Wednesday, June 06, 2007


June 28, 2007

When I got into CT I had 33, so there was a ways to go. My first try was on Mount Riga, the highest place in the state. I was following the "Connecticut Birding Guide" by Devine and Smith. It was a neat place, wooded all the way to the top, the road following a creek drainage. The land at the top was a private commercial forest, but it showed signs of good management, no big ugly clearcuts along the road. The road was pretty dicey by then, very narrow and uneven, hard to find pull-offs or turn-arounds. The birding was good considering it was early afternoon, and I was still able to find some good woodland types, but nothing particularly Boreal. In CT they'll have to be migrants. Next major stop was the Sharon Audubon Center, very good place but very bad timing, just before 5pm. Did manage to raid their bookstore and pick a couple of brains. Very helpful folks, and it was clear that I had to come back the next morning. Made a run into town for some pizza, watching the weather build up before heading about twenty miles south to camp.

I planned to stay at Macedonia State Park. The park is rustic, thankfully, and had few campers. It took awhile to find the hand powered well pump in another section of the campground. And I managed to find more rain there, but in between showers I worked along the road and around the campground. It was a great day, with 42 new species in about eight hours. Macedonia also put me in good position for River Road in Kent the next morning and it wasn't too far from Sharon for the reprise there. No owls in the night, maybe too wet.

June 29, 2007

I wandered around the park briefly in the morning, picking up five species including a first year immature Blackpoll Warbler, distinctly yellowish, known to birders as buffy. It was a quick drive to the River Road, and I started by making random stops as I drove northeast, upriver. Started getting predictable swallows and woodpeckers. About a mile up the road it splits and most traffic goes up a hill to the left, and a small lane continues along the river. There are signs about no vehicular traffic, but apparently some locals drive the road. It is mostly easy quiet walking with the river on one side and a brushy wooded hillside on the other. Two nuthatches, Worm-eating and Cerulean Warbler, Rose-breasted, and Wood Thrush were highlights. Dipped on the Hooded W though. I spent a couple of hours there, and it deserved more, certainly a day in migration.

Then retraced my route back to the Sharon Audubon Center. This time it was morning, and I got way back in there on their confusing and haphazardly signed trails. Even the map was just barely helpful, but it was a good way to create a sense of adventure in a place that's basically a bedroom suburb of New York. It was good for eight more species including Winter Wren, Least Flycatcher, and Purple Finch. There was a lake at the farthest reach of the trail system with a thick growth of rushes and reeds, Wood Ducks, and just a neat feel, as the whole site is on a glacial moraine, with rough bouldered ground mostly, but an occasional meadow, probably old pond sites.

From there it was back eastward to make a traverse of the state and check out some book sites sticking close to the northern boundary. The best spot was the backside of the Hartford airport, but it's not called that. It's a tricky place to bird though since parking is limited and the road patrolled. But good sparrows in the grassy road edges and Upland Sandpipers inside the airfield fence. Also a random Mockingbird. From there I had the good fortune of getting disoriented in afternoon rush hour traffic, even the GPS wasn't really helpful since I couldn't tell when an exit would shoot me unwillingly in the direction opposite my intentions. I did eventually get out of there going southeast toward the coast, but stopped short at Devil's Hopyard State Park. Lots of very attractive and unusual habitat there, the campground really primitive (water was out cause the hand pumped well had tested bad) and packed. I learned later never again to camp next to a swelling overnight population of drunken college students. Murder was contemplated from under the pillow wrapping my head. Still I was up at the crack of dawn to check out some trails in the park. Still couldn't scare up a Hooded.

June 30, 2007

I headed for the Ocean, following the east side of the Connecticut River. At its mouth was a decent viewing platform overlooking Great Island, a tidal island. Good for Ospreys and Willets and such-like, some herons and Marsh Wrens. Now traveling back east, and finally toward home, I made several stops at sites described in the book. One park, Rocky Neck, had a no-fee trail in from the highway, and it was quite good, netting a Green Heron, and some others. I stopped in at McKinney NWR, but didn't stay long, and don't remember exactly why. Another state park, Hammonasset, was ten dollars admission and packed with weekend beach-goers, and the entrance folk wouldn't let me go just to the nature center, which the book had praised. At that point I started making time headed for my brother's place in Philly, but had the great luck to try Milford Point Audubon Center. What a score. Piping Plovers nesting, YC Night-Herons, Some ducks, Glossy Ibis, Oysterctchers, and one of the best birds of the trip, Monk Parakeets, which I was able to see in their colony tree nearby.

I made a run from there, but will go back, maybe try for fall migration, and also will get to Gulf Pond on the east side of Milford, which a couple of birders I met recommended. Dismal Saturday evening traffic into New York, and I was stupid enough (it seemed like a good idea at the time) to make a stop at Jamaica Bay Refuge, a favorite place, but this time it only netted a good conversation with a Scotsman and a Fish Crow. More traffic over the Verrazanno, the NJ turnpike south with fireworks several times in the distance. I got to my brother's about ten that night. That made about eighteen hours of drive, bird, drive-bird, drivebird, durb, duh, on not much sleep.


Blogger Larry said...

I enjoyed reading about your birding adventures in Connecticut.It's interesting to read your perspective on various birding areas in Connecticut that I know fairly well. Hammonasset is a great birding spot but is probably best to visit in the off-season-No parking charge then either.Devil's hopyard is a nice place to camp on weekdays-too bad you ran into the party crowd.-I plan on camping at Macedonia Park this month.-Pachaug Forest and Austin Hawes Campground are two other good camping spots.-I will be reading other entries in your blog as well.-Larry

4:18 PM  
Blogger JP Valentik said...

Hi Larry, I'm hoping to make another New England coastal trip during fall shorebirds. Send an email if you like, and maybe we can meet up. I have another good birder friend in CT, Randy Holler, hope you've met and his wife Natasha, they were away to Maine when I passed through, so we didn't c onnect. I'll look up those other camping spots. Thanks for your recommendations. PS if you put your email in a comment, I'll get it but not post it.

6:38 AM  

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