Bantam Lake by Bob Stanowski
White Memorial by Bob Stanowski
It may be February 25th, and it may only be 34 degrees outside with a cold rain, but some birds are migrating back to and through Connecticut, anyway. Most of these early birds are short distance migrants that spent the winter in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, or Virginia. The previous blog post of mine touched upon some of these birds, along with an unusually early American Woodcock. Since then, more of the "regular" early spring migrants have arrived or increased in number. Chief among these are blackbirds, bluebirds, and Canada Geese. Even though White Memorial's Museum feeders have hosted up to 12 Red-winged Blackbirds all winter, we now can safely say that the migrants are here. The numbers around the Museum have increased somewhat, there are now a few at the Bantam Lake Outlet, and a mixed flock of 60 Red-wings and 20 Common Grackles has joined the European Starlings at Arethusa Farm. Eastern Bluebirds had been scarce around White Memorial during January and the first half of February, but we counted a combined total of approximately 25 around the Museum Area, along Webster Rd., and at the Bantam Lake Outlet for the Great Backyard Bird Count this past long weekend. This count only produced about 300 Canada Geese and 75 Mallards at the Bantam Lake Outlet. These have been typical numbers all winter. Therefore, it is highly likely that many of the 1210 Canada Geese, 155 Mallards, 34 American Black Ducks, and 16 Common Mergansers that I counted there last evening were newly arrived migrants. It should be noted for anyone visiting the Outlet that the number of birds is a lot lower in the morning and throughout much of the day because many of them go elsewhere to feed, and many of the new arrivals that have migrated all day don't settle in until evening. It is quite a spectacular sight to see wave upon wave of geese coming in to land in this relatively small area. If you wish to witness this yourself in the next week or so, you should park off N. Shore Rd. near Pt. Folly, and either walk to the Pt. Folly observation platform or walk down N. Shore Rd. to the Outlet bridge. High snow banks are currently making it impossible to park at the Outlet bridge.