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East Coast Trip part 2 – Brooklyn and Connecticut

07/11/2013

The second half of our East Coast trip took us to visit our old roommate who lives in Brooklyn and to a wife’s-side-of-the-family reunion in Connecticut. I had really wanted to go birding in Central Park after watching the documentary on HBO.  But that ended up not happening, but I did get a chance to walk around Prospect Park in Brooklyn.  It was another case of mono-culture: House Sparrows, European Starlings, Grackles, Mourning Doves and Rock Pigs. I did get to see a Northern Cardinal hopping around, but nothing new to me.

Northern Cardinal, Prospect Park, Brooklyn NY

Northern Cardinal, Prospect Park, Brooklyn NY

I really didn’t have the time to explore, and a large part of where we visited was closed off for construction.  But hopefully I can find an excuse to visit NYC in May some year.
After the park we said our goodbye’s to our friend and headed for Branford CT.  What should have been a two hour cruise turned into a 6-hour ordeal of standing traffic.  We needed one last bathroom brake before arriving, so we stopped at a bar and I saw 2 Osprey nests in a field, and both were occupied.

Osprey Nests, Branford CT

Osprey Nests, Branford CT

We finally made it to the place where we were staying.   It was a beautiful beach house on a tidal marsh just a hundred yards from the Long Island Sound.  I don’t really know my ocean birds, I can tell a gull from a tern from a pelican, so I was hoping that I was in for many new birds and that I could get good enough photos for IDs.  The first evening around the beach house I got to see some Great Egrets, Cormoants, Gulls and some very noisy Willets.

Great Egrets, Branford CT

Great Egrets, Branford CT

Gull, Branford CT

Gull, Branford CT

Willet, Branford CT

Willet, Branford CT

And right behind the house was another Osprey nest, and this one was occupied too.  I got to spend lots of time watching these birds come and go during the weekend.  I couldn’t tell if they had a recent fledgling or not.  Some times I counted 2 birds, and others 3.

Ospreys on Nest, Branford CT

Ospreys on Nest, Branford CT

Osprey, Branford CT

Osprey, Branford CT

Osprey with Fish, Branford CT

Osprey with Fish, Branford CT

Saturday morning I got a chance to get away and visited the Branford Supply Ponds.  It was a nice wooded area, not too far from where we were staying.  There is a series of ponds that are surrounded by woods and trails.  It was a beautiful place.  This Belted Kingfisher was busy at work when I first got there.

Belted Kingfisher, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

Belted Kingfisher, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

Nearby was a Grackle Nest up in a pine tree that was on an island in one of the ponds.  I crossed a causeway and entered the woods looking to circle one of the ponds.  I saw some Downy Woodpeckers and a Nuthatch hopping around.

Downy Woodpecker, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

Downy Woodpecker, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

Nuthatch, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

Nuthatch, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

And on the path some non-birds, a Black Rat Snake and a beautifully colored dragonfly.

Black Rat Snake, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

Black Rat Snake, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

Dragonfly, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

Dragonfly, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

After finding my way to the edge of the pond, I saw a pair of Mute Swans swimming along.  We had some visit here in New Mexico earlier this year, but these ones I could count.

Mute Swan, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

Mute Swan, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

And my first new bird of the day, a Little Blue Heron wading along with a Great Egret.

Little Blue Heron, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

Little Blue Heron, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

And I got to watch this Eastern Kingbird catching bugs from atop a nest box.

Eastern Kingbird, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

Eastern Kingbird, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

Eastern Kingbird, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

Eastern Kingbird, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

Near the Kingbird were a pair of Double-Crested Cormorants swimming by.

Double-Crested Cormorants, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

Double-Crested Cormorants, Branford Supply Ponds, Branford CT

On the drive back to the beach house I spotted a Northern Mockingbird that let me get close with the car.

What are you looking at? Northern Mockingbird,  Branford CT

What are you looking at? Northern Mockingbird,
Branford CT

Sunday afternoon my family took a little boat tour on the Long Island Sound.  We went through an area called the Thimble Islands.  Most of these have homes or cottages on them.  Some were shacks, and some were mansions.  All are accessible only by boat and only used during the Summer.  One of the Islands is even a wildlife refuge that is open to the public.

Thimble Island Boat Tour, Connecticut

Thimble Island Boat Tour, Connecticut

Thimble Island Wildlife Refuge, Connecticut

Thimble Island Wildlife Refuge, Connecticut

Thimble Islands, Connecticut

Thimble Islands, Connecticut

Of course we saw some birds on the tour, being near the water and all.

Cormorants, Thimble Islands CT

Cormorant, Thimble Islands CT

Double Crested Cormorant Flyby, Thimble Islands CT

Double Crested Cormorant Flyby, Thimble Islands CT

Towards the end of the trip we passed a bare island that was a Gull rookery.  I am by no means knowledgeable about Gulls, but I believe that these are Greater Black-Backed Gull chicks.

Gull Rookery, Thimble Islands CT

Gull Rookery, Thimble Islands CT

Gull Chick, Thimble Islands CT

Gull Chick, Thimble Islands CT

Gull Chicks, Thimble Islands CT

Gull Chicks, Thimble Islands CT

Gull Chicks, Thimble Islands CT

Gull Chicks, Thimble Islands CT

And opposite this island was an abandoned cottage with a family of Herring Gulls on the roof.  The driver of the boat made a comment about these chicks being in danger of becoming snacks for the bigger Greater Black-Backed Gulls next door.

Herring Gulls, Thimble Islands CT

Herring Gulls, Thimble Islands CT

This Gull was waiting for us to get back to the dock.

Gull, Thimble Islands CT

Gull, Thimble Islands CT

I also spotted a Tern flying by.  I believe that it’s a Common Tern, but again could easily be mistaken.

Common Tern, Thimble Islands CT

Common Tern, Thimble Islands CT

My wife took a picture of this American Oystercatcher while we were driving past.

American Oystercatcher, Thimble Islands CT

American Oystercatcher, Thimble Islands CT

All in all it was a good trip home.  I wish that I could have had more time to bird, and maybe a guide, but I added 20 or so new birds to my lifelist.  No Peregrine Falcons though, which was a bummer.

My next post is going to be about the recent Lambretta Jamboree that I just attended in Colorado Springs (and why this post is so late).  And this weekend I’m going to Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Sanctuary to try and find the most popular bird in America right now.  A Rufous-Necked Wood-Rail has been seen there this past week.  This bird is so rare this far north that it may be the first sighting in the country.

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From → birding, travel

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