Category Archives: Trip Reports

February Trip report

Hello all! Nicolas Main writing. Some of you may not know me, but I have been an avid member of the Connecticut Young Birders for almost a year. Recently another member, Will Schenck, has taken up writing the summaries although, i’ll be filling in. I hope that my first club trip write up will consist of good storytelling, that both entertains and excites!

Considering that I am one of the only young birder’s who resides as far inland in Litchfield County as I do, I am usually faced with a grueling journey to attend most of our club trips. Despite the long drive, I was determined to meet up with both Jory and Aidan for our annual February outing, eager to assist with the round up of wintering birds at some excellent local spots. Although there was a disheartening forecast for rain later in the day, we wanted to give local birding areas in both Stratford and Bridgeport a chance.

To start off the trip, we thought it was important to stop at a hotspot known as Long Beach. Due to the fact that this is such an excellent location for birding, we knew we would come across some amazing birds. Upon arriving, we were greeted by a group of hyperactive Long-tailed Ducks. This assured us that with the warm weather and active birds, that it was going to be a successful trip.

Adding to the promising conditions, sea watching was going to be that much easier with the calm, and clear waters. Continuing onto the beach, the real birding began. Before Jory and Aiden could set up their scopes we were immediately swarmed with a flock of Horned Lark which produced a great photography opportunity. While trying for a decent shot of the larks, a quick scan with scopes produced diving Common Goldeneye, and group of Greater Scaup. These amazing conditions seemed to be sending the birds into a frenzy as well. Flocks of Dunlin and Sanderling frantically flew back and forth looking for a place to land, sea ducks dove desperately all while a massive group of Brant called in the background. With a final scan, we came across two Iceland Gull’s sitting far out on the jetty, accompanied by Snowy owls. Racking up 22 species, we thought that Long Beach had resulted in some notable birds and decided to move on to another hotspot.

Deliberating in the car ride about new cameras, and lenses, we made our way to Seaside Park. Immediately pulling into the park, we were greeted with a massive nest created by an introduced exotic species known as Monk Parakeets. Surprisingly, the Parakeets were mingling amongst the European Starlings on the ground. By moving further into the park, we scanned for a flock of foraging birds which can sometimes consist of multiple species. Within a minute of searching, Aidan was able to pull out the flock which consisted of Horned lark, Snow bunting, and a Lapland Longspur all scurrying their way about the field. We also scanned a small group of gulls looking for anything unusual, and with nothing intriguing, we moved on.

Next, we proceed with the trip to a nearby energy plant which tends to hold massive groups of gulls; and they were everywhere. On the ledges of the building, in high concentrations on nearby rooftops, and even riding along on the moving garbage trucks. A Red-tailed Hawk flew from each corner of the rooftop of the plant and thankfully shuffling the gulls as it flew by. After a few minutes of scanning through a chained fence, we came across our third Iceland Gull for the day, which sat on a rooftop. Although not a rare gull, this species can be somewhat uncommon but always exciting to find!

Our next stop was “The Reef”. Thankfully the high tide was receding which opened up not only the sandbar but provided great opportunity to find some exciting birds. When walking onto the beach we were instantly meant with a massive raft of 700+ Greater/Lesser Scaup, where we eagerly scanned the group in hope of Tufted Duck. Sadly the raft moved further and further out which limited our ability to find the rare duck. Despite the missed opportunity, we managed to locate our fourth Iceland Gull, which was intermingled with the Ringed-billed Gulls and Herring Gulls. In conclusion, this hotspot was far from a dud, with White-winged Scoters along with some far out Great Cormorants which were both new for the day.

Granted we didn’t get too many species at our next location, Sunken Island, we still obtained one of our trip highlights. A beautiful male Harlequin Duck which was found by Aidan swam amongst the group of White-winged Scoters. Because this rare bird has such astonishing plumage, it is always a treat to find along the Connecticut coast. Not picking up anything else too exciting other than a dozen of Horned Grebes, we proceed on.

