Snowy November in the Great North Woods

Gray jay on snowy bough in Pittsburg, N.H., Nov. 2018.

It shouldn’t be too surprising that there is snow in November in the Great North Woods, the area of extreme northern Vermont and New Hampshire. We were surprised, however, to see snow when we arrived on Sunday only because it has been so warm this fall in southern New England. 

I hadn’t even given snow a thought yet, to be honest. Heck, wasn’t it in the 70s in Connecticut just last week? But, sure enough, a beautiful blanket of the white stuff covered Pittsburg, N.H. It was only an inch or two, just enough to make it beautiful and remind us that snow is coming soon enough for the rest of New England. (Update: Now it’s Tuesday and a steady rain has melted all the snow.)

With the moose population continuing to dwindle in northern New Hampshire, the wildlife highlight was a trio of gray jays we came across just south of Deer Mountain Campground, which itself is just south of the Canadian border.

I’ve seen gray jays before in Pittsburg, N.H, but never during the “winter.” They were extra bold and landed on our hands as we offered sunflower seeds. I’ve had black-capped chickadees land on my hands for sunflower seeds before, but I could tell the tiny birds were unsure of themselves as they landed quickly and flew off. These gray jays, however, were not shy at all and landed on our finger tips and dug through the seeds to find just the right one. 

About half an hour later we found a pair of gray jays, which also ate from our hands and showed little fear. At one point, an evening grosbeak flew in and landed in a nearby tree. I hadn’t seen an evening grosbeak in years and years, so the large yellow, black and white bird was a welcomed, if not fleeting, sighting.

Aside from gray jays, blue jays, ruffed grouse, chickadees, and red squirrels, the wildlife sightings have been rather scarce. But we’ll keep looking and I’ll let you know what we find. 

Photo by Chris Bosak  Feeding brave gray jays in Pittsburg, N.H., Nov. 5, 2018.
Photo by Chris Bosak
Feeding brave gray jays in Pittsburg, N.H., Nov. 5, 2018.
Photo by Chris Bosak  Feeding gray jays in Pittsburg, N.H., on Nov. 5, 2018.
Photo by Chris Bosak
Feeding gray jays in Pittsburg, N.H., on Nov. 5, 2018.
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It’s nesting season all right

Photo by Chris Bosak A Baltimore Oriole nest in Stamford, Conn., May 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Baltimore Oriole nest in Stamford, Conn., May 2015.

I took a walk around a local park in Stamford, Conn., yesterday. I knew the warbler migration was winding down, but I figured I’d see a few late migrants and perhaps something else interesting. Something always happens when you make the effort to take a walk in the woods.

I was walking happily along looking up in the trees for movement. With the leaves out now, movement is the only way to spot most birds. I glanced down and suddenly found myself tip-toeing frantically to avoid bird droppings all over the trail. Not that it would have been a big deal if I stepped on one, but my brain recognize Continue reading

A “colorful” little warbler

Photo by Chris Bosak A Black-and-White Warbler looks throughout an evergreen for food at Selleck's Woods in Darien, Conn., 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Black-and-White Warbler looks throughout an evergreen for food at Selleck’s Woods in Darien, Conn., 2015.

I saw plenty of warblers on my latest bird walk. Most of them were Yellow-rumped Warblers. I was hoping for more variety, but I’ll take a bunch of Yellow-rumped Warblers any day. There were also Prairie Warblers, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler and Chestnut-sided Warbler.

The second-most abundant warbler was the Black-and-White Warbler. True to its name, this warbler has no flashy colors to make it stand out among the leaves. Which is fine because this warbler is usually found on the trunks and lower branches of trees anyway. It’s one of the few warblers that does most of its hunting on the trunks of trees. It will often hunt low in trees, making it one of the easiest warblers to find on a bird walk. Many warblers hunt almost exclusively among the leafy tops of trees, making them very difficult to find.

It may lack the color of other warblers, but it’s still a striking little bird with its streaked plumage.

So what’s your warbler story? Feel free to comment or send me an email.

Junco season winding down

Photo by Chris Bosak A Dark-eyed Junco perches in a tree in New England in March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Dark-eyed Junco perches in a tree in New England in March 2015.

We love to see our first Dark-eyed Juncos of the late fall. They remind us that our winter birds have arrived and will be with us for the next several months.

Well, those months are passing by quickly and soon the junco sightings will become scarce again. So here’s a shot I took of a junco the other day. Will it be one of the last— at least until next fall?

Did you know …

• Juncos are members of the sparrow family

• There are several types of juncos in the U.S., including Slate-colored; Oregon; Pink-sided; White-winged; Gray-headed; and Red-backed. Only the Slate-colored is found in New England.

 

Hey, a hawk’s gotta eat, too

Photo by Chris Bosak A Red-tailed Hawk eats a Gray Squirrel in a cemetery in Darien, Oct. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Red-tailed Hawk eats a Gray Squirrel in a cemetery in Darien, Oct. 2014.

A local cemetery is often fruitful when it comes to finding birds. This day was no exception as literally hundreds of juncos and other small sparrows scattered as I drove slowly along the narrow roads.

I almost missed the highlight of the short birding trip, though. I glanced to my right just in time to see a Red-tailed Hawk on the ground a few dozen yards away. I hit the brakes and backed up just a touch. A Red-tailed Hawk on the ground usually means it is eating. Such was the case as this raptor was picking apart a freshly-killed Gray Squirrel. I watched for a bit, snapped a few photos and left the hawk to its meal. They aren’t called birds of prey for nothing.

More photos below:

Continue reading

Yes, a ‘green’ heron

Photo by Chris Bosak The back plumage of a green heron.

Photo by Chris Bosak
The back plumage of a green heron.

Green Heron’s often do not look green because the green is not a bright, neon green, but rather a dark muted green. Also, from a distance, which is where the bird is usually viewed, the bird looks more brownish or greenish-brown. I was lucky enough to photograph from a fairly close range one of these birds last week. Zooming in on the feathers on its back, here’s why it’s called a Green Heron. Of course, much of it depends on how the light is hitting the plumage.)

Here’s a full view of the bird.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Green Heron stalks a pond in Darien in this fall, 2014 photo.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Green Heron stalks a pond in Darien in this fall, 2014 photo.

Today’s warbler photo

Photo by Chris Bosak A Common Yellowthroat perches on a branch at Selleck's/Dunlap Woods on Sunday, May 11, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Common Yellowthroat perches on a branch at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods on Sunday, May 11, 2014.

Here’s another warbler photo taken this weekend at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods in Darien.

Last week I had a post with several warbler species included. The Common Yellowthroat was not included in that post, but I found a fairly cooperative one this weekend. Yellowthroats can be tricky to photograph because they are usually hidden among thick brush, often near wetlands.

On Saturday, I led a bird walk with a great group of people and we saw 10 warbler species, in addition to several other types of birds, such as vireos, egrets and thrushes. The warbler season in New England is still in full swing. Let me know what you’re seeing out there, send photos and sightings to bozclark@earthlink.net