6/8 – Litchfield and Hartford Counties

I’m short of time at the moment, but wanted to get the word out on a fantastic day of birding Dave Hursh and I enjoyed this past Friday. The biggest highlight of the day, for me, was certainly my life Black-billed Cuckoo, seen after over 48+ hours of searching this spring alone.

Our route took us from Purchase Brook Road in Southbury (where we had the Black-billed), up to River Road in Cornwall, south to River Road in Kent and the nearby bridge on Macedonia Road, east to Renschler Field in East Hartford, then north to the famous Station 43 in South Windsor (Newberry and Vibert Roads) before rounding out the day at Spruce Brook and Greystone Roads on the border of Waterbury and Plymouth.

My two biggest targets of the day were the only two annual breeders I had yet to see in New England, Black-billed Cuckoo and Eastern Whip-Poor-Will. We nailed the Black-billed at our first stop, Purchase Brook Road in Southbury, although it took me a little while to put the pieces together to actually confirm I saw the bird.

Upon arrival, I kept thinking I was hearing a Black-billed Cuckoo calling long off in the distance, but was never sure if it was just a trick of the mind or the actual bird. We kept going, acting on a tip from Ken Elkins, who had also mentioned Black-billed Cuckoos are very responsive to Barred Owl calls. So we gave a few hoots, intermixed with some Black-billed vocalizations as we moved around the area.

It soon became clear, however, that no Black-billeds were responding to our calls, so we moved back to the car in defeat. Suddenly, quite literally as we were opening the car door, we heard the distinctive call of a Black-billed Cuckoo and then watched a uniformly brown bird fly across the road. I noted that the bird seemed slightly catbird-like in size and shape. At the time, I had a slight feeling that the bird that had flown across the road had been a Black-billed Cuckoo, but it wasn’t until I was fully caught up on sleep and had done some research the next morning, that I was able to confirm my suspicion.

The Eastern Whip proved to be less challenging (it was only my second attempt for this species), although we were never able to see the bird. I like all my life birds to be seen if possible, so this bird will stay off the life list for now, though it does join my year and state lists.

I have posted many of the photos from the outing on my flickr page and have posted links to the eBird checklists below.

Besides the cuckoo and whips, I managed four other year birds: Virginia Rail, Upland Sandpiper, Bank Swallow, and Bobolink.

eBird checklists:

River Road in Cornwall

River Road in Kent

Macedonia Road Bridge

Rentschler Field

Station 43

Greystone Road

Spruce Brook Road

Sorry for the short post, I’ll have more time in the next week to update this short entry. I also plan on posting about some of my summer birding plans, in addition to a few trips I’m planning on taking this week.


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One Response to 6/8 – Litchfield and Hartford Counties

  1. Helen says:

    Congrats on the Cuckoo, Alex! I will look forward to your next report. I am now in Virginia and was happy to see a Scarlet Tanager. There is also a flock of Wild Turkeys on the farm and they are fascinating to observe. …Happy Birding!

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