Thoroughly birding most of Bridgeport and Stratford, we went on to some area in Westport. Bulkley Pond tends to be an easy stop for the club, where we can pick up a resident male Northern Pintail that mixes with Mallards and sometimes Green-winged Teal. After the quick pitstop for the ducks, we moved on to some other small and quick locations.

Disappointingly the sun was swallowed up with clouds which reminded us of the impending rain, we had to move fast. Quick 15 minute stops at Southport Beach and Gorham Island resulted in Red-breasted Mergansers, some Common Loons, along with Gadwall and Hooded Mergansers. Admittingly these spots we hurried, we managed to save some time for our final spots.

Having been focusing so much on the seabirds, it was refreshing to hear Black-capped Chickadees calling when we arrived at Burying Hill Beach. As they sang, we were thankfully meant with a up close Lesser-backed Gull. Although this birds seemingly simple appearance, it is an always exciting bird to come across. As this bird waded further down the shoreline, Jory and Aidan came across a Red-throated Loon in their scopes, along with a large group of Long-tailed Ducks. Spending 20 minutes here, we thought it would be a smart idea to move on as the clouds appeared to become darker, and more menacing.

The forecast stated that at 2:00 pm, the rain would start. Although the days had begun to start getting longer, my fellow members and I were disappointed that we would not be able to bird until sundown. Due to the short winter days, the past couple have trips have ended seemingly too fast. Although running out of time, we had to make the best of it.

Saugatuck Shores was our next location and final location. Although residential, small spots that opened up to the beach provided a spot where we could set up the scopes.While scanning an older man on his bike stopped and asked what we were up to. On occasion we are stopped by a curious passersby and we are questioned. It is always fun and somewhat rewarding to educated a curious person. Jory explained that we were bird watching and in search of any rare or uncommon ducks. Unfortunately we told the man, we haven’t found any yet. At the next open spot leading towards the beach, I was astonished by the amount of Long-tailed Ducks that stretched from Sherwood to Norwalk. Several massive rafts held up to a total of a whopping 600 birds. While Aidan scanned the shoreline, Jory was busy looking for a Barrow’s Goldeneye. After we celebrated finding the 5th Iceland Gull of the day along the beach, Jory managed to find an interesting looking Common Goldeneye. Having the day started off with great conditions, they now began to worsen. Rain started, a haze in the scope, and over 400 Goldeneye all together, it was impossible refind the peculiar female Goldeneye. With the misfortune of missing a new bird, the Goldeneyes still managed to provide an incredible experience. We not only watched but listened to the Goldeneye take simultaneous flight. The roaring sound of the birds lifting off was a better experience, to me, than getting a new bird. Satisfied with our excursion at Saugatuck Shores, we took a break from birding to take pictures of the beautiful landscape, Jory taught both me and Aidan some excellent landscape photography techniques.

Racking up a total of 50 species, we had a decent day. Although we had to rap up the trip early to weather, it was a successful trip that resulted in two lifers for me. I look forward to the warblers that will soon start to make their way back to the wonderful state of Connecticut, and hope our next few trips will result in some great passrine birding!

– Nicolas Main

 

New Haven Mega Bowl 2018

Though no one can deny that the peace and tranquility of observing birds in beautiful settings alone in the field is one of the best experiences of birding, the Big Day is a close contender. Sleepless nights, heat-stopping chases, and the smell of victory on the horizon… hard to beat!! That’s why the annual New Haven MegaBowl is such an awesome event for the CTYBC! This competition takes place the Saturday before Super Bowl Sunday every February. A Big Day within the limits of New Haven County, it’s special in that each species is assigned a point value; teams add up their seen species’s points to determine their score, so in theory, a team with less species but more points could win against one with more species but less points.

