Saturday, January 15, 2011

CT Young Birders Club- Winter Waterbirds and lots of Owls

Today the Connecticut Young Birders' Club took a trip along the coast of Fairfield County, stopping at multiple spots along the way. Our first stop was Sherwood Island State Park, where some of the first birds that I saw were a large group of Horned Grebes. Finally!! The Horned Grebe had been my nemesis bird for a long time, and I was very happy to finally see some. Other birds of note were Canvasbacks, Goldeneye, Wigeons, and a nice Merlin. We stopped at a few other spots nearby, but did not see too much, so we headed to another location in Fairfield, where we were seeking owls. First, however, we spotted a pipit and a few more grebes (how can I not have seen them until now?!?) by the bathrooms. Heading from there to the owl grove, we had high hopes for multiple species, and were not disappointed.

Almost as soon as we entered the grove (the location of which, by the way, I am not allowed to disclose), Brian started gesturing excitedly and pointing. The reason? A beautiful Long-eared Owl perched virtually in full view, just off the path. After all the time I've spent trying to see a long-eared at Hunter Island, it was nice to get one so easily, and to get such good looks. Second lifer of the day, and a great one at that.
Long-eared Owl!

Brian wasn't done, however, and we had only walked a few more steps when he spotted a Great Horned Owl near the top of a tall pine. Cool owl #2.
I am not a good digiscoper. At all. But still, that is a Great Horned Owl.

For the finishing touch on hoped-for owl trio, Brian (the owl-whisperer) found a Saw-whet Owl perched in a smaller tree, and we had seen 3 owls in less than 10 minutes. It was probably closer to 5 minutes actually. 
The tiny Saw-whet Owl. It was a better view than this photo would suggest.

The owls were the clear highlight of the day, but we still found more birds after ouStrigiform success- Ruddy Turnstones, Black-bellied Plovers, Brant, Red-throated Loon, Long-tailed Ducks, a Fox Sparrow in the parking lot, and a Bonaparte's Gull on the way home. 

It was a great morning of birding, especailly the grebes and owls. Two lifers, lots of year birds, lots of fun. Another young birder, Brendan Murtha also posted about it on his blog here, if you want to see more owl photos.

Good Birding! 


  1. Hey Eamon,
    love the Long-ear pic. You got it's whole face. I just linked to your blog from mine. I'm mad I didn't get the Bonaparte's gull, because it was a year bird I was missing. I did get Redpoll at Sherwood Island though. Looking forward to seeing you on the next trip.

  2. Thanks for the link. The gull was nice, but I would have preferred some redpolls- you got lucky finding those on top of everything else we saw.