[CT Birds] Swallows and Bobolinks at Hammo

W RUPP rupp at snet.net
Wed Aug 1 13:05:19 EDT 2012

>From Dean Rupp:
08/01/12 with Maryanne Rupp - Madison, Hammonasset Beach State Park, unmowed area east of pavilion near beginning of Cedar Island Trail -- 7 (probably more) BOBOLINK at 8:15 AM (none at 8:45 AM),  1 SALTMARSH SPARROW.
07/28/12 - Same place as above, about 10:30 AM – 2 BOBOLINK.
07/29/12 - Same place as above,  about 10:30 AM – 1 BOBOLINK, 2 SALTMARSH SPARROW, 2 LITTLE BLUE HERON ( 1 normal all blue and the second one probably the “crazy” heron in the Hanisek blog and similar to the one at the top of the little blue heron page in Crosley as pointed out by Don Morgan).
07/30/12 - - Same place as above, about 10:30 AM  – 1 BOBOLINK.
On Saturday morning at about 10, I took our dog to Hammo for a walk and when I turned into the large parking lot at the Nature Center I noticed a large flock of birds swirling around at the far end near the blind.  The weather was iffy with rain apparently approaching with darkening skies, wind, and a few drops.  To my surprise, all of the birds settled into the one small tree between the blind and the road.  I approached close enough to see through my binocular that they were tree swallows that were lined up literally shoulder to shoulder on the entire tree.   I estimate that there must have been at least a thousand birds on that one tree.   While I was watching, a car went by, the birds flew up briefly but all returned to the tree.  A bicyclist went by, and many of them left and some returned.  I then parked, and walked slowly near the tree and most of the birds flew off and did not return (only a hundred or so remained in the tree).   
                I then walked out to the Cedar Island platform and on the return decided to detour down the mown path between the marsh and the unmowed area east of the pavilion instead of going straight to the parked car hoping to find some meadowlarks.  There were many red-winged blackbirds, starlings and grackles in the area, but 2 unusual birds that I did not recognize got my attention.  They were overall buffy orange in color (Maryanne says the color is ochre) and were roughly the size of red-winged blackbirds.  Later at home, I looked at the icterid page (with the meadowlarks, blackbirds and orioles) in the large Sibley and saw that the bobolink example was a close match to what I had seen.  After looking at further bobolink pictures and photos in Crosley, Peterson, iBirdpro and the internet, I am comfortable with the ID unless someone has a better alternative.  I was familiar with the bobolink breeding male plumage but had been
 completely unaware of the female/juvenile/nonbreeding male bobolink plumages.   None of the birds we have seen had the breeding male plumage, and the colors ranged from quite pronounced “ochre” to hardly any color at all.
                Back to the swallows… When I returned to Hammo on Sunday morning, there were few swallows near the Nature Center, but when I was leaving, I noticed a few in the air at the East Beach parking area and stopped to discover that the entire large area (the western side of the lot across from the reclaimed wetland area) was completely covered with tree swallows, (probably several thousand).  Sunday evening, I brought Maryanne to Hammo at about 6:30 PM to see the swallows, and as might be predicted, we could find only 3!
Dean Rupp, Killingworth

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