Monday, July 6, 2009

My World: Birds Are Everywhwere

Green Heron on the Airline Trail 6-29-09
Colchester, CT

In My World Birds are Everywhere and I am always counting them. It's a strange hobby for a person who has always hated math and numbers to be so obsessed with counting birds, but I have always loved birds. From my earliest memories I was aware of birds. Robins, blue jays and Baltimore Orioles are part of my childhood memories. I can remember looking up bird species in my grandfather's bird guide or in the pages of our family encyclopedia.

Gambel's Quail chicks 6-15-09 Sycamore Canyon

On the morning before I left for Connecticut this family of newly hatched Gambel's quail scurried into my yard. They had to be the smallest babies I had ever seen for they were little bigger than the pea gravel they scampered over and they seem more interested in sitting down and taking a nap than trying to feed with their parents. To me they looked like marbles with legs, or living popcorn. There were so many of them that I could barely keep track of them but my best guess is that there were at least 14 of them!

Chipping Sparrow 6-17-09 Lake Hayward, CT

One of the first birds I saw upon awakening in Connecticut was this cute little chipping sparrow beneath the feeder at my brother's cottage in the woods around Lake Hayward.

Blue jay at feeder 6-17-09

I think he was eating the spillage from this greedy guy!

Worm Eating Warbler 6-17-09 Lake Hayward, CT

A walk towards the lake revealed a worm eating warbler, my first for CT and my second since first seeing one in West Virginia at the New River Birding Festival earlier this year.

Downy Woodpecker 6-17-09

Down along the beach I found this cute little Downy clinging to a weathered fence.

Barn Swallow 6-17-09 Bacon Academy fields.

I also watched birds while my siblings and nephew practiced for the Adams Road Race on the track at Bacon Academy in Colchester. I counted 16 species of birds in and around the fields there, because Birds Are Everywhere.

Female Towhee with nesting material in Inwood Hill Park,
New York, NY 6-21-09.

Even in New York City there are birds. Central park is now well known for the many species of birds that pass through during migration or live there year round, but at the far north end of the city lies a little known place called Inwood Hill Park. Though the day was mostly gray with showers, we were able to find this female Eastern towhee building a nest near the ground at the edge of a clearing.

Geese and Garbage in the Hudson River 6-21-09

Down by the Hudson River at the Dyckman St. Pier we watched a family of Canada geese swimming with tires, the refuse from our human lives. Geese get a bad rap for the droppings they leave behind that can pollute our lakes and beaches but what about the pollution they have to live with every day? I suspect their dropping will be gone long before this tire is.

An Ovenbird throwing its voice at the sky 6-22-09

Back in Colchester I found this little ovenbird sitting on the wires outside my sister's house. It sang for all it was worth and I enjoyed its song.

Great Blue heron 6-24-09 Lion's Pond, Colchester, CT

The morning after the Adams Road Race I was up early counting birds again. I drove up to the Lion's Pond on Hall's Hill Road. This area has always been a successful place for me to count birds. When I was young we called it Steg's pond and we ice skated here in the winter. When I showed these pictures to my mother she told me that my Grandfather was in the Lion's Club and he was part of the group that developed this pond as a park for the town. He probably never imagined I would be here so many years later watching birds. Neither did I for that matter, but here I am, because Birds are Everywhere.

Song sparrow 6-24-09 Lake Hayward

I left the Lion's Pond and stopped by Dunkin Donuts for some hazelnut coffee and donuts to go. From there I drove out to Lake Hayward and stopped at the boat launch to drink my coffee, eat my donuts, and watch birds. (I quickly discovered that it's awfully hard to focus your binoculars when you have coffe of a donut in hand!) Here I found another blue heron, some woodpeckers, blue jays and song sparrows. I hoped to find something new and wonderful but I saw the same old birds I had already seen, but I didn't mind, because I love the birds. Though much of the lake is private, I believe the boat launch is a public place and you can watch birds here. There is a porta-pottie, should the need arise.

From the boat launch I continued around the lake stopping at all three beaches. Since my brother owns a cottage out here, my mother has a parking pass, which I used. This cardinal mother and chick barely even noticed me as she fed her young on a wire by the beach.

