Bob MacDonnell Photography | JANUARY WRAP-UP


February 01, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

A few people have asked or suggested that seeing more than 100 birds in the first month, I should easily reach my goal of seeing 300 species of birds in Connecticut this year, being more than a third of the way there already. Well actually, not so much. I don't actively keep a list of birds I see every year, but I do have a notebook with a checklist that I update once every year or two, usually after seeing a really rare bird that appears in the state. I recently went back and counted all my checked birds from Connecticut ....... 295 species ........ in 20 years! That includes rarities like Great Gray Owl, Western Tanager and most recently Fork-tailed Flycatcher, that are likely once in a lifetime sightings in the state. 

To be sure, there are birders who see more than 300 species in the state most years. It has become fairly routine, although I'm sure they would tell you it requires great effort, birding skills and experience. To do it, you have to see almost all the expected birds and many of the rare ones. As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I have not "chased" many of the rarities seen in the state in deference to my photographic pursuits. It's also true that I rarely find uncommon birds, especially considering the amount of time I'm out photographing. This, too, is based on my preference to look for the closer subjects, that I can study and try to photograph rather than looking for the field markings that distinguish a rarity.

To reach my goal, I know I'll have to keep a keener eye out for uncommon birds. I'm trying to study birds, even the seemingly common or very distant ones, to pick out  a rarity. This year, I've been checking sparrows and gulls much more closely and straining to turn a distant speck on Long Island Sound into a Pacific Loon or an alcid, so far without success. I know I'll need to "chase" more birds, and I did make trips to see Pine Grosbeaks and White Ibis, but without success. So far I have elected not to make the long drive to see the Bullock's Oriole and Hoary Redpolls that are visiting bird feeders at private residences. A recently reported Northern Shrike, one of my nemesis birds, is one I should chase but old habits die hard, and after a couple disappointments, it's easy to fall back into the comfortable routine of checking my local patch. 

To summarize the results this month, most of the sightings are fairly common birds that you would expect to see every year. Even the ones that are not common in January would likely be seen later in the year. I've had a few good finds, like a Long-eared Owl and Razorbill, that I don't see every year. Winter finches like crossbills and redpolls are not every year occurrences either and seeing Black-headed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull so close to home is a nice bonus. New sightings are likely to slow dramatically for the next couple months, until the spring migration brings a new wave of birds to the state. But missing out on the real rarities like Hoary Redpoll, Bullock's Oriole, Pine Grosbeak and White Ibis will likely hurt my chances of reaching 300.

Here is a photo recap from the past month or so.

JANUARY SIGHTINGS  - In order of appearance and town where first seen.

1.    American Goldfinch - Niantic 61.  Red-throated Loon - Niantic
2.    European Starling - Niantic 62.  Red-winged Blackbird - Lyme
3.    Herring Gull - Niantic 63.  Hairy Woodpecker - Lyme
4.    Ring-billed Gull - Niantic 64.  Double-crested Cormorant - Old Lyme
5.    Red-breasted Merganser - Niantic 65.  Iceland Gull - Madison
6.    Horned Grebe - Niantic 66.  Northern Mockingbird - Madison
7.    Common Goldeneye - Niantic 67.  Merlin - Madison
8.    Common Loon - Niantic 68.  Common Eider - Stonington
9.    Common Raven - Niantic 69.  Surf Scoter - Stonington
10.  Canada Goose - Niantic 70.  Long-tailed Duck - Stonington
11.  Hooded Merganser - Niantic 71.  Great Egret - Stonington
12.  Mute Swan  - Niantic 72.  Long-eared Owl - Stonington
13.  Greater Black-backed Gull - Niantic 73.  Common Grackle - Waterford
14.  Bufflehead - Niantic 74.  Pied-billed Grebe - Waterford
15.  American Black Duck - Niantic 75.  Lesser Black-backed Gull - Waterford
16.  Mallard - Niantic 76.  Hermit Thrush - Lyme
17.  Great Blue Heron - Niantic 77.  Black-headed Gull - Stonington
18.  Blue Jay - Niantic 78.  Red-necked Grebe - Stonington
19.  American Crow - Niantic 79.  White-winged Crossbill - Stonington
20.  American Tree Sparrow - Old Lyme 80.  Eastern Screech Owl - Niantic
21.  House Sparrow - Old Lyme 81.  Green-winged Teal - Old Lyme
22.  Song Sparrow - Old Lyme 82.  Swamp Sparrow - Durham
23.  Northern Cardinal - Old Lyme 83.  American Coot - Wallingford
24. Bald Eagle - Old Lyme 84.  Canvasback - Wallingford
25.  Sharp-shinned Hawk - Lyme 85.  Red Crossbill - Madison
26.  Northern Flicker - Lyme 86.  Wood Duck - Lyme
27. White-throated Sparrow - Lyme 87.  Pileated Woodpecker - Old Saybrook
28.  Tufted Titmouse - Lyme 88.  Golden-crowned Kinglet - Old Saybrook
29.  Black-capped Chickadee - Lyme

89.  Rough-legged Hawk - Essex

30.  Great Cormorant - Lyme 90.  Barred Owl - Old Lyme
31.  Common Merganser - Lyme 91.  American Wigeon - Stratford
32.  Turkey Vulture - Lyme 92.  Gadwall - Stratford
33.  American Robin - Lyme 93.  Northern Gannet - Stratford
34.  Dark-eyed Junco - Lyme 94.  Greater Scaup - New Haven
35.  House Finch - Lyme 95.  Lesser Scaup - New Haven
36.  Downy Woodpecker - Lyme 96.  No. Rough-winged Swallow - New Haven
37.  Rusty Blackbird - Lyme 97.  Black Vulture - Branford
38.  Red-shouldered Hawk - Lyme 98.  Northern Pintail - Old Lyme
39. Brown-headed Cowbird - Lyme 99.  Field Sparrow - Stonington
40.  Rock Dove - Old Lyme 100.  Fox Sparrow - Stonington
41.  Peregrine Falcon - Old Saybrook 101.  White-winged Scoter - Stonington
42.  Mourning Dove - Madison 102.  Bonapartes Gull - Stonington
43.  Snow Goose  - Madison 103.  Brown Creeper - Niantic
44.  Red-breasted Nuthatch - Madison 104.  Wilson's Snipe - Lyme
45.  Sanderling - Madison 105.  Cooper's Hawk - Old Lyme
46.  Dunlin - Madison 106.  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - Lyme
47.  Snow Bunting - Madison 107.  Wild Turkey - Old Lyme
48.  Horned Lark - Madison 108.  Eastern Towhee - Lyme
49.  Ring-necked Duck - Niantic 109.  Purple Sandpiper - Waterford
50.  Ruddy Duck - Niantic 110.  Great Horned Owl- Old Saybrook
51.  Carolina Wren - Niantic  
52.  White-breasted Nuthatch - Niantic  
53.  Northern Harrier - Old Lyme  
54.  Red-tailed Hawk - Lyme  
55.  Red-bellied Woodpecker - Lyme  
56.  Eastern Bluebird - Lyme Rhode Island - additional 
57.  Razorbill - Niantic 111.  Purple Finch - South Kingstown
58.  Brant - Niantic 112.  Pine Siskin - Charlestown
59.  Common Redpoll - Niantic 113.  Harlequin Duck - Jamestown
60.  Belted Kingfisher - Niantic 114.  Killdeer - Charlestown



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