Monday, October 31, 2011

Storm closes Center at Glastonbury

Due to this weekend’s storm, the Center at Glastonbury is closed until further notice. For any questions, please contact the State Office at (203) 259-6305 x 102.

We will have more to post on the storm including any other closings or cancellations as well as an analysis of this multi-century event in terms of birds and weather soon.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Friday, October 28, 2011

Help Rusty Blackbirds

Rusty Blackbirds are one of my favorite species. I don't know why exactly, though I imagine part of it is their tendency to appear in my yard in the winter. Another part is simply my fondness for their slick brown and black appearance during their time here that contrasts so well with their bright yellow eyes. This Rusty Blackbird, with a Red-winged Blackbird, was in my yard in January 2010.

Sadly, they are also a species in serious danger. To give you a better sense of what is happening, I'll quote directly from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center's website:

"The rusty blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) is a widespread North American species that has shown chronic long-term and acute short-term population declines, based both on breeding season and wintering ground surveys. Rusty blackbirds are ecologically distinct from other blackbirds, depending upon boreal wetlands for breeding and bottomland wooded-wetlands for wintering. The decline, although one of the most profound for any North American species, is poorly understood. Moreover, no conservation or monitoring programs exist for this species. Given the species close association with wooded wetlands throughout the year, it could prove to be an excellent indicator species for environmental processes in these threatened ecosystems."

I am lucky enough to be a member of the International Rusty Blackbird Technical Working Group composed of scientists researching that decline. Connecticut hosts decent numbers of Rusty Blackbirds in fall and spring migration, though as I mentioned above, a fair number do overwinter in the state. Most often I see a pair or two here or there taking advantage of a feeder or warm and wet woodland patch, though some areas can hold dozens. I really want to take monitoring of the species in our state to the next level of awareness. Here is how you can help:

  1. By recording all sightings as precisely as possible in eBird or sending me the information via email to skruitbosch 'AT'
  2. Detailing the sighting with how many birds were seen, their sex and age, the habitat they were found in, the ground wetness (dry, moist, partially or fully flooded), the date and time, their behavior (foraging, preening, singing, roosting, etc.), the birds they associated with (such as Common Grackles, Brown-headed Cowbirds, or others, if applicable), and any other information you feel is relevant.
  3. If they were foraging, explaining what they were feeding on or around.  
  4. Noting the general weather and conditions at the time - a six-inch snowfall bringing them to your yard? A sunny and warm day?
  5. Taking a photograph or shooting video of them, if possible.
If you have a long-term sighting, such as several birds visiting your feeders every day for a month, I would really appreciate a general overview including the information requested above. However, I do want to know about every sighting, no matter how brief, as it will do a great deal to fill in the many blanks we have for the species.

Last Sunday, I led a walk at the Trout Brook Valley Preserve, part of the Aspetuck Land Trust. We walked through the expansive orchard that runs all the way to active farm fields. Once there, I spotted a group of Brown-headed Cowbirds feeding on the edge of a wet pumpkin field. Looking through them carefully I was thrilled to see a male Rusty Blackbird feeding with them! A moment later, they moved around enough to expose a female Rusty Blackbird as well. Not long after spotting her, a hunting Merlin flew over, flushing up all of the birds and ending our sighting. It was still one of the highlights of my year in the field.

That is the type of situation I would love to have recorded in detail by everyone in Connecticut. Trout Brook Valley, with its wet woodlands and farm fields, may be a regular migration or, as I am hoping, wintering site for the species. Twan and I will continue our surveys there year-round and find that out soon enough.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Public Bird Walk at Stratford Point

Connecticut Audubon Society Conservation Biologist Twan Leenders and Conservation Technician Scott Kruitbosch will lead a public bird walk at Stratford Point on November 3rd from 9-11AM. We will take a look at what waterfowl have arrived, find lingering migrants and other birds that winter on the site, and we’ll discuss the exciting habitat management and conservation projects that are taking place at Stratford Point. The walk will be free and we suggest bringing binoculars and a spotting scope, if you have one.