Double-crested cormorant 6-24-09 Lake Hayward

While out on the water this cormorant tried to dry its wings. With a steady drizzle falling, I did not give it much hope of that happening!

Cedar Waxwings 6-22-09 Colchester, CT

It seems that everywhere I went this year there were cedar waxwings. I counted them in the center of town. I counted them at Bacon Academy. I counted them at Lake Hayward and at my sister's house. Just about every bird count I submitted to eBird on this trip had cedar waxwings on it. I counted them at the rest area in New Hampshire and at various locations in Maine. It will be interesting to see if this is part of an irruption, for I have seen more cedar waxwings in these two weeks than I have ever seen in my whole life!

Birds in Maine

Hairy Woodpecker at Mantle Lake Park, Presque Isle, ME 6-26-09

Yellow warbler at Bicentennial Park along the Presque Isle Stream

Herring Gull at Falmouth Town Landing 6-29-09

Black duck on driftwood, Mackworth Island Causeway 6-29-09

Scarlett Tanager Windham Rd, Colchester, CT 6-30-09

On the next to my last day in Colchester I drove up a country road I know and stopped by yet another pond I used to ice skate on. It was privately owned then and it is privately owned now. We knew it as Gregory's pond, though that owner is long since gone. Here in the thick woods I found a few species of birds I had not seen anywhere else, including a scarlet tanager, and 5 American Redstarts. I thought these were the final icing on my Connecticut list for this year until the next day when I was sitting on the veranda at my mother's house. I kept hearing this funny sounding crow outside. I had heard it the day before and in other locations. I finally decided to investigate the sound and after researching it on the All About Birds web page I discovered I was listening to a fish crow! The only way to tell the difference between an American crow and a fish crow is by voice, so, with its ID confirmed, I added my final bird to my Connecticut list for the year. And, since birds are everywhere, I counted birds all along the highway while my mother drove me to the airport for a late afternoon flight. It was after 10 PM when I finally arrived home in Sycamore Canyon and Gus and I fell right into bed exhausted. So much had happened so fast that I felt like it was all a dream, especially when I opened the shutters the next morning to discover...

Gambel's Quail chicks 7-2-09!
(Did I really ever leave?)

All photos click to enlarge. Please be sure to visit MY World Tuesday's website to visit other parts of this wonderful world and who knows, you might even find some other birds, because....

Birds Are Everywhere!

In the end I counted 62 species of birds in Connecticut this year, 49 species in Maine and 29 species in New York. The constant rain put a severe damper on bird watching and bird photography but I was able to get a few decent shots.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

What a remarkable collection of photos Kathie!!

Love those teeny quail.

Gaelyn said...

Kathie, I'd say you did better than just a few great shots of the birds. You really are an amazing counter. I especially loved the baby Gambel Quail. I see the adults all winter, but have yet to see those tiny little ones. All great captures.

Celeste said...

Those quail chicks are so irresistible! They really grew up quickly too.
The world really is so much a better place because of all our beautiful avian neighbours and your blog really highlights this.
Please drop by my blog as I have a little something for you there.

penny said...

I think counting birds is a wonderful and very helpful hobby. It tell a lot about how our environment is doing in different areas.
Your bird photos are so beautiful. I would love to see so many different birds.

Kathie Brown said...

Lynne, I wish you could have seen them!

Gaelyn, oh my, I wish you could have seen them also!

Celeste, birds make life beautful. Thank you. I will be right over!

Pam, thank you for visiting my blog. I do hope that my counting helps the birds in some small way.

Anonymous said...

A lovely collection of bird images Kathie.

Anonymous said...

You have so many to look at that it is hard to choose which to look at the longest. I would give a nickle for some of them to come here so I could get their picture.

Deborah Godin said...

Yes, remarkable, delightful, informative and much more. thanks for all of this - loved it!!

BirdingMaine said...

Excellent series Kathie! The rain seemed like it was never going to end here in Maine, and still hasn't. Would you believe we are having a cold, raw east wind with rain today and my furnance came on?! Every month since last September, our furnance has run at least once a month since.

