Monday, August 9, 2010

August already?!

No, I wasn't away for a summer vacation, but the bird activity on campus has been pretty low, and I was uninspired to blog. Recent birdy news:

- the Canada Geese have returned to campus after a spring-early summer hiatus
- the Willow Flycatcher was seen perched in the volleyball net in the courtyard
- the young Red-tailed Hawk reported on earlier became a casualty

And, here's the bird list, as best we could reconstruct it, for the past two or three weeks:

Wild Turkey
Canada Goose
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeon
Willow Flycatcher
Blue Jay
American Crow

European Starling
Barn Swallow
American Robin
House Wren
Gray Catbird
Yellow Warbler
Northern Cardinal
Song Sparrow
American Goldfinch
House Finch
House Sparrow

And in case you haven't heard, there has been a White-tailed Kite visiting our area for the past week or so - a first record for the state of Connecticut, and only the second time this bird has been seen in New England in ONE HUNDRED years. It's hanging out in a fairly restricted range between Milford Point and Stratford Point. Go to Connecticut Audubon's blog to read all about it and see some fantastic photos of this beautiful bird of prey.

Southward migration of shorebirds is underway along the coast, but it would be difficult to add those birds to our list at West Campus unless we're outside watching for strays at all hours of the night and day. Between mid-July and early October sandpipers and plovers leave their breeding grounds in arctic Canada and head for South America.

The Semi-palmated Sandpipers I watched at Stratford Point last week will continue to fatten up on invertebrates then take off over the water, not stopping until they reach landfall on the easternmost Caribbean islands or the coasts of Guiana, Suriname and French Guyana. The earliest arrivals are known to refuel then continue south to the coast of Maranhao, Brazil. The later arrivals may overwinter in the Guianas.

And one final note - the blackberry vines have been producing enough fruit for the avian residents to eat their fill and human transients to do plenty of blackberry-based cuisine.
I have made blackberry ice cream, blackberry pie, blackberry cream pie, blackberry cheesecake tarts and put many blackberries in yogurt and vanilla icecream.
Many noon-time walkers pick hand-fulls to nosh on while walking and the entomologists have set their insect traps nearby, so they come back inside with purple stains and scratches on their arms from those "labors"!

Okay, NOW I'm inspired to go out birding at lunchtime this week - not to say I didn't have my binoculars with me every time I went out berry picking!!

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