Showing posts from May, 2010

Spring roundup, looking ahead to Summer

The spring shorebird migration is currently in full swing in the northeast. Thusfar in CT the highlights have been a few Red Knot and Whimbrel, which are uncommon but expected at this season. Things have been quiet on the rarity front across this state. Neighboring states have enjoyed a few nice surprises, with the highlight probably being a lapponica Bar-tailed Godwit at Brigantine in New Jersey. A smattering of Wilson's Plovers in the northeast included one bird in Maine. Otherwise things have been quiet. The spring migration so far seems to have been about average from my point of view, which is based on no actual evidence but rather an observation of the regional reports :) There seems to have been several good migration days with no real big fallouts nor any periods of drought. We never had any extensive blocking weather in CT, nor prolonged periods of perfect migration weather, so the migration was able to proceed pretty much on schedule with a nice pulse of arrivals every f

Scope decision...Kowa it is!

Over the past couple months I've been researching today's top-of-the-line spotting scopes, in search of the one that fits my needs the best. I narrowed my choices down to the latest Kowa and Swarovski (Leica out of the question only because of it's ridiculous price tag of $4k). Thanks to Jim Zipp of The Fat Robin in Hamden, CT I was able to compare these two heavyweights side-by-side under various conditions. Overall, the Kowa wins in nearly all categories except field of view, thanks to Swarovski's fantastic 25-50x Wide Angle zoom eyepiece. This extra FOV may actually make the Swarovski the better digiscoping option, though the Kowa's brighter image is also an advantage. In low light, the Kowa's extra light-gathering ability is apparent in the bright image. Also, while studying distant shorebirds at Sandy Pt, the extra 50-60x power of the Kowa zoom eyepiece was an absolute necessity . Long gone are the days when the image at 60x is dark and borderline useless

BIG DAY Results - 185 species!

Date : May 23, 2010 Team : Dave Tripp, Fran Zygmont, Frank Gallo, Patrick Dugan, and myself. Preparation : Scouting was limited again this year, but we were still able to improve upon our route from last year. Just a few weeks ago we nearly decided to scrap the whole thing, thinking it might be a waste of time. Also, we were pigeonholed into the date of May 23, which may be a couple days later than is optimal. Summary : For a great summary of the day, including our highlights and misses, see Frank Gallo's summary . Final Tally : 185 (just one short of the state record of 186 and six short of the New England record of 191 set in Massachusetts)...a great improvement over last year's total of 177 . Analysis : We were able to tweak last year's route with this year's scouting, which was surprising given the small amount of time we had to scout between the 5 of us. We devoted most of our free time to scouting the inland areas, which really paid off with a fine tally of inla

Big Day approaches

The weather is looking fine for our CT Big Day run on Sunday. Right now they're calling for mostly cloudy skies, light winds, low 70s, and a chance of a shower. That's actually quite nice conditions for a big day...too windy kills landbirding, too warm leads to heat-haze on the coast, and too rainy obviously sucks too. Hopefully the forecast doesn't change much. I've been squeezing in a bit of scouting here and there over the past week. I haven't come up with anything great...Mourning Warbler today being the highlight. When scouting for a Big Day, it's funny how finding a territorial Yellow-rumped Warbler right along your proposed route can make your day! As a team, our scouting has been better than expected. I actually have hopes we can meet or exceed our total of 177 from last year when we had more extensive scouting. It looks like we're going to suffer from a lack of rarities. CT hasn't seen a truly rare bird in a long time...we're in a bit of a d

Big Day 2010

For the past handful of years I've made a habit of doing a statewide Big Day in Connecticut. The intensity of each effort has varied from year-to-year, as have my teammates. Team size has varied from 2 to 5. Here's what we've had: 2006 - May 25 - 157 species (team of 2) 2007 - May 20 - 173 species (team of 4) 2008 - May 26 - 169 species (team of 5) 2009 - May 24 - 177 species (team of 5) The CT record is 186, if you're wondering. So far we haven't been able to scout as much as we want to. This year might be worse than usual...everyone seems to be extra busy with work and/or family. Still, we're going, if only because it's just so damn fun to spend 24 hours birding at a staggering pace. We're shooting for May 23-24, which is later than desired, but that is dictated by our personal lives. I just started a stretch of 12 consecutive days at work, which means my scouting contributions will be small (and blog posts infrequent). I'll try to get out before/a

Grasshopper Sparrow, Westport CT

A quick stop at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, CT yielded a cooperative GRASSHOPPER SPARROW. With about an hour to kill this afternoon I was going to walk the woods at the park to see if any warblers were around. I took just a few steps onto the lawn next to the pavilion parking lot when the bird flushed out of the grass. Tina Green came by a little while later to view the bird, which again afforded fine looks. According to the park checklist, Grasshopper Sparrow had never been recorded here, which is surprising given how much coverage the park has gotten over the years. The species is very uncommon in migration but is seen annually away from breeding sites. - NB

5/1 - East Rock Park

Had a very nice morning birding with Alex Burdo, James Orrico, Brian Webster, and John Oshlick at East Rock Park today. We started at the Giant Steps around 6:15am and were greeted by a couple waves of migrants. Male Yellow-rumps dominated, as expected this early in the month. Highlights here included a heard-only (damn) HOODED WARBLER, WORM-EATING WARBLER, and a splendid MAGNOLIA WARBLER. We had 9 of our 11 warbler species at this spot. We then moved onto the River Trail where things were pretty slow, but we added Yellow Warbler and an adult male ORCHARD ORIOLE to the tally, among a few others. Then we walked Trowbridge Drive, which was also quiet, but held our FOY AMERICAN REDSTART. We ended up at the monument where we picked out a single BLACK VULTURE among the TVs and had a few migrating swallows including a male PURPLE MARTIN. Other birders throughout the park added 3 more warblers to bring the species count to 14, but no southern overshoots were found today. Just the expect