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.

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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