Merganser Lake: Morning canoe ride (video)

Here’s a video of a canoe ride I took this morning (Oct. 20, 2015) on Merganser Lake in Connecticut. Again, slow bird day but nice fall colors.

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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.”

A few more northern New England photos

Photo by Chris Bosak A Common Loon at a pond in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014. This loon is transitioning between summer and winter plumage.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Common Loon at a pond in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014. This loon is transitioning between summer and winter plumage.

Here are a few more shots from my recent trip to northern New England. I’m already looking forward to getting up there again.

I call this one “The one that got away.” I was canoeing on a pond in New Hampshire and focusing so heavily on the loon pictured above that I wasn’t aware of the rest of my surroundings. Suddenly I noticed a Bald Eagle flying away from scene. It had been perched on the top of a pine tree and I completely missed it — well, almost completely. I managed this quick shot of it flying away.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Bald Eagle flies across the autumn scene in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Bald Eagle flies across the autumn scene in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014.

Finally, here’s an American River Otter. There were two of them and it was the first time in years I’ve seen otters while I was canoeing. Unfortunately, this particular morning was very dark and gray, hence the not-so-good quality of the photo.

Photo by Chris Bosak A River Otter looks around a small pond in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A River Otter looks around a small pond in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014.

Gray Jay: Friendly bird of the northern woods

Photo by Chris Bosak A Gray Jay perches on a branch near a pond in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Gray Jay perches on a branch near a pond in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014.

Gray Jays are quickly becoming one of my favorite birds. Their range does not stretch into southern New England, but on my last several trips to northern New England, I’ve seen these handsome and friendly birds. I have been visiting the northern reaches of New Hampshire for more than 20 years now and I started seeing Gray Jays only in the last few years. They appear out of nowhere and offer close views. They seem to be as curious about you as you are about them. From what I’ve seen, they hang out in small flocks (3, 4 or 5 birds.) Gray Jays are one of those boreal species that makes the Great North Woods so special. I took the above photo while canoeing on a small pond in northern New Hampshire. This one flew right up to the pond’s edge to check me out.

 

Great Blue in the Great North Woods

Photo by Chris Bosak A Great Blue Heron flies across the scene at a pond in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Great Blue Heron flies across the scene at a pond in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014.

Here’s a Great Blue Heron I found while I was canoeing on a small pond in northern New Hampshire during my recent trip to the “Great North Woods,” as the marketers have dubbed the area.

Many of the birds there had already moved south, but a few bird species were still around. I’ve already posted photos of Belted Kingfishers and Common Loons, and now here’s a heron. I have a few more to post before closing the books on my annual trip up north.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Great Blue Heron hunts on the shore of a pond in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Great Blue Heron hunts on the shore of a pond in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014.

Latest For the Birds column: Loons in the fall

Photo by Chris Bosak A Common Loon in transitional plumage swims on a pond in northern New Hampshire in early October 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Common Loon in transitional plumage swims on a pond in northern New Hampshire in early October 2014.

I recently took my annual trip to northern New England in the hopes of seeing moose and few boreal bird species. The moose were scarce _ I saw a grand total of zero _ and Gray Jays were the only real boreal species of birds I saw. Nonetheless I did see plenty of Common Loons, which makes for a successful trip in my book. My latest For the Birds column addresses loons and their summer and winter plumage (and in-between plumage).
The full column may be seen here. 

Over the next several days I’ll post photos from the trip, which included stops in central Maine and northern New Hampshire.

Purple Sandpipers on Long Island Sound off the coast of Darien

Photo by Chris Bosak Purple Sandpiper on rocky island off the coast of Darien, CT. (Dec. 2013)

Photo by Chris Bosak
Purple Sandpiper on rocky island off the coast of Darien, CT. (Dec. 2013)

Snowy Owls and a Fork-tailed Flycatcher are grabbing all the headlines in Connecticut this week _ and deservedly so. Snowy Owls are being found up and down the coast and that flycatcher has been entertaining birders in Hadlyme.

I haven’t seen either species yet this fall/winter, but I thoroughly enjoyed a canoe trip on Long Island Sound this weekend. I launched from Pear Tree Point in Darien and canoed over to Green’s Ledge Lighthouse and back along the Darien coast. Common and Red-throated Loons were abundant. Long-tailed Ducks were constant companions and even uttered their unique song over and over.

But, for me, the highlight was Purple Sandpipers. I came across two flocks _ one a sizable flock of about two dozen; the other just two birds. Purple Sandpipers are hearty birds that live on rocky islands and breed in the Arctic. They winter on isolated rocks off the coast of New England, including Long Island Sound. 

(Way more photos below. Click on “continue reading.”)

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