Make sure to dress for the season! It is usually safe to assume that this exposed coastal spot is windier and colder than much of the state. Please meet in the visitor parking lot by the buildings. Stratford Point is located at 1207 Prospect Drive, Stratford. If weather conditions are not conducive we will move the walk to November 10 (same time & meeting place). Notification of cancellation will be posted on the CT-BIRDS listserve and the Connecticut Audubon Society website ( For more information, contact Scott Kruitbosch: skruitbosch AT

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Monday, October 24, 2011

White-crowned Sparrow and more at Trout Brook Valley

Here are some photos taken during survey work over the last week at the Trout Brook Valley Preserve, a part of the Aspetuck Land Trust. We will have an annoucement and more information on that work coming soon, but for now, enjoy this HD video of a White-crowned Sparrow plus some other beautiful birds Twan and I have recorded there.

 Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird against the hills

 Palm Warbler looking for a snack

 "This pumpkin might be tasty!"

 Record shot of a Vesper Sparrow, a Connecticut endangered species, and my first of the year

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Photos © Scott Kruitbosch

Friday, October 21, 2011

Big Sit 2011 results

 The Big Sit crew

Below is the Big Sit 2011 species list from Coastal Center Director Frank Gallo who wishes to thank everyone for their contributions. The weather was tough with it being such a hot (record high of 85F!) day, but the team was able to add three new species to the historic total from the count circle in Broad-winged Hawk, Yellow Warbler, and Black-and-white Warbler. 88 species were tallied plus 1 scoter species.

Milford Point marsh

Black-capped Chickadee - Frank says a flock of 21 Tufted Titmice and a Chickadee kept flying out to the end of Smith's Point, returning 20-30 minutes later to vanish off towards the Coastal Center only to return to try again an hour later

Male Northern Harrier over marsh

Thanks to observers Jim and Patrick Dugan, Tina Green, and Frank Mantlik, who were also joined for a short while by Denise Jernigan and Sarah Zagorski. Here is the full species list, seen from 4:20 a.m. to 7 p.m. on October 9th.

  1. Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  
  2. Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)  
  3. Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  
  4. American Wigeon (Anas americana)  
  5. American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)  
  6. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  
  7. Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)  
  8. Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  
  9. scoter sp. (Melanitta sp.)  
  10. Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) 
  11. Common Loon (Gavia immer)  
  12. Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) 
  13. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) 
  14. American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) 
  15. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 
  16. Great Egret (Ardea alba)  
  17. Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)  
  18. Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)  
  19. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)  
  20. Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  
  21. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
  22. Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
  23. Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)  
  24. Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)  
  25. Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  
  26. Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)  
  27. Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
  28. American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
  29. Merlin (Falco columbarius).
  30. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
  31. Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris)
  32. Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) 
  33. American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica)s
  34. Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)  
  35. American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)  
  36. Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca).
  37. Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) 
  38. Red Knot (Calidris canutus) 
  39. Sanderling (Calidris alba) 
  40. Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) 
  41. White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)
  42. Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) 
  43. Dunlin (Calidris alpina) 
  44. Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)
  45. Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  
  46. Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  
  47. Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)  
  48. Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri) 
  49. Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)
  50. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  
  51. Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus)
  52. Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) 
  53. Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)
  54. Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) 
  55. Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 
  56. Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)
  57. Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) 
  58. American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 
  59. Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) 
  60. Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 
  61. Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) 
  62. Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)
  63. Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)  
  64. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) 
  65. Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)  
  66. American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  
  67. Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)   
  68. European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  
  69. American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)    
  70. Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) 
  71. Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia)  
  72. Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  
  73. Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum) 
  74. Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  
  75. Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)  
  76. Nelson's Sparrow (Ammodramus nelsoni)  
  77. Saltmarsh Sparrow (Ammodramus caudacutus)  
  78. Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 
  79. Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana)   
  80. White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)  
  81. White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)   
  82. Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  
  83. Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  
  84. Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) 
  85. Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) 
  86. Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) 
  87. House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) 
  88. American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  
  89. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Connecticut Audubon Society and Sacred Heart University receive grant from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund to restore Stratford Point coastal habitat

