I had a great time speaking Connecticut Ornithological Association last week. I was honored to be part of a Cornell/Birdchick sandwich. Marshall Iliff from eBird spoke before me and I was followed by Steve Kress of Project Puffin. I was kind of the cheesy filling that brings the sandwich together. I tested out some new material for my talk Today's Office (it's a bunch of stories of all the crazy things I do to get paid to go bird watching). Non Birding Bill and I discovered a nude beach in January and well...let's just say that I really needed a photo of a sandwich tern and I regret nothing and it's now part of my talk.
One of the fun things about the Internet is that I have friends EVERYWHERE. When I mentioned on Twitter that I was going to be speaking in Connecticut, some friends that I've communicated with via the blog and Twitter mentioned that they would come. We have a friend in common and after checking with him, "Yo, Ari, Rick isn't an axe murder, or anything," and getting confirmation from Ari that Rick and his lovely wife Delia were not crazy murderous types, I made arrangements to do a little birding with them. I was anxious to see an oystercatcher again and they knew a spot. American oystercatchers are such iconic looking birds for me. Even though I have them on my list, I will always seek them out when
We got the oystercatchers at Milford Point which was a lovely beach on an early spring day. I was hoping that we also might get piping plovers which were just returning to the area but was content to settle myself with the oystercatcher. My friends aren't hardcore birders, but they know enough out birds to point me in the direction of birds I don't normally see. We heard a peep and as it was barely registering with me, Rick said, "I hear a piping plover."
And sure enough he did hear piping plovers. What a treat to see these cuties again. I know some people get bent out of shape about beaches being closed off for their nesting season, but how can you get angry at a tiny little bird like that? They are too adorable for words. It's amazing how well they blend in, even when their running. At a casual glance, they look like a piece of fluff rolling away on the sand with the wind.
Rick and Delia were happy to help me in my quest for the Big Half Year, even helping me get monk parakeet photos. They nest in the surrounding neighborhoods at Milford Point. There's a nest in this pine tree. All the pine trees in the neighborhood were turning brown. Since this area would have been flooded from Hurricane Sandy, I wonder if that is causing problems for the trees?
Cute little snoozy parrots in their nest! Wonder if in the next year or so if these birds will have to find a different tree to use for nesting?
Early migrants were just returning, I saw an osprey checking out the nesting platform and lots of ducks working the backwaters. And I was able to add some common birds we don't get in Minnesota, like the above Carolina wren.
There's a visitor center at Milford Point and people leave notes of what's been observed...this is a hot spot, there have been some very unusual sitings recently. Ah, Humanity.