Friday 15 June 2012

River Road, Kent (CT)

Kent is a small town in the north-east of Connecticut, close to the border with New York state. We ended up visiting the site three times.

The first without knowing its birding potential when we visited my niece at her school; the second after Julian Hough once more helped us out with some gen; the third on the return leg of our two day, five state, tour.

Needless to say we didn't see much on the first visit, concentrating as we did on family things and eating a huge lunch in town. However the best bird of the trip was undoubtedly a Bald Eagle that Elis saw whilst we were in transit. A new bird for the trip, and therefore a tick for Elis was this Great Crested Flycatcher. I took this shot, not quite up to Elis' standards though.

Great Crested Flycatcher
Our second visit was much more productive. We stopped first at the main bridge over the river in town, where we eventually got some fleeting views of Cliff Swallow, there were plenty of other hirundines around but picking up the Cliff Swallows wasn't easy. We also enjoyed watching this handsome Common Grackle filling its beak with insects, presumably to deliver to young in the nest somewhere.
Common Grackle
Moving on we hit the River Road. This unmade track runs down the edge of the river for about a mile culminating in a parking area and a trail that continues along the river bank.

River Road, Kent, the river is off to the right
Riverside trail
We were told that this place was good for migrant warblers and also had breeding Cerulean Warblers, which can be tough to see on migration. The warbler count wasn't good to be honest, we heard Worm-eating Warbler, but didn't see it, dozens of American Redstarts, the ubiquitous Yellow Warbler, Ovenbirds seemed to sing from every direction, Northern Parula put in an appearance, a pair of Black-and-white Warblers were nest building, and on the way out we saw a Louisiana Waterthrush.

Male Black-and-white Warbler

Female Black-and-white Warbler with nesting material

Louisiana Waterthrush

The undoubted star of the show though was the Male Cerulean Warbler who was holding territory over the car parking area. He sang loud and long the whole time we were there, keeping mostly to the upper branches but occasionally venturing lower allowing some photos to be taken. I had only ever seen one female before, so this felt very much like a tick.
Male Cerulean Warbler in song
Cerulean Warbler

Cerulean Warbler

Cerulean Warbler
Another highlight here was a Black-billed Cuckoo and that along with Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Pileated Woodpecker, singing Wood Thrush, Scarlet Tanager and Yellow-throated Vireo provided a few more lifers for Elis.
Black-billed Cuckoo
Wood Thrush in song
Along the riverbank trail we came across a family of Goosanders.

Male and female Goosander
Female with young on opposite bank
On the subject of lifers. Elis and I went a little further up Route I-9 from Kent upon Julian's suggestion once more and visited an area along Great Hollows Road. This is a skiing area and there is some pretty good habitat there too. We stopped at a point where Julian thought we may be lucky with Alder Flycatcher, and indeed we were, thus I got my one and only lifer of the trip.
Alder Flycatcher, my only tick! Exciting or what?
At the same spot there was a family of Killdeers with quite well developed young, we had our first Yellow-rumped Warbler and we saw two Wood Duck in flight. A little further on we came across our only Eastern Bluebirds of the trip.
Adult Killdeer

Young Killdeer

Eastern Bluebird
On our final stop over in Kent along the River Road we finally managed to catch up woth the Worm-eating Warbler, but the Cerulean Warbler was not nearly as obliging as before.

The wonderfully named Worm-eating Warbler

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