On Sunday, August 30th, the Connecticut Young Birders Club will embark on a promising trip. Our goal will be to see as many shorebird species as possible. With shorebird expert Nick Bonomo leading our effort, we will scour Connecticut’s coastline in search of as many shorebird species as possible. The day all depends on what is being reported, but most likely we will make stops as renowned shorebird spots such as Sandy Point in West Haven and Milford Point in Milford. Of course, the day will be planned completely around the tides, but anything is possible during the height of shorebird migration.
From Saturday, June 27th to Tuesday, June 30th, the CTYBC was up in Vermont. We birded the boreal areas of the Northeast Kingdom as well as Mount Mansfield, seeing all of our major targets and having an awesome time. Our trip report, written by all the participating members, is below.
In just one week the CTYBC will be making its first-ever overnight trip! We will travel north to Vermont and with the help of some great adult birders, we will be able to band Bicknell’s Thrushes at Mount Mansfield! We will camp at multiple spots in the area, and we will also do some boreal birding in search of some excellent nesters. Our primary targets make up the Boreal Grand Slam – Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee and Spruce Grouse – and can all be found at Moose Bog. This trip will be full of great birds and experiences for the entire trip! The trip begins on Friday, and ends on Tuesday. Most of the birding will be from Saturday to Monday.
On Saturday the Young Birders Club took a trip out to New York, near the Hudson River. The main target bird was a Golden-winged Warbler, among other things. When we showed up at the Sterling Forest, it was raining, which did not bode well for seeing the warbler. However, we reached the clearing at the end of Ironwood Road, and the bird was fairly easy! There were about four birds there, singing and flitting in the bushes.
The Golden-winged Warbler was a lifer for the entire group! Other notables were singing Cerulean Warblers (a lifer for Preston), Hooded Warbler, Prairie Warbler, and Field Sparrow. We also got great looks at Indigo Buntings and Louisiana Waterthrushes.
One unfortunate event in Sterling was just as we were about to leave. We noticed a Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warbler in a bush. They then began mating. Unfortunately, we had witnessed the conception of a Brewster’s Warbler. While this may seem interesting, the hybridization of these two closely related species is a factor in the population decline of the Golden-winged Warbler. This photo shows the Blue-winged Warbler after mating with the Golden-winged.
After leaving Sterling we headed to Doodletown Road. Doodletown was an old town in the 1700s that eventually got abandoned. Now, it is a nature reserve home to many birds, insects, and even Timber Rattlesnakes! As soon as we entered we saw lots of Cerulean and Hooded Warblers. There were also Yellow-billed Cuckoos calling everywhere. We got great looks at a pair of Worm-eating Warblers right on the side of the trail, an uncommon treat that we all enjoyed.
Another important target bird for our trip was the Kentucky Warbler. The bird had been reported and although it took us a while, we finally found the location of the bird. It was singing, but we were unhappy with just hearing such a lovely bird. We pished a little bit, and it was seeming to get closer. Then, the tour group arrived. The tour group leader came and played the bird’s call. Unfortunately, the warbler retreated deep into the woods, angering us. However, we got the bird, and overall had a successful day. The trip was capped off with this lovely Red-eyed Vireo closeup.
As far as non-birds went, the day was average. We did not see any Timber Rattlesnakes, and odes and leps did not come out until we got to Doodletown and the sun came out a little. Highlights included a Red-spotted Purple, Prince Baskettail, many Spangled Skimmers and a Chalk-fronted Corporal. Overall, the trip left us happy and waiting for some more birds!
On Saturday morning the Young Birders Club will be taking a trip to the Sterling Forest in upstate New York. Despite this area not being in Connecticut, it is home to a tantalizing collection of nesting warblers. These include Golden-winged, Cerulean, Prairie, Chestnut-sided and Hooded Warblers! Since there is no spot for Golden-winged in Connecticut, this area is one of the nearest locations to find this lovely bird. We will also explore the area around Doodletown, NY, home to Timber Rattlesnakes! The club will meet at around 6:45 at the commuter lot off exit 41 on Route 15. This trip should yield some beautiful birds for all the club to enjoy!
