Saturday, February 6, 2010

a Freezing Day Outdoors...

Ya gotta love 'em. My absolute favorite time of the day is when the dark skies of the east begin to give way to the sun and start to show the palette of colors that is a sunrise.

This past Friday, February 5th, I woke up well before the alarm (even though I had the day off, I always want to be awake by 6:00am) and decided to go out for some early owling and to bring in the sun.

I was able to call in the Eastern Screech Owl that frequents the habitats near my house, immediately making me wonder why he wasn't around a week ago to give me 104 for BG! Next stop was to go say 'hey' to a resident Barred Owl at Roosevelt Forest in Stratford. He was calling as I walked in (the gate was locked, so I jumped it wand trooped it), so I didn't want to disturb him any further. And for those who know this owl... is he the fattest Barred ever, or what??

By the time I reached my truck it was still at least and hour before sunrise, so I headed for the shore... specifically to see if I can watch for some Boat-tailed Grackles leaving their roost at the Sikorsky Airport. I saw 3 in 'their' tree, but that was it.

As the sun began to rise, and as I began to see my surroundings, the trip became a small photo documentation of a winter marsh.

(ABOVE-> Black ducks in one of several chanels that keep some water open; BOTTOM-> dawn at the start of the 'Railroad Trail')

My morning began at the beginning of what is as 'The Rail Road Trail' at The Great Meadow Marsh unit of the Stewart B McKinney Rufuge in Stratford. Right away it was obvious there were a lot of sparrows about, because a Tree sparrow landed on the back of my pick-up and they were all over the paths. I 'pished' out a very nice looking Fox sparrow about 10 yards into the trail, and found many Swamp sparrows along the first stretch of the trail. In total, 6 sparrow species were present... Song, Swamp, Fox, American Tree, White-throat, and Savannah. (Technically 7 if you wanna count the House sparrows).

Nothing crazy there, though an adult light-morphed Rough-legged hawk was very nice to see. It was in a spot that last year, for me, was where I usually found them... in the vicinity of a small pool on Access Rd. in Stratford, then across the adjacent intersection and near that pool also. There are some deciduous trees (birches?) in a row facing almost due south, and this is where Friday's bird was.

Other birds were two adult Red-tailed hawks and a few Boat-tailed grackles in the reeds of the pond at Great Meadows.

(Photos: TOP-> Song Sparrow in the frozen marsh; MIDDLE-> adult Red-tailed hawk; BOTTOM-> adult Red-tailed hawk across the marsh)

After Great Meadows I did a quick peek at Johnson's Creek on the Bridgeport/Stratford line for the 'western' Willet that was present recently which was not that day. Though a sleeping Black-crowned Night-heron, and a very active female Belted Kingfisher (below).

Afterwards I swung by Frash Pond and then Birdseye Boat ramp in Stratford. Frash Pond held the usual Hooded mergansers, Bufflehead, Black ducks and Canvasback. The water source for this pond either enters or exits in a way that, when freezing/frozen, on small area of open water remains open near a good viewing point on Access Rd. I was able to get a few photos of the Canvasbacks.

The resident American Coot continued at the boat ramp, as did the Wilson's Snipe that has been hanging around (as one did last winter). The Coot are always a cool bird to watch with their 'non-duck-like' behavior. Especially when they walk up on the ground. The usual group of 8 was there this day, and for once, they were all within the range of a single photo. Unfortunately, the snipe was further down the the river on the mudflats, out of reach of my lens. (Standing on the fishing platform, looking at the river, the snipe was on the Stratford side down towards Stratford Marina).

When I was pulling out, a Peregrine falcon zoomed over the parking lot and headed over the beach towards Stratford Point.

(group of Canvasback)

(female Canvasback

(American Coot)

(the whole clan of Coots at the boat ramp)

After Birdseye, I headed home and stopped very quickly at Peck's Mill Pond which is just down the road from my house. It was about 90% frozen, with only a small brook keeping some cold muddy areas open. In this area in the back were 4 mallards and 6 Wood ducks. This pond (usually...!!!) is a great spot for Wood ducks. I had the pleasure of watching 5 ducklings grow up this summer.

It was a very cold day, and not overly birdy either. Though it was just one of those days when it feels great to be outside.



  1. Great kingfisher pic. That's a bird I take for granted sometimes.

  2. Ya know, me too. They are perfectly little evolved wonders.

  3. Great pictures. Thanks for taking the time to post.