Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkeys at West Campus

With our flock of Wild Turkeys being familiar to most of the human inhabitants of West Campus, I just want you all to know that I'll be taking a head count.
The week before Thanksgiving I had a high count of 19 birds - three of which were big tom turkeys... if anybody's missing, well, let's just say I hope it was the work of the coyotes, and not destined for the dinner table!
Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving holiday, and maybe even a break from work or school.
Ciao,
Sue

Friday, November 19, 2010

#104 added this week!


Black-capped Chickadee, taken with my little Canon point-and-shoot, and cropped in Photoshop.

The New Haven Bird Club's winter feeder survey is once again underway - which means we keep a weekly tally of individuals seen in the courtyard. Food sources include our three feeding stations, fruiting trees and shrubs, ornamental grasses, and despite the best efforts of the groundskeepers - weeds! Sparrows love weed seeds.


If chickadees become habituated to your feeding stations, and your movements, you may be able - with MUCH patience - to get them to take seed from your hand.


I'm not implying I had any success in that department - at least not here at West Campus. After all, I don't get paid to habituate chickadees!

This week's birds:
Wild Turkey
Canada Goose
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull, Larus marinus
- #104
Merlin
Red-tailed Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Northern Harrier

Wednesday was a wild day, with gusty winds from the south, and we kept an eye to the sky for wind-blown birds. The result was our first Great Black-backed Gull for West Campus - common on the coast a mile away, but the first time we've recorded it in our airspace!

Then today (Friday) was also windy - and we had a pretty good batch of raptors - Cooper's and Red-tailed Hawks, a Merlin and a Northern Harrier.

Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Northern Flicker
Downy Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Crow
American Robin
European Starling
Northern Mockingbird
Black-capped Chickadee
Carolina Wren
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Warbler sp. either Pine or Blackpoll

Either one would have been a great bird - the Pine new for West Campus, and the Blackpoll a new bird for me - but sadly I had only a fleeting look, and for me these birds are pretty similar-looking... more yellow, less yellow, more streaky, less streaky, yellowish eye-ring, whiteish eye-ring... just too many important details that I missed

Northern Cardinal
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
American Goldfinch
House Finch
Purple Finch
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Sparrow

Thirty-one species for the week - still quite respectable for early morning, late afternoon and a little lunchtime birding.


my November birding gear

Info on feeder survey, taken from NHBC's website:
NHBC 18th Annual Winter Feeder Survey
November 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011
This is a yearly census to help determine the number and frequency of birds visiting feeders in the Greater New Haven area. You are invited to observe and record the activity at your feeder at least once a week for the entire time period.
Contact-Peter Vitali: 203.288.0621,vitali_peter_e@sbcglobal.net

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Still finding new birds!!!

These photos illustrate two phenomena which started off our week... The snow is one, but the other is that I had to use the flash at 4:45 in the afternoon to make a decent photo - we've gone back to standard time.

Pretty horrible photos, but the snow was almost gone by the time I got my camera out at the end of the day - and I tried to include a little autumn color as well


So the new bird for the week - very exciting to have another of those infrequent "winter finches" on campus. A couple of Purple Finches made an appearance yesterday afternoon (Thursday) while Lynn was out at lunchtime. We like to think it's serendipity - she was out... they appeared.

When you think about it, 136 acres, one person out birding, it's almost needle-in-a-haystack - except that we increase our chances by looking in the right habitat. Lynn was watching a little flock of House Finches in the brambles along our building and noticed a different-sounding and more richly-colored male fly overhead.

She immediately thought - purple finch? I'll have to listen to the calls when I'm back at the computer... well, a few minutes later she found a group of easily recognized females. That clinched it - species number 102 for West Campus.

Birds for the week!
Wild Turkey
Canada Goose
Herring Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Red-tailed Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
Monk Parakeet

Blue Jay
American Crow
European Starling
American Robin
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Mockingbird
Black-capped Chickadee
Brown Creeper
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Song Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
American Goldfinch
House Finch
Purple Finch - Carpodacus purpureus
Common Grackle
House Sparrow

Twenty seven species for the week - not too shabby considering we were on the other campus half of the week.

Breaking news! - this just in! - a fourth grade class was out on campus Friday afternoon, for a Peabody Museum educational program - and while out on a Hawk Watch saw seven raptors, comprising four species. They added two new species to this week's list:

Sharp-shinned Hawk, Accipiter striatus
Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus

Taking a quick look at our West Campus list - I see that we have another new species for campus! - the Peregrine Falcon seen by the students and their leader Tom. Lynn and I haven't seen it definitively yet - so it goes on our short list of "seen by Tom but not by Sue and Lynn"!

video
This brief video illustrates why it's difficult to hear bird calls in certain parts of West Campus...

Friday, November 5, 2010

November - gray and rainy - but...

Yeah - tough to keep your spirits up when the day looks like this...
gray, rainy, cold. But then, you scan a flock of two hundred starlings for an interesting blackbird.

And you find - a Pine Siskin? really? We've been hoping for one, and they've been reported from towns all around us. The bird is not actually in the photo above - it had flown away already.

A Pine Siskin - Carduelis pinus - close relative of our ever-present American Goldfinch, they often feed together at feeding stations - as well as in the wild of course (same food supply). So, we'll wait for it to discover the thistle sock or the black-oil sunflower seeds that our other finches enjoy.


Suddenly the gray day isn't quite so gray. A Pine Siskin, imagine! - and fallen leaves of the Japanese Maple.


A beautiful little Pine Siskin, wow! and droplets of rain hanging from every branch of the Rosa multiflora.


- and actually appearing in this photo is another great bird for the week, go ahead, try to find it


It's a Fox Sparrow, Passerella iliaca - a large, bright rufous sparrow which usually passes through Connecticut in the "shoulder seasons" during March and November.


- this time a little more concealed, but the overall rufous coloring, gray on the cheeks and crown, and bright white belly visible

Great way to end the week!
Birds for the first week of November, 2010:

Wild Turkey
Canada Goose
Herring Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Turkey Vulture
American Kestrel
Red-tailed Hawk
Accipiter sp. - really large Cooper's or a Goshawk?
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Black-capped Chickadee
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Northern Cardinal

Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Brown-headed Cowbird
American Goldfinch
Pine Siskin - Carduelis pinus
species number 101 for West Campus
House Finch
House Sparrow

Still pulling nearly thirty species - say - did anyone see a pigeon this week? that would bring the list from 29 to 30.