Showing posts from March, 2010

Trumpeter Swans in CT

On Sunday Brian Webster found 2 TRUMPETER SWANS on the Stratford/Shelton line in CT. Thanks to his prompt notification, I was able to view the birds in the late evening. They're the first Trumpeter Swans I've seen anywhere, and these guys were so close to the road that I was able to study them quite well. Don't let the awful photos below fool you (low light is a killer for digiscoping)...the swans were very close and not at all concerned with me watching them. I was thrilled to view them. Thanks Brian for the good find. Reports will presumably be submitted to the ARCC for review. This is a tricky situation given that the birds' origin is unknown and overwhelmingly likely to be from the Ontario reintroduction project, and incredibly unlikely to be from the retracted original North American populations. More details about the projects are needed. It might be tempting to count this species on my life/state lists, but without more information I am currently not at all comf

Come to Brazil in October!

For anyone looking to visit the Pantanal of Brazil, I will be co-leading a Connecticut Audubon Society trip to this special location in October of this year. My role will be primarily as CAS escort, while well-known local guide Giuliano Bernardon will provide the expertise on Brazilian wildlife (especially birds by sight and sound). See the flyer above, and call CAS for a full itinerary! I cannot wait for this trip, which will undoubtedly prove to be an adventure to remember and one heck of a good time! - Nick

Quiet time of year

I'm trying here for the same reverse-jinx I succeeded with last year at this time (last time it was entirely unintentional however). March into April has never been my favorite time for birding. It is sandwiched between mid-winter, when boreal/arctic species such as irruptive finches and raptors are most abundant, and the amazing push of spring migration that begins in late April. Yes, FOY species are trickling into the area, which is getting many birders excited. I enjoy them too, but not quite to the same extent as most. I enjoy birding at all times of year, but this is my least favorite. Last year I made a blog post saying pretty much the same thing. What followed was an incredibly exciting run of local birds: "Common" Mew Gull, probable Thayer's Gull, Yellow-headed Blackbird, "Black" Brant, and last but FAR from least a Western Meadowlark found and IDed by Tina Green. Each of these records can be referenced in the Mar-Apr 2009 archives on this blog. I

Orient Point, NY - Parasitic Jaeger

Glenn Williams, Phil Rusch and I spent a good portion of the day in the New London area in search of storm-blown birds, particularly alcids. The storm of the past two days was intense, packing steady winds of 40-45mph at times with gusts into the 60s! This is nearly Tropical Storm force. Trees fell, thousands lost power, and sadly a couple people actually lost their lives in the destruction. Our hopes were high for a rarity, but knowing how rare and irregular pelagic birds are in CT waters, we realize that nothing was guaranteed. After wasting the first 30+ minutes of light because the 7:30am ferry was canceled due to high seas, we headed to Harkness State Park in Waterford. Here we didn't have much of note, save for a handful of continuing COMMON EIDER. Glenn and I decided to head back to the docks for the 11:00am ferry from New London, CT to Orient Point, NY. Our only interesting bird in CT waters was an unidentified large alcid species. The bird of the day was actually seen whil

Coastal gull show (and weekend weather)

A now-annual event is currently in full swing in Connecticut: the early spring gull concentration caused by a large plankton bloom in Long Island Sound. To check out the posts from last year, click the label below. Each year around this time, there is a bloom of some type(s) of plankton along the coast of Fairfield and New Haven Counties, mainly between Norwalk and West Haven. A fantastic concentration of gulls and waterfowl feeds on these minuscule creatures. The gulls, in particular, are impressive. Numbers at single locations have peaked at 10,000 birds! Last year this event began around March 10 and lasted into April with a peak in the second half of March. This year it began earlier and is already peaking (one would assume, as it is hard to imagine a concentration much larger than the current one). Yesterday afternoon I went to check things out. I made it down to Short Beach around 2:40pm, not long after low tide. The raw east winds probably contributed to the tide not being very


As of today I am a full-time Orthopaedic Physician Assistant (PA). My schedule is a bit irregular, calling for occasional stretches of busy on-call time followed by stretches of off-time. As a result my birding (and posting) will wax and wane. But as I managed during PA school, I will still get out birding often enough! - Nick

CA/AZ: Red-tailed Hawks of Arizona

We have things easy in the east. I'm no expert on western Red-tails, but while in the southwest I saw a wide range of Red-tail plumages, from light to rufous to dark. I was able to get photos of a few of the birds and figured I would post them here, from light to dark. I saw much more variation than this, but these were the only ones I photographed. Western buteo ID is something I could get into someday, particularly with future visits, but right now I just don't have the time... - NB

CA/AZ: Juncos of Arizona

During my Arizona birding I spent some time studying the junco flocks. It's not something I planned on doing much of, but once I began to sort through the first flock I was hooked. I'm pretty sure my time spent on Dark-eyed Juncos cost me a life bird or two along the way. As of right now we have two species of junco in the U.S., both of which occur in Arizona: Dark-eyed (with several subspecies) and Yellow-eyed. This current taxonomic breakdown is a bit controversial among birders. To get an idea about the junco situation, if you are not already aware, check out the ID-Frontiers discussion from a few years ago, sparked by Mark Szantyr and his photos from Connecticut. In Arizona I observed Yellow-eyed Juncos plus the following forms of Dark-eyed Junco: Oregon, Pink-sided, Gray-headed, Red-backed, and "Cassiar." Cassiar Juncos are intermediate between Oregon of the west and Slate-colored of the east. I'll post images here, form-by-form. Interestingly, of the dozen

CA/AZ: Day 9 (Feb 23) - eastern Chiricahua Mtns and Sulphur Springs Valley

I woke up to 27 degree temps and ice on the car windows. Yesterday's snow levels were above 5500 feet. Willcox itself sits at 4100 ft, so it received only rain. I was worried about black ice on the roads but the puddles had apparently dried up before the temps dropped...gotta love that dry Arizona air. It was a 2-hour drive to the tiny "town" of Portal. I arrived just before sunup at Big Thicket, just outside Portal, which is known to harbor Crissal Thrashers. Chiricahua Mountains had to cross into New Mexico to get to Portal A local guide and birder named Dave Jasper lives adjacent to the Big Thicket, and his feeders sometimes attract the stealthy Crissal Thrasher into the open to feed. When I arrived the temp had only climbed one degree, and the lack of song indicated that the birds were taking some time to get active. hey, that's gotta be a good sign After only a few minutes at his feeders, what hopped out of the bushes but a CRISSAL THRASHER, followed by a second