6/21/10 – Larsen Sanctuary/Hammo

Young Barred Owl

On Monday, Judy Richardson and I made a quick stop at the Larsen Sanctuary in Fairfield. This is the place where my birding really began to blossom, the site of many firsts almost half a decade ago. More recently, it was the site of my lifer CT Warbler last October, but sadly I haven’t been back since after going there weekly for the longest time.

When we got there we met up with a birder named Matt who Judy knew. He gave us the location of a family of young Barred Owls. I knew they were a possibility when we arrived, as I had seen Barred Owls, including fledglings here, many times before. So, with a bird to chase, we raced off and along the way heard a drumming Pileated Woodpecker, singing Veeries and Ovenbirds among others residents.

When we reached the spot, we started to hear the young owls call, which sorta sounded like a zipper being quickly zipped. Our eyes started scanning the treetops trying to locate one of the calling fledglings. Matt had spending a lot of times with these birds and explained they were still not able to fly any more than 15 feet, which would better our chances. We moved off trail and finally Judy spotted one of the birds sitting out in the open across the power cut. The beautiful young Barred Owl still had a bit of fuzz on it’s head and wings but otherwise looked very much like an adult, that is until it flew. The bird opened its wings and jumped up, clumsily crashing into the leaves above.

Young Barred Owl with "red eye" from the flash

We sat there watching the owls for a bit before moving on, enjoying a few more residents including 2 Young American Robins.

Later in the day James Orrico and I moved up the coast. We first stopped at Sandy Point for a quick scan. Many Least Terns were flying around but not much else going on.

Arriving at Hammo in the middle of the afternoon we went right to our task of trying to get better looks at what I call the ” CT breeding marsh sparrows” (Saltmarsh and Seaside). I’ve never really gotten terribly satisfying looks at this species nor “experienced” them the way I would’ve liked.

There were a ton of people there at the beach but absolutely no one at Willard’s Island. Once at the boardwalk we had no trouble hearing both Seaside and Saltmarsh Sparrows, now the trick was seeing them. Multiple times, I had Seasides fly up and land back in the grass. Finally one sat up for a few seconds but popped back down before I could get a great look. Then, a couple feet away from where it disappeared, presumably the same bird popped up providing considerably good looks. I even had it in the scope for about 10 seconds! Although far away, I managed a blurry spot.

Seaside Sparrow, bad shot but you can see the overall gray body and yellow eyeline

A few seconds later, almost on cue a beautiful orange and blue Saltmarsh Sparrow flew up and did the same, sitting up for a considerable amount of time, at least for a Saltmarsh Sparrow. This time it was closer and I was able to get a somewhat better shot.

Saltmarsh Sparrow, you can see the Orange and Gray/Blue face and streaky breast, typical of this species. As always, click on the photo for a bigger view

We continued to get great looks but finally, the heat was getting on as and we moved on. The rest of the park was fairly quiet although we were able to connect with a flock of Cedar Waxwings on Willard’s Island, and nesting Tree Swallows and Willets in the marsh.

Hello there, Mr. Wabbit

Some great June birding!


This entry was posted in Connecticut Birding, Fairfield Birding. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 6/21/10 – Larsen Sanctuary/Hammo

  1. Bruce says:

    Hi Alex,

    Great shot of the Barred Owl. The red eyes are kind of eerie.

    Would have loved to see it in flight.

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