The Migrants Continue to Pour in to Litchfield

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker photo by

Lloyd Spitalnik via Google Images Savannah Sparrow photo from via Google Images Brown Thrasher photo from
via Google Images

Migrant birds have continued to pour into and through Litchfield County for the past few days. My previous blog post covered the first waves, and this post will talk about the next waves that have arrived. The earlier migrants were mostly waterfowl and other birds associated with water. They began to appear even before much ice had melted on Bantam Lake and our ponds. Now that the ice is all gone from them, even more birds in this category are moving through. A lot of them are fish-eaters. Common Mergansers have been here for over a month, but now they number around 400 at Bantam Lake. They have been joined by 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, which are very uncommon at inland bodies of water. Common Loons normally migrate through Connecticut in April, with one or two being seen daily at Bantam Lake. Imagine Mike Doyle's surprise last Wednesday, 4/6, when he counted a whopping 44 at the Lake. This could be a record high number for any inland body of water in this state. The next day, 23 were still there. Their numbers have dropped slowly since then to 9 as of yesterday as more of them continue their migration northward. During this same time span Double-crested Cormorants have appeared and increased in number to 20 as of 4/8. The fish-eaters have also included 2 Horned Grebes and a Red-necked Grebe (which is rare here) in the central section of the Lake on the 7th. Hunting from above have been many Bald Eagles and Ospreys. On the shore, the number of Great Blue Herons continues to increase daily, and an American Bittern appeared at the Litchfield Town Beach on the 7th. A Bonaparte's Gull was a rare find at the Lake's N. Bay on the 8th. Gull numbers, in general, are suddenly way up at the Lake.

Terrestrial birds have also been on the move. Swallows, especially, have seen a big increase in number in the past couple of days. We counted approximately 200 Tree Swallows at Bantam Lake on the 7th and about 100 at Little Pond yesterday. This latter count also included a Northern Rough-winged Swallow and a Barn Swallow. In the trees, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have surged in numbers since 4/7. On the ground, sparrow numbers and diversity have increased substantially lately. Fox Sparrows have been numerous at the Museum's feeders for a month, with 7 being counted there on 4/8. Savannah Sparrows have been seen at the Sutton's Bridge section of the Little Pond Boardwalk for the past 3 days, and one was seen a couple of hours ago on the west lawn of the Museum. Chipping Sparrows have been around the Museum for about 5 days. Song Sparrows have become quite numerous. Dark-eyed Juncos are everywhere! Best of all, a Brown Thrasher appeared in the Activity Field this morning. It sang from the tops of the Hawthorns for quite a while. This species has become very rare in Litchfield County, so it was a real treat to see it.

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