Merganser Lake: Some snowy bird photos

carolina wren snow

Photo by Chris Bosak A Carolina Wren visits a feeder during a snowstorm in Danbury, Conn., Jan. 23, 2016.

You didn’t think the first snowstorm in New England would pass without me posting some photos of birds in the snow, did you?

Here’s a few to get started. I’ll post more later.

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My top birding moments of 2015

Here is my latest column for The Hour (Norwalk, CT) and Keene Sentinel (Keene, N.H.) It’s my favorite column of the year to write: my top 10 list.

Photo by Chris Bosak An Osprey carries a fish along the Norwalk River in Norwalk, CT, summer 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak An Osprey carries a fish along the Norwalk River in Norwalk, CT, summer 2015.

Not sure how it happened so quickly, but it’s time for me to write another year-end birding column. Each year at about this time I sit down and think about my top 10 birding experiences of past year. It’s not necessarily about the best birds I’ve seen, but rather the birding moments that most impacted me in one way or another.

What will be missing from this year’s list for the first time in about 10 years is my Thanksgiving “Duck Hunt” with my boys. The hunt is an annual tradition whereby we wake up early on Thanksgiving and visit a bunch of beaches and fresh-water bodies of water to count duck species. We try to get 10 species, but for me, the real thrill is being out with the boys looking for birds. This year I was so sick I couldn’t even get out of bed so we put the annual “duck hunt” on hold. Perhaps I’ll revisit it for another occasion. Maybe for the Great Backyard Bird Count. Or maybe just some random day this winter.

So here’s what did make the list …

10. Having the featured photo on The Birding Wire. The weekly e-newsletter features a photo in each edition and in early December it featured my photo of Pine Warblers squabbling at my suet feeder. I look at The Birding Wire each week, so it was neat to see my work as one of the featured items.

9. Having chickadees eat out of my hand. I noticed that each time I took down the feeders to fill them at my new house the chickadees would still land on the pole that holds the feeders, even though I was only a few feet away. I decided to hold off on putting the feeders back up immediately and instead extended my arm and held a handful of sunflower seeds out for the birds. They hesitated, but eventually landed and happily (if not nervously) took a seed and flew off.

8. A week-long summer camping trip with the boys. We went to the northern most part of New Hampshire and took the most remote site we could find. Gray Jays visited the camp and a Common Loon swam in the pond near the site. Of course, the call of the loon echoing at night capped off the experience.

7. Seeing a Bald Eagle nest off the coast of Norwalk. Ultimately the nest at Chimon Island did not result in young eagles being fledged, but it was still a thrill knowing they were out there. The unsuccessful nesting attempt is not surprising as many first-year nests fail. The nest still stands

Click here for the rest. 

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Some photos from the Christmas Bird Count 2015

Photo by Chris Bosak A Monk Parakeet seen eating crab apples at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk on Sunday during the annual Christmas Bird Count.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Monk Parakeet seen eating crab apples at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk on Sunday during the annual Christmas Bird Count.

Here are some photos of the annual Christmas Bird Count held locally (Westport, Connecticut, Circle) on Sunday. I did the Count with old friends Frank Mantlik and Larry Flynn. Highlight species included: American Woodcock; Orange-crowned Warbler; Nashville Warbler; Northern Shoveler; Gray Catbird; and Wood Duck (about 12 of them).

The above bird is indeed a New England bird. Well, at least it is now. A group of Monk Parakeets bound for the pet stores were believed to have escaped from JFK airport and established wild populations throughout the coastal regions of Long Island Sound. Some people don’t like them because they are non-native and very noisy. They do make good photo subject on occasion, though.

Here are some more photos from Sunday:

Photo by Chris Bosak A Belted Kingfisher seen near the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk on Sunday during the annual Christmas Bird Count.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Belted Kingfisher seen near the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk on Sunday during the annual Christmas Bird Count.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Northern Mockingbird seen Sunday at Taylor Farm in Norwalk during the annual Christmas Bird Count.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Northern Mockingbird seen Sunday at Taylor Farm in Norwalk during the annual Christmas Bird Count.

Hour photo/Chris Bosak A Belted Kingfisher seen near the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk on Sunday during the annual Christmas Bird Count.

Hour photo/Chris Bosak
A Belted Kingfisher seen near the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk on Sunday during the annual Christmas Bird Count.

Hour photo/Chris Bosak A Monk Parakeet seen eating crab apples at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk on Sundayt during the annual Christmas Bird Count.

Hour photo/Chris Bosak
A Monk Parakeet seen eating crab apples at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk on Sundayt during the annual Christmas Bird Count.

Photo by Chris Bosak Frank and Larry scan Long Island Sound.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Frank and Larry scan Long Island Sound.

 

A few book ideas for last-minute shoppers

Photo by Chris BosakCover of Water Babies by William Burt.

Photo by Chris Bosak Cover of Water Babies by William Burt.

I’m not sure if they can still be ordered online and arrive in time for Christmas, but here are some book ideas for those last-minute shoppers with a birder on their list. A simple Internet search of the title will yield plenty of ways to find the books.

In my “Bird Book Look” posts, I don’t give full reviews but rather post a photo of the cover and include a little information about the book. On occasion I offer a little personal insight.

Two bonuses on this post (hey, it is almost Christmas): I’ll include four books; and the photos were taken by my fireplace with a fire going _ my favorite way to read.

Here are the books.

The book pictured above is Water Babies by William Burt, a Connecticut-based nature photographer. I am also a Connecticut-based nature photographer, but I have never had the opportunity to meet William. Perhaps some day.

Duck, of course, are a favorite of mine so I love this book. It is a photo book with a lot information about the birds and the quests to photograph them on their breeding grounds. As the title suggests, it is mostly photos of baby ducks and other water birds.

Here’s the description from Amazon:

“Never-before-seen photographs of baby birds of the marshlands from a noted birding photographer

Naturalist William Burt is known for seeking out wild places and elusive birds―and none fit the bill quite so well as the creatures featured in this book. This may well be his break out book, featuring the downy young of the wetlands, Continue reading

A few flowers hanging tough

Most of the flowers in my gardens have long wilted and disappeared, even though this has been a mild autumn by New England standards.

The coneflower and Black-eyed Susan heads are still available for goldfinches and kinglets but the colorful pedals are gone. Well, mostly gone. Here are a few die-hards still hanging in there. Feel free to share your New England mid-November garden photos. 

Pincushion 

  
Dianthus

  
Black-eyed Susan

  
Finally, coneflower.

  

Osprey with fish. Can you name the fish?

Photo by Chris Bosak An Osprey carries a fish along the Norwalk River in Norwalk, CT, summer 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Osprey carries a fish along the Norwalk River in Norwalk, CT, summer 2015.

I’m pretty good with my birds, but only very average with my fish. I got this photo of an Osprey carrying a fish along the Norwalk River on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. I was photographing a young Osprey on a sailboat mast when this older Osprey flew by with its prey. The younger Osprey looked up and gave a look as if to say: “I wish I could do that.” The youngster will learn soon enough.

It looks like a fairly good-sized fish, but honestly my fish ID skills are not up to par. Who knows what it is? Thanks for your input.