Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fly-overs and fly-bys

This morning while driving through campus, Lynn had an exciting fly-over - she was able to open the sunroof of her car in time to watch a Great Egret passing overhead. Then at noontime out near the loading dock of our building she saw a pair of Northern Rough-winged Swallows, circling the area where they nested last year. Trouble is, last summer they selected a nest site in a rented trailer, which is no longer on site. We hope they'll stick around and choose a new site, after all, the trailer was only here one summer - what did they do before that?

So, thanks to Lynn's sharp eyes, we add two new species to our West Campus list.

Great Egret, Ardea alba
Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis

Monday, April 12, 2010

new AND returning

Birds of note recently are a Chipping Sparrow, seen foraging under our bird-feeder this morning, and Savannah Sparrows, seen on our lunchtime walk. Both are returning species which breed across much of the US and throughout Canada, and winter across the southern US and into Mexico.

Last Friday after work, Lynn saw a female American Kestrel, sitting miserably in the rain. She was perched atop one of the many buildings here at West Campus. The Kestrel is new to our bird list, with the caveat that some of us saw one here late last winter (March 2009) - but we weren't listing then, were we...

The Kestrel is North America's smallest raptor, just a bit larger than our Robin. It requires quite a bit of open space for hunting (small vertebrates and arthropods), and a cavity for nesting, either re-using an old woodpecker hole or choosing a man-made nest box.

Chipping Sparrow, Spizella passerina
Savannah Sparrow, Passerculus sandwichensis
American Kestrel, Falco sparverius

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lots of activity, but

we're still waiting for our Phoebe. There are lots and lots of robins, many cowbirds, sparrows in abundance, cardinals, bluejays and goldfinches. The Cowbirds have apparently discovered our birdfeeder, and between them and the house sparrows, we can't keep it full.

Out for a walk at noon today, Lynn saw one female Dark-eyed Junco and a Brown Creeper! Last fall we had two or three sightings of Brown Creeper, and I remember how excited I was to find the first Junco. Could this be the last? They typically head north in mid-April, becoming downright rare by the first week of May.

Juncos breed all across Canada, south into the western mountain states, south into northern New England and in the Appalachian Mountains as far south as North Carolina. There are some nesting records for Connecticut in the far northwestern corner of the state.

keep enjoying the returning birds!
ciao, Sue

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

We'll take it!

Not what we expected, but Lynn saw bird number 71 today.

I'll just keep you in suspense for another minute, though. Today was another warm spring day, lots of insects around, including flies, bees and butterflies. After delivering some specimens to the Nature Center for Tom, the three of us went out looking for birds.

Today's birders:
Lynn, Tom, Sue

Today's special birds:
Carolina Wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus - one hopped out into view on top of a blackberry cane and sang and sang
Swamp Sparrow, Melospiza georgiana - one scurried deep into the brambles, but we persisted at trying to pish it out, and eventually were rewarded with a great view of this striking sparrow

And, we saw the usuals. Sorry to be so dismissive of the usuals, not that we don't always appreciate the usuals, but I don't really have time to write up the whole list.

Okay, so now for bird number 71. Flying over the road as Lynn was driving through campus was a pair of...
Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos

yippee, another bird for our list, but, as I said at the top, not what we expected!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Still Waiting!

We're still waiting for the next new bird to add to our West Campus list - a warbler? a swallow?

Today's lunch-hour ramblers:
Lynn and Sue

Today's lunch-hour birds:
Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo
Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
Red-tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens


Wild Turkey feather. One of the most commonly found turkey feathers is this wing feather, which at first glance might be confused with a hawk or owl feather.

continuing the bird list:
Blue Jay, Cyanocitta cristata
Fish Crow, Corvus ossifragus - heard only
American Robin, Turdus migratorius
European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
Golden-crowned Kinglet, Regulus satrapa
Black-capped Chickadee, Poecile atricapillus
Tufted Titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor - heard only


Black-capped Chickadee. Lynn was whistling to the White-throated Sparrows, when a pair of chickadees came close to investigate.

more birds:
Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis
American Goldfinch, Carduelis tristis
White-throated Sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis
Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
possible Swamp Sparrow, Melospiza georgiana


Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) and spring green along the Oyster River.

Other campus birds for the day:
House Finch, Carpodacus mexicanus
Brown-headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater
Red-winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
House Sparrow, Passer domesticus

Early butterflies too!!
Mourning Cloak, Nymphalis antiopa
Cabbage White, Pieris rapae
an orange one, likely from the subfamily Nymphalinae, a "true brushfoot"

I just found these butterfly resources on the web:
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/map?ds=7&_dcs=1
http://www.connecting-with-nature.net/spring-butterflies.html

And mammals:
Eastern Chipmunk, Tamias striatus
Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis
evidence of White-tailed Deer, Odocoileus virginianus

video
Short video of a Water Strider (family Gerridae) on the Oyster River.


Life is too short, make yours sweet - get out in the natural world, don't wait for tomorrow.