The birding scene in Connecticut lately has been slow, with few rarities around and passerine birding being quite the dud due to weather conditions. Also, with Brendan at college and Jory competing in a science fair, the CTYBC team, the “Darth Waders”, was down to three members – Preston, Aidan, and I. Still, the CTYBC had won last year, our team of Fairfield County youngsters beating out crowds of veteran birders on their home turf. It was epic. The CTYBC team this year was determined to bird our hardest for the win. Our legacy depended on it.

The competition began at 6:00 a.m, and as the clock stuck the beginning of the Big Day, our team was out at the dark, wind-blown Wheeler Marsh in Milford in the attempt to hear such specialties as Marsh Wren, Clapper Rail, and Long-eared Owl, the last of which our team had heard hunting at this very spot last year. The first bird of the day – the flocks of American Black Ducks quacking noisily in the predawn light, mixed with Hooded Mergansers and Canada Geese. We quickly played for Marsh Wren and Clapper Rail, but yielded no results. The rules of the MegaBowl ban playing for owls, and we would eventually end up with no vocalizing owls.

Our next stop was Milford Point, where the marsh, stones, and even the very sand of the beach was glassed in ice. The birding on the sandbar immediately yielded results- we had good views of a flock of pale Snow Buntings among the dead beach plants, and in no time at all, we had found Snowy Owl roosting atop the beach. We skirted in carefully to seawatch, where we found Common Goldeneyes, Horned Grebes, Common Loons, and innumerable Greater and Lesser Scaups bobbing in the freezing surf.

Next was our first rarity chase of the day, for a Harlequin Duck that had been seen at the mouth of the Oyster River in New Haven. The bird was known to be drifting between two locations – one a public beach, one a seawatch off a residential road. At the beach, we found nothing but the first Mallards of the day, but Holcomb Street was immediately successful – the beautiful adult male Harlequin Duck, a lifer for both Preston and I, showed brightly in the morning sunlight. Accompanied by very close Red-breasted Mergansers and Long-tailed Ducks, we additionally found a surprise Northern Pintail – an adult male, no less! As this species is usually a denizen of Connecticut’s ponds, lakes, and saltmarshes, we were pleasantly surprised to see this one at a coastal seawatch.

Next came a quick stakeout at the small Beaver Pond Park. Though the sign in the park claimed patronage of such species as Loggerhead Shrike, Eastern Meadowlark, and Least Bitterns, we did not find any of these, but instead sought out three furtive American Coots that huddled secretly in a thick reedbed.

Looking over old eBird reports, Aidan had found a mysterious spot in New Haven by the name of Proto Drive, that in the past had yielded such birds as Marsh Wren, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Virginia Rail. Upon our arrival, we found the habitat to be very intriguing: an extensive cattail/Phragmites marsh. Unfortunately, the entire marsh was completely frozen. On a strange ice path through the middle of the marsh, we were surrounded by the tall plants like walls, where we played for Virginia Rail and Marsh Wren without success. In fact, the whole area – which did seem like good habitat, was dead in the water. The only new species added were Carolina Wren and Northern Flicker.

Last year, the strange and unexplored Branford Dump had been our saving grace. Not even a hotspot, we had discovered such birds as Gray Catbird, Eastern Bluebird, and Fox Sparrow on its brushy trails – and none other than a Black-crowned Night-Heron lurked on the shores of its large central lake. With passerine birding being as quiet as it was, we hoped that this spot would again show us good nature. However, the freeze was the death of us again. The lake that we prayed would host the night-herons was solid as stone. The passerine plague had reached here as well – though we did add Eastern Bluebird, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and White-breasted Nuthatch, the spot was otherwise very quiet. With a species total in the mid 40’s, we knew we had to pick up the pace if we wished to get a winning total.

Leetes Island Road in Guilford had been host to Killdeer in the past, but when we checked it out, the deadly cold had pushed out any waterfowl that once may have resided in the marshes there. However, luck was on our side when we decided to step out of the car at a random location – a young Bald Eagle was cruising over the marsh, a flock of Cedar Waxwings foraged in suburban trees, and a couple of Common Ravens flew high above the woods. We were all glad to add three good birds to our list, before quickly continuing on to Tuxis Island.

