Monday, January 13, 2014

Jan 13 (Day 13) - Rough day in Connecticut....

......rough-legged hawk day that is! After missing this species at several spots further north, this morning I found one at Great Marsh in Old Lyme. Several local birders suggested that I check this wide swath of marsh for my rough-leg. In 35 minutes of scanning,  I found 1 red-tail, 1 harrier, 2 bald eagles, and 1 eastern meadowlark (year bird #93!). I had given up hope on the rough-leg. I had taken apart the scope, folded up the tripod, and strapped both back onto the bike. I took one last token scan with the binoculars when I saw a candidate bird hovering over the marsh. I quickly reassembled the scope and confirmed the ID (#94). It was a very fortuitous find, and it freed up my afternoon to look for other species once I reached Hammonasset State Park ~15 miles to the west. I rode 40 miles total today.

As a side note, I also observed 4 bald eagles south/east of old lyme along route 156. Looking at the shore in this area, I observed dozens of dead striped bass littering the shoreline. I quickly understood why these eagles had here congregated. I have no idea what caused this massive fish kill. The dead fish ranged in size from maybe 12" to 20" or so. Hopefully it didn't affect the entire local population. 

Hammonasset, or "Hammo" as it is sometimes called, is the largest state park in Connecticut. It is a great place for raptors during winter, and its varied habitats ensure that there will always be something of interest on the grounds.  I arrived at Hammo at around 1pm and immediately met up with local birder and photographer Tom Sayers. We had been communicating via email for several weeks, so it was nice to finally meet face to face.

Tom and I spent the afternoon casually kicking around the park. We turned up a short list of species which included year birds great-horned owl (95), field sparrow (96), and pine warbler (97). The century mark is in sight! 

Great-horned owl (from my stock)

Great-horned owl (from my stock)

I think Tom and I spent more time talking about life than we did looking for birds. In a year that is dictated in large part by what birds I can find in which places, human distractions like this are certainly welcomed and valued. While the birds provide the motivation for this adventure, it will be the people that I meet along the way that will really color the year. 

Since I initiated Biking for Birds, I have been continually humbled by the amount of interest people across the country have shown the project. Yes, I am the one riding the bike, but I really see this as an effort for the entire birding community. The number of notes and calls of support that I have received is truly mind boggling. I wish I had the chance to bird and interact with each person who has helped any aspect of this project. I am only 2 weeks into my journey, and I can already see that an immense amount of good of some shape or form is going to result from it. Positive thoughts like this should fuel me through the pounding rain that will blanket the Connecticut coast tomorrow morning during my ride to Hamden. Nothing comes for free, does it........

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