As spring migration comes to an end so have the eight spring bird walks I lead for Quinnipiac Valley Audubon Society. We were lucky enough to get all eight walks in with no rain cancellation!
We always start our spring walks at Riverbound Farm Sanctuary in Cheshire on the 3rd Saturday in April, corresponding with Earth Day Weekend. We were fortunate to get many species this day. Yellow-rumped warblers were numerous along the banks of the Quinnipiac River giving us nice views of their yellow markings and black and white contrasts. When we got to the meadow tree swallows were feeding above then landing on the nesting boxes, basking in the sun showing off thier iridescent blue/green backs. As our first walk ended we watched Eastern phoebes nest building underneath the information kiosk in the backyard.
Another local "hot spot" (a birding term used to denote a location of numerous species) in which we like to bird in the spring is Hanover Pond in Meriden. We meet at the parking lot on Oregon Road, we bird alond the pond then cross near Red Bridge to the walking trail. Often we go off the trail and bird along the powerlines, which are always great spots to find birds normally not seen in your backyard. Our second Hanover Pond/Red Bridge walk was wonderful. Warbling vireos, black and white warblers, yellow warblers and Baltimore orioles were all along the edge of the pond. Singing high in the tree tops, and fighting for the best territory. Once we got into the powerlines we were serenaded by the "BEE-BUZZZ" of the blue-winged warbler, and the ascending "zee zee zee zee zee" of the prairie warbler. Both are small yellow birds with black eye lines, the prairie warbler has black streaking along its flanks, and the blue-winged has solid yellow flanks and under parts, and of course blue wings - with 2 white wing bars. I do have to say the best performer for me was the chestnut-sided warbler singing a VERY fast "please please pleased to meetcha". We found our first chestnut-sided towards the top of a tree close to a stunning indigo bunting, an all deep blue finch with black wing and tail tips. We had 2 stunning birds in one view of our binoculars. Towards the end of our walk we finally spotted the Eastern towhee that was giving his call notes for our entire walk, a high, fast metallic "tawee". Alan Malina was able to get a great shot of him at the base of a bush. Notice his red eyes, the female Eastern towhee has yellow eyes!
My favorite local hot spot is the old Meriden landfill where great species can be found throughout the year. At the start of our second landfill walk on May 6th we got very close to 5 turkey vultures who were dining on a deceased oppossum. Alan got a shot of this trio keeping their eyes on us! We also had our first of year orchard orioles, very similar to the Baltimore oriole but with a gorgeous dark rust color. I can't forget to mention the killdeer and her 4 young chicks. As we were approaching all four chicks went right to her and tucked in and took cover under mom, we chose to change our path way around them and leave them undisturbed. In the middle of our walk we got lucky and spotted a male magnolia warbler. He gave us great views of his yellow throat/chest and his black "necklace" which streaks black off towards his sides. Near the end of our walk we were surprised by 2 green herons flying low right over our heads. It was a great morning with 45 species!
Although I have no more scheduled spring walks I plan on birding Quinnipiac River State Park in North Haven Sunday morning May 20th. If you'd like to met us there let me know. I haven't been there in 7 years and it's a great place to spot good birds. QVAS's next scheduled program is on June 10th, a kayak tour of Hanover Pond led by Corrie Folsom-O'Keefe, reservations are required!
I'll keep you posted on upcoming events for QVAS!