Thursday, January 20, 2011

January at Stratford Point

January has been a quiet month in terms of birds for much of Connecticut as the state remains locked in a colder and snowier than usual pattern. This is not the year to find Gray Catbirds in warm wet spots or Eastern Meadowlarks hanging around in places like Stratford Point. However, we have had plenty of ducks, some of which Twan mentioned and photographed here in a recent post. The male Eurasian Wigeon is still here with us. I saw it around 11AM today as it slept among a group of 57 American Wigeon relatively close to shore. Find it resting in the photo below - it is the ninth bird from the right, and near the center of the photo, if you cannot pick it out.

Moments before I found a female Redhead swimming and diving in the same area. I got some wonderful looks before she flushed and flew back towards the lighthouse. Speaking of that area, it seems as if the thousands of sea ducks have left us. Whether it is the date as we near the end of January, exhaustion of the food supply there, frequent passes by hunters, or something else, there were only handfuls of scoter and scaup around today. Long-tailed Ducks have been more scarce recently though plenty of Common Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser continue. The most impressive numbers remain the American Wigeon along with Gadwall and American Black Duck, together numbering 300 to 400 birds at times between Stratford Point and Short Beach.

Upland areas have been predictably slower than usual, but there are some nice highlights on most days. Northern Harriers and the occasional Rough-legged Hawk can be spotted hunting the grasslands. Passerines of the open country have been enjoying grasses exposed by the strong winds of the point as well as the plowed driveway and edges. Below is a Savannah Sparrow taking advantage of that.

One very nice somewhat scarce winter species we have seen a lot of is this Field Sparrow. It has been associating with the Savannah and Song Sparrows. Look how well it blends in to the grass.

Plenty of Snow Buntings (below) have also enjoyed the exposed grasses. They have been a constant presence, sometimes with Horned Larks and American Pipits, because of the sizable snow depth.

Amazingly, spring is already on the way. Twan heard a male cardinal singing away yesterday morning during the brief warm-up after the mixed bag system. That guy is going to quiet down for a couple of weeks, but it is only a month until that is commonplace.

Photos © Scott Kruitbosch

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