On May 29, 2015, Mickey Komara had two American White Pelicans fly over at Hammonaset State Park. Yesterday, the same two birds were seen (first) at Sandy Point, followed by Milford Point/Short Beach/Stratford Point, SHERWOOD ISLAND STATE PARK, and then COMPO BEACH. Preston Lust and myself were lucky enough to get down to the coast and more importantly, WAIT. Both of us had to wait over two hours for these birds, but it was worth it when we saw these massive black and white Western vagrants. It was an amazing sighting, this only being the 8th Fairfield County Record, and to have American White Pelicans less than 6 months apart, at the same location (Tina Green had one flyover on the Westport CBC)! Although not all the Connecticut Young Birders were able to see them, I was happy that these birds were enjoyed by others, across the state. It just goes to show that patients pays off!
Our May trip to River Road in Kent was a great success. Our main target bird there was Cerulean Warbler, which we got later in the trip. Our total was 58 species at River Road, plus 6 more at the Macedonia Road Bridge. The group included: Alex, Brendan and Sean Murtha, Kathy and George Van Der Aue, and myself.
River Road is an amazing location for breeding warblers. While Cerulean is the main target here, there are many other nesting warblers like Hooded and Blue-winged. Other good birds reported there include: Spotted Sandpiper, YB and BB Cuckoos, Scarlet Tanager, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Yellow-throated Vireo and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
We began our trip at the Beginning of River Road at 7:30 and we could already hear Veery, Red–eyed Vireo, and Gray Catbird. Alex, Brendan and I went down on the rocks to check for insect life. It was an unusually cold morning, but it felt nice to be in the sun to warm up. We could already see Chimney Swifts hawking insects over the river. Then, we saw and heard at least one Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, my first ever on breeding grounds. As we walked down, we heard a variety of other singing birds. These included Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, a close Louisiana Waterthrush and heard Magnolia Warbler. We got great looks at a male and female Scarlet Tanager! A Hooded Warbler was heard singing near the up-the-hill pull over. It was a (heard only) State Bird for me. Various Ovenbirds were heard, which is one of my favorite bird songs! Other warblers included Black-and white, Common Yellowthroat and Blackpoll Warblers.
As we got further down the road, we encountered multiple Spotted Sandpipers on the rocks along the river. One flew away from us and landed across the Housatonic River. After it landed, it was hard to spot! On the way back to the car, we heard Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee. At that time, we discussed possible logos for our club. Ideas included: Cerulean Warbler, Bobolink, Saltmarsh Sparrow, Orchard Oriole, Belted Kingfisher, and Blue-winged Warbler. I like the idea of Baltimore Oriole or Belted Kingfisher.
We also heard Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Great bird songs to hear on a crisp spring morning! Wood Thrushes were singing too. Northern Rough-winged Swallows were perched on tree limbs on the side of the river. At their reliable spots, we finally heard Cerulean Warbler from the car. We got out just further down and got good looks of a male in the tree tops over the road. The bird was singing, which was a great time to get extended looks at it. It was a life bird for me, and a year bird for others. Alex was very happy to see his favorite warbler! After we got the Cerulean, we said goodbye to Kathy and George Van Der Aue.
Some of the best birding was at the end of River Road. A Rose-breasted Grosbeak was singing at its usual spot. We stopped at the rocks on the river and saw 2 Purple Martins, which were flagged by eBird. We saw a total of 5+ later on the trail.
Then, we went up the power line cut, which brought some very good birds. We heard an American Redstart singing a song that was identical to Magnolia! We had 40 Redstarts for the day. We saw a nice male Ruby-throated Hummingbird perch on a wire. Two vocalizing Common Ravens flew by over the power line cut. Sean Murtha spotted an adult Bald Eagle flying over, which was a great sight! We all got looks at it. On the way down, we saw many cool butterflies and moths. We are still looking into identifying individual species. I will add to this post when we come up with them.
At the spot where we parked our cars, a Yellow-throated Vireo sang, which was a year bird for Brendan. We heard a few YTVIs on our trip. River Road was quite productive today, as we saw many great species.
Then, we headed to Macedonia Road Bridge to check for Cliff Swallow nests, where they have nested in previous years. We were disappointed to find so active nests. Only a few swallows. A Black Vulture gave us decent looks.
That was the end of our very productive May CTYBC trip! Hope to see you at Sterling Forest!