FAIRFIELD, Conn. - Dr. Mark Beekey and Dr. Jennifer Mattei of Sacred Heart University's Biology Department and the Environmental Systems Analysis and Management Graduate Program (ESAM) along with Dr. Twan Leenders, Conservation Biologist with the Connecticut Audubon Society are the recipients of a $54,854 grant from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund and the Environmental Protection Agency. The grant, which was announced by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Long Island Sound Study at a ceremony at the Peabody Museum in New Haven on Friday, will be used to develop a plan to restore coastal habitat at Stratford Point.   
Stratford Point is located at the mouth of the Housatonic River Estuary and has historically supported a substantial coastal bluff, tidal marsh and a patchwork of dunes and coastal grassland habitat. In the early 1900s, the coastal bluff was removed and the tidal marsh was ditched and filled in during subsequent decades. Stratford Point became home to Remington Arms Gun Club in the early 1920s. The club operated a trap and skeet range there for 60 years until concerns over lead shot in the environment forced them to shut down. Accumulated lead shot in the upland and intertidal portions of the site was removed during large-scale remediation in 2000-2001, and small-scale spot removal of residual lead shot is ongoing in some sections of the site. 

 Dr. Twan Leenders, Conservation Biologist at Connecticut Audubon Society; Dr. Mark Beekey of Sacred Heart
University's Biology Department and the Environmental Systems Analysis and Management Graduate Program;
Jenny Gazerro,  ESAM grad student;
along with Robert Martinez, President of Connecticut Audubon Society
proudly display a check from Long Island Sound Futures Fund and the Environmental Protection Agency to be
used to develop a plan to restore coastal habitat at Stratford Point.

DuPont, the company that currently owns the site, placed a conservation restriction on the site in December 2001. This restriction is granted to the State of Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection and describes the ultimate purpose of Stratford Point as a protected habitat management area and educational facility open to the general public. In 2008, the Connecticut Audubon Society (CAS) was appointed as the caretaker for the site. CAS also coordinates its statewide habitat management and conservation efforts from their Science & Conservation office located at Stratford Point.

Drs. Beekey, Mattei, and Leenders intend to address the cumulative effects of almost a century of anthropogenic habitat alteration by developing a plan to restore functional coastal grassland, dune and tidal marsh habitat to Stratford Point that will create a dynamic mosaic of coastal habitats. This will benefit the plants and animals that rely on the habitats and will stabilize the shoreline, Dr. Beekey said.
The project will begin with the development of a management plan to guide the restoration, he said. Development of the restoration plan will be supported by graduate students in the ESAM program.  Jenny Gazerro, a current ESAM graduate student spent this past summer collecting baseline data that will be used to evaluate the success of future restoration activities.
The success of the project also depends on matching funding in the amount of nearly $62,000. The Nature Conservancy has already contributed $24,000 to the cause and the DuPont Corporation has provided significant material and financial support for the ongoing restoration efforts.  Dr. Beekey notes that "this is a unique project that involves a corporation, a university and a non-profit organization working together to restore one of the State's most threatened habitats.  It's an exciting opportunity for hands-on research and application for our graduate students," Dr. Beekey said.  
He noted that the project also fits in with Sacred Heart's commitment to community service. "Through this project, students will not only receive a hands-on education, but will also have the opportunity to donate their time to an exciting and important restoration project."   

 Twan Leenders and Mark Beekey with Senator Richard Blumenthal who is a dedicated supporter of the
LISFF program and environmental protection in Connecticut

Posted by Twan Leenders, Conservation Biologist
Photographs by Tracy Deer-Mirek, Sacred Heart University

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hermit Thrush - foot quivering

About a week ago, I saw my first-of-fall Hermit Thrush in my yard. It was right on time and is a bird I have certainly seen in the yard before, even in the middle of winter. What made the sighting notable at first was that it was only several feet from the house instead of only several feet from the edge of the woods. I grabbed my camera and ran over to the closest window to see what I could do with it.

The problem was that I was shooting through a window and a screen, and if I dared to open either I would be sure to scare it off. Beggars can't be choosers, right? Watch it below and observe the behavior as it quivers it feet, stomping one or the other on the ground while foraging for insects.

This intricate little dance was very funny to watch up close. However, it had scientific value as well. The Hermit Thrush account on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds site has this to say about it:

"Hermit Thrushes sometimes forage by “foot quivering,” where they shake bits of grass with their feet to get insects. They also typically begin to quiver their feet as they relax after seeing a flying predator. Some scientists think the quivering happens as the bird responds to conflicting impulses to resume foraging or continue taking cover."

