Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Feature: Stratford Point, Connecticut

While the Stratford Point Light remains the property of the United States Coast Guard, and has very limited access save a day or two during the year, the green space to its immediate north is maintained by Audubon Connecticut.


The Common Loon above (image 1) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.

This land offers a stunning coastal grassland area near the mouth of the Housatonic River which has of this writing 282 species of bird observed according to eBird data. It was my hope to visit Stratford Point and observe the LeConte's and Clay-colored Sparrows seen a day earlier at the venue.


The Herring Gull above (image 2) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Mallard above (image 3) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Brant above (image 4) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Brant above (image 5) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Song Sparrow above (image 6) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.

It was unfortunate to miss such rare species even with the added eyes of many experienced birders, but I was able to nonetheless add Red-throated Loon, Field Sparrow, and Brant as life bird species observed.


The Savannah Sparrow above (image 7) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Song Sparrow above (image 8) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Double-crested Cormorant above (image 9) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The House Sparrow above (image 10) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The House Sparrow above (image 11) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Vesper Sparrow above (image 12) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.

Stratford Point is unquestionably a wildlife venue that would not disappoint a visitor at any time of year. It was with good fortune that I was also able to see abundant butterfly activity. The unsuccessful attempt by a Merlin to capture a migrating Monarch Butterfly will not easily be forgotten.


The Field Sparrow above (image 13) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Merlin above (image 14) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Merlin above (image 15) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Common Yellowthroat above (image 16) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The White-tailed Deer above (image 17) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The House Sparrow above (image 18) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.

There was the neat coincidence to meet up with a fellow birding enthusiast named Paul whom I had met at Donald W. Barnes Boat Launch earlier in the year. Another birder told me of the nearby Mondo Ponds which I investigated enjoyably before making the trek back along the highway.


The Monarch Butterfly above (image 19) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The American Crow above (image 20) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Orange Sulpher Butterfly above (image 21) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Great Black-backed Gull above (image 22) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Great Black-backed Gull above (image 23) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Ring-billed Gull above (image 24) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.

Stratford Point is unquestionably a must visit venue when in the area. Have all of your accoutrements with you including bins, scope and camera if available. A scope would have been especially helpful to me if I had it to assist in identifying a large flock of gulls.


The Red-throated Loon above (image 25) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Field Sparrow above (image 26) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Painted Lady Butterfly above (image 27) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Song Sparrow above (image 28) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.


The Milkweed bug nymphs above (image 29) were photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.

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The Common Buckeye Butterfly above (image 30) was photographed at Stratford Point in October 2017.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Be Sure To Be An eBirder

Somewhere between the Arctic and Southwest Florida is a place to relax and do some good birding.


The Eastern Bluebird above (image 1) was photographed at Casa Almeida in September 2017.

One of those great places to bird is in Killingworth, Connecticut. With the ability to observe action at a leisurely pace, typically 15 minutes before sunrise and beyond with a desire to increase my bird list, it has been great fun to document my sightings. In fact, immediately after my last report I had the good fortune to see a "double-crested" Eastern Bluebird.


The American Goldfinch above (image 2) was photographed at Casa Almeida in September 2017.

Leisurely here doesn't mean to imply that birding fails to require a large degree of effort. A typical morning has averaged more than a few hours of observation. There is sometimes a surprise or two that breaks up the routine such as the incidental when glancing out the window to observe an unusually large count of 15 Northern Flicker seeking sustenance in the lawn and flower beds which occurred the day of this publication.


The Rose-breasted Grosbeak above (image 3) was photographed at Casa Almeida in September 2017.

Much time has additionally been devoted to making reports to eBird. You are invited to check out the lion's share of wildlife images processed this month that are available to view there. In the coming months I will be evaluating my continued membership with Pbase.


The American Goldfinch above (image 4) was photographed at Casa Almeida in September 2017.

If you have not already done so, I strongly encourage you to investigate eBird and contribute your observations to it. It is a magnificent resource of give and take. My thanks to eBirders Greg Hanisek and Tom Obrock for assisting me in correctly identifying several birds this month.


The Eastern Wood-Pewee above (image 5) was photographed at Casa Almeida in September 2017.


The Black-throated Green Warbler above (image 6) was photographed at Casa Almeida in September 2017.

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The Eastern Phoebe above (image 7) was photographed at Casa Almeida in September 2017.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Bird Sanctuary In Killingworth, CT Pt. IV

Young birds became a rewarding event at Casa Almeida in Killingworth, Connecticut, in the 2017 summer season.


The juvenile Blue Jay above (image 1) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.

On the eve of the parade to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the naming of the town of Killingworth, CT, flags drape the utility poles around the center of town. Many are at half-mast at municipal buildings to show respect for a Connecticut sailor who perished in a maritime disaster earlier this month.


