The local patches have been slow the past couple of weekends and with the rain and cold not many highlights or photos. So I’ll throw in the other half of the Connecticut Holiday trip. Always several highlights when you are away from home but I’ll go with 4 gull species at once.
Before I discuss the gulls I’ll recap the rest of the afternoon.
Being from the cornfields I spent time watching and photographing the Gulls at both locations.
Before I continue with posts from my recent Colorado trip I’ll have to inject a post or two from birding Connecticut this past weekend. The weather was a little cooler than last year’s 70F temperatures but was still pleasant with the highs in the upper 40’s. I birded the local reservoir a couple of days and made my usual holiday trip to the Long Island Sound. There were several personal highlights but I’ll go with the Brant Flight as the main highlight.
As with all of the Northeast the continuing drought lowered the water level at the local reservoir. I’m not sure this had an effect on birding but I didn’t see any loons as in past years. Since most of the species I saw there are the same as the Midwest I’ll jump to the ocean.
I overdressed both days birding the reservoir. Unlike the Midwest I think it has to do with the hills and trees blocking the wind. So of course I under-dressed at the ocean where the winds were coming off the water dropping the temperature 10-20 degrees. I managed to layer up with some old clothes in my nephew’s trunk and made a day of it.
As usual I spent most of the day at Sherwood Island State Park since it has a pond, marshes, wooded area, and an ocean each. One of those spots I could see birding every day. The woods held the usual suspects and the pond had Mute Swans, Gadwall, and American Black Ducks.
After walking the park for almost three hours I was about ready to leave. I was going to climb over the break-wall, take a quick scan, and make the short walk back to the car.
As I get to the top the break wall I’m jolted by an eruption of birds with a strange call taking flight.
They had been on the other side of the break wall.
The quicker wing beats and more agile flight show the difference between Canada Geese and the smaller goose’s flight. More of a duck type flight than a goose’s. I watched them until they were out of sight far to the east.
I wished they would have turned back but when they didn’t I headed to the car and on to my next stop.
This post is directed to birders in Johnson County who might have observed birds from the observation stand at Honker Haven in Atterbury FWA. If you aren’t around Johnson County maybe it relates to something that’s happened in your local area.
Back in November I thanked the DNR for taking down the trees at Honker Haven in Atterbury FWA. It was a good thing since it opened up the pond to viewing from the observation platform.
The stand was helpful in seeing and photographing birds in the pond, especially the far NW corner.
Most Saturdays I would try to time it so I was at the observation deck around noon to scan for soaring raptors. That extra bit of elevation made a real difference.
It was extremely helpful in the fall when the water level dropped and shorebirds would be on the small islands that formed on the pond.
But after successfully removing the trees the stand has also been removed.
Granted, the stand was getting a bit up in the years. I have seen people take one step on it and turn around. My guess is it was removed for safety reasons.
But honestly most of the time I didn’t go up on the deck because it seemed to spook the birds. What I did like about the stand was using the bottom posts for a “blind”. The birds never seemed to fly when I used that strategy.
I guess I’ll have to use the adjacent trees as a “blind” now.
A couple of things. First, not one of the shorebirds was a Killdeer. And second, as you might have guessed, I wasn’t in Indiana.
Over the holidays we usually spend a few days with relatives in Connecticut. And as is my usual practice I spent the 26th walking along the Atlantic Ocean. I don’t really care where, I just want to be birding the ocean for a day. It’s a good chance to see several species that I don’t usually get to see. And it was even more important this year since, like the rest of the northern US, the reservoir that my relatives live on was devoid of waterfowl. Most years I get to spend time studying loons and gulls on their reservoir, but not this year. So to the beach.
With less birds moving south I decided to visit closer beaches in southern Connecticut instead of driving north of Boston as I have done a couple of times. Which means less chance for something uncommon but always a good day to be out.
To the beach.
I spent most of the day at Sherwood Island State Park outside Westport, CT. From there you can easily Long Island across the sound.
The first birds encountered were gulls, of course, but I immediately saw some shorebirds on an old pier. First thought was the expected DUNLIN but a closer look and they were RUDDY TURNSTONES. They weren’t moving much. They seemed cold even in the unusual warm 50 degree weather?
And the expected Gulls
On these jaunts I rarely see people since the temperature is usually in the 10’s to – 20’s. But this year it was in the a fore-mentioned 50’s so there were numerous people out walking dogs or kids trying out new bikes. So I headed to the other end of the beach. Not much happening there except a large raft of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS and the occasional LONG-TAILED DUCK flying by in the distance.
Time to head to the other 2 beaches I frequent on my trips to Connecticut.
First was South Beach in Stratford. With the wind out of the east and blowing right into the beach, not much there. I have been there before during calm seas and have seen numerous waterfowl that I usually don’t get a chance to see.
I checked out the gulls and on to the other beach in Stratford – Long Beach.
It was now getting late in the afternoon and with cloudy skies it was getting dark. I walked the beach checking the gulls and waterfowl flying by. On the second breakwall there were a flock of shorebirds. The expected DUNLIN! And mixed in were several SANDERLING.
The DUNLIN were as inactive as the RUDDY TURNSTONES had been but the SANDERLING in their normal behavior couldn’t sit still. It was fun to watch them run along the beach picking at things.
When I turned to head back I saw a flock of small birds land in the grass along the beach. It had to be SNOW BUNTINGS. And they were really tough to see in the grass. No wonder Mike and I couldn’t see them along the shore of Lake Michigan. They are tough to see.
And with a slight rain beginning to fall I called the end to another winter Connecticut Beach walk.