That first line is exactly what you see in the video, and as you may also have noted, it was very effective as the bird captured several prey items while I watched it. What I can say for certain is at no time was it under threat from an aerial or terrestrial attacker. There were other songbirds around that were not agitated in the slightest. This behavior was maintained the entire time I watched (several minutes), first from a distance, then up close. I was so close that it would not have stayed there had it seen me, so I was not affecting it. I think it was nothing more than a crafty foraging behavior it utilized with great success.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Friday, October 14, 2011

Coastal Center canoes in New Haven Register

Our Coastal Center Director Frank Gallo has been a man of the media lately! Here is a link to an article by Jim Shelton of the New Haven Register on Frank's popular family canoe trips through the marsh of Milford Point:

You can also see some video and photos at the link as well. Frank is the master of the marsh, and he will show you some amazing birds sometimes hidden among the beautiful vista. There can be more tucked away than meets the eye, and many birds may go unseen if not for the canoe trips. There are two trips left in October that you can still sign up for, so call the Coastal Center soon at 203-878-7440 x 502.

Sunday, October 16 at 1– 3:30 p.m. (foliage canoe)
Sunday, October 30 (Halloween Canoe) 1– 3:30 p.m.
Bring water and wear shoes that can get wet. Contact the Coastal Center for more information. Trip routes are subject to change due to weather. Wind may cause trips to be canceled, even on sunny days; please call 1-1.5 hours in advance for trip status. Advance registration required. Sign-up early for these popular tours!

Coastal Center Canoes
CAS Members $25/person, $65/canoe (3 people)
Non-members $35/person, $95/canoe (3people)

Private Canoe/Kayak
$19 CAS Members, $29 Non-members

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Frank Gallo on WTNH Connecticut Style

Yesterday, as you may have seen live, our own Coastal Center Director Frank Gallo was on television on WTNH as he appeared for a Connecticut Style piece. The focus was on birds and bird song, with how difficult it can be to learn the many various songs of the hundreds of birds you can expect to see in Connecticut in a given year. Frank's lifelong experience with birds makes him the perfect teacher - and imitator - of bird song.

If you want to see the piece in full you can watch the video here on the WTNH website. Our thanks to WTNH! I know he had a lot of fun. Here are some of the classes Frank will be teaching at the Coastal Center in the next two months. There is something for everyone of every experience level, and I highly recommend taking them. Call Louise at the Coastal Center at 203-878-7440 x 502 to register for any of these programs.

Birding Programs
Birding for Beginners
Wednesday, Oct. 12, 7–9 p.m. (classroom)
Sat., Oct. 15, 9-11:30 a.m. (field trip)
Learn the basics for identifying birds on your own! During this fun and comprehensive hands-on course, longtime instructor and expert birder Frank Gallo will teach you ID skills as well as how to choose and use field guides and binoculars, and where to find birds locally. The course culminates with a field trip to a local birding “hot spot”. No experience is necessary. Bring the “Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds.” (Field guides are available for sale at the Coastal Center.) Meet at the Center at Milford Point. Fee: $75/person.

Birding By Ear – New!
Wednesday, October 19, 7 – 9 p.m.
Birdsong can be an incredible aid to finding and identifying birds. Instructor Frank Gallo, an avid student of birdsong, has created a challenging new program designed to give students practice with identifying similar sounding birds. Group participation is encouraged. Meet at the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point. Fee: $35.

Advanced Birding – New!
Tuesdays, Oct. 25 and November 1, 7- 9 p.m. (classroom)
Sat. November 5, 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. (field trip)
This course approaches more difficult identification challenges, including gulls, shorebirds, and terns. Other local experts will be encouraged to participate. The course culminates with a field trip to find birds at a local birding hot spot. Bring the Sibley or National Geographic Field Guides. (Field guides also for sale at the Center.)  Meet at the Center. Fee: $105/person.  The class meets at the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point.

Autumn Owl Prowl
Thursday, Nov. 3, 7:15– 9:15 p.m.
When the sun retreats, owls awaken to go in search of prey. Some say that owls are wise, others that they sparked legends of ghosts. Whatever the truth, a night near All Hallows Eve is a fine time to uncover the mysteries of these amazing nocturnal hunters. We’ll learn about a few of the species that co-exist in our area, and then carpool to a local park to try to call one in. It’s a hoot! Fee: $35/person.

