Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Birding Fun

Birders are always itching to get out of their home territories to places farther afield - maybe across the state, or across the country or another continent. Today we scratched our birding itch by leaving West Campus and heading to the coast. We followed the course of our Oyster River as closely as the roads allowed and stopped to bird in the different habitats we encountered.

Today's birders: Lynn and Sue
Today's birds:
On a dead-end residential street at the edge of the Phragmites marsh:
1. Tufted Titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor - three
2. Black-capped Chickadee, Poecile atricapillus - two
3. House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
4. Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubsecens - male and female
5. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus - one
6. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
7. American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos - hey! - we know where you sleep every night!
8. European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris

Male Belted Kingfisher in winter, photo from The Firefly Forest
9. Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon - new for our birding, but doesn't go on the West Campus list... yet
10. heard a Blue Jay, Cyanocitta cristata

Where the Oyster River passes under Woodmont Road, a stone's throw away from our first stop, the water was flowing and salty ice rimmed the edges of the river.
11. Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos - two dozen or more
12. one Mallard x Black Duck hybrid
13. Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis - male and female
14. White-throated Sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis - two
15. Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia - three
16. Red-tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis - one

At the beach where the river flows into Long Island Sound:
- American Crow (and probably Fish Crow, but we didn't catch the diagnostic call) - feeding on the beach with the gulls
- Mallard
17. Rock Pigeon, Columba livia - big flock on the beach
18. Red-breasted Merganser, Mergus serrator - four
19. Common Loon, Gavia immer - one, pretty far out in the sound
20. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
21. Ring-billed Gull, Larus delawarensis
22. Herring Gull, Larus argentatus
23. Great Black-backed Gull, Larus marinus

Male and female Hooded Merganser, photo from The Internet Bird Collection
In the Oyster River just before it empties into the Sound:
- Canada Goose
- Mallard
- Ring-billed Gull
24. Hooded Merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus - two females, new for our birding efforts, but again, not a West Campus bird
25. Monk Parakeet, Myopsitta monachus - three, flying overhead

Not to neglect our courtyard feeder birds, we had:
-Mourning Dove
-Black-capped Chickadee
-White-throated Sparrow
-Northern Cardinal
26. Dark-eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis

And, Tim hung another bird feeder in the courtyard this afternoon, a tube - we'll see if we can gain a few new feathered customers...

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Murder of Crows?

Isn't that what a flock of crows is called? Some people here at West Campus might be considering doing in a few crows, since they've been roosting on campus lately. They is probably 5000 shiny black crows. Out foraging all day, as the sun goes down they come streaming home to spend the night in the treetops, and to leave droppings on every surface below - including each other.

Home is temporary, and seems to shift around from day to day - both within the West Campus grounds and just outside in the trees on Frontage Road. It's an awesome sight to witness the river of birds overhead - captured here by Annette as she was leaving work recently.

Our Courtyard birdfeeder is attracting steady attention these days. With snowcover pretty complete, we have a regular following of:

7 to 9 Mourning Doves, Zenaida macroura
5 to 6 Juncos, Junco hyemalis
3-4 Chickadees, Poecile atricapillus
2-3 Cardinals, Cardinalis cardinalis
one Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
one White-throated Sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis
and still an occasional Robin in the crabapple tree, Turdus migratorius