Sunday, January 16, 2011

Birding Connecticut Devil’s Hopyard MWT

DSC_0131 Hermit Thrush at Chapman Falls, Devil’s Hopyard, CT 12-9-10

Devil’s Hopyard is a place I visited as a child and a teen.  We went here for hikes with my church group or sometimes with my family. I had not been here in years, so it was fun to go exploring on this cold autumn day.

DSC_0093 The shadows were deep and long as I drove along the road. Dark rocks loomed over me on the left while the river flowed by on the right.  I pulled into one picnic area only to see ice starting to form at the river’s edge.

DSC_0094 Deep Hole Picnic Area 12-9-10



DSC_0097 A pretty place but no birds were seen here in the 5 minutes I stayed.



DSC_0101 Empty tables in the picnic area

DSC_0103 The covered bridge in soft autumn light


DSC_0106 Again, no birds.  You can enter a count of zero into eBird, for it is as helpful to know where the birds aren’t as well as where they are and how many there are.

DSC_0108 Are these winter berries?

DSC_0112 This is winter’s promise of snow and ice to come.

DSC_0117 Chapman Falls, Devil’s Hopyard State Park, East Haddam, Connecticut

DSC_0118   A bridge over troubled water?



The setting sun and the stone wall. 12-9-10

After my day of adventures on the cold back roads of Connecticut I was more than ready to head back to my Mom’s house for the night. I got into my car and started it up. I put  the car in reverse and as I looked over my shoulder to back up I caught motion out of the corner of my left eye-there, by the edge of the parking lot! I stopped the car, put it in park and rolled down the window.  Then, carefully lifting my bins I looked out at the bird. But the light was low so I drove carefully closer to the edge. Bushes and vines tangled with trees as the water flowed coldly down towards the falls, but there, in-between the scrub and brush I finally saw and identified my quarry, a Hermit Thrush! A Connecticut first for me! I was so thrilled. It was the ONLY bird I saw in all 3 stops in Devil’s Hpyard on this very cold day. The temperature was 21 and dropping with the sun, but I was able to watch this sweet shy bird for at least 10 minutes or more.  It was hard to pull myself away from the parking lot, but finally I did as the light got too poor for bins or camera and I didn’t want to frighten the bird from the berries it was trying to eat.


I have a “thing” about my bird counts that bugs me.  You see, I only started eBirding about 3 years ago when I lived in Arizona. That means that my largest bird counts are in that state, which is fine. The next highest is in Utah, where I lived before Arizona, and in West Virginia, where I went to the New River Birding Festival 2 years ago. But I have a personal prejudice that my bird counts should be highest in states that I have lived in. When I saw this species of bird in Devil’s Hopyard it tied my Connecticut list with my West Virgina list, and I was only in West Virginia for a week! All I need is one more bird species in CT and it will pass West Virgina in my eBird State Totals. So, for now, the Hermit Thrush is my tie-ing bird. Perhaps this year I will see the species that will surpass my West Virginia total of 106!

My Top Ten Life List State Totals:

  1. Arizona* 253
  2. Utah 148
  3. West Virginia 106
  4. Connecticut 106
  5. Maine 94
  6. Massachusetts 82
  7. Florida 65
  8. New Mexico 63
  9. Oklahoma 53 (thanks TR Ryan!)
  10. Colorado 50

* Italics indicates states I have lived in.

I have also lived in Idaho which has a total of 13 species so far and New York State with a total of 31.

My World Tuesday 

Devil’s Hopyard State Park



  1. I love hiking Devils Hop Yard! A beautiful place. Glad you saw the thrush.
    Stay warm!

  2. I love that you're a neighbor and that you are introducing me to my feathered neighbors. Thank you!

  3. Your Hermit Thrush photos are gorgeous!!! I wish I could spy one so close, and I hope you get that one additional bird so you can pass up 106!

    The first covered bridge photo is just stunning. I love covered bridges, and it's gorgeous. What a beautiful has a lot of variety! The stone wall is huge and looks very old...

  4. It's hard to believe you had to hunt so hard for birds here. Must have been the cold weather. Nice shots of the ice. Really nice covered bridge.

  5. Never mind how many species you see Kathie. You got to see one good one and take a photograph. Surely that area has reveal more birds later in the spring and summer, its such a good looking area for it.

  6. very nice post - and although all is covered in the white stuff now , i can give you some nice spots to hit as it starts to melt to expand your list in CT.

  7. There is something nostalgic and romantic about wooden bridges and stone walls.

  8. Nice catch, the hermit thrush! I thought they would have all migrated further south. Good luck with our list!

  9. I'd say your day was a success! That thrush is a beauty. I'm enjoying your blog!

  10. Come back to Utah! We can make that list the largest. Nice Post and thanks.

  11. Dawn, trying to stay warm and dry! Ha! Hope we can bird here together come spring.

    Sandy, I would love to introduce you to more!

    Kelly, thank you, thank you, thank you! I hope to get back to CT soon if this snow ever stops!

    Gaelyn, I truly did have to hunt that hard. It was very cold and windy. The wind always keeps the birds down.

    Roy, that one bird made it all worth while!

    Forestal, that would be awesome! I think Larry can help me out also. Would love to meet you both!

    Birding is Fun, I so agree!

    Hilke, maybe they have by now (if they have any sense!) but in December there was at least still one in CT!

    Kay, why thank you! Nice to have you stop by and comment!

    It's Time to Live, Nice to see you again! I miss Utah so much! Do you know Birding is Fun? He just moved there.

  12. Make sure to make a visit to Devil's Hopyard during Spring Migration.Terrific that time of year-they have Cerulean Warblers, Acadian Flycatcher and a bunch of othre goodies.

  13. Beautiful photos as usual. The Thrush was especially nice. Great bird.


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.