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Saybrook Sightings

Winter 2015/16

seal

What an unusual start to winter we are having. For those interested in birds and especially waterfowl, Old Saybrook, is a premier winter birding site due to its location at both the end of the CT River, and Long Island. Once ponds and lakes freeze up north, birds move south to open water.

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Video taken by Joe Nochera, around Town.

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Winter 2015/16

seal

What an unusual start to winter we are having. For those interested in birds and especially waterfowl, Old Saybrook, is a premier winter birding site due to its location at both the end of the CT River, and Long Island. Once ponds and lakes freeze up north, birds move south to open water.

 In the winter, besides a fantastic array of waterfowl, Essex, Old Lyme, and Old Saybrook become one of the best Eagle viewing areas in the Northeast. It is very rare this winter that I drive what I call the “circuit” (North and South Cove, Knollwood, the beaches), and don’t see at least 2-3 Eagles. Just look up or across the river to Old Lyme. We now have 3-5 pairs of resident eagles living year-round near us. 

Also, this time of year is the best time to see Northern Harriers. This Hawk will float or “kite” over our marshes on the prowl for birds, rodents, and other small mammals. Look for the owl-like face.

harriers

We also have a pair a Peregrine Falcons that reside under the Baldwin Bridge. The fastest animals in the world-they can reach speeds of over 200 mph in a dive.Look up in the big towers or on top of the concrete bridge supports.

Harbor Seals at back off the town beach. All you need to see them is low tide with some sunshine, and a pair of binos.

Common everywhere- Mallards, Black Ducks, Mute Swan, Canada Geese,

North Cove- Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Greater Scaup, Red Throated Loon are all common winter visitors. More rare are Lesser Scaup, and  Canvasbacks,

Rarities seen recently –Tufted Duck.

South Cove- All of the above plus American Widgeon, Green-Winged Teal, Gadwall, American Coot,

Rarities-Eurasian Widgeon, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Red Head,

This is also one of the best spots to see Snowy Owl which has started showing up in CT regularly this year and last.

snowy

(Photo by Hank Golet)

And amazingly we had 3 White Pelicans that hung out in South Cove for 3 days right after Christmas.

pelican

(Photo by Anders Ogren Photography)

 

CT River- Both Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Long Tailed Duck, Bufflehead,

Pied-Billed Grebe, Both Common and Red throated loons

Rarities- Red Necked Grebe,

RNgrebe

Long Island Sound- (Knollwood, Cornfield Point, Town Beaches)

Red Breasted Mergansers, both loons, Horned Grebe, Brant, All 3 species of Scoters, Greater Scaup,

Rarities-Common Murre, Eider,

Maynards Pond and Chalker Mill- Hooded Mergansers, Wood ducks, Am. Coots, Teal, Ring-necked Ducks.

hoodedmerg

Rarities- Maynard’s Pond on Ingham Hill road is known for the rare birds that show up there. This fall a Cattle Egret visited for a couple of weeks. Last week a female Northern Shoveler was seen on our Christmas Bird Count. 

Talking about our Christmas Count which we did Jan. 3, we had 90 species of bird tallied in Old Saybrook, in one day! (To put this in perspective, when I started birding it took me almost 3 years to get to 100 birds). This shows what a great birding site Old Saybrook is in the winter-it also shows what a lousy birder I was way back when.

--John Ogren (OSLT Nature Guy)