10/23 – Fall Chasing

The recent reports from Connecticut and nearby states had me itching to go after some of them. This past Saturday, I finally got the chance.

After staying up late the night before watching the Rangers Yankees game, Dave Hursh, Jim Orrico and I got off to a bit of a late start Saturday. Our first stop was the small grove of trees in front of the NY Public Library where a Prothonotary Warbler was being seen and had supposedly been at the same location for the past couple weeks. Locating the bird was easy and along with other birders followed the Protho around as it went about its business.

Prothonotary Warbler

As well as the grove of trees in front of library, the Prothonotary was frequenting a small patch of dirt beside the sidewalk, feeding on bread and other morsels.

Prothonotary Warbler

A ground-level shot of the Prothonotary

Upperpart color study

Birders and non-birders alike enjoying this awesome bird

As well as the Porothonotary Warbler, I was surprised when we were able to turn up a couple native species. We got great looks at 2 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers as well as a group of around 5 White-throated Sparrows feeding on the ground with House Sparrows.

White-throated Sparrow

Our next stop after the warbler was Mackenzie Reservoir in Wallingford, CT where three uncommon-rare goose species had been reported. Unfortunately, we dipped on the rarest, Barnacle Goose, though the Cackling and Greater White-fronted Geese were nice consolation prizes.

These two were viewable from the raised platform over the reservoir. A check of the other flock didn’t yield any new geese, but the 3 Pectoral Sandpipers was a nice surprise.

Unfortunately, the lighting really didn’t cooperate for these pics:

Juvenile Greater White-fronted Goose; you can tell this bird is a juvie because of the lack of a white front on the face as well as having no black on the belly

hutchinsii Cackling Goose; note the steep forehead and different chinstrap. Although you can't see the neck in this picture, the angle does make the bird look neckless, indicating a short neck

After our success at Mackenzie, we moved on to Sterling, CT where a reliable female Rufous Hummingbird was being seen at the home of Robert and Linda Dixon.

We hadn’t waited more than 20 minutes before the bird flew in and gave great looks. Robert and Linda were incredibly hospitable and we spent a couple nice hours swapping birding stories watch the birds drawn in by their “birdscaped” property and waiting for the female Rufous to return.


Rufous Hummingbird

Another shot of the Rufous

A look at the color of the bird's gorget

Around 6 Purple Finches were also visiting the feeders

(Note: I tried out something new with these shots in the form of how they were taken. Usually I photograph hummingbirds with my “regular” camera but on Saturday I decided to digiscope the Rufous)

Our final location for the day was a field in Pomfret, CT for some Northern Saw-Whet Owl banding. We caught a second-year female before we had to head out. This is an annual favorite of mine! It’s fantastic to the the owls up close. It’s actually humbling (in a way) how small they are.

Northern Saw-Whet Owl

All in all a fantastic day. Although there’s much more to birding than chasing rarities, it sure was fun!!


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11 Responses to 10/23 – Fall Chasing

  1. Betsy Hermann says:

    Hey Alex,

    Wonderful pictures. Wow!!! Wish I could have been there to see all these birds up close and personal. Keep up the birding. You make learning such fun.


    PS Bruce has the chickadees eating from his hands and is now hoping that the nuthatches will too.

  2. nobbiecat says:

    Wow..some great sightings! Happy Birding!

  3. Dave says:

    Definitely an incredible day, with some of your best shots ever to show for it. The night-time owl shot is breathtaking.

  4. Deanna says:

    Hi Alex,

    I remember searching for that warbler in Key West! We obviously didn’t have the ease in finding it that you had in NYC. Sounds like you and Jim had a great day. I love the little owl–he has such an inquisitive face–must be a very bright bird (no bird-brain, that one!). See you in Long Boat Key!


  5. Michael Corcoran says:

    Hey Alex,

    Great pictures!

    My last Prothonotary was in Stratford on my my birthday (April 21) in 1998! Lets just say, I didn’t get in quite as tight with the camera (just a yellow speck)!


  6. Great pictures of the prothonotary warbler, the close-up of the feathers is beautiful.

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