Messalonskee Lake 4/23/16
One other birder, Lynda, showed up for what seemed like an almost perfect day.  Not too sunny, not too cloudy.  Not too cold, not too hot.  Not too breezy, not dead calm.  The only thing we were missing were the tons of ducks I expected to see.  An Eastern Phoebe greeted us right out of the cars and we even caught sight of our first warbler of the year, a Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Tree Swallows were zooming all over the place and I briefly caught a glimpse of two Purple Martins.  At first glance down at the water’s edge, there didn’t seem to be any ducks at all, but as we looked a little farther out we were finally able to make out a Canada Goose, a pair of Mallards, one lone Pied-billed Grebe, and a respectable flock of 12-20 Ring-necked Ducks, as well as a pair of Common Loons fishing over to our left.  We were serenaded by Swamp Sparrows and spent a fair amount of time enjoying the antics of all the Red-winged Blackbirds.  They gave us great opportunities to compare the males and females and even watched as an ambitious young male just changing into his adult colors tried to move into an older male’s space.  The first raptor of the day was a Sharp-shinned Hawk, who quickly moved on.  Next came the male Northern Harrier, who cruised across and away from us.  He did come back a little closer for a final view.  The female showed up a while later and put on a wonderful show right in front of us as she kited and hovered just a few feet off the ground, looking like she was about to pounce on a meal, but finally landed and disappeared behind the vegetation.  We saw an Osprey at various times, but were never fortunate enough to see it take a fish.  An adult Bald Eagle made a brief appearance and we were delighted to see a Great Blue Heron making its majestic way across the marsh.  A pair of Wilson’s Snipe flew in and a bit later flew out.  Once we had had our fill of the boat ramp we decided to walk down the road to see if we could relocate the Purple Martins.  We never did, but we did get to zoom in on Tree Swallows resting on the wires.  We were delighted to see three Savannah Sparrows in a yard and they gave us excellent views of their crisp markings.  Lynda and I were inspired enough to continue onward and we ended up walking down the railroad tracks all the way to the open water.  We ran into more Swamp Sparrows, flocks of Common Grackles, two Belted Kingfishers, a pair of Green-winged Teal, and three American Black Ducks.  A Virginia Rail briefly responded when I played its song, but was too far away for us to even hope we would see it.  We spied seven Eastern Painted Turtles sunning on a log.  On the way back I started hearing a bird I knew I should know, but couldn’t place.  I finally realized it was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, singing that memorable song that isn’t the least bit like any of the recordings on my app.  We caught sight of a Sharp-shinned Hawk, circling with the swallows, but the rest of the walk back was mostly uneventful.  Lynda and I were surprised to find we’d spent at least five hours out there, but were both ready to do it all over again.
Canada Goose              11
American Black Duck      3
Mallard                          6
Green-winged Tea          2
Ring-necked Duck        20
Common Loon               3
Pied-billed Grebe           1
Great Blue Heron           1
Turkey Vulture               1
Osprey                          1
Northern Harrier            2
Sharp-shinned Hawk      2
Bald Eagle                     1
Virginia Rail                   1
Wilson’s Snipe                2
Mourning Dove               1
Belted Kingfisher            2
Hairy Woodpecker          1
Eastern Phoebe              1
American Crow             20
Purple Martin                 2
Tree Swallow                20
Ruby-crowned Kinglet     1
American Robin              3
Yellow-rumped Warbler   3
Savannah Sparrow         4
Song Sparrow                4
Swamp Sparrow             6
Red-winged Blackbird    30
Common Grackle           40
Flint Woods 4/19/16
Despite the cool morning and slight drizzle, Pam and Tom joined me for the first garden variety birdwalk in Farmington at Flint Woods.  The parking lot was fairly teeming, with a couple dozen American Goldfinches at a feeder across the road, Black-capped Chickadees singing, and a couple American Robins calling in the woods.  A Pileated Woodpecker winged its way down the road.  Once we headed into the woods things instantly got rather quiet.  And stayed quiet.  The vernal pool didn’t even have much to see, just one small egg mass.  We flushed a pair of Song Sparrows in the grassy area around the retention pool and Tom spotted a pair of Mallards on the water.  A few American Crows called and some Blue Jays hopped around the trees, but not much else.  As we headed back into the woods it returned to silence.  It wasn’t until we were halfway down the Old County Road trail that things picked up.  First it was the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker drumming near us, with another responding farther back.  A Downy Woodpecker flew through and a Wild Turkey called in the distance.  A flock of Black-capped Chickadees finally showed up and brought along some American Goldfinches, a Tufted Titmouse, a Pine Siskin, and a Red-breasted Nuthatch.  I was little surprised we didn’t find any Brown Creepers or Ruby-crowned Kinglets, but hopefully they’ll make their presence known in future walks.  While we didn’t run into any birds that weren’t here this winter, it was still a nice chance to stroll through the woods and chat.
Mallard                             2
Wild Turkey                       1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker    2
Downy Woodpecker           1
Pileated Woodpecker          1
Blue Jay                            3
American Crow                  4
Black-capped  Chickadee   10
Tufted Titmouse                 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch       1
American Robin                  2
Song Sparrow                    2
Pine Siskin                         1
American Goldfinch           24
Woodcock Watch 
Only one hardy soul joined me for the American Woodcock watch at the Foothills Land Conservancy in Wilton on a cold and very windy night.  As we waited for dusk, Ellen and I decided to walk a bit to keep warm.  A surprising number of ducks flew in to overnight in the pond at the end of the field.  We were able to make out some Mallards, Canada Geese, and possible a pair of teal.  I wasn’t sure the woodcocks would be willing to perform in the adverse weather, but shortly after it started snowing we heard our first peent.  We made our way over to a little field adjacent to us and ended up fewer than 30 feet from a male’s staging area.  Ellen and I tried to position ourselves a bit upwind so we could watch to our heart’s content without getting too much snow in our eyes.  Our valiant little male didn’t let us down and we watched and listened through four or five flights.  Each time he came down with his musical finale it sounded like he was about to land on our heads.  Several times I was able to see him come in and land.  I was surprised that he came in at an angle; I’d always heard he would plummet straight down after he was done, but I suspect the fierce winds were blowing him a little off course.  We were starting to get a tad cold, though we decided to stay for just one more flight, but our little guy had had enough.  He peented a few more times, but was done flying.  It was still a marvelous night and we both went home satisfied.