Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Bird Count 2011 - Westport-Fairfield

Today I participated in the Westport-Fairfield Christmas Bird Count as I do annually, joining Charlie Barnard Jr. for his area of the circle. He covers the Fairfield shore, an area with a tremendous variety of habitats, allowing us to take an arduous hike out to the end of Penfield Reef and a walk through the old landfill that is now part of the Pine Creek Open Space, among other stops. Suffice it to say, there is a lot of ground to cover, and often many "good" birds to find. I did not think today's highlight theme, on this naturally frigid December day, would be warblers.

Alex Burdo and James Purcell, two young and very skilled birders, got a head start on things during count week, tallying a bunch of nice birds we hoped to find again today. The highlight of the day for me was relocating a Nashville Warbler along with an Orange-crowned Warbler...and another...and...what...another! Yes, we ended up with three Orange-crowned Warblers along with the Nashville after I initially pish-ed out the first two birds exactly where they were seen the day before. Here are some shots of the Nashville, the bird I focused on getting shots of because of the late date at the expense of photographing the three Orange-crowned Warblers.

The three others eluded my camera as I struggled to focus on them while they moved in and out of bittersweet tangles and other brush, but those on hand had fantastic looks.

This was all after another cool find made all the more special because of the date. They may be common in some parts of the year, but this Common Yellowthroat is anything but that a week before Christmas!

One warbler that we did not record that Alex and James found yesterday was a Yellow-breasted Chat, though I bet it was right there staring at us, hiding from our eager eyes. Earlier in the morning, we had a Yellow-rumped Warbler at Jennings Beach making it a total of six individuals of four warbler species on the day. I hope next week's Stratford-Milford count has just as many unexpected highlights and Stratford Point provides a few of them.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

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