Showing posts from June, 2011

Maine (Baxter) Trip Report: June 16-19, 2011

June 16: A couple weeks ago I led a small group of Connecticut Audubon Society members on a birding trip to Baxter State Park. We departed Connecticut on the morning of the 16th and headed north. To break up the drive we stopped at Kennebunk Plains for some grassland birding. Despite our arrival during the heat of the early afternoon, there were still birds to be seen. VESPER SPARROWS were conspicuous, some carrying food. BOBOLINKS and EASTERN MEADOWLARKS were actively singing. After hearing a few GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS, we finally spotted a singing bird that teed-up nicely for us. A flyby UPLAND SANDPIPER was gratifying. We did not see or hear any sign of the few Clay-colored Sparrows that had been reported here, but the time of day was likely to blame more than anything. one of many Vesper Sparrows Night at Big Moose Inn. June 17: We started this day with our first try for Spruce Grouse. The park does not open until 6am (they open at 5am beginning in late June), so we arrived at the ga

Coastal birds today: Roseate Terns, Black Skimmer and more

June is typically a slow month for birding in CT as few true migrants are around, particularly in the second half of the month. The odd mega-rarity aside (see Anhinga and Eurasian Collared-Dove ), this can be a very quiet time. I spent a few hours along the west-central coast today, hitting my two favorite hotspots: the mouth of the Housatonic River and Sandy Point. First, a quick stop behind the warehouses in Stratford yielded one very vocal COMMON RAVEN calling from the communications towers on Pleasure Beach. Common Raven, an increasingly regular coastal bird I was very pleased to find the mouth of the river about as birdy as it could be at this time of year. As the Connecticut Audubon Society blog notes , there has been a concentration of small baitfish here recently, and this was evident at low tide this afternoon. In addition to dozens of Great and Snowy Egrets, there were about 300 Common Terns feeding and roosting in the area. Also many Laughing Gulls and Double-crested Cormo

Hooded Crow....uh oh!

Hooded Crow ( Corvus cornix ); Staten Island, NY, USA ; 25 June 2011 A Hooded Crow was found at Great Kills Park on Staten Island, NY on June 20th. According to local joggers, the bird had been around for a couple weeks. This first-year bird shows no overt signs of captivity (no unusual wear, strange molt, nor any leg bands etc). There were 88 accepted records in Iceland as of 2006, with a significant number of those being spring records. I have also been told by a couple folks that there are two records from Greenland. The park is situated at a location that screams "ship-assisted," at the entrance to a major port area. The most likely scenario, IMO and in the opinion of many folks, is that this bird found itself aboard a ship in the Atlantic that carried it to NYC. Who knows how far it got by itself, but it seems quite unlikely that it reached Staten Island entirely on its own power. There's sure to be plenty of debate on this one, regarding both its origin and its 

193 in Mass, 187 in Maine

This has certainly been a great year for Big Days in New England! Not long after we set the CT record of 192, a team in Massachusetts hit 193 (highest number for any New England state; J. Trimble, P. Trimble, V. Laux) and a team in Maine hit 187 (L. Brinker, D. Ladd, R. Lambert, B. Sheehan). Most folks, including myself, assume that once the dust settles and each state "maxes out" their totals, a team from Massachusetts should end up with the highest total out of the six New England states. Rhode Island seems too small, Vermont too landlocked, and New Hampshire perhaps with too little coastline. But what about CT and Maine? Compared to MA and ME, Connecticut lacks an open ocean, has more homogeneous habitat types, lacks many northern breeders found just to the north (Mourning Warbler, YB Fly, OS Fly, etc) and lacks some southern breeders/overshoots that are regular on Cape Cod (Blue Grosbeak, Chuck-wills-widow etc). To partially make up for that, a few southern breeders are

THANK YOU eBird!!!

Recently back from my CAS trip to Baxter State Park in Maine. I've just entered the results using eBird's NEW and IMPROVED data entry. Wow, is it fast! The old entry method was, IMO, painfully cumbersome. Being used to Birder's Diary, which is very quick and easy as far as data entry goes, the former eBird method made me want to pull my hair out. Now I can enter my sightings without having to block out part of my day! It really is a drastic improvement, one the eBird folks should be commended for. The pages load instantly...there is much less's much easier to scan a single column than it is to scan several...navigating the entry forms are super intuitive. Some of the improvements seem small at first but really improve the process. So, if you haven't gotten into the habit of using eBird yet, this is a great time to try! - NB PS - A full Maine trip report will follow here.

ANHINGA in Hamden, CT

Anhinga ( Anhinga anhinga ) 11 June 2011, Hamden, CT I was happily woken up by a phone call from Roy Harvey this morning, which I figured was regarding a good bird. He was calling to report that Flo McBride and others had found a male ANHINGA at Lake Whitney in Hamden, CT. threatening an approaching DCCO The bird appeared a bit worn, and certainly not in high breeding colors. Subadult or basic-plumaged male? Research needed on my part, and comments welcome. Previously accepted records from CT are from September 1987 (Mantlik), September 1996 (Burke et al), August 1999 (Wood), and September 2006 (Bielfelt et al). All four accepted records are sight records of birds in flight. There have been several other reports of fly-bys that were not accepted by the ARCC because the committee felt that DCCO could not fully be ruled out. This is a more difficult ID than one would think, particularly when a lone DCCO is seen soaring high overhead with tail spread...a behavior common for Anhingas also

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES nesting (!?!) in Stratford, CT

On the afternoon of June 7th, Frank Mantlik found two EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES at Sikorsky Airport in Stratford, CT. On the following day the birds were observed collecting nesting material and were seen copulating on the 9th. Keep in mind that this is ONLY the THIRD record of this species in CT, so a breeding pair has certainly caught everyone here off-guard, especially that they are not yet breeding within several hundred miles of the state. Given the species' incredible spread through the southern and western US, we've considered it a matter of time before breeding occurs in New England. But I don't think anyone was expecting quite this soon. This is, as far as I know, their first breeding attempt in New England. one of two Eurasian Collared-Doves pair just after copulation on June 9th Quite an amazing turn of events. The question is, just how excited should we be? I admit that the initial report of EUCD did not have me running to Stratford, but the breeding attempt is fa

Review: The Crossley ID Guide

[Disclosure: Princeton University Press provided a free copy of this book for review.] Richard Crossley’s “The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds” is the most extensive and ambitious photograph-based North American guide to bird identification on the market today. This is not your typical guide to bird ID, nor is it meant to be. For this reason it has caused a stir among the birding community. With the hugely successful “The Shorebird Guide” by O’Brien, Crossley, and Karlson fresh in everyone’s minds, the anticipation was high leading up to the book’s release. GISS (General Impression, Size, and Shape): Since one of Crossley’s ambitious goals for this guide is to teach the GISS for each species, we may as well turn the tables and apply GISS to his book! While you may find this book in the ‘field guide’ section of your favorite book or nature store, this is no field guide based on size alone. Not unless you carry a backpack with you at all times. This book is large, measuring