Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hummingbird Highway

We never get numbers of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in our backyard, three, four at the most, and that never last for a very long time, as they just don't seem to care much for each other.
Skirmishes quickly erupt between them, with the winner claiming our feeders for a few days.

Our yard is on their migration highway, and has plenty of attractions for them, as the butterfly garden, food, water and cover, keep a steady stream of these little gems at our feeders from mid July until early October, some stay for a day or two, others may protect our yard for a week, as the above juvenile female did a few weeks ago.

As always, click on any of these photos to enlarge.

Another recent youngster.

This young male introduced himself to me this evening, he almost ran us over while we were in the garden, then when I approached the feeder, he boldly came within eighteen inches of my face, gave me a tail wagging display, and I guess realizing that I wasn't going to move, he gave up and went back to his feeding!

He did some nice showing off and didn't mind the camera at all.

This adult male, patrolled our yard from August 16-18, he would not tolerate any other hummers, his was on constant offense. (attack all intruders!)
This bird was incredibly fast, and I never got a good shot of him.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Black Tern and Shorebird's Feeding

A juvenile Black Tern has been hanging out with the Common and Least Terns on Cockenoe Is. Westport for most of this week, I was able to catch a few photos of this cool tern this afternoon.
Click on any photo to enlarge.
Taking a break.

Just loafing along the shoreline.

The Semipalmated Plover's did not disappoint this afternoon, as I was able to get a few shots of them worming.

When it comes to catching worms, I think these birds would give any Robin a run for it's money.

They just don't miss, and feed in the exact same style a Robin would, walk around, listen (or feel) walk some more, and bam! the bill plunges in between the stones, and up comes dinner.

The ever cautious eye to the sky, Peregrine Falcons are also feeding in the area, this was a false alarm, as it was only an Osprey passing over.

A little feather straightening, and it's back to work.

This is an interesting series of photos. In this shot it appears as though the adult American Oystercatcher is showing it's fledge how to open a clam.

The adult had pulled out a clam (I'm not exactly sure what it is) and walks over to the youngster that had been startled by more Oystercatchers flying in for the food.

The adult on left dropped the food into the water, the juvenile is picking it up.

And makes short work of this snack.

A small flock of Short-billed Dowitchers, enjoying lunch at this free,
Westport Waterfront Restaurant.
The bird on the left is having a good scratch, must have previously dined in NY and picked up a few bed bugs?

A few Least Sandpipers showed up, along with the hundreds of Semipalmated Sandpipers.

This Black-bellied Plover in eclipse plumage, was one of the many of it's kind participating in the hunt.

Last but not least, there are still a number of not yet to have fledged Common and Least Terns on the Island.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Shorebird Banding

Shorebirds have finished their nesting season in the Arctic, and are slowly migrating back both adults and juveniles to their winter grounds in South America, Central America and the Southern USA.
It is time for CT DEP, Division of Wildlife to start it's Shorebird banding program as
numbers of migrating shorebirds stop by and use Connecticut saltwater shores, freshwater inland areas, swamps and fields as feeding stops on their leisurely migration back to their winter feeding grounds.

Milford Point in New Haven County is one off the largest stop over areas in Connecticut for these hungry birds, as tidal areas abound with food, in this place where the Housatonic River meets Long Island Sound.
This point has numerous sandbars that are natural resting places for shorebirds at high tide, and it a great target area for capturing these birds for banding

It's not just a matter of capturing a bird, putting a ring on it and calling it a day, a whole lot of work by many people, mostly volunteers, goes into it.
Lead by, and at the direction of the CT DEP Migratory Bird Biologist Leader, a whole lot of things have to come together to make this all happen.
First is trekking the gear out to the capture area, which may be a half to three quarter mile walk one way carrying everything from the capture net, holding bins, biological testing kits, notebooks, chairs, tents, the incredibly heavy steel explosive gear, signs, spotting scopes, water, food, and the list goes on and on, hopefully with a dozen or so people, this all gets transported by hand in one trip.

The spot where the nets will be placed have been scouted out days in advance by a DEP Biologist, with great expertise in this field, this is not a crap shoot, they know exactly where the birds will land at a specific time, and tide level.

So here we go....

All the birds we netted were either Semi-palmated Sandpipers or Semi-palmated Plover, in the above photo, these are the sandpipers. Two hundred birds were banded this day, with five being recaptures.

The net was set, a flock moved into the expected area, and the black powder charges were detonated, hurling the net up and over the birds that were resting on the shoreline.

Of course many birds escaped without ever seeing the net, including two Oystercatchers and many others.

It is then a mass removal of all captured birds, ASAP! This was the very end when there were only a few birds left, that I was able to grab my camera and take a photo, before that it was all about getting the birds safely out of the net.

Each bird goes though a number of test before being released, in this case the length of this sandpipers wings are being measured.

It is then put into a cloth bag and weighed.

They are swabbed at both ends, mouth and cloaca, these test are monitored closely to see if anything like "bird flue" is coming back into the USA along with these highly migratory species.

Data, Data and more Data, all information on each bird is hand written on to (guess what) Data sheets in the field as each bird is processed.

Finally, preparing to band this tiny little sandpiper.
(I love the tee shirt with the cute little puppy dog checking this all out.)

A plover receiving it's band.

Sandpiper, the same.

"In Loving Hands"
Please click on any photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Osprey Chick loses life to Fishing Line

This is the July 30th photo of the one young Osprey from Channel Marker 1 in Norwalk Harbor.

This birds parents have been attempting to nest on this navigational light stanchion with out success for three years, this year they finally produced one offspring, the bird in this photo.

This youngster was ready to fledge at anytime now, but I'm guessing that while learning to flap it's wings in the nest, something went very wrong.

If you look below the birds head to the lowest part of the photo, you will see the discarded fishing line that the parents brought back to the nest, little did they know what they were bringing to their one offspring.

The following picture is GRAPHIC and may not be suitable to all.

I started receiving emails and phone calls this morning, I immediately hopped on the boat to check out the scene, it was to late, from what I know, this bird was spotted in this position on Tuesday Aug. 3rd. I last saw this bird on Sunday and all was well.

This reminds me of Hank Golet's haunting photo from Old Lyme two years ago, of another Osprey meeting the same fate.

It's sad and it happens all to often, one of those human footprints that are not always counted.

The bird has been cut down and is on it's way to CT DEP.