nest on the nearby reservoir. A nice if slightly muggy morning out on the borders of Easton and Weston, with owls and a nice rarity thrown in for good measure – who says June birding is dull?

Trip species list (includes heard only birds): Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Accipiter sp (very brief flyby – probably a Coopers), Red-shouldered Hawk, Killdeer, Mourning Dove, BARRED OWL, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Wood-pewee, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Red-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Barn Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Bank Swallow, Tree Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, House Wren, Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebird, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Cedar Waxwing, European Starling, Blue-winged Warbler, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Ovenbird, Northern Cardinal, BLUE GROSBEAK, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Baltimore Oriole, BOBOLINK, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, American Goldfinch.

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