Birds to brighten your day: May 14

Photo by Chris Bosak
An American redstart perches in a bush at Bennett’s Farm State Park in Connecticut, May 2020.

Something woke me up around 3:30 a.m. and I couldn’t fall back asleep. I gave up trying when the darkness outside my window started to brighten. What the heck, I told myself. It’s the height of warbler season so let’s go find some warblers. I made a cup of coffee and raced the rising sun to a nearby park. I headed down a path that has led to warblers in the past. It did again this time. There wasn’t a tremendous variety of warblers (maybe seven species) but the ones I did see kept me entertained.

My favorite was this American redstart that followed me along the path for an inordinate amount of time. It gave me great looks at it, but it would not sit still very well for photos. I managed a few decent shots despite his hyperactivity. A few more photos are below.

(Repeat text for context:  I’m running out of COVID-19 lockdown themes so from now until things get back to some semblance of normalcy, I will simply post my best photo from the previous day. You could say it fits because of its uncertainty and challenge. I’ll call the series “A Day on Merganser Lake,” even though that’s not the real name of the lake I live near in southwestern Connecticut, it’s just a nod to my favorite duck family.)

Photo by Chris Bosak
An American redstart perches in a bush at Bennett’s Farm State Park in Connecticut, May 2020.
Photo by Chris Bosak An American redstart perches on a branch at Bennett’s Farm State Park in Connecticut, May 2020.

Birds to brighten your day: May 10

Photo by Chris Bosak A blue-winged warbler perches on snowy branches at Bennett’s Farm State Park in Connecticut during a rare May snowfall in 2020.

Usually I post my latest bird column on Sunday and leave it at that. But yesterday (yes May 9) many in New England woke up to a snow-covered ground and then got another dose of the white stuff later in the day. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get up early and head into the woods to try to get photos of warblers and other spring migrants that we typically don’t associate with snow. There was just a covering of snow and the morning sun was melting it quickly so I had to hurry. I ended up with a few shots of an ovenbird and a blue-winged warbler on snowy branches. Strange times, indeed. (I’ll post the ovenbird a bit later today.)

Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there!

(Repeat text for context:  I’m running out of COVID-19 lockdown themes so from now until things get back to some semblance of normalcy, I will simply post my best photo from the previous day. You could say it fits because of its uncertainty and challenge. I’ll call the series “A Day on Merganser Lake,” even though that’s not the real name of the lake I live near in southwestern Connecticut, it’s just a nod to my favorite duck family.)

Photo by Chris Bosak A blue-winged warbler perches on snowy branches at Bennett’s Farm State Park in Connecticut during a rare May snowfall in 2020.
Photo by Chris Bosak
A blue-winged warbler perches on snowy branches at Bennett’s Farm State Park in Connecticut during a rare May snowfall in 2020.

Birds to brighten your day: April 22

Photo by Chris Bosak
A male eastern bluebird feeds his mate mealworms in a backyard in Danbury, Connecticut, April 2020. Merganser Lake.

A Day on Merganser Lake XIII

I caught these love birds (eastern bluebirds really) in an intimate moment yesterday as the male fed his mate some dried mealworms. How romantic, I know. I have been seeing them do this over the last few days but have never been quick enough with the camera. This time I was ready and got their special moment.

(Repeat text for context:  I’m running out of COVID-19 lockdown themes so from now until things get back to some semblance of normalcy, I will simply post my best photo from the previous day. You could say it fits because of its uncertainty and challenge. I’ll call the series “A Day on Merganser Lake,” even though that’s not the real name of the lake I live near in southwestern Connecticut, it’s just a nod to my favorite duck family.)

Birds to brighten your day: Bluebird Days I

Photo by Chris Bosak
An eastern bluebird perches on a branch in New England, February 2020.

You had to have known it was coming. I’ve been praising bluebirds all winter, even before “mine” started to visit about a month ago, so why not make them the next subject of my bird photo series? Did I mention I’ve had bluebirds in my backyard for the last month? I did? Oh, so you can imagine how many photos I have of them by now. Over the next several days, I’ll post one to help you get through this not-so-happy time in our history.

Top highlight left off the Top 10 list

Photo by Chris Bosak An osprey eats a catfish at Cayuga Lake State Park, October 2019.

Here’s another 2019 highlight that could have easily made my Top 10 list, which I posted a few days ago. During an early September camping trip with three college friends in the Finger Lakes region of N.Y., we were treated to a sighting of an osprey eating a catfish. Wayne noticed the spectacle first and pointed it out to the rest of us as we were, coincidentally, having our breakfast.

Later in the day, we walked to the nearby beach and saw a few snow geese. It seemed early for snow geese sightings, but I didn’t complain as they are hard to come by in New England.

More leftover highlights to come …

Photo by Chris Bosak Snow geese at Cayuga State Park in Seneca Falls, N.Y., fall 2019.

Ticks decimate New England moose population

Photo by Chris Bosak

I would never turn down the opportunity to write a story about New England moose, even if the subject is a bit somber. So when The Keene Sentinel asked if I would do an update story on the moose’s decline, I happily obliged.

Moose are my favorite New England wildlife watching target. Unfortunately, winter ticks and brain worm are taking a heavy toll on moose throughout New England.

Click here for the story, which appeared in today’s Sentinel.

Stranger things: Dobsonfly

With an intense heat wave gripping much of the country, including New England, and many people confined to their air-conditioned homes, it seems like an opportune time to start a new series of photos called “stranger things.”

I’m stealing the title from a popular Netflix show, of course, but this series of photos will feature strange-looking creatures found in New England. I have plenty of fodder in my basement and yard, but I will venture into the field for some shots, as well.

I’ll start with the dobsonfly, a large and intimidating-looking insect. I noticed this one the other day clinging to the side of my house near my deck. This is a female dobsonfly as it has a small mandible. Males have large mandibles and look even more fierce.

Like most intimidating-looking creatures in New England, dobsonflies are harmless to humans — although I’ve read that females can inflict a painful bite if provoked.

Click here for more information about dobsonflies from insectidentification.org.

Here’s a closer look.

Zeroing in on an American kestrel

Remember a few weeks ago when I urged readers to “check those blotches” carefully. Here’s the column for those who missed it. Basically, the column said that if something looks out of the ordinary in the distance, it should be checked out. It may be a plastic bag or mylar balloon stuck in a tree; or it may be a hawk, owl or something else of note in the tree.

I took my own advice the other day and checked out a small clump on one of the old windmills that grace the property at Happy Landings, an open space in Brookfield, Connecticut. Turns out, it was an American kestrel, a small falcon that is somewhat Continue reading

Warbler watch is on

Photo by Chris Bosak A Pine Warbler sits on a deck railing in New England this fall.
Photo by Chris Bosak A Pine Warbler sits on a deck railing in New England this fall.

The early warblers started arriving in New England a week or two ago. Pine warblers and palm warblers are typically the first two species to make their way back this far north and, sure enough, both are back now. This post includes photos of both species so you know what you’re looking for. (Above is the pine warbler; below is the palm warbler.)

The spring warbler season is the highlight of the year for many birdwatchers. It will pick up gradually over the next week or so and then erupt from late April through the middle of May. At the height of the warbler migration, a New England birdwatcher can see between 20 and 30 warbler species in a single day. (It would take some effort, of course, but it’s very possible.)

I’ll post frequently about warblers over the next few weeks and, hopefully, have plenty of fresh warbler photos to share. In the meantime, practice up with this link from AllAboutBirds.org — it includes various warblers and their songs.

Photo by Chris Bosak Palm Warbler
Photo by Chris Bosak Palm Warbler