MARCH 1999

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At the Unitarian Meeting House on Spring Hill Road in Storrs, refreshments at 7 pm, the meeting will begin at 7:30. Sam Freid of Hartford Audubon will try once again to present his slide lecture: "Belize: The Little Known Jewel of Central America." Sam is a renowned nature photographer whose work has been published in all the leading nature magazines.

(Note: In the event of bad weather, you should tune to WILI 1400-AM, for any cancellations.)

At the Executive Committee meeting in February we decided to begin the search for next year's officers early this year. For one thing, our president, Bob Pirrie, will be unable to serve in this capacity next year and the search for people willing to serve as an officer is always difficult. If you are interested, please call Bob (429-8784) or drop a note to the NOS post office box. If you don't call us, we'll call you…..We were also wondering what feed back we could get from you, our members, as far as what you see as the role for NOS in the future: what programs have you enjoyed in the past? which have stuck in your memory? is there anything in particular you would like to see next year? any suggestions that you might have would be very welcome. How about field trips? where would you like to go? when? any days better for you that others? how about weekday trips when there is no school? anything specifically for children? We would love it if you would let us know how you feel or what you are thinking. If you can't make it to the meeting, again, jot down your ideas on a postcard and mail them to the post office box.

At the regular meeting we talked about some of Bob's suggestions to revive interest in May Count. Some of the ideas are to have a Birdathon and have members collect pledges for the number of birds you see with the money being donated to the Nature Conservancy or Joshua's Tract, or both. The winner of the highest number of species would be the caretaker of The Manter Cup - with your name or your team's name engraved on the base. Then you would have to defend your title next year to retain possession of this valued cup. Bob thought maybe we could challenge members of Hartford Audubon to try wrest control of this title from us. It was also suggested that the count be any twenty-four hours within the weekend of May 15 and 16 rather than only on one calendar day. It was also suggested that the person who collected the most amount of money be presented with a Bill Gaunya bird carving. These will be discussed and voted upon at the meeting.

Also at the meeting, Sue Craig brought a list of the properties that the town of Mansfield holds in trust. The Parks and Recreation Department asked if NOS members would be interested in doing surveys of the birds seen on these properties. Several members agreed to become caretakers of some of them; however, there are still some that need someone to agree to oversee them. At the least they are asking us to observe the birds seen at least once each season. If you are interested, please call Sue at 429-6257 to find out what is still available.


Seven people went on the trip to Cape Ann that was held February 7. It was a sunny day but very cold and very windy, but since the birds you see seem to be in inverse relation to the amount of pain to see them, we were rewarded with some fine birds. There were thirty-three species seen: Red-necked and Horned Grebe; Northern Gannet, Great Cormorant; Mute Swan; Canada Goose; Gadwall; Black Duck, Mallard; wonderful looks at an adult male King Eider that has been in Rockport all winter; Harlequin Ducks; all three species of scoters; Common Goldeneye; Red-breasted Merganser; Red-tailed Hawk; Purple Sandpiper, Ring-billed and Herring Gull; Thick-billed Murre; Razorbill; Black Guillemot; Red-throated and Common Loon; Rock Dove; Blue Jay; Crow; Robin; Starling; Carolina Wren; Black-capped Chickadee; and Dark-eyed Junco.

The trip on Saturday the 27 that was co-sponsored by the Goodwin Forest Conservation Center had 15 participants. There were thirty-six species seen on this trip, several of which were the same. The loons and grebes, some of the same ducks and gulls and about fifty to sixty Harlequin Ducks. However there were no alcids or scoters at all and many fewer Common Eider (and no King Eider!). There were Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones, Turkey Vultures and Red-winged Blackbirds - all of these, an indication of the return of spring! The last and for many of us the best bird of the day was watching a Short-eared Owl at Charlestown Breachway as the sun set.

There will be no field trips planned for March. The Sachuest trip is the first weekend in March, but it was the end of February this year.


The University of Connecticut Museum of Natural History will host Birds: Live and Spectacular on Saturday and Sunday March 6 and 7 at the Gant Physics Building on the campus of the University of Connecticut. There will be live birds of prey and live tropical birds on display both days. Plus there are slide talks, videos, scientific exhibits, bird-carving demonstrations and much more. Dr. Margaret Rubega will present her lecture on Red-necked Phalaropes Tempest in a Teacup: Functional Biology of Red-necked Phalaropes on Saturday. Events are scheduled from 1-5 pm both days and the cost is $5/adult and $2/child at the door; free to members of the Museum of Natural History.

There will be a live animal program called North American Birds of Prey on Saturday April 3 at Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, CT. The program will be presented by Jim Parks of Wingmasters at 1 and 2:30 pm. He will present an overview of North American raptors, explaining their role in the environment, their hunting adaptations, and their status in the world.

Mr. Parks is a licensed raptor rehabilitator and nature photographer. He has presented programs on birds of prey throughout New England for many years.

The admission price is $2/ person, and is free to Friends of Dinosaur State Park. If you have any questions call 860/529-5816 for more information.


"Sam" Higgins

newsletter editor