NEXT MEETING: At 7:30 pm February 5 at the Unitarian Meeting House on Spring Hill Road in Storrs. Bruce Carver will present an evening of games and challenges to test our birding skills. He is gathering materials for us even as I write. This traditional mid-winter program has always been lively and fun. Seth Leacock will have refreshments at 7.
The speaker from January, Sam Freid, has agreed to reschedule and will be the speaker at the meeting in March.
NOTE: There will be an executive committee meeting at 6:30. Officers should please try to attend.
FIELD TRIPS: There was a trip to the Connecticut River January 16 to look for eagles. This year twelve were seen; 6 adults and 6 immature. This trip always a stop at Smith's Cove in New London, Hammonasset Beach State Park, as well as several places along the river between Essex and Hadlyme. Also seen were Mute Swans; Common Goldeneye; three species of mergansers; Canada Goose; Canvasback.; Mallard; American Coot, Ruddy Duck, Great Cormorant, Black Duck, Pied-billed Grebe; Ring-billed, Herring, and Great Black-backed Gulls, a Gray Catbird, Snow Bunting, Horned Lark, two Lapland Longspurs, a Great-blue Heron, Red-throated Loon, American Pipit, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier and a Cooper's Hawk. The last bird of the day was a Red-headed Woodpecker that was in a swamp on Daniel's Road in East Haadam.
Sunday February 7 "Sam" Higgins will lead a trip to Cape Ann in Massachusetts. We will have two meeting places: 7 am at the Audrey Beck Building (the Mansfield Town Hall) on Route 275 in Storrs and at the Ames parking lot at the corner of Routes 101 and 12 in Dayville at 7:45. Please call 455-0063 if you would like to go. While the weather can sometimes be pretty difficult on this trip, it is a great place to see pelagic birds without having to put up with seasickness - you don't have to leave the land! So if the weather seems frightful and we're having a nor'easter, all the better for the seabirds that are sometimes blown near Andrew's Point. There has been an Eared Grebe at Gloucester all winter - one was seen at the same location most of last winter also. Last Sunday several people reported seeing Thick-billed Murres, Razorbills, Dovekie and Black Guillemots. It is also possible to see Harlequin Ducks as well as loons, grebes, and the occasional seal. This is a good trip for beginners as well - s ea birds are large and stay relatively put and not too difficult to identify.
Sunday February 28 there will be a trip to Sachuest Point in Middlebury, Rhode Island. This trip is being co-sponsored by The Goodwin Forest Conservation Center in Hampton and NOS. Please call either Larry Marcus (429-7195),Sam Higgins (455-0063), or Melissa Starzac (455-9334) at the Goodwin Center if you wish to go and for details of the itinerary. . We will meet in Hampton at 7 am and carpool from there. Return time will be approximately 5 pm. This location as been recognized as the premier location in New England to see Harlequin Ducks - they are as close to "guaranteed" to be there as a wild bird can be. There are usually Purple Sandpipers and hundreds of eider ducks here also. This is a peninsula that juts out in to the ocean so it can be pretty cold here also, but well worth the effort. As is the case with the Cape Ann trip, beginners are encouraged to come along.
OTHER AREA EVENTS: There will be a Wild Turkey walk at the Bafflin Sanctuary of the Connecticut Audubon Society at 2 pm on Sunday February 7. CT DEP Wildlife Biologist, Mike Gregonis will give a presentation on turkeys. Learn how to track them and call them, as well as learn about their behavior and habitat requirements. Cost is $5 for non- CAS members and $3 for members. Call (860( 928-4041 to register.
CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNTS:
The NOS Count was held on December 19 on a very nice winter day. Temperatures peaked in the high forties and there was no wind. Seventeen observers in 10 parties saw 70 species and 13,507 individuals. This is the second highest number of species and the second highest number of individuals that has ever been seen on the Storrs Count. Some highlights include the highest count numbers ever for Great Horned Owl, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, and Savannah Sparrow. Second highest counts included Carolina Wren, Swamp Sparrow, and Red-bellied Woodpecker.
The Trailwood Count, held on Sunday December 27, had 14 observers in 5 parties with 2 feeder watchers. This was a very cold, clear day, with the temperature ranging from 10° for the owl watchers to a high of 35° in the afternoon. There was no wind and most of the water was frozen.
highlights were: 19 Ruddy Ducks and an American Coot were seen for the first time on this count. There was the highest count for ever Common Mergansers, Barred Owls, Red-tailed Hawks, and Common Grackles. Carol Phillips managed to find the Bald Eagle at the Fish Hatchery in Plainfield; however, the white Red-tailed Hawk was not found this year. There were less gulls of all kinds this year and the third least number of House Finches.
There is a chart later in this newsletter with all the numbers of both counts. Also there are all the records for both counts on the NOS web page at http://members.tripod.com/~NOS98/nos.html
Be sure to check it out - Steve Morytko has done a lot of work getting this page up and running.
FYI: The entire history of the data of 99 years of Christmas Bird Counts can be found at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website. (the address is later in this newsletter).
THE SECOND ANNUAL
GREAT BACKYARD BIRD COUNT
In an attempt to "take a snapshot" of the birds present at an instant on a weekend before the spring migration gets underway, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society are sponsoring the second annual backyard bird count on February 19-22, 1999. Last year 14,000 people submitted data and this year they are hoping to have more. "Last year's data becomes even more important when compared to data collected this year and next year and so on." Anyone who wishes to simply observes the birds they see in their yard on each of those dates and sends the results to Cornell through their website at http://birdsource.cornell.edu It is also possible to check the results that have been submitted as it happens. If you are interested you can check what the forms look like at that address.