12/21 – Fairfield to Madison

Ash Creek Waterfowl

Ash Creek Waterfowl

Jim Orrico and I spent the greater part of Saturday, the 21st, birding the Connecticut coastline, from our hometown of Fairfield east to Madison. Our primary goals for this day of birding were to catch up with a number of uncommon species in Connecticut, most of which were year birds.

Our day began at sunrise at a rather familiar location, Upper Ash Creek, viewed from the Jewish Home for the Elderly on Fairfield Avenue. Although viewing conditions at this location are typically excellent, sunrise is certainly an exception to this rule, as the rising sun tends to shine right in the observers face, bleaching out the surrounding waterfowl, and causing the overall view to be less than stellar.

Despite the conditions, we were nevertheless able to come up with some fantastic waterfowl numbers, some of the best I’ve ever recorded at this location: 8 Canada Goose, 28 Gadwall, 92 American Wigeon, 63 American Black Duck, 20 Mallard, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser and 12 Red-breasted Merganser.

The standout birds of this effort though, came in the form of a nice group of 10 Canvasback in their usual spot to the east of the parking lot, and two male Eurasian Wigeon, a high count for me in Fairfield.

Nine of the ten Canvasbacks present.

Nine of the ten Canvasbacks present.

A male (left) and two female Canvasbacks.

A male (left) and two female Canvasbacks.

Eurasian Wigeon #1

Eurasian Wigeon #1

Eurasian Wigeon #2

Eurasian Wigeon #2

It is likely that the high numbers of American Wigeon (nearly 100) were a contributing factor in the presence of the 2 Eurasian Wigeon. If these large waterfowl numbers persist, this spot will be worth watching for other uncommon species, such as Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal and possibly Redhead.

Moving on, our next stop was Sikorsky Airport in Stratford, where a couple of Rough-legged Hawks had recently been seen. It didn’t take us long to locate a nice light morph bird perched in a small tree out on the runway. After a minute or two, this bird took off and flew to the east, giving us nice in-flight views before disappearing behind one of the airport buildings.

Other highlights at Sikorsky included six flyover Horned Lark and five Savannah Sparrow at the edge of the runway.

After the airport, we made our way to the Birdseye Boat Ramp, noting a perched Peregrine Falcon at the other end of Sikorsky along the way.

Although Birdseye failed to produce our main target (Wilson’s Snipe), we still managed to connect with a few nice birds, which included: Green-winged Teal, Great Cormorant and American Coot.

Green-winged Teal

Green-winged Teal

American Coot, Birdseye Boat Ramp, CT American Coot, Birdseye Boat Ramp, CT

American Coot

American Coot

It was then on to New Haven’s Edgewood Park, with our primary target being Rusty Blackbird. An hour and a half of covering the length of the park failed to yield our quarry, although we still managed to connect with thirty species at this fantastic location over that stretch. Highlights included: Sharp-shinned, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks, Fish Crow, Brown Creeper and Golden-crowned Kinglet.

After Edgewood, we headed off to the Brazos Road area beaches of East Haven, where it took a long, two-hour vigil to finally net our quarry: a nice male Barrow’s Goldeneye that had been present at the location for the past coupe of weeks.

Male Barrow's Goldeneye (right) with two male Commons. Note the leaning head shape, distinctive black "spur" on the flanks and the greater extent of black on the back.

Male Barrow’s Goldeneye (right) with two male Commons. Note the leaning head shape, crescent-shaped patch on the face, distinctive black “spur” on the flanks and the greater extent of black on the back, with its noticeable white spots.

Barrow's Goldeneye

Barrow’s Goldeneye

Other highlights included Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated and Common Loons and Horned Grebe.

We finished up the day at Circle Beach in Madison, searching for the previously reported Iceland and Glaucous Gulls. Although neither species showed itself, we enjoyed ending another great day of birding at such a picturesque location.

-Alex

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One Response to 12/21 – Fairfield to Madison

  1. Helen says:

    Good birding, Alex! Did you put the Mallard photo in there to see if we were paying attention? Ha!

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