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

White-winged Scoter hanging out with shorebirds

Photo by Chris Bosak A White-winged Scoter rests on the beach as a Ruddy Turnstone shares the area at Coastal Center at Milford Point on Monday, May 12, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A White-winged Scoter rests on the beach as a Ruddy Turnstone shares the area at Coastal Center at Milford Point on Monday, May 12, 2014.

While doing my weekly volunteer shorebird monitoring at Coastal Center at Milford Point, I came across a surprise bird on the beach. A White-winged Scoter, usually a bird I see in the distance on the waters of Long Island Sound during the winter, was sitting on the beach with dozens of little (in comparison) shorebirds.

It was an odd scene to see the scoter resting on the beach as Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin and Semipalmated Plovers scampered all around it.

Scoters are large sea ducks. Three types are seen along the New England coast: Surf; Black; and White-winged.

The day also included sightings of Peregrine Falcon (a young one sitting on the beach), Least Terns, Brant, American Oystercatcher, Piping Plover, Lesser Yellowlegs, and other shorebirds.

Photo by Chris Bosak White-winged Scoter at Milford Point, Connecticut, May, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
White-winged Scoter at Milford Point, Connecticut, May, 2014.

Warbler season chugging along; lots of warbler photos

Photo by Chris Bosak A Black-throated Green Warbler perches in a tree at Selleck's/Dunlap Woods on Sunday, May 4, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Black-throated Green Warbler perches in a tree at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods on Sunday, May 4, 2014.

The New England spring warbler season is upon us in a big way and my favorite hang out, Selleck’s Dunlap Woods in Darien, Conn., is no exception. On Sunday, I counted 11 warbler species — with huge numbers of Black-and-white Warlbers and Black-throated Green Warblers — in addition to plenty of Baltimore Orioles, Gray Catbirds, and two vireo species.

Warblers are small, often colorful songbirds that winter in Central or South America and return to New England and points north each spring to breed. The spring warbler season is the highlight of the year for many birdwatchers.

It was a good day photographically, too, as I was able to get some decent shots for the first time of several species. So here, in no particular order, are a slew of spring migrant songbird photos — all taken either Sunday, May 4, or Monday, May 5.

I will be leading a walk from 7:30 to 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 10, at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods. It is presented by the Darien Land Trust and open to all. Hope to see you there.

Lots more photos below. Click “continue reading.”

Photo by Chris Bosak A Black-throated Blue Warbler perches in a tree at Selleck's/Dunlap Woods on Sunday, May 4, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Black-throated Blue Warbler perches in a tree at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods on Sunday, May 4, 2014.

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Yellow-headed Blackbird in Stamford, CT

Photo by Chris Bosak A Yellow-headed Blackbird perches in a tree at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary in April 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Yellow-headed Blackbird perches in a tree at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary in April 2014.

By now you may have heard about a Yellow-headed Blackbird that has been hanging around Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Stamford, Conn. If not, don’t worry. I was a little late to the game, too.

But on Sunday morning I took a trip over there to see if the bird was still around. A birder from Rowayton was already there looking at the bird, which was at the main feeding station within the sanctuary. It remained only a few seconds before taking off to the top of a nearby tree. It returned after a few minutes and fed on the ground under the feeders for several minutes.

Yellow-headed Blackbirds are rare sightings in New England. They are western and Midwestern birds. I love my New England Red-winged Blackbirds, but Yellow-headed Blackbirds are even more colorful and much larger. Having never seen on in New England before, I was very impressed with the bird’s color, size, yellow rump patch and white wing patches.

David Winston arrived and said the bird had been there for several days and it frequented the feeding station. Suddenly the birds all darted off into the woods and other safe areas. While the bird was elsewhere temporarily, David Winston took the opportunity to make sure the feeders were filled and the ground underneath had plenty to offer. David is tireless in his efforts to promote and maintain the sanctuary.

Photo by Chris Bosak David Winston fills the feeders at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary this weekend, hoping to keep a rare Yellow-headed Blackbird in the area.

Photo by Chris Bosak
David Winston fills the feeders at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary this weekend, hoping to keep a rare Yellow-headed Blackbird in the area.

See more photos of the bird (taken by David Winston) by clicking here.

David spotted a Cooper’s Hawk in a somewhat distant tree, hence the apprehension for the feeder birds to stay at the feeder. Eventually the hawk flew off and the blackbirds came back. By now a few more birders had arrived and the star of the show returned.

In the field guide “Birds of North America” Kenn Kaufman mentions something about the Yellow-headed Blackbird’s “awful attempts to sing.” I can now vouch for that as the Stamford bird vocalized several times while I was there.

I returned very briefly this afternoon (April 28, 2014), but did not see the bird. Truthfully, I didn’t look that hard today. Time was short. Hopefully it’s still around and many other birders will be able to see it.