Birding 101
Thursdays, November 10 and 17,  7 – 9 p.m. (2 nights in classroom)
Saturday, November 19, 9 a.m. – noon (field trip)
Discover bird watching with naturalist Frank Gallo. Frank leads bird tours worldwide and is a member of Connecticut’s Avian Rare Records Committee and a past president of the New Haven Bird Club. His enthusiastic hands-on style quickly teaches you the basics of identifying birds using field guides and observational skills. The course culminates with a field trip to find birds at a local birding hot spot. Bring the Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds. (Field guides also for sale in class.)  Meet at the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point. Fee: $105

Birding Basics - New!
Tuesday, November 15, 6:30–9 p.m.  (classroom)
If you are interested in birds but don’t know where to begin, this introductory course is for you. Learn the basics of bird identification, how to choose and use binoculars and field guides, and where to find birds in our area, during this fun hands-on course with expert birder Frank Gallo. No experience is necessary. Bring the Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds. Sibley’s Birding Basics is highly recommended. (Guides are available for sale at the Coastal Center.) Meet at the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point. Fee: $45

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Name that migrant answer

So what was the answer to the photo in this post? Why this cool Blue-headed Vireo...

It was near the entrance to Stratford Point, only giving me an occasional glance from its safe place in the tree tops. A couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets were much more cooperative, as usual, coming to within arm's reach. However, being so close can make it tough to photograph them, especially when they're moving so quickly from branch to branch.

If you were unsure on that other bird, it was named a Yellow-rumped Warbler for an obvious reason. Both that and the Blue-headed Vireo certainly have names with origins we can readily understand as opposed to some other more complex explanations (Dark-eyed Junco anyone?) Check back here soon for HD video of a fall migrant who stopped by my house a few days ago, the first of the season for me. Here's a hint - it did a little dancing.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Photo © Scott Kruitbosch

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Boothe Park Hawk Watch 10/6

The last week featured a few very good hawk watching days. You'll find all the details of the best day below, Thursday (10/6), one of the best days in the site's now three-year history. The "I" is me, the coordinator of the Boothe Park hawk watch site. I should also point out that this day brought us over 10,000 raptors for the season there in only, then, 69.25 hours of watching. If the site was regularly staffed, boy oh boy...

Start Time
End Time
Scott Kruitbosch
ObserversBill Banks, Charlie Barnard, Lynn Jones
WeatherBeautiful again. Second day after the upper level low departed allowing the high to grace us with a NW flow, lighter than yesterday, perfect to push the birds to our hybrid site. Temperatures maxed out at 64 after a chilly start with dry air and a very clear sky. That made it tough but we still had one of the best days ever.
Observation NotesBill spotted 5 BLACK VULTURES we decided to call local birds as they lingered by the river and never came through. We had a mess of TUVU and RTHA that were dismissed as locals.

BWHA were shockingly plentiful, with one kettle of about 25 birds! Most came by in small groups, many staying over the Housatonic and moving down along it. Nearly all of us saw every bird and they were frequently scrutinized with scopes to confirm that, yes, they were actually BWHA. It provided a few good laughs.

We shattered yesterday's record SSHA day and set a new BAEA daily record, too. It was the second best day for COHA and AMKE.
Non-Raptor NotesA ridiculously high number of YRWA broke the morning flight record, and since I was alone basically that whole time, many more likely flew by our site. Total number of birds was around 174 between those in the park (38) when I arrived before beginning the hawk watch and those that flew in during it (136).

Southbound migrants included:
Canada Goose 711
Common Loon 17 - wow!
Double-crested Cormorant 61
Great Egret 1
Tree Swallow 78
Cedar Waxwing 24
Palm Warbler 6
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 136
Brown-headed Cowbird 12

Migrants in the park included:
Eastern Phoebe 2
Gray Catbird 1
Blackpoll Warbler 1
Palm Warbler 4
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 38
Black-throated Green Warbler 1
Chipping Sparrow 1 - FOF migrant
Song Sparrow 3
White-throated Sparrow 3
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 1 - FOF

Notable other birds:
2 COMMON RAVEN at least as we frequently saw one or two harassing inbound raptors.

