Monday, March 22, 2010


....the three letters that get birders more and more excited for the upcoming migrant blast. Just three letters that denote change in weather, give info on early arrival dates when compared to previous data, and force those of us (like me!!) who eventually get stuck inside when winter is winding down just before those three letters emerge.

FOY... First of Year. 9 times out of 10 the FOY bird any birder will see is a common migrant, seen before, if not several, several times (if not, It'd be a lifer and not FOY!). But it is still so awesome.

The beginning of my FOYs (as far as birds go) started on March 11th, with an early, and singing Pine Warbler on the opposite side of a powerline cut that runs through my woods behind my house. Though early, it is not at all unheard of... they winter as far north as the Carolinas and maybe even Cape May (similar in that regard to Yellow-rumps who hang out on the coast, mostly Hammonasset SP, in CT during winter). As soon as I heard that classic, almost Chipping Sparrow like trill coming from the woods (which, for whatever reason, is a early Spring PIWA hotspot) near another Stratford birder's house, it was instantaneous.... Spring is close!!

(I'm wondering if Scott picked that up? I know he had them at his feeders for a long time last early season, which is VERY close to the 'hotspot'. *See photo below*)

(Spring plumage male Pine Warbler in the aforementioned 'hotspot'. Photo taken: 04/09/09

Below is a list of my 2010 FOYs with dates (not all birds):

  • Mourning Cloak butterfly (3/08) - Stratford
  • Pine Warbler (3/11) - Stratford
  • American Woodcock (3/13) - Stratford
  • Spring Peepers (3/13) - Stratford
  • Wood Frogs (3/13) - Stratford
  • Red-backed Salamander & 'Lead-backed' form (3/13) - Stratford
  • Tree Swallows (3/18) - Stratford
  • Garter Snake (3/19) - Stratford
  • Eastern Phoebe (3/20) - Shelton
  • Osprey (3/20) - Guilford
  • Eastern Comma butterfly (3/20) - Guilford
  • Spring Azure butterfly (3/20) - Guilford (one of my favs)
  • Black Racer snake (3/20) - Guilford
  • Pickerel Frog (3/20) - Guilford
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler (3/22) - Stratford

I am anxiously awaiting the early passerine/warbler migrants!! Especially since I am leaving between May 1-7th for two months!!!! 39 DAYS!!!! I'm going to miss late guys like Mourning warbs =( However, Palms will be here in a feeks. My early date (in my giant anthology of 3 years birding) for 'yellow' Palm warbler is April 19th. Which, as of today, is only a month away!

Further, I have an exact date for when both Indigo Buntings and White-crowned Sparrows return to my feeders, then off to close breeding locales (Indigo) or off to the far north (WC sparrow). That date is April 21st. Then they stay until about the first week of May, before they take to the wing. Thankfully, I'll be here in CT for that event. If it happens this year, it will be 3 years in a row... all three years of my birding obsession. Both species always arrive on the same date, just like Larry Flynn has in Norwalk with his Opsrey and Oystercatchers. =)

I have textbook habitat for Buntings to nest in the cut.wood edges in my woods, but I've yet to find a breeding pair. You'd think if it was good enough for the OK amount of cool birds that do call that area their temporary home, that the Indigos would at least give it a go (for all I know they have!!). Though we all know how different birds can be from species to species... even in the same habitat. There is a similar cut (thing nice mixed deciduous forests on either side, and thick, thick brush/scrub/shrubs inside), though multiplied by about 15, less than 5 miles from my house that sustains a nice breeding population of Indigos. As well as Prairie and Blue-winged Warbs, Towhees, Catbirds and Phoebes. It is called Shelton Lakes in Shelton, CT.... an amazing place tucked in all the development in that town. Breeding population of Pine, Black-and-white, Worm-eating, Prairie, Blue-winged, and Yellow warblers exist there. (Thanks to Charlie B. for adding a few to my verified list!) I think one reason the Buntings nest there and they don't near me is because of the stage of re-growth in the cut. The Shelton lakes cut is further along with established pockets and groves of Mountain Laural (?) and other thicker, taller shrub/scrub plants. Maybe that could be the difference.(?)

OK! back on track.... Below is a (terrible) shot under my feeders that shows an interesting group of birds, all migrants. The photo was taken on May 2nd, and contains Indigo Buntings, White-crowned Sparrows, and White-THROATED sparrows (May 2nd)... a species which is a winter visitor (and maybe northern CT breeder????) in CT. Winter and Spring migrants together, all feeding together. I thought it was really neat.

(White-throated Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows and Indigo Buntings feeding under my feeder tree in Stratford, CT yard. Photo taken: 05/02/09)

**Anyone can click on any photo throughout my blog to view a larger image**


No comments:

Post a Comment