DeniseinVA said...

It just amazes me how many different kinds of birds there are. Fantastic My World Post Kathie, I enjoyed learning all about those birds you saw. What a wonderful trip!

Snap said...


This was just amazing! Do you take part in the official bird counts? Loved seeing how quickly the quail chicks were growing up. Thank you for sharing all your beautiful friends with us!

Louise said...

What amazing bird shots. I'm not an official bird watcher, but I do pay attention to them. (Though my lens will never capture what yours have.) I have NEVER seen a Cedar Waxwing, and I've always wanted to. And the Scarlet Tanager is a jewel. I'm not jealous, but I really need a trip. (And a longer lens!)

Anonymous said...

i just finished reading your bird account and i must say wow. so enjoyed the post and photographs. and your baby quail residents are adorable little birdies.
have a wonderful week.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Kathie - it's good to have you home and posting again. I'm so jealous of the quail babies: they are beyond adorable!

Barb said...

You definitely have an eye for birds and the skill to photograph them! Lucky you to have seen so many on vacation. The baby quail at your home were wonderful!

Arija said...

Kathie, what a wonderful bagfull of beautiful birds. I love the tiny Quail babies, and my had they grown by the time you got back! A great post indeed.

TR Ryan said...

My gosh - your bird life, your photography, your writing - YOUR LIFE - is so prolific. You are the master at manifesting joy and beauty. I love coming here to get away.

And yes Will, I got it!! Thank you! Big, Big hugs.

Anonymous said...

Your photos are great, Kathie. Those quail chick are so sweet. I see quite a few of them are still around.
Unbelievably, we are still having rain here in Maine, Arizona looks really good right now.

Kathie Brown said...

Roy, thanks! That means a lot coming from you.

Abe, if I thought it would do any good I would bribe them for you!

Deborah, thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.

Birding Maine, I would absolutley believe it since I remember having my furnace on in July of 2003 when we lived in Livermore Falls. After 5 days of rain, fog, and temps in the 50's I couldn't take it anymore and turned it on. All I can say is I empathize with you!

Denise, it was a wonderful trip and I always love to share my passion for the birds.

Snap, welcome to my blog! I hope you like it here. I take part in an Important Area Bird Survey with Tucson Audubon in Sabino Canyon as well as participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count every year. I also submit all my bird counts to eBird which I have been doing for about a year and a half. I started eBirding after being encouraged to do it by Larry of the Brownstone Birding Blog. I've been hooked ever since.

Louise, Louise, you can count birds at whatever level you are able. It all helps eBird, even if all you know for the moment are robins, pigeons and house sparrows. It sounds more intimidating that it is. Birds ARE jewels. They are feathered gems! I'm glad you enjoy them, no matters what!

itsnotjustapicture, those quail are so sweet and fun to see!

Wren, thank you and thank you!

Barb, thank you. That is a very nice compliment!

Arija, I was fortunate to see the ones I did, but I know there would have been more if there wasn't so much rain! Still, I am very thankful I was even able to go and I have no complaints!

TR, Thou hast come to me at last. It is with great joy that I gaze upon your countenance and read thy words. I am, most humbly, thankful for thy visit to my blog.

fourwindsphotojournal, well, it was great to come back to AZ sunshine but, with temps soaring to the 112 mark this weekend I may find myself pining for some cool NE rain very soon! Thanks for stopping by!

Vickie said...

What an enviable visit to the east with such a wonderful collection of birds! But I think my absolute favorites are the pea-size gambel quails, especially your description of their eye-closing attitudes. Such babies! I loved how fast they grew while you were gone. Home is always home!

Kathie Brown said...

Vickie, you would so love to paint these if you were here! I know you would do a good job too!

Dawn Fine said...

What a great post! yes birds are everywhere! And you took full advantage of your time in Ct.and NY to bird..great sightings!
What a treat to go home to those sweet little puffs of gambels!

Larry said...

I think it's pretty cool that you got the photos of the Ovenbird and the WEW. Those are two birds that can be tough to get photos of and you got some nice photos.-Good point about geese droppings versus man made junk.-