Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Day Bald Eagle

DSC_0030 Bald Eagle over the Kennebec River, Norridgewock, ME 12-25-10

Gus and I spent Christmas Day in Maine with his parents.  When we finished our eating and the visiting was done and everyone left I went out for a drive by myself in search of birds.  While I did not see many, I found what I was looking for: this Bald Eagle perched in its favorite tree over the Kennebec River. I first spotted it from Oosoola Park at the junction of Rts. 2 and 139. I then drove across the bridge to River Road for a closer look. I took as many photos as quickly as I could without disturbing the bird.  I did not want to scare it away on such a cold day. Down below the eagle ice was forming on the river and large sections of collected slush were floating by like icy rafts in the black dark water.

As a bit of a shout out, the blog Birding is Fun, one of my Favorite Birding blogs, posted a Birder Profile of Kathie Brown on Thursday, December 30th.  Robert does this as a regular feature and I encourage all of you to visit his blog, which is well written and photographed!

Happy New Year Everyone! See you in 2011!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Blizzard 2010 in Andover, MA

DSC_0036 Blue Jay in Yew Tree 12-27-10

DSC_0037 Somewhere under these branches are my thistle seed feeders!

DSC_0038 View down the street approx 8 a.m. EST

DSC_0040 There are the feeders!

DSC_0044  White-throated sparrow 12-27-10

DSC_0049 Dark-eyed Junco 12-27-10

DSC_0055  White-throated sparrow 12-27-10

Gus and I are warm and safe inside the house today after a blizzard blew in late last night. For now the snow seems to have stopped and the main road is pretty clear. Gus is still sick so I am on my own.  We got about 18” of snow and I had to shovel a path to the back yard for the dog to relieve herself in.  Since she is only about 8” tall the snow was just too deep for her to plow through, though she did try.

I was hoping the storm would blow in some rare birds but all I have seen all day are the usual suspects. I filled all the feeders and tossed seed out the windows for them. I built a fire on the hearth, made a cup of tea, and now I hope to finally have some time to go blogging! Merry Christmas everyone!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010!

DSC_0089 DSC_0110

Male Northern Cardinal at the Bog 11-18-10

Merry Christmas

from Kathie’s Birds to all my friends, family and followers!

Thank you for sticking with me through this year of so many changes. I hope to see you all again next year as we share many more birding adventures!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Birding Connecticut: Gillette’s Castle SP

DSC_0054 Down by the river I could see Gillette's Castle tower above me on the cliff. I followed the road up to the state park but found it all closed except for the restrooms, for which I was grateful.

DSC_0055 I drove down to the picnic area and parked, and though the day was frigid, I got out of my vehicle and walked around looking for birds. I was tempted to follow this trail, but the cold prevented me from following that desire.

DSC_0056 The shallow pond was frozen and I feared I would soon be too!

DSC_0057 I crossed the bridge and walked the trail alone in these cold, clear woods.



DSC_0061 But once I left the picnic area I suddenly found the birds in herds up along the roadway; juncos, titmice, nuthatches and a red-bellied woodpecker!

DSC_0067 It was a fine place to bird after all!

DSC_0070Birds seen at Gillette’s Castle SP 12-9-10

  1. Red-bellied woodpecker 1
  2. Tufted Titmouse 10
  3. White-breasted Nuthatch 3
  4. Dark-eyed Junco (slate-colored) 30

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Birding CT in Autumn: Country Roads

DSC_0040Wild Turkeys in a farm field, Salem, CT 12-9-10

Birding Connecticut in autumn feels more like winter as the cold air settles in to stay. In the evening of the second day I  make my way to Lake Hayward to a quiet cove at the second beach…

DSC_0030 Here amongst the mallards the hooded mergansers float and though I keep my distance, they are wary this autumn day and take wing…

DSC_0034 …flying in a purple blur


DSC_0037 …to alight beyond the sandbar in the violet light of dusk…

DSC_0038 …while from my point of view, it all seems a blurry dream, for the cove is quiet now, and empty.