Tuxis Island, a tiny nearshore island of rocks and surf, was blue and clear. A Barrow’s Goldeneye has wintered here for years, and we were quickly able to pick out a beautiful male Barrow’s Goldeneye among a small group of Commons. After scanning the rocks for Purple Sandpiper, we headed to Hammonasset Beach S.P – which would ultimately be the best spot of the day, our kind of saving grace.

As soon as we arrived at Hammo, we spotted a large flock of Horned Larks swirling around the short grass of the parking lot area. It took no time at all to get our scopes onto the plain little birds to pick out a Lapland Longspur, with its intricate face pattern, that lay hidden among the flock. A great bird and a good start, we continued quickly to the Moraine Trail, where we would scout out our seabirds.

With their harlequin bills and prominent white-backed heads, Surf Scoters immediately stood out to us from the beach we watched from. Their compatriots, farther away in the gray sea, White-winged Scoters, were more elusive but recognizable. On the shore, huge mixed flocks of Dunlin and Ruddy Turnstones foraged vigorously. Every time a wave or jogger swept up a great flock, we had our eyes on for any birds that stuck out of the flock, and soon we had found the first Purple Sandpipers of the spot. As we watched the birds swirl around in coordination, suddenly two Purple Sandpipers alighted directly on the surf across from us — close enough to be identified naked eye! I got amazing, full-frame digiscopes of these beautiful birds, not often seen close, and even got to hear them call – a shrill peeap!

At the end of the Moraine Trail, more birds awaited us – a Red-throated Loon offered good looks, and we found a nice-looking Iceland Gull along the slipper shell piles. Preston even spotted us a flyby Merlin, a good addition to the species set.

Then it was time to check out Willard’s Island, a kind of hammock of spruce-cedar forest that lies above the continuous salt marsh of Hammonasset. Here, Yellow-rumped Warblers abounded, feeding in noisy flocks on the blue cedar berries. Preston was able to spot a Golden-crowned Kinglet in the high needles.

By the time we had finished at Hammonasset, it was after noon, and the daylight was fading fast. It was time to head inland!

At Konolds Pond in Woodbridge, the ducks abounded. We spotted many Ring-necked Ducks on the unfrozen parts of the lake, along with flying Mute Swans, and a few colorful Wood Ducks, distant but unmistakable on the water’s far shore.

On the drive to River Road in Southbury, Aidan’s mom (a gracious driver) spotted a bird that she initially identified as an American Kestrel, which would be new for the day. We wheeled back to check it out, but it turned out the bird was a Red-shouldered Hawk, a new raptor for the trip. We continued to the river happy to have spotted it.

At River Road, where in April the club had spotted Veeries, Louisiana Waterthrushes, and Cerulean Warblers, the Common Mergansers were still there, starkly white and green against the wide pewter river. We were here on a chase; we searched through the massive flocks of Canada Geese in search of a few rare geese that had been accompanying them in the past weeks. Though it took some searching, we were able to locate the two immature Snow Geese and the two Ross’s Geese – an exceptionally rare visitor to the state! – on the far river bank. Interestingly, there has been extensive debate on the purity of one of these Ross’s Geese, the immature bird- or how much “Snow Goose blood” it has to be still considered a Ross’s Goose. For our purposes, one was fine!

Our final location was the Cassidy Training School, an interesting area of tall grassland in the northern reaches of New Haven County. During the winter, it’s been host to species such as Short-eared Owls, Rough-legged Hawks, and White-crowned Sparrows. Some of the first birds we saw there were a massive flock of American Crows in a corn field. Some patient listening finally yielded a calling Fish Crow, which we nearly missed for the day! In the roadside grasslands, we were able to see many good species of sparrows, including both American Tree Sparrow and White-crowned Sparrow – a very good species to see wintering in Connecticut! A calling Hairy Woodpecker was the last bird of the day, the contest ending at 5:00.

