NEXT MEETING: Friday February 4, at the Unitarian Meeting House on Spring Hill Road in Storrs. Julie Victoria of Connecticut DEP will present a talk on Connecticut's Endangered Species. The meeting will begin at 7:30 with refreshments brought by Steve Rogers at 7 pm. Please listen to WILI-AM the afternoon of the meeting in case it needs to be postponed due to inclement weather.
Our by-laws were last revised in February, 1969. Perhaps it is time to create a committee to look at updating them once again. I have many copies of our current by-laws that I will have available at the meeting if any one is interested at looking at them and maybe working on them. For instance, now the May meeting is supposed to be the Annual Meeting and officers for the coming year are to be elected then; and no officers are supposed to serve more than 2 one-year terms. There are other things that might need to be reconsidered.
UPCOMING MEETING: The April meeting this year is our biannual auction. This auction is not only a lot of fun and a wonderful way to trade your "stuff" with some one else's "stuff"; it is our only fund raiser. Our dues and this auction go toward this newsletter, our program fees, contributions to several environmental organizations and other operating expenses throughout the year. Now would be a great time to begin to think about what you have that you might donate to be auctioned off. Hope there is a huge crowd this year!!!
Cape Ann, Massachusetts. Sunday February 6 led by Sam Higgins. Meet at the Audrey Beck Building (the Mansfield Town Hall in Storrs at the intersection of Routes 195 and 275) at 6:30 am. This is a fairly vigorous trip with a couple of hikes along paths to the sea. However, it is usually well worth the walk. We would expect to see Harlequin Duck, Eider, three species of scoters, loons, grebes (an Eared Grebe has spent the past three winters in this area, though we have so far been unable to find it), Screech Owl, Black Guillemot, Gannet, and many other winter sea birds. Often there are alcids to be seen from Andrew's Point In Rockport. Last year we had wonderful looks at an adult male King Eider and one is being reported from near the same area. It can be very cold on this trip, so dress accordingly. Plan to bring lunch and please call 455-0063 if you plan to attend so you can be notified in case there is a weather related postponement.
Steve Morytko led a trip on January 23 to the Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary in Massachusetts. He also stopped at the Fish Hatchery in Plainfield, CT, found 3 Tundra Swans in Coventry, RI and a Glaucous Gull at the frozen harbor at Plymouth, MA. There was a total of 61 species seen on the trip all together. Highlights were: at the Hatchery - an immature Bald Eagle (two were seen there on the recent Trail Wood Christmas Bird Count), Ring-necked Ducks, several Great Blue Herons, an Eastern Towhee, Common Mergansers, and 4 American Wigeons. At DWWS highlights were: Rough-legged Hawk, at least 5 Northern Harriers (one gray male), Red-tailed Hawks, Common Redpolls, Eastern Meadowlark, a Clay-colored Sparrow, and incredible looks at two Long-eared Owls about 20 feet from the boardwalk watching us as we watched them.
Larry Marcus' trip to the Connecticut River had to be cancelled due to the flu and the incredible cold. However, if you would like to search for eagles, the Goodwin Conservation Center is sponsoring a trip to observe them on Saturday February 5 from 9 am to 3 pm. Call the conservation center at 860/455-9534 to register. This is a free trip.
CHRISTMAS COUNTS: The results of both the NOS and Trail Wood Christmas Bird Counts are included in this issue. There were 73 species seen on the NOS count - a new record high. Some unusual species were: Osprey, Bonaparte's Gull, Great Cormorant, an Eastern Phoebe, high numbers of Red-tailed Hawks. The Trail Wood count was significant in that the weather was so warm and foggy that it was very difficult to see much of anything for most of the morning. There were two huge flocks of Common Grackles seen at opposite sides of the circle at very nearly the same time. There were two immature Bald Eagles at the Fish Hatchery in Plainfield.
OTHER AREA EVENTS:
There is an exhibition calledHunters of the Sky at the Science Center of Connecticut on Trout Brook Drive, in West Hartford, from now through June 14. There are hands on activities including building a bird nest, examining an owl pellet, and you can mimic an owl in the "hooting booth". Call 860/231-2830 ext. 12, or www.sciencecenter.org if you have any questions.
The National Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy, and Connecticut Audubon
The Great Backyard Bird Count sponsored by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society is February 18-21 this year. This third year of this count, observers are being asked to pay particular attention to sightings of Bald Eagles. Recent estimates put the number of pairs of eagles in the United States at more than 5,700, but it is not clear how many immatures there are, and this information "will give a better understanding of the health of the population." They are also interested in the numbers of all other backyard feeder birds. Frank Gill, senior Vice-President for Science at the National Audubon Society says, " the only way to keep common birds common is to monitor their populations regularly." They maintain a database that follows range expansion, population declines or increases, and other changes.
To participate, you simply make a note of the highest number of a particular species you see at any one time and the time spent observing during any part or all of the four days of the count. Then log on to www.birdsource.org and click on the appropriate state to record your data. The reported data is then updated hourly so you can watch animated maps that show what birds are being seen where. If you do not have a computer and are interested in participating in this count, call me at 455-0063 and we can make arrangements to do so.
The Chaplin Conservation Commission is planning a day of outdoor activities in Chaplin on February 12, from 8-11:30 am. There will be twelve guided walks in pre-selected sites in town. Car pools will leave the Chaplin Town Hall (Route 198) at 8:30, 9:00, 10:00, and 10:30. All walks are expected to take approximately 1/2 hour, except one to Black Spruce Pond which has a longer walk in, and one that entails stops on five bridges along the Natchaug River. There will be hot refreshments at the Town Hall at noon. Call Juan Sanchez at 455-0425 for more information.