Friday, January 30, 2015

January Variations

Birding equipment
Weather this month has been varied with early month temperature being fairly mild, a reallly cold cold snap and now some snow and cold to bring the month to a close.  Still the birds have been on campus finding whatever food they can to survive through the winter.

January weather-
This morning I donned my new Christmas present and took a walk around the trails by the farm to see what birds would be around.  The first birds I saw was a group of White-throated Sparrows that were feeding on seeds of various plants.  Then, I heard a Song Sparrow attempting to sing it's song.  I guess they are already beginning to practice for spring.  A Carolina Wren quickly scolded me from a viny hiding place before another sang from across the way.

White-throated Sparrow  (image by Jerry Jourdan)

There were lots of small rodent tracks and deer tracks in the snow, visually following a set of the latter I looked to find a deer peering at me.  A Northern Cardinal started to call as I walked further down the trail to some remaining bittersweet berries.  As expected, a Northern Mockingbird has been able to survive by fiercely protecting these from other birds and me.  The back edge of the open area was fairly quiet, a few Black-capped Chickadees and Downy Woodpeckers could be heard in the distance. 

Me- wishing it were warmer
 Walking back toward the car gave me good light to search through the sparrows in hopes of something good but with no luck.  A calling Common Raven did fly over, the first of the year for campus!  Below is the full list of birds for the year so far.  What I want to know is...  where are the juncos??

1. Canada Goose
2. Turkey Vulture
3. Sharp-shinned Hawk
4. Cooper's Hawk
5. Red-tailed Hawk
6. Ring-billed Gull
7. Herring Gull
8. Rock Pigeon
9. Mourning Dove
10. Peregrine Falcon
11. Downy Woodpecker
12. American Crow
13. Fish Crow
14. Common Raven
15. Black-capped Chickadee
16. Tufted Titmouse
17. Carolina Wren
18. American Robin
19. European Starling
20. Song Sparrow
21. White-throated Sparrow
22. Northern Cardinal
23. House Finch
24. American Goldfinch
25. House Sparrow

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2014 Wrap-up

Sue and Lynn on the Christmas Count

With only a few days left in the month of January, I figure it's time to put a wrap on 2014 with a quick synopsis of birding throughout the year.  This year was a bit of an anolamy from past as Sue, one of our best birders, was working in New Haven.  Not only does Sue see lots of birds but she helps to get me motivated to go out and we seem to have lost some of our oomph.  Even with all that we didn't do too bad and we managed to see a few good birds.

Spring Migration Week List

The preliminary tally for birds this year was 90 species seen on campus, still waiting for a few other people to get back to me.  I kept a running list going and added mentions in the blog and also emails from birders on campus.  As a refresher our total list of species is about 133, so this year we saw about two thirds of the full list.  In contrast, in 2012 we saw about 103 although campus this year was much busier with people. 

Yellow Warbler- Common nester on campus

Probably the best bird of the year for me and the only new bird for campus, was spotted near the end of the year.  After hearing rumors that the shuttle bus drivers had seen owls perched on the roof of the conference center, I walked out to my car in the dark on November 25th and quickly heard the hooting of a Great Horned Owl.  I was able to spot the bird sitting on top of the Collections Study Center thanks to the light from the moon. 

Great Horned Owl- record shot
Great Horned Owl- photo heavily edited

New Years resolutions for 2015: submit a bird list to Ebird at least once a week (maybe when it's warmer), post at least one blog post a month, and try to get more impromptu bird walks going throughout the year.  Don't forget to check out the nature walks with Tom Parlapiano on campus; they are list in the West Campus weekly.  Check back here for more birds and send me your bird sightings!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2014 Christmas Bird Count - WC-Style

We scheduled our annual West Campus winter bird count during the holiday break, and, except for the assorted contractors and construction workers, had the campus to ourselves.
December 31st was bright and sunny, but cold and windy. Tom, Lynn and I walked West Campus and birded from 7am to noon with one warm-up break halfway through. The species count was a little on the low side we thought, and the numbers were on the low side as well, but hey, that was the day that was.
Highlights for me were our two Purple Finches, a Merlin fly-by and a Cooper's Hawk passing overhead.
The day's birders: Tom, Lynn, Sue
The day's list for Wednesday December 31, 2014.

24  Canada Goose
8    Wild Turkey
1    Cooper's Hawk
2    Red-tailed Hawk
8    Ring-billed Gull
3    Herring Gull
11  Mourning Dove
1    Red-bellied Woodpecker
7    Downy Woodpecker
1    Northern Flicker
1    Merlin
8    Blue Jay
55  crow sp.
6    Black-capped Chickadee
1    Tufted Titmouse
1    White-breasted Nuthatch
2    Carolina Wren
1    Hermit Thrush
10  American Robin
1    Northern Mockingbird
33  European Starling
6    Song Sparrow
47  White-throated Sparrow
3    Dark-eyed Junco
17  Northern Cardinal
3    House Finch
2    Purple Finch
26  American Goldfinch
51  House Sparrow