I am very sorry that this trip report is quite late. However, that doesn’t discount from the exciting times we had on this trip. We were excited to meet a new club member named Michael Aronson, a birder from Farmington who loves photography and birding locally. It’s good to have another birder who lives inland and it was great having him on the trip. All the photos on this report are courtesy of him as well. Litchfield had some great birds in April such as rails, early warblers, and meadowlark, so we decided that it would be a productive trip. When Michael and I met up with the rest of the club at White Memorial’s Cemetery Pond, it was helpful to have the Sora already calling. On to the next location! Our next stop would be Little Pond, which has been great for Virginia Rail. Before we even entered the pond, we had an awesome little Red-breasted Nuthatch, one of Jory’s favorite birds! Once we entered the marsh we were surrounded by Tree and Barn Swallows in search of insects. The pond is surrounded by a boardwalk that moves through some great bird habitat, but the wind can be a problem. We picked up Broad-winged Hawks, Osprey and Bald Eagle flying over, as well as a few Swamp Sparrows. A highlight was an awesome look at a Pileated Woodpecker digging a hole in a tree about ten feet off the trail. It appeared to be building a nest, so let’s hope it doesn’t get too much attention from people. But, the looks were awesome, and after that we continued biridng.
After that we got into the real marshy area of Little Pond. We got some good waterfowl, such as Wood Duck and Green-winged Teal, in some shallow wet areas. Blackbirds, sparrows and swallows were everywhere. Suddenly, a Virginia Rail flew right in front of the trail and disappeared into the marsh! We had checked off our goal bird for this location, however briefly. One spot where Jory had seen Virginia Rail before yielded a couple more birds calling. It was at this location where we also got good looks at a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Little Pond was a solid stop, and on our way out we were greeted by a nice Palm Warbler and a few Yellow-rumped Warblers, a signal that migration would be in full swing soon enough. A quick stop at the Main Area would turn out to be fairly worthless list-wise, but it’s always nice to get good looks at Tree Swallows and bluebirds near their nests.
Our next stop was Bantam Lake, where we looked for Rusty Blackbird. Jory said we were “guaranteed” Rusty Blackbird here, but unfortunately there weren’t any around at first. We did get some late Buffleheads at Bantam Lake, a nice bird for April in Connecticut. At another viewpoint we waited to see if we could find some swans or something, but only some blackbirds were around. “Those Red-winged Blackbirds sound funny”, we thought. Shortly after, we realized that these were the Rusties! Making their conspicuous calls, we soon realized that these birds had pale eyes and no red on the wings. This was yet another good bird for our trip, and we were glad the guarantee had pulled through.
After that we realized that the day was winding down a little, but we had a few more spots to hit. We wanted to check a field on Litwin Rd. for some meadowlarks or kestrels, but the wind was overpoweringly strong and nothing was on the fields. We got some lunch and suddenly had a dilemma at our hands. Where should we go next? We decided to choose one bird to focus on for a while and plan the rest of the day around that. “What bird do we want?”, someone asked. “How about grouse?”, I blurted out. It was a longshot, but some areas in Litchfield and Goshen hold a possibility of the Ruffed Grouse. So we headed to Goshen Wildlife Management Area. There were unfortunately no grouse around, but we had awesome looks at a Blue-headed Vireo that had arrived at its nesting grounds a little early. Spring Azures and Cabbage Whites fluttered low to the ground as well. (I had brought my net in hopes of catching insects, but unfortunately all I caught was one of the azures. I am impatiently awaiting summer!) We finished out the day birding around Goshen, having some fun with American Toads, getting lost in the woods, and scanning out feeders for finches. We had some Wild Turkeys but ultimately, the middle of the day had made birds quiet. However, some great finds in the morning such as the Rusty Blackbirds and the rails made this trip great for all, especially our newest memeber.