[CT Birds] Icy Stratford

Mntncougar at aol.com Mntncougar at aol.com
Sun Jan 5 20:19:29 EST 2014

I arrived at Stratford just as the freezing rain was starting,  so the day 
was less than spectacular. First thing I saw was a man returning  from down 
the beach with two dogs. One of them was carrying something white in  it's 
mouth, and when the guy finally made him drop it I got a look.   It was 
basically just a big clump of white feathers held together by a little  skin,  
But I am quite certain it was the remains of a Snowy Owl. Feathers  definitely 
didn't look like they were from a gull - pure white and small and  fluffy, 
like down. It was definitely not a fresh death, had been lying around a  
while I'm sure. But it looks like one more of our Snowies has met a sad end. 
Before the rain got too heavy I scoped the marsh from just past  the end of 
the parking lot. The whole marsh is coated with a sheet of white ice  so 
visibility was very bad, but I did see a bird sitting in a low tree by  the 
causeway. Couldn't be certain but it looked like a Dark Morph Rough-legged  
Hawk to me. There was a Red-tail sitting in the trees near the airport 
entrance.  From the airport drive entrance I scoped out a Peregrine Falcon sitting 
in a low  tree in the marsh. 
At Short beach there was a tremendous flock of Snow Buntings. I  counted 
210 but I'm sure there was more than that as the flock kept shifting as  large 
groups like that are prone to do. They were right at the entrance to the  
main parking lot on the right as you drive to the beach. An hour or so later  
they were gone, though. I didn't see a single bird of any other kind in the 
 flock but it was hard to look them all over that thoroughly. That's the 
largest  flock of them I've ever seen, by far. 
In addition, there was a flock of 10 American Tree Sparrows  down near the 
east pavilion. Haven't seen many this year, usually only one or  two. 
Lots of ducks, Mostly Gadwall, in the tidal pond behind the  beach towards 
the airport. I counted 44 Gadwall, 8 Hoodies, and 8 Canvasbacks.  Goldeneye 
out in the channel.
I stopped back at Long Beach and got a good look at the  Oldsquaw 
(Long-tailed Ducks) and more Goldeneye just offshore. Perhaps they were  in close 
because of the weather. The almost-white Iceland Gull was at the jetty  at the 
end of the lot as usual, both morning and afternoon.
Don  Morgan

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