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Typical, winter Long Island Sound sightings.... (Birders may enjoy)


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#1
chiefMOJOrisin

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Long Island Sound is famous for a few things... being the body of water close to Manhattan, it's excellent BlueFishing.... and beauty. Stuck in the metropolis that is the middle of the tri-state conglomeration of American consumerism, there is amazing wildlife habitat along the shores of Long Island Sound. This means INSIDE the Sound, not Fire Island or the Atlantic on the south side of Long Island. And since I am on this side, I will speak about Connecticut. Photos will be at the end.... but please read the post too. If you do not recognize a bird species, Google it... guaruntee you'll think they are gorgeous. Most are

:D:smoking:


Right now, as the winter is on an 8-count and Spring is standing over him as if he already has the belt on his shoulder, waterfowl are moving and staging before making migrations (some as short as just the rivers to North CT). Birds like Common Goldeneye, Greater Scaup, and Horned Grebe in particular are in very large numbers off the CT coast.

Yesterday, in a bit of snow, I tallied roughly 900+ Goldeneye (one female Barrows!!), 600+ Greater Scaup (2 Lesser), and 13 Horned Grebe. Horned grebe, as they transform into breeding plumage, are gorgeous birds... and are normally.


Believe it or not, we also have birds that come south to CT to winter. These birds are shorebirds like Sanderlings, Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstones, and the elusive (this year, at least) Purple Sandpiper. Another semi-common winter visitors are the Great Cormorant (larger than the Double-crested Corms that breed here), Harbor/Gray seals, and the Bald Eagle. We have random sightings of seals in other seasons, but they follow the Atlantic currents down the coast into the fish friendly confines of Long Island Sound. The Gray, in particular, has made an amazing comeback after having the bounty on it's head lifted as recent as 1960!! In the USA! To me, that is dreadful. Some songbirds who only join us for the winter are White-throated and American Tree Sparrows (also Fox on a less-common basis), Dark-eyed Juncos, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (more so in late migration), Snow Buntings, and the gorgeous Lapland Longspur.

Here in CT, more so up north, we have nesting Bald Eagles... though the pairs can be counted on one hand. However, in Fall migration and Winter, these majestic goliaths will show up more and more frequently.... and as winter progresses, closer to the coast. Our main rivers are the Housatonic, Connecticut, and Thames... all of which drain into LIS. As these rivers freeze from the north down, the eagles are forced to follow in order to have open water to catch or steal fish, or snag a small duck. I am luck enough to live close to th emouth of the Housatonic, so I know a great spot to view Bald eagles whenever I feel like it in winter.



What we also have on the CT/LIS coastline is a semi-warmer area that keeps some migrating passerines (songbirds) up here to overwinter. These birds include Easten Towhees, Gray Catbirds, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Brown Thrashers, and Hermit Thrushes. An Orange-crowned warbler will also often show up here in winter (3-4 I think in my hometown alone this season). In addition to those songbirds, other types of birds find CTs coast OK to stay for the winter (often VERY MUCH depending on food sources in teir breeding grounds).... these are known as 'Winter Finches'... because they are finches, and include Common Redpolls, Pine Siskins, Pine and Evening Grosbeaks, and White-winged and Red Crossbills.

Other birds, non-passerines that overwinter here on the coast (again, usually depending on food sources up north in Canada), whether if they breed here or not are species such as Black-crowned Night-heron, Merlin, American Kestrel, Rough-legged Hawk, Snowy Owl (irruptive... like the finches), and Long-eared and Saw-whet owls.


Hang on... I must go grocery shopping... (7:22am)...

...Ok I'm back (9:09... fucking hate that shit).


Now, after dealing with the elderly ramming into my ankles, I don't feel like going any deeper into the wildlife and habitats on the coast, so I'll just post some photos from the last week or two. All on the LIS shore in CT, all this winter from December 7th through yesterday:


-Drake Long-tailed Ducks (Norwalk, CT 12/07/09)
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-Sunrise over winter marsh (Stratford, CT 12/12/09)
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-Dunlin (grey) and a Ruddy Turnstone (Norwalk Islands, 12/7/09)
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-A year-round CT resident, a female Belted Kingfisher (Stratford, CT 12/30/09)
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-Northern Saw-whet owl day roosting (only about 8" tall, with a max-wingspan of 17".. smaller than a Robin) (Westport, CT 12/29/09)
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-Channeld Whelk past it's prime at low-tide (Fairfield, CT 3/5/10)
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-A few reefs exist in certin places, and this photo shows two low-tide waves meeting in the middle (Fairfield, CT 3/05/10)
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-Stand-alone Birch in a large tidal marsh with the sun on it's face (Stratford, CT 3/02/10)
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-Year-round resident in CT, and abundant on the coast in winter, the Savannah Sparrow is at the hieght of it's winter range in CT. (12/23/09)... the yellow 'eyebrows' (supercillium) is a great way to ID these gorgeous sparrows. OR LBJs as they are often refered too... Little Brown Jobbies.
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-A pair of non-breeding plumage Sanderlings foraging at low-tide (Fairfield,CT 2/22/10)
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-A common sight now, huge flocks of waterfowl. This shot contains over 110 Common Goldeneye, but the what it doesn't show is the rest of the flock... which was near 500. It is soooo neat to see a huge flock of birds ball up, and spread out, and dearch for a landing spot. So cool.
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-Great Black-backed Gull downing a Winter Flounder. This is the largest gull species in the world, and can easily swallow this thing whole... and it did.
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-Lazy (I think male) Harbor Seal (Fairfield, CT 3/05/10)
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I hope the ranting made some sense to someone. If not, hopefully you enjoyed the photos of some winter sights here on the CT shore. Even though I live inland, my town is tall and skinney and I have my own coastline, which is a tremendous birding spot,and very popular with out-of-towners.

Good birding!!


-MoJo-

Edited by chiefMOJOrisin, 06 March 2010 - 03:59 PM.


#2
potblower

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great pics man, its nice there, was watchin some birds in the sky the other day while i was blazin, could get into it when iam older, that and watching the skies at night

#3
chiefMOJOrisin

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great pics man, its nice there, was watchin some birds in the sky the other day while i was blazin, could get into it when iam older, that and watching the skies at night



Thanks, man. Nice to see a blade interested in these things. Which is why you're the only person who replied!!

Everyone here is all about their drugs, stupid religion convos, and some of the dumbest crap ever. Not to say I don't partake in those festivities from time to time, but still.

Not counting all the ganja and growing... that's what the forum is about.


Thanks again, bro.


-MoJo-

#4
trueg115

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I agree great pics, especially the second one, its breathtaking.

Really puts things into perspecive as to how much it can suck living in a city where seeing these aren't everyday occurences.

#5
potblower

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^ haha i started a few of those dumb topics like religion, but i agree most people are so acustom to city life that they forget about true nature and how beautiful it is

if i honestly had nothing to do (work, school, takin care of family, etc) i would love just to sit back, blaze and watch wildlife

#6
lomographs

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i used to be on the other side of the sound.
it can be so tranquil and relaxing.
this was a great post. reminded me of being there.
++

#7
aaronman

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I'm from fairfield county so this thread hits close to home, amazing pics. Would rep you, but don't know how on my phone.

Never seen a harbor seal around my parts, are they common further north? Have to keep an eye out for that kingfisher. :smoking:

The sound is great for bluefish, but the real prize is striper. Caught a 35lb striper in high school, will never forget that meal. :D

#8
chiefMOJOrisin

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I'm from fairfield county so this thread hits close to home, amazing pics. Would rep you, but don't know how on my phone.

Never seen a harbor seal around my parts, are they common further north? Have to keep an eye out for that kingfisher. :smoking:

The sound is great for bluefish, but the real prize is striper. Caught a 35lb striper in high school, will never forget that meal. :D



Thats a nice striper. Supposedly, during winter there are 20+ pounders in front of powerplant on Long Island (forgot the name though...it released warmer waters into the sound) to be had on like every cast. Not sure if it is still hot or not... if seals are becoming more prevelent, then probably not (seals eat stripers).




The seals can be seen along the entire CT coastline. There is a nice population of Gray seals (going out on Norwalk harbor tomorrow... if I get some photos I'll post them) in Norwalk, along with Harbor. I've seen them pop their head up off of Stratford Point in Stratford, about 1 mile up in the CT river in Essex, Fairfield (duh), Norwalk, and I hear they are all over the eastern coastline past the Thames river.... like in Groton, Stonington, etc.

The harbors can get pretty far up river if it is high enough, and the right conditions. It would be pretty amazing to see one at say, the Housatonic at the I-95 bridge.

And you can find a Kingfisher at any open water that supports tiny fish or amphibians. You can hear them coming because they 'rattle' when flying.



Thanks for the nice words everyone.


-MoJo

#9
chiefMOJOrisin

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I was out again today, this time from a boat... much drier. It was about 52 (felt like 45), very little wind, and a very calm sound.

I left out of South Norwalk, CT, and we surveyed the Norwalk Islands. Here are a few seal photos...

There are 2 species.... the ones that are whiter are Harbor, and the big dark one (and one next to it... I think) is a Gray seal.

Gray seals are bigger, have longer faces and wide snouts. Harbors are cuter, with shorter, puppy dog faces...


(not the best quality... cropped, and tought o shoot from a boat... even when stopped)

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-MoJo-




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