We ended the day with 72 species, a significant downgrade from last year’s total of 81. This was due to really, really bad passerine birding – we missed such obvious species as Red-bellied Woodpecker and even Dark-eyed Junco! However, the sea watching conditions were fair, and we got such rarities as Harlequin Duck, Snow Goose, Ross’s Goose, and Barrow’s Goldeneye.

As the sun set, we headed back to the Kellogg Center in Derby, a preserve center, where the awards ceremony takes place. Having eaten a delicious dinner of chili and pasta, we anxiously awaited the results of the competition. Though the birding was a lot quiet than last year, we had confidence that our skill as birders would lend us an upper hand in the contest. When at last the results were read… we were so thrilled to learn that the CTYBC Darth Waders had once again won the New Haven Megabowl! Here’s to many more.

-Will Schenck

October Trip Report– Greenwich Audubon

On October 23rd, the Club visited Greenwich Audubon and the Quaker Ridge Hawk Watch, one of Connecticut’s premier fall-birding destinations. The focus of the trip was hawk watching, but the property grounds beckoned us in for some morning birding as well.

We arrived at dawn to catch morning flight, when passerine migrants drop down to earth in the first few moments of daylight. An impressive number of birds were moving, although of limited variety. Large numbers of Robins streamed overhead, with decent numbers of Eastern Bluebird and Cedar Waxwing mixed in. A couple Grackle and Red-winged Blackbird were moving as well. The highlight came in the form of a single Eastern Meadowlark that zipped by over the orchard. We were also surprised to see a kettle of 18 Turkey Vultures rise up from the trees– raptors generally appear later on in the day.

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Turkey Vulture at dawn–photo by Jory Teltser

After the flight had died down, we traversed the Audubon property for a few hours hoping to stir up any lingering warblers and sparrows. We had nice looks at Black-throated Blue and Nashville Warblers alongside a slew of other species including Winter Wren and Chipping Sparrow.

As things warmed up we stationed ourselves at the hawk watch, where a couple other observers had already gathered. The wind was blowing from the Northwest, perfect for hawk movement– although as one of the hawk watchers explained, the winds were strong enough that many migrant raptors would be blown to the coast instead of traveling along the inland ridge lines. It takes a myriad of ideal factors to coordinate for a superb hawk flight, and things weren’t quite right; most of the hawks we saw were moving low along the treelike instead of wheeling about overhead in classic migratory fashion.

This being said, decent numbers did materialize. Over 50 Turkey Vultures passed by, followed by 25 Sharp-shinned Hawks and 22 Red-tails. At this time of year, counting Red-tails is a tricky task, for a mix of resident and migratory birds are expected. It’s often difficult to tell whether or not a Red-tail is a migrant or not, and this point aroused discussion amongst the hawk-watchers throughout the day. We continued to build upon the diversity of our raptor list as the day progressed, with American Kestrel, Cooper’s Hawk, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Black Vulture, Northern Harrier, Peregrine Falcon and Red-shouldered Hawk joining the ranks. A couple of these birds dived on a model Owl that had been erected adjacent the watch, allowing for great looks. Our vigil at the watch also produced some nice passerines: two Rusty Blackbirds perched up on a nearby tree, a small flock of Purple Finch passed by, and a White-crowned Sparrow teed up in the grass.

We were enjoying our stationary count, but pining for a rarity: hopes for Golden Eagle and Northern Goshawk induced salivation. Little did we know, our day was about to get really crazy.

At around 12:45, Jory got a call from club member Preston Lust. He hadn’t been able to make the trip due to family commitments, but had been doing some very local birding in Westport, CT (his home town). While doing so, he stumbled across an unfamiliar bird at Sherwood Island SP, and Jory became visibly excited as Preston relayed his observation over the phone.

