About Chris Bosak

Bird columnist and nature photographer based in New England. Co-managing editor of The Hour newspaper. Bird

Did the Norwalk eagles have babies yet?

Hour photo/Chris Bosak Rick Potvin, manager of the Stewart B. McKinney NWR, holds a sign before it was posted on Chimon Island on Wednesday. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials were on the island to mark off areas to protect a bald eagle nest.

Hour photo/Chris Bosak
Rick Potvin, manager of the Stewart B. McKinney NWR, holds a sign before it was posted on Chimon Island on Wednesday. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials were on the island to mark off areas to protect a bald eagle nest.

The answer is a definite “probably.”

I wrote my latest For the Birds column in The Hour newspaper (Norwalk, Conn.) about the topic.

Here’s the start of the column:

Now for the answer to the burning question in the Norwalk birding world: Most likely.

The question, of course, is: Did the Bald Eagles have babies yet?

Again, the answer is “most likely.” Without climbing the tree or somehow hovering above the tree on Chimon Island where the nest is located, it’s hard to tell with all certainty. Since no one is going to climb the tree or otherwise hover above it, it’s basically a waiting game.

The eagles are still out there and one is sitting on the nest at all times. You could see that from Calf Pasture Beach with a spotting scope or good pair of binoculars. In talking with Norwalk’s Larry Flynn, the eagles have been sitting on the nest long enough that eggs would have been laid and hatched by now. Flynn is monitoring the birds for the state DEEP.

The vantage point from Calf Pasture and, indeed, even closer from Long Island Sound, is such that only the adult eagle’s head and maybe part of its body is visible. There is no way to tell what, if anything, it is sitting on.

If there are actually eaglets in the nest, it will be several weeks until they are large enough to be seen in the nest. So we play the waiting the game. Hopefully our patience will pay off and eventually we’ll all get to see fledgings flying about Long

Click here for the rest.

Warbler season has arrived in New England

Photo by Chris Bosak Palm Warbler

Photo by Chris Bosak
Palm Warbler

The title of this post is a bit misleading because warbler season actually arrived a few weeks ago. But there early warblers are still around and the next wave hasn’t arrived in force yet, so the topic is still timely.

Anyway, warblers (small and usually colorful Neotropical migrants) move through New England starting in late March/early April. The migration continues through early June. Many warbler species nest in New England, particularly in the middle and upper parts of the region.

Although timing is always subject to change, warbler species migrate at certain times of the spring. The “early birds” are the Pine Warbler and Palm Warbler, as well as the Yellow-rumped Warbler. A recent walk through Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods in Darien in southern Connecticut yielded several Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers. I didn’t see any Pine Warblers on this particular walk, but I know they are around.

So that’s how it starts. Then the spring warbler migration slowly builds momentum and peaks during the first two weeks of May. Then it trickles down to the late migrants and then fades away to nothing. Nothing, that is, except for the warblers that nest in the area. In southern Connecticut, Yellow Warblers and Common Yellowthroats are common nesters.

I’ll keep you updated on the warbler migration as it progresses. Feel free to let me know what you are seeing out there, too. For now, keep an eye out for the Palm, Pine and Yellow-rumped Warblers. There are photos of each of them attached to this post.

Photo by Chris Bosak Pine Warbler

Photo by Chris Bosak
Pine Warbler

Photo by Chris Bosak Yellow-rumped Warbler at Selleck's Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Yellow-rumped Warbler at Selleck’s Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2014.

Long-tailed Ducks in transition

Photo by Chris Bosak A pair of Long-tailed Ducks in transition plumage swims in Long Island Sound, April 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A pair of Long-tailed Ducks in transition plumage swims in Long Island Sound, April 2015.

Here’s a shot of a pair of Long-tailed Ducks transitioning from their mostly white winter plumage to their mostly dark summer plumage. Some birds looks the same year-round and some birds look different in the summer and winter. Most ducks (but not all) go through a few different plumages as the year goes on.

These Long-tailed Ducks (formerly Oldsquaw) will be heading to their Arctic breeding grounds soon. When they are along coastal New England in the winter, we see their white plumage. It’s one of the few birds, in my opinion anyway, that look more decorated in the winter than in the summer. Take the Common Loon for instance. It sports its famous black-and-white spotted plumage in the summer, but changes to a much more drab grayish plumage in the winter.

