Singing yellowthroat makes quick appearance

Photo by Chris Bosak A common yellowthroat sings from a branch at Happy Landings in Brookfield in spring 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A common yellowthroat sings from a branch at Happy Landings in Brookfield in spring 2017.

While looking for bobolinks (more on those guys later) at Happy Landings in Brookfield, Conn., the other day, this common yellowthroat made a quick appearance. As yellowthroats often do, it disappeared as quickly as it appeared. It sang a quick tune “witchity, witchity, witchity” and ducked back into the brush.

I’ll take a quick sighting over no sighting at all any day.

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For the Birds: A migratory turn of events

Here is the latest For the Birds column, which runs in several New England newspapers.

Photo by Chris Bosak A chestnut-sided warbler sings from a lower perch in Ridgefield, Conn., during the spring of 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A chestnut-sided warbler sings from a lower perch in Ridgefield, Conn., during the spring of 2017.

My birdwatching fortunes this spring migration made an abrupt turn for the better last week.

The cool, wet weather – in addition to working and coaching youth baseball – had limited my time looking for birds. When I did get out there, the birdwatching was relatively slow: a towhee here, a thrush there.

I love my towhees and thrushes, of course, but the day of seeing a flurry of spring migrants had escaped me. The dry spell ended during a walk in the woods last week.

The woods themselves were alive with the sounds of ovenbirds, thrushes and even barred owls, which often sing during the day.

The ubiquitous “teacher-teacher-teacher” call of the ovenbird reminded me of a spring camping trip I did with the boys about five years ago. We canoed to a site on Grout Pond in Green Mountain National Park in southern Vermont. Once settled we walked through the woods and ovenbirds seemingly surrounded us the entire way.

It was a highlight of an otherwise, let me say difficult, camping experience. The wood was wet and wouldn’t burn, and rain fell throughout most of the cool day and cooler night. A steady wind made fishing impossible. The boys – then nine and five – fought and bickered the entire time.

I’ve had plenty of great camping experiences with the boys, but this was not one of them. I did have those ovenbirds, though.

Back to my walk Continue reading

How’s your warbler season going?

Photo by Chris Bosak A chestnut-sided warbler sings from a lower perch in Ridgefield, Conn., during the spring of 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A chestnut-sided warbler sings from a lower perch in Ridgefield, Conn., during the spring of 2017.

We are heading to a point on the calendar where the spring warbler migration should be hitting its peak before trickling off as we head into the later weeks of May. The weather has been so cool and wet that many birders are wondering where the early part of the spring migration went.

I am included in that group as, between coaching youth baseball teams and having rain put a damper on birdwalks, my spring migration season has barely started .. and it’s already mid-May.

I did have a good walk recently with sightings of chestnut-sided warblers, blue-winged warblers, ovenbirds, wood thrushes, eastern towhees, and — to top it off — a male scarlet tanager. I also hear barred owls calling in the distance.

How is your spring migration season going? Let me know what you’re seeing out there.

A few singing warblers

Photo by Chris Bosak  An American redstart sings from a perch in New England in spring 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An American redstart sings from a perch in New England in spring 2017.

It’s warbler season (despite the below-normal New England temperatures) so I may as well post a few photos of these little birds …

Hopefully there will be more to come.

Photo by Chris BosakA chestnut-sided warbler sings from a perch in New England in the spring of 2017.

Photo by Chris BosakA chestnut-sided warbler sings from a perch in New England in the spring of 2017.

Latest For the Birds column: Watching warblers, of course

Photo by Chris Bosak A Palm Warbler perches among pussy willows at Selleck's Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Palm Warbler perches among pussy willows at Selleck’s Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Here is the latest For the Birds column, which runs weekly in several New England newspapers.

Warblers steal the show in spring migration, and rightfully so. They are colorful, cute, sing interesting songs and are plentiful in our woods in April and May.

Other songbirds are a blast to watch in the spring, too, of course. Birds such as orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks and towhees capture our attention and make us nudge anyone standing close by to make sure they see it too. Less colorful birds such as chipping sparrows, kingbirds, phoebes and vireos enhance our spring as well.

But it’s the little warblers that get most of the attention during the spring migration.

I love warblers for all the same reasons that everybody else does, but I think there’s another reason we appreciate these neotropical migrants so much. Warbler watching, like birdwatching in general, can be as easy or as difficult as you want to make it.

Someone can choose to see and appreciate the small birds flitting around the trees, but not care to identify them — easy and totally acceptable.