The Great Crested Flycatcher above (image 2) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The Common Grackle above (image 3) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The Red-winged Blackbird above (image 4) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The Ruby-throated Hummingbird above (image 5) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The Ruby-throated Hummingbird above (image 6) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly above (image 7) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The juvenile Downy Woodpecker above (image 8) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.

The destructive impact on the wildlife in Texas and the southeast due to Hurricane Harvey will certainly never be known. A headline seen near the time of this writing notes that 350+ new species including one bird have been discovered in the Amazon offering a great contrast to nature's wrath.


The juvenile Downy Woodpecker above (image 9) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The Eastern Gray Squirrel above (image 10) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The Cabbage White Butterfly above (image 11) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The Silver-spotted Skipper above (image 12) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The Great Black Wasp on Sea Holly above (image 13) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The moth above (image 14) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The Blinded Sphinx Moth above (image 15) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.

In the relative microcosm of the Killingworth sanctuary there was a transformation well noticed with the advent of a new generation of birds of species that have been seen with near regularity. There was an obvious doubling and tripling in numbers of several bird species observed at the feeders.


The immature House Finch above (image 16) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The Chipping Sparrow above (image 17) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The American Goldfinch above (image 18) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The juvenile Rose-breasted Grosbeak above (image 19) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The juvenile Rose-breasted Grosbeak above (image 20) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The 1st Summer Red-winged Blackbird above (image 21) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The juvenile Northern Flicker above (image 22) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.

At the peak of the frenzy when juvenile birds would vocally beg their parents for food, it was almost an annoyance. A few weeks went by and things quieted down. There was evidence of failed nesting attempts that were possibly retried successfully resulting in obviously very young birds observed as recently as yesterday (American Goldfinch and House Finch).


The Meadow Vole above (image 23) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The federally banded American Goldfinch above (image 24) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The House Wren above (image 25) was photographed at Casa Almeida in July 2017.


The Painted Lady Butterfly above (image 26) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The Ruby-throated Hummingbird above (image 27) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The Carolina Wren above (image 28) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The Ruby-throated Hummingbird above (image 29) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.

While an occasional surprise species would arrive, an undesirable visitor returned in increasing numbers. My high count for the Common Grackle was at 130 a few days before this publication. It's my hope that their numbers continue to go down as their migration instincts take hold.


The immature White-tailed Deer above (image 30) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The Tufted Titmouse above (image 31) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The House Finch with juvenile above (image 32) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbird above (image 33) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The Red-bellied Woodpecker feeding juvenile above (image 34) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The molting Northern Cardinal above (image 35) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The Wild Turkey above (image 36) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.

The grackles are a very active and dominant species often described as bullies in a bird feeder area. They have regularly consumed more than ten suet cakes in mere hours which were offered to attract other species including Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers. My solution to this has been to offer only a couple of suet cakes at a time (broken among all the feeders) giving the woodpeckers an opportunity to feed without being completely overwhelmed with competition throughout the day. The grackles unfortunately also have a great appetite for dried mealworms and Black Oil sunflower seeds.


The Blue Jay with duel beaks above (image 37) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The American Redstart above (image 38) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The juvenile Baltimore Oriole above (image 39) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The juvenile Baltimore Oriole above (image 40) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The Eastern Wood-Pewee above (image 41) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher above (image 42) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The Canada Warbler above (image 43) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.

With regret there were several juvenile birds observed with physical afflictions. The eyes were possibly injured by sibling rivalry in the nest while a Blue Jay had a particularly unusual beak disfigurement. Birds merely in molt of their feathers should not be mistaken as disfigured.


The Ovenbird above (image 44) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The juvenile House Finch above (image 45) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The Cooper's Hawk above (image 46) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.

In addition to all of the species documented through photography in this multi-part effort, it was exciting to add to the "yard list" a pair of Common Nighthawk which were observed flying south at high altitude over Casa Almeida the day before this publication.


The Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly above (image 47) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The juvenile Northern Parula above (image 48) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.

I hope you did not overlook the federally banded American Goldfinch seen in image #24, nor the Canada Warbler which is a newly added species for this blog (not to mention most of the non bird critters). Without assistance, the species seen in image #14 remains unidentified.


The immature female Rose-breasted Grosbeak above (image 49) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.


The House Finch above (image 50) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.

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The American Goldfinch feeding juvenile above (image 51) was photographed at Casa Almeida in August 2017.

Please also see A Bird Sanctuary In Killingworth, CT Pt. I
Please also see A Bird Sanctuary In Killingworth, CT Pt. II
Please also see A Bird Sanctuary In Killingworth, CT Pt. III
Please also see my eBird checklist from 2 September which includes an unusual Eastern Bluebird and an American Goldfinch "family portrait."