The Bird Count is In

Hammonasset, once again, proves to be a big draw, bringing people to Madison from all over. Check the list to see what they found here. If you're looking for something to do this vacation week, here's how you can join in.

The results from the Big January Bird Count are in!

The Connecticut Audubon Society, which helps keep track of the results, provides this report

"This balmy January, setting records for high temperature on multiple days, featured only one moderate to minor snowfall event depending on where you reside in the state. Many out of season birds were able to remain here through the winter. ... The collective reported species for January was 170."

Rare finds in Connecticut this year include "alcid bounty," the Connecticut Audubon Society says. The alcid, or Alcidae, family includes diving birds with web feet, short legs and short wings such as auks, murres, and puffins. Those reported in Connecticut this year include the Thick-billed Murre and Common Murre. Also sighted were "very many Razorbills, plus a Pink-footed Goose, Harris' Sparrow, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Barnacle Goose, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Yellow-throated Warbler, and more."

Yellow-throated Warbler proves to be a big draw

Out of season birds found in Connecticut this January included the Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Nashville Warbler and Saltmarsh Sparrow.

The most unusual species spotted in Madison this January included the Yellow-throated Warbler. Bill Asteriades, an avid birder who lives in South Glastonbury, was one of the most successful participants in the Big January bird count. He is one of many birders who frequents Madison to enjoy the birds along the shoreline. In addition to having a large overall tally, he managed to get a picture of the Yellow-throated Warbler. 

"It is a rare bird for CT and one that has drawn many visitors," he said via email. "I do bird Hammonasset State Park frequently, which is one of the premier birding locations in the state. The habitat is quite diverse and includes several large marshes, a couple of small lakes, woodlands, shoreline and open, brushy areas.  This attracts a variety of birds and many birders!  Many rare birds have been seen in the park due to the great habitat."

Birders continue to come to Madison to see what they can find

Additional information about the Yellow-throated Warbler can be found on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds website.

Now that January is over, birders continue to come to Madison to see what they can find here. Nick Bonomo, who lives in Wallingford and maintains the Shorebirder blog at http://www.shorebirder.com/, stopped by Madison a few days ago and headed down to Circle Beach near the East River Boat Launch, where he took some beautiful pictures of an adult Kumlien's Iceland Gull. "Skies were overcast and the bird was hesitant to come in to popcorn and potato chips, but we did enjoy a few nice flybys," he wrote in his blog. 

"I bird in Madison only occasionally, usually Hammonasset," he said via email. "Recently there hasn't been anything too rare or interesting, but there is a nice selection of uncommon species that have spent the winter there. These include Razorbill, Purple Sandpiper, and Snow Buntings."

Beginners and advanced birders alike can find out more by stopping by The Aubudon Shop

For those who are interested in finding out more about birding in Madison and the surrounding area, The Aubudon Shop at 907 Boston Post Road in Madison is a great place to start. The shop offers binoculars, spotting scopes, tripods, books, maps and advice. 

"People can stop by anytime (and do) for tips on what's being seen, where, and for the latest binoculars and telescopes and field accessories at price points for everyone," owner Janet Connolly says.

She said beginners can start with binoculars, a field guide and "curiosity, and the desire to try to figure out what's being seen!"

Bring a small daypack 

The Audubon Shop has on hand a checklist of birds in the area, a checklist of all of the birds seen in Connecticut, and an eastern United States field guide that covers Texas to Florida to Maine, among other information. Connolly also recommends a small day pack to carry the field guide, your wallet, a cell phone and water. 

The shop also has trail maps of Hammo, and Janet and her husband Jerry, who also owns the shop, can help point out the best places to bird there. The shop also has Madison Trail Guide published by the Madison Land Trust. 

The Madison Land Trust guide can provide birders with access to woodland trails, where they will see birds that are different from those seen on the shoreline. 

A white board on the wall keeps track of recent sightings

For advanced birders, the shop offers the ability to trade up on their equipment, if they are interested in something new.

The shop also keeps a white board on a wall in the shop with recent sightings by date, both for Hammonasset and elsewhere in the state.

"We are minutes off of I-95, and 2/14 miles from Hammo, so popping in is a frequent occurrence.  We also often get calls from people when they've seen something unusual or good," Connolly said. 

Hammo a great place to start

She said beginning birders will find Hammonasset a great place to start. 

"It's a great family place with something for everyone!  Beach, trails, rocks to climb, viewing platforms, picnic tables and ... Meig's Point Nature Center is open this week - and is now open year round," she said. "There are short trails on Willard's Island behind the nature center, and an observation platform that looks out over the marsh at the end of the trails.  There's a picnic pavilion out there, or the bathhouse on the beach has picnic tables, as well."

Connolly said dogs are welcome, but must be leashed at all times. "This is especially important during nesting time (late March into April through the end of June, roughly).  Dog droppings must be picked up, there are bags conveniently available on trails.  Trail etiquette!"

Bird sightings in Madison

Birds sighted in Madison during the Big January Bird Count include the following: 

  • Coopers Hawk
  • Black-bellied Plover
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Purple Sandpiper
  • Monk Parakeet
  • Horned Lark
  • Snow Bunting
  • Yellow-throated Warbler
  • Common Eider
  • Dunlin
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • Northern Flicker
  • Northern Harrier
  • Carolina Wren
  • Gray Catbird
  • Fox Sparrow
  • Merlin
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Sanderling
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • European Starling
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Red-breasted Merganser
  • Red-throated Loom
  • Horned Grebe
  • Red-necked Grebe

To find out more about any of these birds, including what they look like and what they sound like, check out the Bird Search page of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds site.

To subscribe to an email list that birders in Connecticut use to tell others about recent sightings, go to http://lists.ctbirding.org/mailman/listinfo/ctdailyreport_lists.ctbirding.org

About this column: Around Town is an occasional column about what's going on around Madison. If you have an idea for a column, or would like to write one, please let us know! Contact Pem at pem.mcnerney@patch.com. Related Topics: Birding at Hammonasset, Birding in Connecticut, Madison CT, and The Audubon Shop What have you added to your life list lately? Tell us in the comments.


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