The verdict? Preston had found what was likely a Sprague’s Pipit, a bird never before recorded in Connecticut. However, he wanted confirmation. Jory made a few calls, and we were on our way.

20 minutes later we piled out of the car onto the Sherwood Island airfield where Preston had last seen the bird. Local birders Tina Green and AJ Hand were already on the scene, although they hadn’t covered much ground yet and the bird remained a mystery.

We fanned out over the expanse of grass and pushed forward. A flock of Green-winged Teal and a Wood Duck erupted from the marsh. A Wilson’s Snipe flushed and shot away from us, passing a flock of Eastern Meadowlark that has settled down into the grass. Then, out of nowhere, a passerine appeared from the grass, shooting skyward. It was a Pipit. It’s tail feathers flashed extensive white.

Chaos ensued. We frantically hurried to the spot where it had dropped back in to the grass, silently mulling over our disbelief. There it was. A Sprague’s Pipit sat  in the grass, basking in the sunlight in glorious tones of buff and brown. An eruption of camera shutters ensued, filling frame after frame with undeniable records shots. Phone calls were made. The list serve was notified. Frantic texts began to circulate. We personally congratulated Preston and his brother Terry, the proud finders of this truly epic bird. Within 15 minutes, birders began to arrive. The Pipit stayed cooperative, although comically elusive at times– it scurried like a mouse from tussock to tussock, practically melting into the grass and then reappearing in the complete opposite direction.

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Sprague’s Pipit–photos by Jory Teltser

The club is immensely proud to see one of our own go down in history as the finder of a first state record. As far as we can tell, this is the only rare bird of this magnitude ever discovered by a young birder here in CT.

Preston and Terry Lust, our hats go off to you.

–Brendan, Club President.

Sterling Trip – Success!

On Saturday the Young Birders Club took a trip out to New York, near the Hudson River. The main target bird was a Golden-winged Warbler, among other things. When we showed up at the Sterling Forest, it was raining, which did not bode well for seeing the warbler. However, we reached the clearing at the end of Ironwood Road, and the bird was fairly easy! There were about four birds there, singing and flitting in the bushes.
Golden-winged Warbler!
The Golden-winged Warbler was a lifer for the entire group! Other notables were singing Cerulean Warblers (a lifer for Preston), Hooded Warbler, Prairie Warbler, and Field Sparrow. We also got great looks at Indigo Buntings and Louisiana Waterthrushes.Indigo Bunting
One unfortunate event in Sterling was just as we were about to leave. We noticed a Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warbler in a bush. They then began mating. Unfortunately, we had witnessed the conception of a Brewster’s Warbler. While this may seem interesting, the hybridization of these two closely related species is a factor in the population decline of the Golden-winged Warbler. This photo shows the Blue-winged Warbler after mating with the Golden-winged.
Blue-winged Warbler
After leaving Sterling we headed to Doodletown Road. Doodletown was an old town in the 1700s that eventually got abandoned. Now, it is a nature reserve home to many birds, insects, and even Timber Rattlesnakes! As soon as we entered we saw lots of Cerulean and Hooded Warblers. There were also Yellow-billed Cuckoos calling everywhere. We got great looks at a pair of Worm-eating Warblers right on the side of the trail, an uncommon treat that we all enjoyed.
Worm-eating Warbler
Another important target bird for our trip was the Kentucky Warbler. The bird had been reported and although it took us a while, we finally found the location of the bird. It was singing, but we were unhappy with just hearing such a lovely bird. We pished a little bit, and it was seeming to get closer. Then, the tour group arrived. The tour group leader came and played the bird’s call. Unfortunately, the warbler retreated deep into the woods, angering us. However, we got the bird, and overall had a successful day. The trip was capped off with this lovely Red-eyed Vireo closeup.
Red-eyed Vireo
As far as non-birds went, the day was average. We did not see any Timber Rattlesnakes, and odes and leps did not come out until we got to Doodletown and the sun came out a little. Highlights included a Red-spotted Purple, Prince Baskettail, many Spangled Skimmers and a Chalk-fronted Corporal. Overall, the trip left us happy and waiting for some more birds!

