Showing posts from April, 2010

Riverside Cemetery, Waterbury CT

Since I began working in Waterbury I've been thinking of potential spring migration traps that I can check before/after work. One of the spots I wanted to visit was Riverside Cemetery, which lies just to the west of Route 8 and the Naugatuck River. Geographically it has the advantage of running along a river valley, which is a real plus during spring migration. Second, it is a bit of an oasis in the middle of a rather urban setting. It's overall size is not impressive, weighing in at just under 40 acres. Still, it should be enough to hold some migrants. I made my first visit this afternoon from 2:30-3:30. Most weeks I'm in work too early to bird but the late afternoon is often free, so I'll probably be making several visits between 2 and 5pm. Far from an ideal time, but there should still be some birds. Today I had a small selection of migrants including: 11 Yellow-rumped Warbler 3 Black-and-white Warbler 1 Yellow Warbler 2 Warbling Vireo 1 Blue-headed Vireo Yellow-rum

The flood gates will open

In a matter of a few days, those of us in the southern New England/Tri State area are going to see a slow trickle of migrants quickly turn into a full onslaught. We'll go from seeing mainly Yellow-rumps and Palms to certainly 10+ warbler species (still with plenty of 'rumps and Palms though!). The spring passerine migration typically accelerates into full swing as the calendar changes from April to May, and this year the weather will exaggerate this rapid change. A slow-moving low has dropped rain on us for the past couple days, backing up birds to our south. The storm is clearing out now, but gusty NW winds will likely keep migration slow until late in the week when winds shift to the SW and we get a shot of summer warmth. Right now it's looking like tonight will be too cool and windy to promote much migration. Tomorrow night will be a bit warmer and less windy, but still conditions won't be ideal. One would expect Thursday night to be the first night of large movement

East Rock Park's most under-rated spot?

East Rock Park in New Haven, CT is one of the best spring migrant traps in New England. As with many other famous migration spots, such as Central Park and Mount Auburn, ERP serves as an urban oasis for hungry and tired passerines. If a birder were to visit East Rock for the first time, he/she might not know the best spots among the park's 425 available acres. Two particular trails are heavily birded, while the rest of the park sees much less birder traffic. The most popular trail, by far, is the "river trail" (on the park map as an Unmarked/Black Trail), which begins at the covered bridge just off Whitney Avenue and runs south along the Mill River. The trail has a nice track record for water-loving rarities such as Prothonotary and Kentucky Warblers (and hopefully someday soon, Swainson's Warbler!!). It is also the best place in the park for the more common Wilson's Warbler, Canada Warbler, and Northern Waterthrush (breeds). The problem, though, is that the rive

More scope talk

Just back from a visit to Jim & Carol Zipp's store in Hamden, The Fat Robin , where we put a few scopes side-by-side for comparison. I had a nice long look through 3 scopes: #1) My ol' Swarovski AT 80 HD with the NEW 25-50x Wide Angle zoom eyepiece #2) Swarovski ATS 80 HD with the new 25-50x Wide Angle zoom eyepiece #3) Kowa 883 Prominar with 20-60x zoom eyepiece First off, I was pleasantly surprised that the newest Swaro eyepiece fits my current scope (note: the eyepiece does not lock into place, but it is still very secure). But in direct comparison to setups #2 and #3, this combo did not stand up. The newer Swaro body and Kowa were both obviously better throughout. So much for my cheap idea of only having to upgrade the eyepiece! It's apparent that the optics of my old scope have been surpassed. Next I put #2 and #3 side-by-side. The weather was overcast but, cloud-cover considered, it was fairly bright. Both images were outstanding. It was immediately apparent that

Scope talk

Recently I've been considering upgrading my trusty scope, the ol' classic Swarovski AT80 HD. The scope is fantastic and has served me incredibly well over the past 9 or so years. My first thoughts of upgrading came a couple years ago when I was out in Washington state birding with my friend Ryan Merrill. He had recently purchased the Kowa TSN-884 Prominar ED. One look through that scope and I was hooked....shocked really. I had looked through the newer Swarovski ATS80 HD and the classic Leica Televid 77mm and didn't see much/any improvement over my own Swaro. BUT this Kowa was different...amazingly bright and razor sharp from edge to edge, with such true color. At that time I was about to begin PA school and was in no position to spend any large amount of money, so I didn't research things further. Over the past few weeks I've begun researching the scope market to catch up on the latest models and reviews. There appear to be 3 top-rated high-end scopes that pique my

Spring notes

I haven't been birding all that much in my free time lately. I've noticed that I tend to shift my focus to other aspects of life in March and April before spending loads of time outdoors from May onward. In the future this will probably be a good time to do some birding outside of New England, such as getting back to Florida, Texas, or Arizona to see some things I missed the first time around. I did get out a bit last Sunday. There wasn't much to note really, but it was great to take my first full walks out Milford and Sandy Points in a long while. Soon the sandbars and mudflats will be teeming with migrant shorebirds, but for now just some lingering gulls and ducks are dominating the scene. Though I'm not much into bugs, I was delighted to see my first Eastern Tiger Swallowtail of the spring while out at Sandy Pt, where the only obvious birdlife was a pair of American Oystercatchers. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail American Oystercatchers On a different note, while driving h

April birds to watch for in southern New England

This unseasonably warm weather has birders, and birds, thinking ahead to the upcoming peak of migration in May. Several early arrivals have been noted in recent days, which is not surprising given the weather. The forecast for the next few days involves even warmer temps and a stiff southerly breeze, which should mean more early birds and perhaps a few overshoots. Here are some ideas: - Swainson's Warbler (learn the song if you don't already, and distinguish it vocally and visually from the waterthrushes) - Prothonotary Warbler (one each already in NY and MA) - Yellow-throated Warbler, Summer Tanager, Blue Grosbeak, and early Indigo Bunting - Swallow-tailed Kite (already a handful of overshoots as close as northern New Jersey) - Wilson's Plover - Black-necked Stilt - Loggerhead Shrike Another possibility may be Anhinga, but this is one of the more under-appreciated ID problems out there. Single northbound DC Cormorants are often seen soaring high in the sky at this time of

Easter morning on the Housy

Yesterday (Easter) morning my brother and I took out his 20' Seacraft for the first time this year. We didn't have much time before we had to be back for family Easter stuff, but we couldn't resist taking advantage of the great weather. From the Birdseye boat ramp in Stratford, we headed a bit upriver in search of Striped Bass. We spent about an hour and were able to muster a single fish. my brother Andrew with his first fish of a year, a striper Of course I was just as interested in the birds as the fishing, but things were quiet along that part of the river. A pair of Osprey were entertaining as they followed each other around with fish in tow. Otherwise, about 5 American Coot continue at the boat ramp itself. - Nick

April Foolishness

April Fools Day is a perfectly appropriate time to take advantage of gullible people like myself. A trend has developed over the past couple years involving the internet birding community. In recent years, on April 1, someone on at least one listserv has made a silly post about a false bird report...generally something far-fetched and of no immediate consequence to birders, such as the discovery of an amazing new hummingbird in Belize...or about penguins found to be flying/migrating . It's all in good fun. But the line has to be drawn somewhere. This year, a few fools took it too far. A good, credible birder in Rhode Island reported a Northern Lapwing on Block Island. Predictably, folks all over the northeast began to change plans for the holiday weekend in order to view this magnificent bird. I was included. I immediately called my girlfriend and told her that we were going to Block Island for Good Friday. Luckily I didn't cancel other plans or make any reservations...because