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.
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.
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.
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:
- Arizona* 253
- Utah 148
- West Virginia 106
- Connecticut 106
- Maine 94
- Massachusetts 82
- Florida 65
- New Mexico 63
- Oklahoma 53 (thanks TR Ryan!)
- 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.