I don’t have much time on my hands at the moment, so this post will remain brief.
Dave Hursh and I spent Saturday the eighteenth birding a number of spots across the state of Connecticut, in hopes of seeing a couple of local specialties and uncommon breeders.
Our first stop was Newberry Road, part of Station 43 in South Windsor. Upon arrival to the marsh area, we were able to knock out one of our biggest targets right off the bat: Least Bittern.
Station 43 is the best-known for this species in Connecticut, but it has been quite difficult this year, making luck a major factor in our seeing of this species. Soon, Dave was able to pick out a Blue-winged Teal flying out in the marsh. The powdery-blue lesser coverts were distinctive for this species. It was another terrific pickup of a bird that is very rare here at this time of year and has been suspected of breeding for a long while.
Other birds noted along Newberry Road were a number of singing Marsh Wrens and Swamp Sparrows as well as Wood Duck and Green Heron.
We moved on to Strong Road (the site of CT’s most recent singing Sedge Wren) where we were able to see a number of Bobolink in the field among other common species. But the real highlight of this location and probably of the whole day was to be seen on Vibert Road…..
We were driving along slowly listening for Sora in the marsh when all of a sudden Dave said, “there’s a beautiful, adult VIRGINIA RAIL on the side of the road!” And beautiful this bird was. We were treated to INCREDIBLE views of this species in the open for over five minutes before it finally crossed the road. No doubt this was this bird’s reason for being on the road in the first place, but our presence could’ve been a factor in slowing the bird’s advance.
After our experience with the rail, we departed Station 43 and after a couple of failed stops for BB Cuckoo, we arrived at Bent of the River Audubon for an attempt at the recently reported Blue Grosbeak.
Unfortunately, we dipped on the grosbeak in over forty-five minutes of waiting, but were still able to pick up some nice birds for the day including Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Field Sparrow and Blue-winged Warbler at and around the feeders as well as Eastern Bluebird, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Broad-winged Hawk and a female Wild Turkey with chicks. Overall, Bent was quite a beautiful and birdy location.
Our next stop following Bent was Rentschler Field in East Hartford where we were able to nail a slew of grassland species including Upland Sandpiper (3-including one perched on a close post), Bobolink (including a few singing males) and Savannah Sparrow plus two surprises in the form of a vocalizing Alder Flycatcher and an immature Bald Eagle.
We then made our way down to the coast, hitting Hammonasset for a try at one of Dave’s biggest nemesis: Seaside Sparrow. The sparrow played hard-to-get until the very last minute when we spotted a singing bird giving great scope views for an extended period of time. Meanwhile, we enjoyed a number of Saltmarsh Sparrows, plus many Least Terns, a Little Blue Heron and a few Glossy Ibis.
On the walk back, I was lucky enough to notice a Tricolored Heron, well-hidden in the marsh. Scarce in CT, this was one of the birds of the day.
Following Hammo, we once again birded the Hartford area, this time at Northwest Park for Grasshopper Sparrow, a bird that had eluded us earlier in the day. Unfortunately, we once again dipped on this bird. Nonetheless, we still came out with some good species including Orchard Oriole, Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush and Eastern Bluebird among others.
Overall, it was a terribly successful day and a real blast-something I’d love to do again next year!