Prothonotary Warbler in Fairfield!

It’s always fun to see a rarity. It’s also always fun to see a brightly colored warbler. But to see both doesn’t happen that often. That was why a Prothonotary Warbler was special enough for my dad and I to drive down to Fairfield to see it. We arrived at the Audubon Larsen Sanctuary at 10:00, where it had been sighted that morning. We took a right at the Farm Pond and entered a marshy area. We walked around looking for the bird for about 45 minutes. Soon enough, I saw a yellow dot farther down the trail. It was the Prothonotary Warbler! We got great looks for about 20 minutes of the bird. While my dad and I were there we also saw Brendan, who saw the bird right as he walked in. The warbler flitted around and got pretty close to us before flying away. I got a bunch of pictures as well.
Prothontary Warbler!
This Blue-gray Gnatcatcher posed for us, but he seemed a little angry about something:
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

So, it was a good trip! Another great bird for the state of Connecticut for everyone.

PS: Here’s Alex’s lovely photo of the warbler from Wednesday:
Prothonotary Warbler - Protonotaria citrea

April Trip — Trout Brook/Fairfield

Our April trip for the CT Young Birders Club focused primarily on picking up some of the early spring migrants that were beginning to arrive in Connecticut’s Fairfield County. This was my first trip with the group, and Aidan, Alex, Brendan and Preston also were there. The first spot we visited was the Trout Brook Valley Preserve, in Weston. As soon as we got there Louisiana Waterthrushes were singing, a yearbird for some of the group. Trout Brook turned out to be very birdy this morning. As we ascended the trail we got bad looks at Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and we even heard Pine Siskin and Purple Finch. We also got to hear the lovely song of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. We also noticed that Pine Warblers were singing throughout the trail. Spring birds have arrived here in Weston!

As we continued on the trail, we noticed a pair of Hermit Thrushes skulking through the woods. Unfortunately we did not hear their song, which we agreed was one of the best bird songs in the world. Once we got to the Aspetuck Reservoir, a beautiful Yellow-rumped Warbler gave us good looks. It was a surprisingly quiet day for swallows, and we only saw one Barn. On the way back we heard Eastern Bluebirds, saw more gnatcatchers, and found a Two-lined Salamander, which we got good looks at. Just as we were about to leave, we saw a Common Raven and a Broad-winged Hawk flying in the sky. The Broad-winged had a black trailing edge and a dark, banded tail, key field marks for IDing the bird.

Next we traveled to the nearby Hemlock Reservoir looking for Cliff Swallows. Unfortunately, there were not many swallows there, and only a few Northern Rough-winged Swallows appeared. Aside from some quick looks at possible Cliff Swallows exiting nests, we did not see any of them. However, our time there was not a complete waste: we got looks at Pine Warblers and a Common Loon in breeding plumage. Next we headed down to Sherwood Island State Park, but a ridiculous entry fee sent us somewhere else.

We headed to Southport Beach in Fairfield, the spot where a Little Gull had been spotted a week ago. There were also reports of Eurasian Wigeon, a nemesis for me. However, the wigeon did not show, partly because of high tide. There were only American Wigeon there. Other notables there include a Snowy Egret, more Northern Rough-winged Swallows, and two woodchucks. A quick stop at the Southport Harbor in search of Purple Martins did not get us anything, so we headed over to Ash Creek.

Snowy EgretSnowy Egret

At the Ash Creek Open Space in Fairfield, there were Savannah Sparrows flitting around as soon as we got out of the car. Not a yearbird, but a new one for the day. As we begun on the trail, we got good looks at robins, grackles and flickers. We saw four yellowlegs but their calls and bill lengths identified them as Greater. The highlight bird of Ash Creek was a lovely Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, a yearbird for Brendan. It was a great view of a very nice species of heron. After some Red-breasted Mergansers in the water and Ospreys in the sky, we concluded our trip. We had a great time and got to set up some plans for the club!

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

American Robin

American Robin

– Peter

Birdcraft Trip

The CTYBC is heading to the Birdcraft Sanctuary in Fairfield on Sunday, May 6th for what should be an awesome trip. We’ll have the opportunity to witness a bird banding demonstration by the Birdcraft banding crew, and will have an opportunity to bird the migrant-rich grounds of one of the best birding sites in Fairfield County. New members are always welcome!

Click here for more details.

We hope to see you there!

Alex Burdo – CTYBC Present

October Trip (10/9) – Pine Creek and Richardson Tree Farm

Here is the email sent out to our yahoogroups domain. Hope you can join us!

