[CT Birds] Recent Birding notes......

Brian Webster b.webster at hotmail.com
Tue Jan 6 10:02:31 EST 2009

>From my notes over the last couple days....
Sikorsky Airport Entrance:
-(15) Savannah Sparrows (4 Ipswich)
-(90-100) Canadian Geese (6 of which had yellow neck bands....too far for my equiptment to read)
-(1) Rough-legged Hawk (dark morph) hunting across the road in the marsh.  
-(3) Song Sparrows
-(2) Am. Tree Sparrows
-(22) Boat-tailed Grackles**
It may be me, since I focus my efforts on songbirds, but it seems the Sav. Sparrows around the Stratford shore have combined forces.  Toward the end of fall, beginning of winter, it seemed there were a few at every location. Now it seems like there are small numbers at individual spots like Long Beach or the Gun Club, and a roving flock of 15-20+. On Christmas Eve I had around 20 (that I counted) in the parking lot at Short Beach, and on 1/4/08 I had the 15 at the airport.  During this time I've only counted as high as 3 at any single spot.... unless the flock is about.
Is this a common occurance?  Are they combining efforts to find food or are they just going along with some of the recent posts about Spring coming and getting ready for mating??  I certainly have heard the fee-bees of the Chickadee and 3-note songs of the Nuthatch recently.
By the way, I've been wondering about the molting of Goldfinches.  I've noticed some (specifically in the larger flocks roaming the White Conservation Center) that have really bright yellow on them already.  Usually near the head, nape, and chest.  Do they molt more than once on their way to breeding plumage??  I know next to nothing about the molting cycles of birds, not just Goldfinches, and I'd like to learn.
I'm still a newbie (end of Feb will be one year) and one way I have been discrening between raptors down there (especially when the sun is rising or setting in my face) is to watch for the Rough-leg's hovering movements.  I've learned how Harriers hold their wings up in a 'V' pattern when hunting....now I've learned how Rough-legs 'pull up' from their flight and make their head and body vertical and flap their wings almost horizontally to remain in place.  It is a really cool thing to watch and it makes for some great photos.
**As I found out eventually, the Grackles aren't there until sunset.  Most likely sunrise too, but I don't know when they leave.  I drove past the airport entrance 4 times from 3:30 on until they were finally there at 4:42pm.**
Long Beach:
-(6) Horned Larks
-(2) Song Sparrows
-(40-50+) Common Goldeneye
-(4) Hooded Merganser
-(2) Red-breasted Merganser
-(120+) Sanderling
-(1) Dunlin  
-(7) Am. Tree Sparrows
-(3) Snow Buntings
-(1) Glaucous Gull (same juv. continues)
Is it me, or does that Glaucous Gull seem afriad to venture more than 20ft from the first jetty??  Is it common practice for a gull to narrow down a precise location amidst a larger location??
Stratford Point (old gun club):
-(5) Snow Bunting (on roofs of buildings)
-(4) Savannah Sparrows
-(1) Song Sparrow
-(1) Am. Tree Sparrow
-(8) Red-breasted Merganser
-(30) Am. Wigeon
-(3) Red-throated Loon
-(12) Common Goldeneye
-(5) Gadwall
-(2) Horned Grebe
-(1) Brant  (the closest thing I've ever seen to a 'black' Brant.  Stays alone when the flock of Brants are around)
Great Meadows (behind buildings):
-(8) Horned Larks on field
-(25-35) Canadian Geese
-(1) Male Northern Harrier
When I was there, the 2 does that are often there were feeding in the feild with the geese and the larks.  The sun in the background made for some amazing photos. I saw a 8-point buck on the gated path a couple months ago... I wanted to get photos but I haven't seen him since then and the rut is soone to be over.
Also, a few weeks ago I saw one single Can. goose that I thought could have been a Cackling or Lesser.  After looking at my photos and comparing them with those of a Lesser I took in Alaska (Potter Marsh immediately south of Anchorage) I am pretty sure it was just a juvenile.  Nonetheless, I went back about a week later to find the same individual, doing the same thing....sitting quietly, seemingly not scared, on the grass along the parking lot.  I got out of my truck to snap a photo to compare with the others, and it was clearly injured.  As it stood up, it hobbled and almost fell back over.  One of it's legs was either broken, or it had gotten shot by one of the hunters.  I then jumped back into the truck to get my cell phone to call the DEP (they really didn't seem to care...never called me back)...when I did that, the bird attempted to fly away.  It only gained, maybe, 10 feet of elevation before giving up and landing in the spot where I had originally seen it.
Has anyone else seen this lone goose??
Frash Pond:
-(25-35) Canvasback
-(6) Bufflehead
-(4) Hooded Mergansers
-(1) Black-crowned Night-heron
-(1) Belted Kingfisher
The pond is almost frozen over.  I went back the next day (1/5) and for the first time since they arrived I didn't see a single Canvasback.  Or scaup.  Or Bufflehead.  Or merganser.  Only Black ducks, 2 Mallard and gulls.
Long Beach:
-(1) Glaucous Gull  (same spot as always...on the first jetty after the lot)
-(5) House Finch (new bird for me at this location...actually in one of the abandoned houses)
-(2) Northern Harriers...both female
-(1) Rough-legged Hawk (over the marsh right near the platform at the end of the GMM trail)
-(around 200-250) Common Goldeneye
-(2) Lapland Longspur..... the reports were right on.  One of them had obvious rust on the nape and a bright, cheery face.  Very close to breeding plumage.  Seen in between the jetty and the path, just before the double cedars on the shore side.
-(21) Brant
-(1) Great Egret
-(1) Dunlin
-(50-75) Sanderling
-(1) Juv. Red-tailed Hawk (big guy)
-(3) Killdeer  (public trail)
-(1) Rough-legged Hawk (same dark morph from the day before....has become pretty reliable)
-(+/-15) Red-winged Blackbirds
-(1) Enormous female Northern Harrier with a (couldn't read it) band on left leg (publc trail)
-(4) Juncos  (trail)
-(11) Am. Tree Sparrows  (trail)
Frash Pond:
-(1) Great Cormorant
No sign of any ducks other than Black and one Mallard pair.
Stratford Point:
-(1) Merlin perched in dead tree on other side of fence where CCSP usually is.
-(8) Am. Tree Sparrows
-(1) Clay-colored Sparrow (missed him the day before...needed it on my '09er list)
-(3) Goldfinch
-(1) Northern Harrier (female)
Birdseye Boat-ramp:
-(5) Am. Coot
-(2) Great Cormorant (fly-by)
Didn't see any grebes.  
Stratford Yard:
-(1) Ruby-crowned Kinglet continues at suet feeders
Wooster Pond:
-(8) Green-winged Teal
The year list sits at 68 right now......    Does anyone know if the GWF Geese are still around Whirlwind Rd. or the reservoir in Meriden/Wallingford/wherever??
Also...  I haven't heard anything about the Calliope in a while.  That would be a great year bird, as the chances of me seeing another one around here are ultra-slim.  Anyone hear anything recently??
-Brian Webster-

It’s the same Hotmail®. If by “same” you mean up to 70% faster.

More information about the CTBirds mailing list