Saturday, February 18, 2017

Return To Hammonasset Beach State Park

A second visit to Hammonasset Beach State Park was made a couple of days after my first on New Year's Day when it was warmer with the park surprisingly crowded with visitors.


The Mallard above (image 1) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in January 2017.

I again made a motor birding tour as the ankle heals. I gravitated to the pond northwest of the traffic circle which I consider a hotspot within the eBird hotspot devoting the two hours before sunset for observations.


The American Black Duck above (image 2) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in January 2017.


The Northern Harrier above (image 3) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in January 2017.


The Northern Harrier above (image 4) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in January 2017.


The Northern Harrier above (image 5) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in January 2017.

It was an enjoyable afternoon with comparatively balmy conditions. There was apparently not as great a need for the wildlife to take refuge in the pond this day as many flocks of birds flew past.


The Mallard above (image 6) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in January 2017.


The Great Blue Heron above (image 7) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in January 2017.


The Northern Harrier above (image 8) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in January 2017.


The Northern Harrier above (image 9) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in January 2017.

Hammonasset Beach State Park has shown great potential for interesting wildlife observations even with minimal exploration. The full tour of miles often noted in eBird reports for this venue seems prudent for the ultimate experience.


The Northern Harrier above (image 10) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in January 2017.


The Mallard above (image 11) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in January 2017.


The Green-winged Teal above (image 12) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in January 2017.


The Mallard above (image 13) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in January 2017.

eBirders Tina Green and Frank Mantlick reported Hammonasset Beach State Park's 305th bird species (Barrow's Goldeneye) 15 February 2017.


The immature Sharp-shinned Hawk above (image 14) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in January 2017.

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The Mallard above (image 15) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in January 2017.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Cold Connecticut Birding Day

On a cold day, make that a very cold day with winds causing discomfort for a former Floridian, I made efforts to observe a reported Barrow's Goldeneye near Tuxis Island in Connecticut to close my 2016 wildlife observations.


The Herring Gull above (image 1) was photographed at East Wharf Beach Park in December 2016.

I heard from wildlife blogger Hemant Kishan who told me that he has seen Barrow's Goldeneye on the Detroit River which is another out of bounds observation of the species with this species typically seen in the northwest corner of the United States. The Barrow's Goldeneye is readily identified in comparison to Common Goldeneye by a comma shaped white patch on its face.


The Red-breasted Merganser above (image 2) was photographed near East Wharf Beach Park in December 2016.


The Common Goldeneye above (image 3) was photographed near East Wharf Beach Park in December 2016.

Initial observations to find the Barrow's Goldeneye were made at noontime near Tuxis Island in Madison, Connecticut, on 30 December 2016 with four birders on the scene. As far as I could tell there were no good birds in the swells and heavy winds. From here I made my way to East Wharf Beach Park along Middle Beach Road as recommended by one of the birders.


The Mallard above (image 4) was photographed at Hammonasset Beach State Park in December 2016.


The Barrow's Goldeneye with Bufflehead above (image 5) was photographed near Tuxis Island in December 2016.

Without seeing the Barrow's Goldeneye in my 90 minutes of observations I continued further east toward Hammonasset Beach State Park. Driving along Middle Beach Road I caught sight of a pair of Red-breasted Merganser and a Bufflehead. They doubled their distance from the shoreline by the time I backed up the car to take a few photos.


The Ring-billed Gull above (image 6) was photographed near Tuxis Island in December 2016.


The Common Goldeneye above (image 7) was photographed near Tuxis Island in December 2016.

My arrival at Hammonasset Beach State Park 30 January would be my first visit after reading many eBird reports from this Long Island Sound "hotspot" that has hosted 304 bird species as reported at eBird. I made a slow drive along all the primary roadways. Although the wind was wicked this day with my tripod being blown over before I could get the camera and lens secured west of the traffic circle I was excited by the sighting of a Great Black-backed Gull working the perimeter of the pond. There were Mallard in decent numbers, more than I had seen at any one time while making observations in Florida. A male Northern Harrier was seen perched across the pond.


The Herring Gull above (image 8) was photographed near Tuxis Island in December 2016.


The Ring-billed Gull above (image 9) was photographed near Tuxis Island in December 2016.

As I began to succumb to the cold conditions at Hammonasset I opted to return to Tuxis Island where the specialty bird had been reported. The winds were diminishing closer to sunset and the waves were not as high as earlier in the day. There were a good number of Common Goldeneye with a Bufflehead diving on the shoreside of Gull Rock. Too far for me to identify the Barrow's Goldeneye with my camera alone. I still hadn't unpacked my bins. Further inspection of images captured revealed a life bird for me.


The sunset above (image 10) was photographed near Tuxis Island in December 2016.

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Farewell Harns Marsh Preserve And SW Florida

My likely last visit to Harns Marsh Preserve in Lehigh Acres, Florida, occurred in late October when I met up with Canadian wildlife photographer Frank Constantin.


The primarily Boat-tailed Grackle above (image 1) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.

The weather was favorable with the grass well groomed and 39 species of bird observed in the ensuing two hours after sunrise during our stay. A good number of Purple Gallinule were present among a Gray-headed Swamphen continuing this day with a snipe an unexpected bonus.


The Sandhill Crane above (image 2) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The immature Black-crowned Night-Heron above (image 3) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Sandhill Crane above (image 4) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Purple Gallinule above (image 5) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The juvenile Purple Gallinule above (image 6) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The juvenile Purple Gallinule above (image 7) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The juvenile Purple Gallinule above (image 8) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.

After a number of failed observations of Snail Kite at Harns, a male and female were observed in and over the marsh. A possible third individual of the species was seen perched while closely reviewing an image of a flock of grackles in flight.


The juvenile Purple Gallinule above (image 9) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Snail Kite above (image 10) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Snail Kite above (image 11) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Gray-headed Swamphen above (image 12) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Snail Kite above (image 13) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Snail Kite above (image 14) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Anhinga above (image 15) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Anhinga above (image 16) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.

The time at this extraordinary wildlife venue in southwest Florida passed much too quickly with a regrettable need to ready my departure from paradise. It was, however, especially good to see some of the venue's signature species.


The American Coot above (image 17) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Anhinga above (image 18) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Boat-tailed Grackle above (image 19) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Turkey Vulture above (image 20) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The juvenile Snowy Egret above (image 21) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Little Blue Heron above (image 22) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Great Blue Heron above (image 23) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Limpkin above (image 24) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.

Though under the weather at the moment, stay tuned for new adventures in Connecticut along the northern shores of Long Island Sound and beyond.


The Anhinga with prey above (image 25) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Purple Gallinule above (image 26) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.


The Wilson's Snipe above (image 27) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.

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The Double-crested Cormorant above (image 28) was photographed at Harns Marsh Preserve in October 2016.