Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tom's Sighting #1

People may say that they 'like birds' but almost all people like raptors.  What's even better than just any old hawk (other people's opinion not mine)?  A falcon!  Here in Connecticut we have three regular falcon species.  Peregrine Falcon is the largest and can be found nesting on cliff edges like West Rock and Sleeping Giant.  In some cities the birds can even be found nesting on building ledges; in fact the Peabody Museum is trying to encourage a pair to nest on Klein Biology Tower.  American Kestrel is the smallest falcon found in Connecticut.  This grassland specialist is found throughout the migration periods and breeds in select locations.  Habitat loss is having a major impact on the breeding population.  Kestrels feed on small prey; one of their favorite is dragonflies!

The third species of falcon is just a bit larger than a kestrel and is a migratory and winter species in the state.  It's a Merlin!  Last Friday Tom, from the Peabody's West Campus Education Center, was lucky enough to have this falcon land long enough to grab this snapshot.  Merlins specialize on small birds and rodents but won't pass up an opportunity to eat a dragonfly snack either.  Keep your eyes open because at this time of year we might have any one of the three falcons on campus.  

MERLIN:  picture taken by Tom P. 17 Oct 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It's good to be back...

Hey there West Campus birding fans - a voice from the past has returned - Sue is back... at least temporarily - back on the hilltop, working, lunching and hawk-watching with Lynn.
I have explored some of the trails cleared since I was last here, and lamented over some old places we used to go that are now overgrown and inaccessible.  The grassy slope where we saw the meadowlark in 2009 is nearly all grown up to shrubs and trees; the oak tree where we hung a nest box for kestrels in 2010 has filled out with branches, nearly obscuring the box; the little apple tree where we saw the Tennessee Warbler in 2011 is overrun with Russian olive; we found the Nashville Warbler in 2012 along a trail now overgrown with weeds; I missed all of 2013, when one of our favorite birdy haunts was cleared to create a groomed trail.
Now, lest you get the idea I'm only lamenting - the other day along one of those very groomed trails I picked up a new bird for the West Campus list.  I found a little patch of avian activity and spent a good 30 minutes tracking down all of the birds.

Tuesday September 30th, 2014
In the goldenrod area:
Song Sparrows
House Wrens
Common Yellowthroat
In the shrubs and tangles:
White-throated Sparrows
Carolina Wren
Black-capped Chickadee
Heard in the woods:
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Those neck-straining little tree-top flitters:
American Redstarts
Northern Parula
Ruby-crowned Kinglets
Passing through the airspace:
Blue Jays
Common Grackles
European Starlings
Red-winged Blackbirds
Feeding in the treetops:
American Robins and with them my new bird...
VEERY - Lynn and I will have to look over the records she's been keeping these past two years to confirm this record - but at the very least, it's new for the 2014 year list.  Hooray!  This is the last of the common thrushes to be added to the West Campus list. We have always found a few Hermit Thrushes in late fall and winter, had Wood Thrushes singing in June, had the occasional Swainson's Thrush during migration, but the Veery has been stubbornly elusive.
Photos and voice recordings here.