Clearing out my 2014 photos, take 6: Brant

Photo by Chris Bosak A flock of Brant swims in the marshlands of Milford Point in Milford, Conn., April 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A flock of Brant swims in the marshlands of Milford Point in Milford, Conn., April 2014.

Here’s my next photo in the series of 2014 photos that I never got around to looking at and posting.

Here’s a small flock of Brant I saw in the spring of 2014. At certain locations along the coast of southern New England, Brant flocks can number in the hundreds along Long Island Sound. At Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, Conn., the Brant flock pushes 1,000 birds or more.

Brant look somewhat similar to Canada Geese, but are smaller. A few individual Brant hang around New England through May and into June, but most of them return to their nesting grounds in the Arctic by March or April. It’s nice that they come visit us each winter.

Advertisements

Not a turkey, but a nice Thanksgiving sighting

Photo by Chris Bosak A Common Loon swims in Long Island Sound in Darien on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 27), 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Common Loon swims in Long Island Sound in Darien on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 27), 2014.

I took my boys Andrew and Will on our annual Thanksgiving Duck Hunt (actually a watch) on Thursday. Time was short this year so we hit only a few of our regular spots and no true freshwater ponds, so the number of duck species we found was way down. Our goal each year is 10 different species. This we only got five: Hooded Merganser; American Wigeon; Black Duck; Mallard; and Bufflehead. It was our worst effort in the eight years we’ve been doing it, but again, time was short and the time spent together is the main goal. So mission accomplished in that regard.

We did get a nice surprise at Weed Beach in Darien when a Common Loon made an appearance much closer to shore than usual. Loons are much more drab in the winter than they are in summer, but it’s a thrill to see this iconic bird regardless of the season.

Here are a few shots of the loon — a big, powerful bird — taken on a very gray day.

Oh, by the way, we did see a flock of turkeys on someone’s front yard.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Common Loon swims in Long Island Sound on Thanksgiving Day, (Nov. 27), 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Common Loon swims in Long Island Sound on Thanksgiving Day, (Nov. 27), 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Common Loon swims in Long Island Sound on Thanksgiving Day, (Nov. 27), 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Common Loon swims in Long Island Sound on Thanksgiving Day, (Nov. 27), 2014.

 

I’m trying to work on Labor Day, but it’s tough with these guys flying around

Photo by Chris Bosak An Osprey soars over the Norwalk River on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Osprey soars over the Norwalk River on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014.

So I’m sitting here at The Hour office along the Norwalk River trying to get Tuesday’s pages out, but every five minutes one of these guys flies across my view. Love this time of year for Osprey sightings. More on that here.

Osprey flying with fish in talons

Photo by Chris Bosak An Osprey flies with a fish at Milford Point in Milford, CT, June 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Osprey flies with a fish at Milford Point in Milford, CT, June 2014.

I saw the shadow in the sand and knew it was something big. I wheeled around and saw the Osprey flying with the fish and scrambled to try to get the bird in the view finder of my camera. I didn’t nail the photo by any stretch of the imagination, but the scene was pretty neat so I figured I’d share the subpar photo anyway.

This Osprey was photographed at Milford Point in Milford, CT, on Monday, June 16. It was flying the large fish back to its nest not far from the beach. The fish was plucked from Long Island Sound.

Osprey catch their fish and in midair adjust the catch in their talons to make it more aerodynamic.

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.

Oh, and there’s a loon

 

Photo by Chris Bosak A Red-throated Loon swims in Norwalk Harbor in this March 2014 photo.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Red-throated Loon swims in Norwalk Harbor in this March 2014 photo.

I drove past Veterans Park the other day and, as is usually the case in winter, I pulled in to see what winter ducks might be around. I immediately spotted a female Red-breasted Merganser swimming somewhat near the shore. It was cloudy and the light was no at all ideal, but I managed to get a few very average photos of the bird.

It kept moving south slowly until it came up on a male Bufflehead. The two birds ignored each other, but for a brief moment they were mere feet away from each other. I snapped a few (again average) photos.  I always like to see birds together that you don’t always see “hanging out” near each other.

As I was photographing the merganser and Bufflehead I noticed out of the corner of my other eye a loon close to the shore. When did that pop up? I wondered. Loons are diving birds (as are mergansers and Buffleheads) and often “pop up” far from where they dove. I refocused and took some shots of the loon. It was a Red-throated Loon, a somewhat common occurrence in the Norwalk Harbor and Long Island Sound. They breed in the Arctic and some spend their winters here in New England. Common Loons, which breed in northern New England and farther north, are also fairly common birds in the winter around here. The loons will be heading north soon so I was happy to get this late sighting.

Soon enough the loon I was photographing dove again. I never did see where it popped up next.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Red-throated Loon swims in Norwalk Harbor in this March 2014 photo.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Red-throated Loon swims in Norwalk Harbor in this March 2014 photo.

Photo by Chris Bosak A female Red-breasted Merganser swims in Norwalk Harbor in this March 2014 photo.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A female Red-breasted Merganser swims in Norwalk Harbor in this March 2014 photo.

 

Photo by Chris Bosak A female Red-breasted Merganser and a male Bufflehead swim in Norwalk Harbor in this March 2014 photo.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A female Red-breasted Merganser and a male Bufflehead swim in Norwalk Harbor in this March 2014 photo.

Another Snowy Owl sighting in this historic year

Photo by Chris Bosak A Snowy Owl sits on an old telephone pole at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014. Smoke stacks in Bridgeport loom in the background.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Snowy Owl sits on an old telephone pole at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014. Smoke stacks in Bridgeport loom in the background.

It’s no secret by now that this is a historic winter for Snowy Owl sightings throughout New England and beyond. Snowy Owls are large owls that breed in the Arctic. The irruption of Snowies has gained the attention of nearly all media outlets — small, medium and large; newspapers, magazines, radio and television.

It’s hard to ignore such an avian happening. A couple Snowy Owl sightings in a New England winter is the norm. This year there have been dozens, perhaps hundreds. The most recent Audubon magazine has a great article by Scott Weidensaul. I highly recommend reading it.

I saw my first Snowy Owl of this winter in December in Westport, Conn. I saw a few more in January and February in Milford and Stratford, Conn.

On March 1 I had perhaps my best Snowy Owl sighting of the year. It was at the Coastal Center at Milford Point in Milford, Conn. The owl was on the beach and, while I photographed it from a distance, other beach walkers flushed the impressive bird on occasion. Because of the owl’s impressive size I was able to relocate it each time. Such an impressive bird.

My hope is that as many of these beautiful birds as possible make it back to the Arctic. Perhaps they’ll visit us again another winter.

Enjoy these photos. I hope to have a short video ready soon.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Snowy Owl flies across the beach at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Snowy Owl flies across the beach at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014.

More photos below (click on “continue reading.”)

Continue reading