New haven CBC and Calliope

Today I joined Noble Procter, Jim Hunter, Margaret Ardwin and my Dad for the New Haven Christmas Bird Count. We had territory “H”, which covered a good part of of Branford.  It was a great day, with many good birds.

Our first stop was Branford Center Cemetery before dawn. Despite the low light we instantly picked up Winter Wren,which was a nice find. As the light increased we found Northern Shoveler and Snow Goose on the marsh behind it. We began racking up species really fast.

We then shot over to a marsh overlook where there were large flocks of Hooded Merganser and Common Merganser.

Noble had staked out a Glaucous Gull at Indian Neck, so after a fairly dead stop at the Elk Club we went to chase it. The tide had submerged the rocks so the gull was nowhere in sight. But as we watched we picked up most of the expected waterfowl, plus birds like Horned Grebe, Bonaparte’s Gull and Northern Gannet.

We decided that we would come back to the chase after the tide went down and go in the meanwhile for another bird Noble had staked out- a Baltimore Oriole. We soon found it flitting around a feeder, and spent a while enjoying the birds bright colors in the wintery scene. To make it even brighter, there was a flock of Monk Parakeets hanging around.

Baltimore Oriole

The orioles bright colors are stunning amongst the drab winter scenery

Monk Parakeets- and established escapee

Satisfied, we then went back to the shoreline.  Luck was with us this time. A First winter Glaucous Gull put on quite a show, eating and walking amongst the rocks.

A Glaucous Gull. See the really pale back, white wingtips and bright pink bill?

Glaucous Gull

But rarities were not through! While the rest of the group checked out a small stop, my Dad and I abandoned our circle for a short while and chased the Calliope Hummingbird in Guilford. We arrived and within 5 minutes we were looking at a beautiful Calliope Hummingbird. Unfortunately my camera died at this moment, so I didn’t get any pics. But our mission was accomplished!

We went back to our circle where we bid farewell to Jim and Noble, who had to go. So my Dad, Margaret and I went on to lake Saltonstall. On the lake were Pied-billed Grebe, Gadwall, Ring-Necked Ducks, and American Coot. On the lake there were also 520 Hooded Mergansers. As it was getting dark we flushed a Barred Owl.

So, at the end of the day, we had seen 106 species, a great number for a CBC!  This included birds heard only and a few Noble had found before we arrived. At the compilation, a total of 130 species were tallied.   It was a day of quantity, but also quality. CBC’s are one heck of a good time.

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