We are lucky to have many Arctic nesters spend their winters in New England. It’s interesting to see their plumage transitions, giving us a glimpse of what they look like when they are “up north.”

Brant, Brant and more Brant

Photo by Chris Bosak A large flock of Brant at Calf Pasture Beach, April 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A large flock of Brant at Calf Pasture Beach, April 2015.

I love seeing Brant along Long Island Sound. It’s fascinating knowing a bird that is so close in the winter will be spending its summer in the Arctic. Of course, lots of birds we see in New England during the winter _ especially waterfowl _ nest far north of here, but few are as easily seen as Brant.

Brant, which look similar to Canada Geese but are smaller and have different markings, gather in massive flocks along parts of Long Island Sound from late fall to early spring. Many Brant are Continue reading

Ospreys at Calf Pasture are back

Photo by Chris Bosak An Osprey perches atop a light pole and is dwarfed by the huge lights at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, Conn., in this April 20015 photo.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Osprey perches atop a light pole and is dwarfed by the huge lights at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, Conn., in this April 20015 photo.

The Osprey(s) at Calf Pasture Beach (Norwalk, Conn.) have returned. I saw one yesterday (Thursday) on top of a light pole next to the pole with the nest. The Ospreys have nested there for several years now and they are comfortable making their home above the bustling activity of the public beach.

I like how the bird _ a large bird of prey _ is dwarfed by the lights.

Connecticut Osprey and how you can help

Photo by Chris Bosak An Osprey soars over the Norwalk River on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Osprey soars over the Norwalk River on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014.

Here’s a recent column I wrote for The Hour newspaper in Norwalk, Conn. Most of the Osprey have returned to New England by now and Connecticut Audubon is once again holding its Osprey Nation program whereby citizens monitor the nests of “fish hawks.” There are now dozens of Osprey nests along Continue reading

Must be spring, the phoebes are back

Photo by Chris Bosak An Eastern Phoebe perches on a branch in Selleck's Woods in Darien, Conn., in late March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Eastern Phoebe perches on a branch in Selleck’s Woods in Darien, Conn., in late March 2015.

A very quiet walk in a patch of woods the other day suddenly turned interesting when a lone Eastern Phoebe made an appearance. Overall, the phoebe is somewhat drab, but its habit of bobbing its tail constantly gives its identity away immediately.

I’ve always liked phoebes despite their nondescript appearance and quiet voice. Perhaps it’s because they migrate so early and offer some hope that winter is finally in the rearview mirror.

I’ve been seeing them almost daily now, so it’s nice to know spring is here. Phoebes, just like chickadees and several birds, are named after the song they sing.

 

Killdeer doing what Killdeer do to keep the species going

Photo by Chris Bosak A Killdeer pair copulates in Darien in early April 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Killdeer pair copulates in Darien in early April 2015.

The day after photographing a Killdeer walking along the snow-covered ground of Spring Grove Cemetery in Darien, Conn., I returned to the same spot to see what other birds might be around.

I watched a few Wood Ducks and Ring-necked Ducks in the small pond, but they stayed out of photographic range. It was good to see them anyway, of course.

Then I spotted a Killdeer somewhat near the pond’s edge. What the heck, I thought, may as well take some photographs. I grabbed a few shots and almost started to drive away until I noticed another Killdeer not far away. I almost drove away again as the new Killdeer was not adding any new photographic opportunities. I was happy to see it, don’t get me wrong, but I was ready to move on with me day.

I put the camera back on front seat and reached for the gear shift when I heard a long and consistent “piping.” What are they up to, I thought. Instinctually I got the camera ready again and, sure enough, the male climbed on top of the female and did what comes naturally in the natural world. The continuation of the species … it’s a beautiful thing.

Killdeer handles the cold and snow

Photo by Chris Bosak A Killdeer stands in the snow at a cemetery in southern New England in late March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Killdeer stands in the snow at a cemetery in southern New England in late March 2015.

One of the drawbacks to being an early northward migrant is that they are subject to the whims of the early spring New England weather. Will it be hot, cold, just right? Raining, snowing?  The birds that show up in March are subjected to it all. But they’ve been doing it for generations, so for the most part, they can handle whatever is thrown at them.

Killdeer are one of these early migrants. They mate and nest earlier than most birds, too. So a little snow is no big deal for these “shorebirds.” The snow does make for nice photos, though.