Monday, May 25, 2015

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike Tues., May 26th and Thurs., May 28th at
Saugatuck Falls Natural Area in Redding, CT.
The entrance is located between
mail box # 65 and 73 on Diamond Hill Road in Redding. Follow
straight in until you see the large sign (entrance marker) on your left.
Meet at 8:30am.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike Tues., May, 19th and Thurs., May 21st at Scott Lot Preserve in Redding, CT.
Coming from the north on Route 7 turn left onto Old Redding Rd. Right after going under RR bear right onto Mountain Rd. Follow Mountain Rd. to end and turn left onto Peaceable St. Parking for the open space will be on the left. If you come to an electrical substation, you went too far.
Meet at 8:30am.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

May Birding With Noah – Weir Farm

It was a foggy, damp and still morning at Weir Farm and we were hoping for the mist to burn off and the sun to peek out, which it eventually did.  A small blue egg was found by one of the park employees, much to the delight of our group.  Our trip through the woods to the pond yielded some of the more common birds, such as the titmouse, chickadee, chipping sparrow, nuthatch, mallard, goldfinch and catbird.  The downy woodpecker was active in the dead trees, and we learned that with practice, you can tell it apart from the hairy woodpecker, which is quite a bit larger and has a noticeably longer bill than the downy.  The red-bellied woodpeckers teased us by being heard, but not seen, in the woods around us. 

When we reached the pond, a dog scared off two timid wood ducks, but the Canada goose pair was not perturbed in the slightest.  The female was sitting on a nest in some vegetation a little ways offshore, while her mate was out looking for food.  These geese are monogamous, staying mostly together for life, although if one mate dies, the other may find a new mate.

The highlight of the day was out in the open fields near the park office: the northern parula (pictured), a member of the warbler family, whose song (a buzzy trill) was first heard by Noah, and then spotted in a tree.  With a blue-grey hood and wings, a yellow chest, white eye crescents, and white wing bars, it is a beautiful warbler to behold.  This small migrant winters in Central America and the Caribbean, and has a large summer breeding range along the eastern U.S.  In the southern states, they nest primarily in Spanish moss, but in the north they use old man’s beard lichen, which is very sensitive to air pollution, and thus some populations have been impacted by its decline.  The northern parula eats spiders, caterpillars and other insects off of the leaves and branches in the canopy. Picture:

Monday, May 11, 2015

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike Tues., May 12th and Thurs., May 14th at Bennetts Pond State Park.
Take Rt. 7 North, after you pass the BMW dealership on the right, Bennetts Farm Rd. will be on the left.
Turn onto Bennetts Farm Rd. and follow to parking lot on the right.
Meet at 8:30am.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The DC Women's Hiking Group will meet at the Pine Mountain parking area on Tues., April 28th and Thurs., April 30th.
Take Ridgebury Rd. and take a right on to George Washington Hwy.
Follow George Washington Hwy. to end and take a right on to Pine Mountain Rd.
Meet at the parking area at the end of Pine Mountain Rd. at 8:30am.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Noah Bird Log - April 2015

We all agreed that even though spring seemed about two weeks behind this year due to a long winter, it was nevertheless progressing and the birds were slowly returning. In the parking lot we got a good view of a red-bellied woodpecker after following its distinctively loud and shrill “kwirr” call. We saw many of what Noah calls the “usual suspects” in the fields and woodlands at Bennett’s Pond, like black-capped chickadees, American robins, Eastern bluebirds, common crows, turkey vultures, blue jays, (was it a red or white-chested?) nuthatch, and what we called an “LBB” or “little brown bird,” but was probably a song sparrow.  For early returning migrants, we saw both red-winged blackbirds (picture - spotted last month at the Garden of Ideas), as well as the Eastern phoebe, a brownish-grey and white flycatcher that is familiar to many for its raspy “phoebe” call. We especially enjoyed seeing the waterfowl on the pond, such as pairs of shy wood ducks that took off when we got too close, mallards, ring-necked ducks (also seen last month) and the graceful mute swans.  Wood ducks are magnificent birds, with iridescent green crested heads with white stripes on the males and a chestnut breast.  The female wood ducks are rather fancy too, with their grey-brown coloring, crested head and white eye rings.  The wood ducks live in wooded swamps and nest in tree holes, taking advantage of nesting boxes like the ones we saw placed in the shallow water at Bennett’s Pond.  And perching on and flying out of those nesting boxes were tree swallows, looking more iridescent blue than green in the morning light.  We watched a bunch of these brilliant aerialists catching insects at the western edge of the pond, swooping gracefully with their long pointed wings and notched tails. Also perched on logs and grassy hummocks in the pond were numerous painted turtles soaking up the sun, an extra bonus although outside of the bird category. After receiving a tip from a fellow bird watcher, Noah was further rewarded for his perseverance by seeing some hooded mergansers in breeding plumage at one end of the pond after the rest of us left, and some palm warblers, the first returning warblers he had seen this year.  This rusty-capped small song bird has an unusual habit of wagging its tail, exposing the yellow underneath.  Spring is indeed unfolding right before our very eyes!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike this week, Tuesday, April 21st and Thursday, April 23rd at Tarrywille Park in Danbury.

From I-84 take the airport exit.
At end of ramp turn right.
Follow through traffic lights and at stop sign turn onto Southern Blvd. ( It will be a sharp right turn).
Follow small brown signs for Tarrywile Park.
The park will be on the right, across from Immaculate H.S.
Meet in lower parking lot at 8:30am.