Hermit thrushes abound on latest bird walk

Photo by Chris Bosak A Hermit Thrush perches on a branch at Selleck's/Dunlap Woods .

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Hermit Thrush perches on a branch at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods .

I can’t speak for how well the Hermit Thrush population is doing in general, but the last bird walk I took yielded a lot of these handsome birds. I was walking through Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods in Darien (Conn.) with my buddy Larry Flynn and the thrushes were by far the most commonly seen bird. At one point we had five or six Hermit Thrushes in one bush. I’ve seen plenty of Hermit Thrushes in my day, but never that many in the same bush.

As we walked along the trails, Hermit Thrushes popped up here and there, and pretty much everywhere. The birds, however, were silent — other than their little feet rustling among the fallen leaves. They didn’t sing their famous flute-like song because it’s the fall migration. During the breeding season (spring and summer) it’s a treat to hear their song echo throughout the woods.

I mentioned before than I can’t speak for how the population is doing overall. Well, that was a white lie because I can, at least by crediting another source. Hermit Thrushes, thankfully, are doing well as a species. In fact their numbers have been rising since 1966, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.

Hermit Thrushes are probably the most commonly seen thrush in New England, but there are several types of thrushes — and they can be very difficult to tell apart. The Wood Thrush and Veery look somewhat different than the Hermit Thrush and are fairly easy to differentiate. However, species such as Bicknell’s Thrush, Swainson’s Thrush and Gray-checked Thrush pose a tougher ID challenge and it takes a trained eye to pick out those species.

Larry and I are pretty certain that what we were seeing were all Hermit Thrushes. The next walk, however, may yield nary a Hermit Thrush. That’s the joy of migration — and birding in general.

Feel free to leave a comment …

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Warbler season chugging along; lots of warbler photos

Photo by Chris Bosak A Black-throated Green Warbler perches in a tree at Selleck's/Dunlap Woods on Sunday, May 4, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Black-throated Green Warbler perches in a tree at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods on Sunday, May 4, 2014.

The New England spring warbler season is upon us in a big way and my favorite hang out, Selleck’s Dunlap Woods in Darien, Conn., is no exception. On Sunday, I counted 11 warbler species — with huge numbers of Black-and-white Warlbers and Black-throated Green Warblers — in addition to plenty of Baltimore Orioles, Gray Catbirds, and two vireo species.

Warblers are small, often colorful songbirds that winter in Central or South America and return to New England and points north each spring to breed. The spring warbler season is the highlight of the year for many birdwatchers.

It was a good day photographically, too, as I was able to get some decent shots for the first time of several species. So here, in no particular order, are a slew of spring migrant songbird photos — all taken either Sunday, May 4, or Monday, May 5.

I will be leading a walk from 7:30 to 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 10, at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods. It is presented by the Darien Land Trust and open to all. Hope to see you there.

Lots more photos below. Click “continue reading.”

Photo by Chris Bosak A Black-throated Blue Warbler perches in a tree at Selleck's/Dunlap Woods on Sunday, May 4, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Black-throated Blue Warbler perches in a tree at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods on Sunday, May 4, 2014.

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Yes, more Hooded Merganser photos

Over the years I’ve taken tons of Hooded Merganser photos. I just love those little ducks and find them infinitely interesting.

So this weekend, what did I do? I took more Hooded Merganser photos, of course. About five males and four females were utilizing a small pool of unfrozen water on an otherwise frozen lake at Sellecks/Dunlap Woods in Darien, Conn. The males were not displaying, but that time is coming soon. (A video I took last winter of their breeding display behavior is included at the bottom of this post.)

Here are the latest. (Remember, you can always send me your bird photos and I’ll include them on my “Reader Submitted Photos” page. Send me your photos at bozclark@earthlink.net.

Now for those hoodies:

Photo by Chris Bosak Hooded Mergansers swim in a small unfrozen section of water at Selleck's/Dunlap in Darien, Conn., in Feb. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Hooded Mergansers swim in a small unfrozen section of water at Selleck’s/Dunlap in Darien, Conn., in Feb. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Hooded Merganser swim in a small unfrozen section of water at Selleck's/Dunlap in Darien, Conn., in Feb. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Hooded Merganser swim in a small unfrozen section of water at Selleck’s/Dunlap in Darien, Conn., in Feb. 2014.

More photos below …

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Eastern Towhee highlights quick morning walk

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Photo by Chris Bosak
An Eastern Towhee at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods in Darien, Nov. 2013.

A quick walk at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods in Darien this morning yielded a few surprises, such as a Hermit Thrush, a few kinglets and this very vocal Eastern Towhee.

A Blue Jay mimicked a Red-shouldered Hawk and plenty of American Robins ate berries along the trail. White-throated Sparrows were in abundance, too.

Photo by Chris Bosak An Eastern Towhee at Selleck's/Dunlap Woods in Darien, Nov. 2013.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Eastern Towhee at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods in Darien, Nov. 2013.

This particular towhee was very vocal, which is how I found it in the first place. It didn’t sing its “drink your tea” song, of course, but gave itself up by constantly uttering its “chwink” or “tow-hee” call over and over.

Let me know what you’re seeing out there at bozclark@earthlink.net. Also submit a photo for my “reader submitted” photo page.

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Photo by Chris Bosak
An Eastern Towhee at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods in Darien, Nov. 2013.

First post for the new BirdsofNewEngland.com

Green Heron in southern Connecticut, November 2013.

Green Heron in southern Connecticut, November 2013.

Welcome to the new http://www.birdsofnewengland.com. It will be similar to the former website with lots of bird photos and stories from my travels around New England. It will have a different look, however, and new features, such as a video page and “reader submitted” photos page. Feel free to submit photos you have taken of birds or other wildlife in New England (or beyond.)

So let’s just jump right into the first post.

November has been a great month for birdwatching so far, at least from my perspective in southern New England. On the first Sunday in November, I spotted a Green Heron at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods, a Darien Land Trust property. I’ve seen plenty of Green Herons at this property before, but never in November _ or even October or late September for that matter. It was interesting to see the crow-sized wader surrounded by fall foliage.

Green Heron in Southern Connecticut, November 2013.

Green Heron in Southern Connecticut, November 2013.

The Green Heron sighting followed an hour-long stretch whereby I sat in a dried-out swampy area and watched as Golden-crowned Kinglets, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Yellow-rumped Warblers hopped along the ground among the weeds and grasses looking for seeds. Previous highlights that weekend included an Eastern Towhee, Brown Creeper and Winter Wrens.

Thanks for checking out the new http://www.BirdsofNewEngland.com. Check back often for updates and new stories and photos. Remember to send in your photos and I’ll add them to the “reader submitted” page. Send the photos or other suggestions to bozclark@earthlink.net