Besides some record raptor numbers I sure saw more Yellow-rumped Warblers than I ever had in one morning. The next day, Friday (10/7), featured two Northern Goshawks in a little over five minutes! You just never know what you're going to get here, and nearly anything is possible.

Here's hoping this is a yearly trend, with each year more eyes to the skies and more raptors and other wondrous birds dropping by. If I can be there on a semi-daily basis each September through November with some help we may end up having a third tremendous fall hawk watch site in Connecticut with its own unique profile. Boothe Park is what we call a hybrid site - not coastal, but not inland, able to capture many Broad-wings in September via strong northwest winds (that go no further than a few miles from the shore, like our site's position) and still get the other species that move to the coast while heading south in good numbers. Being on the Housatonic River helps a lot, especially with eagles and some songbird migrants.

There is still plenty of fall 2011 to go, from the Red-tailed Hawk and Turkey Vulture migration peak to blackbirds that will fly over with numbers in the tens of thousands. Last year we had two northeast record flights on November 1 tallying 249 Red-tailed Hawks and 190 Turkey Vultures. Considering that was of the few days we have been there in November in only year two, I think we have a chance at besting one of those soon enough.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Friday, October 7, 2011

Name that migrant

Just what the title says - name that migrant! It is a relatively common bird in the middle of October. This photo was taken this afternoon at Stratford Point. 


You can note it is a passerine, or songbird, but what is it? See if you can tell from this more realistic view, without binoculars or a big zoom lens to help you out. The tree and leaves should give you a general sense of the size. Even this view offers enough to identify the bird. I might have asked you to name this migrant...

...but that would be way too easy.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Techician

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Eastern Gray Squirrel that isn't

You know those "hmm" moments when something is not quite right? I had one while peering out my window the other day. Take a look at this squirrel...

We do not have American Red Squirrels in my town - though they aren't far, this is not one. We have Eastern Gray Squirrels, and nothing more. But this "gray" squirrel is clearly much closer to being a brown one. They can certainly have some brown in their fur, but this was above and beyond the norm. So what do you think is going on here? Connecticut has a bundle of odd squirrels that seem very popular and are sometimes a source of pride - do you have melanistic black ones? Or albinistic white ones? We have some of those, but definitely no brown ones. Or at least until now.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Photo © Scott Kruitbosch

Monday, October 3, 2011

Wave action at Stratford Point

Check out these waves crashing against Stratford Point in the HD video below from last week.

No, these are not from a hurricane, tropical storm, or nor'easter - it is the result of simply strong easterly winds near high tide. You can imagine how much worse this would have looked during Irene and many other major storms in the past few years, and that more days like this are in store for the future for all of the Connecticut coastline as sea levels rise and stronger storms become more frequent. All of these kinds of events go in to our habitat management and planning across the state.

Naturally, after I stopped shooting and watched the video on my camera and I turned my back to the water to keep the spray from hitting it more, a much larger wave crashed onshore and soaked me...

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Big Sit 2011

Here is a message from Coastal Center Director Frank Gallo:

Sunday, Oct 9
This year our Connecticut “Big Sit!” champion team, the B.W. Surf Scopers, (Jim Dugan, Patrick Dugan, Frank Gallo, Tina Green, and Frank Mantlik) will defend, and attempt to break, their own Connecticut “Big Sit!” birding record--107 species seen from within a 17-foot circle. This international event, created by New Haven Bird Club, and sponsored by Bird Watchers Digest, will be held this Sunday, October 9, 2011, with teams competing worldwide. Our goal is to spot as many different species of birds as possible without leaving our seats! In 2010 the Surf Scopers placed third in the overall competition, besting 239 other teams representing 51 countries!

We need your help to make this event the best yet – support our record-breaking quest and the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center with a pledge. Every dollar you pledge will go directly to support the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point – truly one of the best birding destinations in the Northeast! Your donation is 100% tax deductible; the money is used to support our conservation and education efforts. Please click here for pledge form, or contact us at 203-878-7440 x 502. We appreciate your generous support. Thank you!

Check the blog in the week after the Big Sit to see the results.