DSC_0039 The third day I drive down country roads looking for birds.  I find these wild turkeys in some farm fields in Salem. Along the same road a red-shouldered hawk rises from the overhead utility wires as I drive by. The stonewall edged fields are full of juncos and white-throated sparrows; the trees and yards full of cardinals, nuthatches, chickadees and titmice. Clinging to the bark of trees I find first one red-bellied woodpecker, and then another. Perhaps birding Connecticut in autumn isn’t such a bad thing after all, in spite of the cold. But I am staying warm inside my car with heater running and heated seats!

DSC_0053 Down another county road on my way to the Connecticut River in Lyme…

DSC_0050… I find an ice-blue marsh where crows cry and ducks paddle in the little bit of open water they can find…

DSC_0048 …and by the roadside I see a wreath of autumn leaves, while overhead a turkey vulture scans the horizon for a meal.  At the river all is cold and windy with white caps and few birds;  just a couple of gulls over the water and a lone female cardinal and one white-throated sparrow trying to stay warm and find food in a nearby bush. You can find so many birds on country roads.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Birding Connecticut in Autumn MWT

DSC_0012 Canada Geese at Owen Bell Park, Dayville, CT 12-7-10

I headed for Connecticut on a  bright,  but cold New England day in December. Though the calendar says it is still autumn the air has that frigid winter chill about it and though the sun is shining, it is shining with ice in its teeth! I got off the highway in Putnam, CT looking for someplace to watch and count birds, but after driving down the back roads for 20 minutes or more I still ended up at a well know park just off the highway in Dayville, CT.


Owen Bell Park sits at the junctions of state routes 12, 101, and Interstate 395 in Dayville, CT. Comprised of tennis courts, a playground, a skateboard park, baseball fields and a pond, it lends itself well to family activities and indeed I brought my children here to play when we lived in this area over 20 years ago now. The park has changed some since I then.  The playground equipment has been updated and improved but the pond is still the same.  I like to think that perhaps these geese and ducks are the descendents of the ones my kids and I fed bread crusts to all those years ago!

DSC_0013 I pull my coat tightly about me, zip it up and don my gloves. The air temperature reads 25 degrees but I feel much colder as a bitter wind blows over the park. Still, I soldier on and walk the grounds searching for birds. Beside the obvious ducks, geese and gulls on the pond I searched these pines for chickadees, titmice and nuthatches but see not even one.


But then, from the corner of my eye, I catch some motion in this nearby swale and find a sweet pair of Song Sparrows trying to survive this bright but bitter cold.

DSC_0019 I wander the rest of the park with little results. After spending 25 minutes here I saw only 4 species of birds:

  1. Canada Goose 130
  2. Mallard 7
  3. Ring-billed gull 12
  4. Song sparrow 2

However, across the street in the parking lot of Killingly Commons where I went to use the restroom and buy a hot cup of coffee at McDonald’s afterwards I counted some pigeons and starlings along with additional ring-billed gulls. That brought my list of birds seen in Windham County up to 6 species: 5. Rock Pigeon 50, 6. European Starling 50

With another stop at Quinnebaug Lake near Danielson I added 3 more species for a total of 9 species seen today in Windham County, CT.

Windham County Bird List 12-7-10

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Mallard
  3. Ring-billed gull
  4. Song sparrow
  5. Rock Pigeon
  6. European Starling
  7. Belted Kingfisher
  8. Downy Woodpecker
  9. American Crow

and that’s…

My world Tuesday!  

