Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall migration and...

Migration is so much fun.  We've been pretty busy at work these last few weeks, and haven't had much spare time for either birding or blogging, but this week we have something special to report... so... here goes.
Sparrows are beginning to pass through.

Lynn saw a White-throated Sparrow yesterday.  First of the fall, so, kind of exciting.  But not as exciting as Wednesday's bird.  As she drove through West Campus that morning, her attention was piqued by a big active flock near the "sparrow nook". 

Besides cowbirds, robins, flickers and a song sparrow, there was another sparrow.  A sparrow she didn't recognize.  With neither camera nor field guide handy, she made a beeline for her office and computer, where she was busy studying sparrow images when I walked in...
Whatcha lookin' at??

With a few minutes to go before official work time, the two of us took off back down to the sparrow nook.  The bird was still there!!  With a borrowed camera, Lynn took a few photos, and we studied the field marks from a safe distance.  A large-ish sparrow, plain pale belly with a dark smudge on the breast, the tail had big white corners, face and crown strongly striped with black, chestnut and white.  Anybody taking any guesses here?

We kept our distance because the bird seemed shy and flushed easily.  Er, for those of you non-birders, flushing is when a bird flies away when disturbed.  Our bird is really unusual for Connecticut, normally inhabiting lands to the west of the Mississippi River.

Lark Sparrow, Chondestes grammacus, Lynn's photo.  Click link for more of Lynn's images
Lark Sparrow -- la la la Lark Sparrow!!!
A very exciting find for us, and of course a new bird for West Campus.  Lark Sparrow is a lifer for Lynn, and I was thinking maybe for me too, but found it on my life list from Tubac, Arizona in 1981.  Still, it's a bird that makes very few Connecticut bird lists.  Chondestes grammacus.  The genus is from the greek Khondros, for grain or seed, and edestes, an eater, and the species from greek grammikos, for linear or striped, referring to the striped head pattern.

In the interest of keeping your interest and limiting the narrative, I'll move on to the list.  It's a three-week list, yup, as I mentioned already, we've been pretty busy with work.

West Campus Bird List for most of September, (3-7, 10-14, 17-21), 2012:

Raptors in migration, including our resident 'tails':
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Bald Eagle
Cooper's Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk
American Kestrel

Other non-passerines:
Canada Goose
Herring Gull
Wild Turkey

Northern Flicker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Chimney Swift
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeon
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

And all the rest:
American Crow
Fish Crow
Common Raven
Blue Jay
European Starling
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
Gray Catbird

Eastern Phoebe
Tree Swallow
House Wren
Carolina Wren
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Sparrow

Finches and Sparrows:
Northern Cardinal
American Goldfinch
House Finch
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Lark Sparrow

Warblers and Vireos:
Common Yellowthroat
Magnolia Warbler
American Redstart
Red-eyed Vireo

Brown-headed Cowbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bald E

Mourning Dove in the courtyard, sitting on YOUNG!
 Well, I was a bit disappointed this past week that I wasn't able to break 40 species on campus for the week.  With 38 the week before and a couple of decent days for migration I thought it would be possible... and probably it was.  I spent more time enjoying the birds I did see than going out and hunting those that I didn't.  The one that I most enjoyed seeing... our first Bald Eagle of the season.  There was a full adult that I spotted flying over our building through the courtyard windows. 

Male American Goldfinch
In total there were 36 species seen this week, other highlights included a push of American Redstarts over by the leaf pile, a Merlin hunting in the parking lot one morning, and on Friday afternoon was a little push of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

Red-shouldered Hawk

1. Merlin-1
2. Bald Eagle-1
3. Cooper's Hawk-1
4. Red-shouldered Hawk-1
5. Sharp-shinned Hawk-1
6. Osprey-6
7. Red-tailed Hawk-2 (migrating), 2 (resident)
8. American Robin
9. Mourning Dove
10. House Sparrow
11. Song Sparrow
12. American Goldfinch
13. European Starling
14. Common Grackle
15. House Finch
16. Northern Cardinal
17. Killdeer
18. Gray Catbird
19. Barn Swallow
20. Herring Gull
21. Blue Jay
22. Northern Flicker
23. Black-capped Chickadee

Red-shouldered Hawk, you can just see some red.
 24. Northern Mockingbird
25. Brown-headed Cowbird
26. Canada Goose
27. Rock Pigeon
28. Black Vulture (4 possibly migrating)
29. Empidonax sp.
30. Red-wing Blackbird
31. Carolina Wren
32. Tree Swallow
33. Chimney Swift
34. Fish Crow
35. American Redstart
36. Ruby-throated Humingbird

This coming week is stormy with some winds out of the South so I don't expect any big push of birds, especially Hawks.  It might be a low species count next week.  We did have one interesting window strike dead bird out from this week.  It was too far gone for a positive ID but I'd have to guess that it was a Canada Warbler