James Purcell and I are leading our first October trip on Sunday, October 9th to the Pine Creek Open Space in Fairfield and Grace Richardson Christmas Tree Farm (which we visited in March) right over the border in Westport. The trip begins at 8 o’clock at the Tree Farm. We will spend an hour there before continuing to Pine Creek, where the birding will be a couple hours long. We then have the option of hitting another spot in the Fairfield area (such as the Birdcraft Sanctuary, Ash Creek/Jennings Beach Plot, Hoyden’s Hill or another) or just wrapping up the day.

Because we will not have the van available to us, we will be carpooling. If anyone has a parent who is willing to carpool and join us, that would work. I know Brendan’s dad will be on the trip. NOW, I just want to make it clear that if a rarity shows up in our area we can totally take a vote to go and chase it or do this.

If you have any doubts about going, hopefully this will clear it up:

James and i have birded Pine Creek quite a bit in the past two weeks, with our three biggest highlights being: DICKCISSEL, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT and YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. We’ve also seen four species of vireo (incl. YT and Philly) and around 15 species of warbler as well as some other awesome highlights including Scarlet Tanager, Little Blue Heron and Northern Harrier. The ninth is also around the time when we start seeing Lincoln’s and White-crowned Sparrows at Pine Creek and Clay-colored has been seen there in the past.

The Christmas Tree Farm has also been hopping in the past few days. Highlights of Tina Green and Frank Mantlik’s visits have included: 3 DICKCISSEL, 2 BLUE GROSBEAKS, a few LINCOLN’S SPARROWS as well as Brown Thrasher, numerous warblers and vireos, AmKestrel and others.

So, it is URGENT that you RSVP to me ASAP!! WE WILL GO NO MATTER WHAT!!!!! PLEASE DON’T MISS OUT ON WHAT SHOULD BE A FANTASTIC TRIP!

Best,

Alex Burdo

President

Next Field Trip – September 18th

Red-tailed Hawk – Luke Tiller

The next meeting of the Connecticut Young Birders Club will take place at Audubon Greenwich on September 18th. We will meet early morning at the Kimberlin Nature Center to look for migrant warblers and other song birds on poroperty and members are more than welcome to spend the day whole day taking part in the day’s hawkwatch.

We will also be having a pot luck BBQ at the hawkwatch as part of the potential Big Broad-wing Weekend. This is prime Broad-winged migration periosd so we’ll hope for one of those multiple thousand bird days. If you would like to stay around for that as well please do.

To register for the day contact Luke Tiller or Brian O’Toole at Audubon Greenwich luke.tiller@gmail.com or botoole@audubon’.org

Sterling Forest and Rockefeller

This is my blog post from a great day of birding today from http://floridascrubjay.wordpress.com/:

Today the Connecticut Young Birders Club (CTYBC) journeyed to New York State in search of a few birds that are difficult to see in Connecticut. Our first stop was the Sterling Forest in Tuxedo Park, NY which you might remember me visiting last year.

A Louisiana Waterthrush greeted us on our way in and we soon arrived at our first stop: the Ironwood Drive powerline cut. Once on the trail, we were able to nail one of our big targets fairly quickly in the form of a female Golden-winged Warbler. A male soon appeared nearby and gave great looks for all the members before disappearing into a nearby bush. A walk up that section of powerline cut yielded: numerous Prairie Warblers, Indigo Buntings, Black-and-white Warblers, American Redstarts, Eastern Towhees, Scarlet Tanagers and more.

We then retraced our steps and started up the other slope when we noted a Wood Duck in a reedy pool nearby. Upon entrance to the woods, we were surprised by a burst of Yellow-throated Vireo song coming from the canopy. “A Scarlet Tanager in slow motion,” James Purcell often remarks. A Chestnut-sided Warbler and more Indigo Buntings showed well here. On our way back to the van, we were able to nail a calling Barred Owl. Back at the parking area we were caught up to a singing Cerulean Warbler, although we never did see it.

Still missing a few targets and a look at Cerulean, we moved on to other sections of the park including the Blue Lake area where we missed Cerulean and Hooded but still picked up a nice singing Scarlet Tanager. The visitor’s center held a perched Black Vulture, giving great looks on a dead snag. Another Cerulean was again heard (urgh) but a few nice Indigo Buntings provided nice consolation for our missed look.

After the buntings, we began to make our way out towards our next spot: Rockefeller State Park.

This year, Rockefeller has been the home of two (and possibly three) male Kentucky Warblers on territory that have proven to be pretty reliable throughout the day. After enjoying a few resident birds including multiple Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting we were able to get terrific looks at a singing male, perched out in the open! The highlight of the trip for me.

Also present was a tame Eastern Chipmunk that caught the members’ attention:

Big thanks to Luke Tiller for making this all happen and for the members that came! Had a great time with all of you!

-Alex Burdo

For photos from the day click here.