-Peter

River Road, Kent Trip Post

Our May trip to River Road in Kent was a great success.   Our main target bird there was Cerulean Warbler, which we got later in the trip. Our total was 58 species at River Road, plus 6 more at the Macedonia Road Bridge. The group included: Alex, Brendan and Sean Murtha, Kathy and George Van Der Aue, and myself.

River Road is an amazing location for breeding warblers. While Cerulean is the main target here, there are many other nesting warblers like Hooded and Blue-winged. Other good birds reported there include: Spotted Sandpiper, YB and BB Cuckoos, Scarlet Tanager, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Yellow-throated Vireo and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

We began our trip at the Beginning of River Road at 7:30 and we could already hear Veery, Redeyed Vireo, and Gray Catbird. Alex, Brendan and I went down on the rocks to check for insect life. It was an unusually cold morning, but it felt nice to be in the sun to warm up. We could already see Chimney Swifts hawking insects over the river. Then, we saw and heard at least one Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, my first ever on breeding grounds. As we walked down, we heard a variety of other singing birds. These included Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, a close Louisiana Waterthrush and heard Magnolia Warbler. We got great looks at a male and female Scarlet Tanager! A Hooded Warbler was heard singing near the up-the-hill pull over. It was a (heard only) State Bird for me. Various Ovenbirds were heard, which is one of my favorite bird songs! Other warblers included Black-and white, Common Yellowthroat and Blackpoll Warblers.

 As we got further down the road, we encountered multiple Spotted Sandpipers on the rocks along the river. One flew away from us and landed across the Housatonic River. After it landed, it was hard to spot! On the way back to the car, we heard Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee. At that time, we discussed possible logos for our club. Ideas included: Cerulean Warbler, Bobolink, Saltmarsh Sparrow, Orchard Oriole, Belted Kingfisher, and Blue-winged Warbler. I like the idea of Baltimore Oriole or Belted Kingfisher.

We also heard Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Great bird songs to hear on a crisp spring morning! Wood Thrushes were singing too. Northern Rough-winged Swallows were perched on tree limbs on the side of the river. At their reliable spots, we finally heard Cerulean Warbler from the car. We got out just further down and got good looks of a male in the tree tops over the road. The bird was singing, which was a great time to get extended looks at it. It was a life bird for me, and a year bird for others. Alex was very happy to see his favorite warbler! After we got the Cerulean, we said goodbye to Kathy and George Van Der Aue.

Some of the best birding was at the end of River Road. A Rose-breasted Grosbeak was singing at its usual spot. We stopped at the rocks on the river and saw 2 Purple Martins, which were flagged by eBird. We saw a total of 5+ later on the trail.

Then, we went up the power line cut, which brought some very good birds. We heard an American Redstart singing a song that was identical to Magnolia! We had 40 Redstarts for the day. We saw a nice male Ruby-throated Hummingbird perch on a wire. Two vocalizing Common Ravens flew by over the power line cut. Sean Murtha spotted an adult Bald Eagle flying over, which was a great sight! We all got looks at it. On the way down, we saw many cool butterflies and moths. We are still looking into identifying individual species. I will add to this post when we come up with them.

Landscape at power line cut. Photo by Aidan Kiley

Landscape at power line cut.
Photo by Aidan Kiley

At the spot where we parked our cars, a Yellow-throated Vireo sang, which was a year bird for Brendan. We heard a few YTVIs on our trip. River Road was quite productive today, as we saw many great species.

Then, we headed to Macedonia Road Bridge to check for Cliff Swallow nests, where they have nested in previous years. We were disappointed to find so active nests. Only a few swallows.  A Black Vulture gave us decent looks.

That was the end of our very productive May CTYBC trip! Hope to see you at Sterling Forest!

-Aidan

Records Chair