Another great rarity spotted at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Yellow-headed Blackbird eats seeds under a feeder station at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary in April 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Yellow-headed Blackbird eats seeds under a feeder station at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary in April 2014.

First warblers of the season

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

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

Typically a Pine Warbler is my first warbler of the spring, followed closely by a Palm Warbler. This year, with my time in the woods being limited by work and volunteer efforts monitoring shorebirds, I didn’t see my first warblers until April 24 in Selleck’s Woods in Darien, Conn.

Those warblers were Yellow-rumped Warblers, in their nice shiny, spring plumage. I see yellow-rumpeds a lot in the fall in their duller autumn plumage. It was nice to get the warbler season started, especially with a colorful one like the yellow-rumped. Hopefully the first of many.

What are you seeing out there? Comment or email me to let me know.

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

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

yellow rumped2

Piping Plover monitoring update

Photo by Chris Bosak Piping Plover at Coastal Center at Milford Point, April, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Piping Plover at Coastal Center at Milford Point, April, 2014.

So I woke up the boys for school, got them breakfast and rushed them to the car for drop off. I turned into the school parking lot: empty. No school. Scheduled “staff development” day. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve done that. Damn.

Oh well. I’ve committed to monitoring Piping Plovers and other shorebirds and, later, Least Terns on a volunteer basis on Monday mornings through the spring and summer. “Boys, we’re going shorebird monitoring.”

They didn’t object and Will was actually excited and wanted to carry the camera with him. I filled them in on what we were looking for and, more importantly, why we were looking for them. Piping Plovers are a threatened species and protecting their nesting areas is critically important.

We saw about 10 Piping Plovers today (Monday, April 21, 2014), including a pair copulating. “That’s how they make babies,” I told Andrew and told him how to spell ‘copulation.’ He was the official note taker for the day.  Wonder if he’ll try to use that word in one of his fifth-grade essays. It’s OK as long as he uses it correctly and age appropriately, I guess.

We also saw eight American Oystercatchers, a pair of Osprey and countless shells, which entertained the boys as much as the birds.

All in all, a good, educational day with the boys. Thank goodness school was out.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Piping Plover preens at Milford Point in spring of 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Piping Plover preens at Milford Point in spring of 2014.

 

Happy Easter weekend from BirdsofNewEngland.com

Photo by Chris Bosak A baby mallard stays dry during a rainfall by huddling under its mother's wing.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A baby mallard stays dry during a rainfall by huddling under its mother’s wing.

Here’s one of my favorite Mallard shots. The chick with its head sticking out was one of several tucked under the mother’s wing during a light rain. Even common subjects such as Mallards have their photographic moments. Happy Easter weekend from http://www.birdsofnewengland.com

A few late ducks — and other fowl sightings

Photo by Chris Bosak Horned Grebe at Cove Island Park in Stamford, CT, April 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Horned Grebe at Cove Island Park in Stamford, CT, April 2014.

While watching a small flock of Ruddy Ducks at Cove Island Park in Stamford, CT, a Horned Grebe made an appearance. The grebe was in a transitional plumage and will look quite different a few weeks from now.

Most of our “winter ducks” have flown north already, but some still linger. The Ruddy Ducks were a good sighting and there are still several Red-breasted Mergansers around. Soon, It will be mallards and black ducks for southern New England.

The Ruddy Duck photos are below:

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Just a few gratuitous Killdeer photos

Photo by Chris Bosak A Killdeer at a cemetery in Darien, CT, April 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Killdeer at a cemetery in Darien, CT, April 2014.

 

I’ve always liked Killdeer. They depend on large, flat open spaces to lay their eggs. As that habitat disappears, Killdeer have proven to be very resourceful. I’ve seen Killdeer nests (really just a small depression in the ground) in places such as parking lots, ball fields and cemeteries. These guys I photographed this week at a cemetery in Darien. I have plenty of Killdeer shots already, but I couldn’t resist.

To add in one fact about Killdeer to make this post at least a little informative — they are one of the species that will use the “broken wing” tactic to keep predators away from their eggs and young. As a predator (or unwitting human) approaches the nest, the parent will walk away from the eggs to divert the attention. To keep the interest of the predator the adult Killdeer will pretend it has a broken wing and limp along the ground. When the predator is sufficiently away from the nest, the adult will fly away, leaving the predator dumbfounded and hungry.

One more quick fact: Killdeer are shorebirds, and are indeed found along the shore at times, but are usually found far from the shore.

Thanks for visiting http://www.birdsofnewengland.com

Photo by Chris Bosak A Killdeer at a cemetery in Darien, Conn., April 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Killdeer at a cemetery in Darien, Conn., April 2014.