But come back tomorrow for further adventures in Birding CT!   DSC_0016

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sunset at Quinnebaug Lake (or, Don’t Get Shot!) SWF

DSC_0027 Quinnebaug Lake, Killingly, CT 12-7-10

Last week I took a trip down to Connecticut to visit my Mom and sister. Since I was by myself I was free to stop along the way and count birds.  The northeast section of the state is one of the least birded counties in all of Connecticut and so I got off the highway and, like Winnie-the Pooh, I went on a long explore. I found this lake off Shepherd Hill Rd near Danielson, CT. We once lived in this area over 20 years ago and as I drove up the wooded road that led to the parking area I sensed a familiarity about it. I walked a short path through the trees to the edge of the lake and recognized a rope swing hanging like a memory from a nearby tree. Then I did remember that this was a place I took my kids for swimming lessons so many years ago!

DSC_0028In the fading light of the setting sun a few geese paddled in the water. I heard the rattle of a belted kingfisher as it flew out over the water and alighted in a distant tree. Dressed in a cream-colored coat with a fur-lined hood I tried to hide behind a large eastern pine that hugged the shore. Using it as I blind, I scanned the lake and forest for more birds. Suddenly I heard gunshots ring out through the surrounding forest. With their sounds I realized it was still hunting season! And then I realized that from a distance across the lake or through the trees in my cream-color coat with a fur trimmed hood hiding against a tree that I would look like the butt end of a white-tailed deer! I had nothing bright colored with me. If I took my coat off, I had a cream-colored sweater on beneath. Even my pants were dark brown.  I was dressed in the colors of nature and now they could mean my death! Quickly but with measured pace and heart pounding I walked back to my parked vehicle. It was probably 300 feet or more up the path through the woods to get there. I opened the door and jumped in so quickly! Then I drove out of there even faster! The lake looked so peaceful in the fading light but my heart was racing as I drove off into the sunset down Rt. 395. (I think I need to purchase one of those orange hunting vests!)

Skywatch Friday!


Bird seen at Quinnebaug lake 12-7-10:

  1. Canada Goose 9
  2. Belted Kingfisher 1
  3. Downy woodpecker 1
  4. American Crow 3

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another Discovery Near Steven’s Pond

DSC_0043It is cold, quiet and a bit windy when I park the car and follow the trail that leads down from the road towards the underpass of an old railroad grade, now turned into a hiking trail.

DSC_0042 It is along this trail that I find the little forest birds  as they move swiftly through the trees. I stop suddenly when I am surprised by a Ruby-crowned kinglet that has landed on a branch right in front of me. Before I can snap its picture it is gone and I am standing there, mouth agape. Good thing it isn’t springtime, or I’d be catching flies!

DSC_0044 On the way I pass Steven’s Pond again where the geese, ducks, and swans eat and rest.


I pass through the cold stone tunnel and emerge in the forest beyond, where trails branch off in all directions and I find myself on the shores of Lake Cochichewick. I see a wooden signboard ahead with a small peaked roof like a house.

DSC_0048 As I head for it I discover another type of sign in its rafters, the remains of a summer nest. I wonder what species of bird lived here and I wonder even more if the chicks survived.

DSC_0049 The sign below has a map of this place and I learn it is called Weir Hill. I see hiking trails all over, just waiting to be explored.  My feet are itching to go, and I briefly consider it, but I am unprepared for a hike today. I do not have water with me, or even the proper clothing.  I am fighting off a cough, and so I turn reluctantly back with dreams of other days and future hikes.

DSC_0051 The path between the ponds leads me back to my car as I pass  a quiet and reflective pool.

DSC_0052I am feeling quiet and reflective also as I think about my new life here and all that has happened, and all that is going on.

DSC_0053I am distracted from my thoughts when an Eastern Blue Jay lands on a branch before me and digs at the wound in the bark. It sends chips flying like a woodpecker until it sees me, then it ceases its barrage and leaps to the branch below, watching.

DSC_0056 I walk past a tangle of roots gripping the ground tightly like a giant hand…

DSC_0057…while the Blue Jay regards me warily, unsure of my intent. Then hopping to a higher perch in the tangle, it does what  jays do best, and sends its warning call over the forest, breaking the stillness with its voice.