Others may choose to identify only a few, perhaps the ones they see often in their yard — relatively easy and also perfectly acceptable.

Continue reading

Latest For the Birds column: I knew there had to be Indigo Buntings there

Photo by Chris Bosak An Indigo Bunting perches in a tree in Ridgefield, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Indigo Bunting perches in a tree in Ridgefield, Conn., spring 2016.

Did I make these sightings happen? Probably not, but it was pretty strange nonetheless.

I was checking out a new birding spot, Bennett Pond State Park in Ridgefield, that a few people had told me about. They told me about the pond, which had beaver and Wood Ducks, and told me how to get there. To paraphrase, they said: “Walk to the field, into the woods and you’ll get to the pond.”

I love ponds. They are perhaps my favorite habitat to explore, especially if there are swamps nearby, too. But the word that really stuck out to me was “field.” I know where plenty of ponds are, but fields are becoming a scarce resource these days. Just ask all of the bird species that are in peril because they rely on fields.

Of course I took the wrong trail to get to the pond. I read the trail map wrong (what else is new?) and ended up taking a very wooded trail. The trail was pleasant enough and I heard some good birds — Ovenbird, Veery, Wood Thrush, Worm-eating Continue reading

A few more warblers from this spring

Photo by Chris Bosak A Black-throated Green Warbler perches in a tree in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Black-throated Green Warbler perches in a tree in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Here are a few shots of warblers I got this spring but haven’t posted yet. So here they are, just kind of thrown at you in no particular order and without much description …

Oh, and there’s a few warbler shots at the end of the post that I took this year and had already posted. You can never have enough warbler photos.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Yellow Warbler perches on a branch in Greenwich, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Yellow Warbler perches on a branch in Greenwich, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A female Yellow-rumped Warbler perches on a branch in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A female Yellow-rumped Warbler perches on a branch in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak An Ovenbird stands on a log in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Ovenbird stands on a log in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Palm Warbler perches on a branch near a pool of water in Selleck's Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Palm Warbler perches on a branch near a pool of water in Selleck’s Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Yellow-rumped Warbler perches on a branch in Selleck's Woods, Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Yellow-rumped Warbler perches on a branch in Selleck’s Woods, Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Hooded Warbler in Danbury, Ct., spring 2016.

Hooded Warbler in Danbury, Ct., spring 2016.

Another shot or three of the Blue-winged Warbler

Photo by Chris Bosak A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Here’s a few more of the Blue-winged Warbler. See the post below for more information about the photos.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Blue-winged Warbler, one cool-looking bird

Photo by Chris Bosak A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

I hadn’t seen one in years. I just haven’t been visiting the right spots as Blue-winged Warblers stick to a pretty specific habitat: low, brushy, shruby. You’re not likely to find one deep in the woods.

But I found myself with an hour to kill and driving in the vicinity of Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn. This was an old haunt of mine when I lived in nearby New York and had to drive past the exit daily. Now I found myself trekking the trails there again.

I had seen a few warblers — including a few Yellow Warblers, a specialty there — when I heard the song of the Blue-winged Warbler. It’s a buzzy song, almost insect-like. They look as cool as they sound with bright yellow plumage and a long, thin black eye stripe. It was nice to see them again (there were two) and even nicer that they were somewhat cooperative as I tried to photograph them.

Here are some shots of the Blue-winged Warbler. (I know the wings don’t exactly look blue. I don’t name the birds.)

Photo by Chris Bosak A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

The quirky Ovenbird pays a visit

Photo by Chris Bosak An Ovenbird stands on a railing in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Ovenbird stands on a railing in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

The Ovenbird is an odd little warbler. It looks more like a thrush with its light brown plumage and spotted breast, but it is a warbler — a warbler that prefers to walk along the ground instead of fly among the treetops.

It is perhaps most known for its song — the ubiquitous “teacher-teacher-teacher” that rings out from the woods throughout May and June in New England. But just because their song is loud and proud, that doesn’t mean they are easy to find. They lurk among the leaf-strewn forest floor, blending in with their surroundings.

I’ve been lucky enough to have one (or more?) visit my yard over the last few days. I’ve enjoyed the visit, but know it won’t last long. Soon, perhaps it’s even left already, it will head farther north.

Photo by Chris Bosak An Ovenbird perches on a branch in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Ovenbird perches on a branch in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak An Ovenbird stands on a log in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Ovenbird stands on a log in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.