Showing posts from March, 2015

Feb 22, 2015 - Seaside Park gulls

Going back a month here. After successfully twitching the Tufted Duck in Bridgeport, CT, Julian Hough and I stopped into nearby Seaside Park and spent a few minutes with gulls that were coming in to bread. We focused most of our attention on a second cycle "Kumlien's" Iceland Gull. "Kumlien's" Iceland Gull "Kumlien's" Iceland Gull While watching this bird, we noticed a few other individuals showing interesting features. First, an adult Herring Gull with a rather Thayer's-like pattern, showing a reduced amount of black in the primaries including a fully white tip to p10. Herring Gull Herring Gull Next was a Great Black-backed Gull with rather yellow legs. Great Black-backed Gull Great Black-backed Gull Finally, an adult Herring Gull with dull yellow legs, which is actually regularly seen in late winter and early spring as these birds come into breeding plumage. Herring Gull  - NB

Interesting Wallingford geese

A flock of about two hundred Canada Geese on a dreary day in Wallingford, CT today held a few interesting birds: two small Canada Geese and one Canada hybrid. First, the small Canadas. Note that the usual caveats to white-cheeked goose identification apply here...there are many pitfalls! For a quick summary, check out David Sibley's blog post on the subject or this article in Cackling Goose ID by Mlodinow et. al . I find that my confidence in identifying white-cheeked geese waxes and wanes from year to year. Or, more accurately, perhaps flock to flock. I am currently in a "less confident" phase, perhaps owing a bit to recent interest discussions on the topic. Both of today's small Canada Geese are birds that I usually put squarely into the Canada Goose category, and for all I know that may be correct. But I am going to post some photos here to show just how small these geese looked next to adjacent obvious Canadas. The size difference held up well in the field

"Common" Teal, Barrow's Goldeneye, and more

I woke up on the early side this morning in hopes of getting to the coast for a few hours of birding. Glancing at my phone, the outside temperature read a frigid 18 degrees, which gave me more than a brief pause. I don't know how I got myself out of bed with that piece of information in mind, but I did. And I'm glad I did, because it turned out to be a beautiful day. Once the sun rose the temps climbed into the lower 40s. Combine that with almost zero wind until mid-afternoon, and I didn't have to wear all those layers I brought with me. On my way to the water I lucked into a flock of Canada Geese in Northford which held an adult GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE. I continued to the coast, where I started at South Cove in Old Saybrook in search of Bonaparte's Gulls. This used to be one of the two best spots in the state (along with the Oyster River mouth in Milford/West Haven) to view roosting flocks of Bonaparte's Gulls numbering in the hundreds to a few thousand. It h

Abrupt (and welcome!) changes ahead

It has been so cold and snowy for so long that it is easy to forget we're already through the first week of March. The calendar says spring is almost here, yet is feels like the dead of winter. Average high temperatures here in Connecticut are around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but we have not been even close to that number for most of the past six weeks. Don't get me wrong; we're used to cold snaps, even down here in southern New England, but not without a thaw every once in a while! Many northeastern cities experienced their coldest February on record . In the birding world, visible northbound migration has been nearly nonexistent. The only noticeable local movements have been from waterfowl retreating southward , away from frozen inland rivers and lakes. However, they're about to pull a U-turn. We are right on the cusp of breaking out of this deep freeze, and with that will come a rapid change in the birding scene here in Connecticut. Spring migration, although subtle a

Feb 16-21 -- Nova Scotia and back

Ever since the Eurasian Kestrel near Halifax, Nova Scotia was identified back in late December, I had been looking for an opportunity to drive up to see it. My anticipation doubled when a Fieldfare joined the party in late January. Just last week everything finally came together, and I headed north with Tom Johnson and Matt Sabatine. We managed to time our departure between winter storms, most notably on the heels of a blizzard that dropped 1-2 feet of snow on our destination. (If you've watched the national news for all of five minutes recently, you might think that we've all been buried alive under snow drifts.) We drove up overnight Monday in hopes of reaching the Fieldfare sometime on Tuesday morning. Late Monday 2/16 into Tuesday 2/17: Roads in the US were in fine shape as we drove through a very cold night; temps dipped to as low as -11 degrees Fahrenheit. The Nova Scotia DOT website had still labeled the highway to the Fieldfare as *closed* as we reached the internati