Monday, April 25, 2016

Connecticut. We Are Here. Well, we were.

Last we left you we had made a few stops along the coast of New Jersey.  Knowing that the craziness of Newark and the outlying areas of NYC were ahead of us, we made a beeline for the quiet of Connecticut.

                    Crossing the GW Bridge into the Manhattan Mahem.

The Audubon has quite a few preserves and bird sanctuaries in CT (19 of them).  We had plans to visit several along our travel route.  Our first Walmart wake-up presented some promising discoveries with these colorful Rock Doves prancing around.



We headed out for the day to explore the Bird Craft Museum Sanctuary.  This was the first private bird sanctuary in the United States.  The museum is currently closed for renovations which left a walk around the well laid out gardens and sanctuary area. 

2016-04-23 Conecticut, Fairfield - Bird Craft Museum Sanctuary - Water Scene
We did not, however, see many birds and the sanctuary sits literally on the edge of I-95 which tended to drown out the tiny peepers.  The museum and education center here does a world of good though and when open is worth a look around.

Looking for a more 'natural' experience, we made a run for what we hoped would be a more isolated-feeling sanctuary; The Coastal Center at Milford Point. 

                                          Ah.... Now, this is more like it.

Just 50 yards from the van we headed out to an overlook on the salt marsh side of the preserve and spotted our first new bird of the day.

                                                       Brant Geese

These birds breed in the high Arctic tundra and winter along the northern reaches of both U.S. coastlines.  No other geese nest as far north as the Brant, and few migrate as far.  Thanks to the binoculars Nicole's brother loaned us, we were fortunate to catch a distant glimpse of these stragglers. 


It was super windy on the river side.  So, we took a stab at the part of the preserve that is on the Long Island Sound.  It was way more pleasant over there and we spent hours walking on the sand, exploring the shells and watching the birds.

                        We found this really neat Spiny Spider Crab shell.

Whelk Shell Egg Cases were everywhere but for some reason we didn't get a photo.  Here's one pilfered from the inter-web.

compare pear lightning whelk egg case chains
                                         Whelk Shells and Egg Cases

As we walked, we gazed across the water at a spit where a lot of gulls were hanging out.  Darlene spotted something the looked like a black lump sitting in the sand and with the binoculars we confirmed that it was indeed a bird.

          Not just any bird.  This was our first American Oystercatcher sighting.

         These beautiful birds were near the top of Nicole's 'I'd like to see' list.

The contrast of black and white with a bright red bill and reddish yellow eye make this a real beauty.

One of the other things we spotted across the way with our binoculars looked to be a bench.  Since it was closer to the Oystercatchers we thought we'd walk over and have a seat for a while.

Not exactly the bench we thought we had seen.  More like ocean trash.  But, it worked.

How many birds do you see in this photo?  None.  Right?  That's what we thought until the rocks started to move!

Here's the same exact photo zoomed to show the FOUR moving rocks - aka Sanderlings.  We even numbered above each bird to help you out.

             This was some of the best camouflage in nature we've ever seen.


As much as we enjoyed this sanctuary area, we found a lot of Connecticut to be busier than we had anticipated.  So, we moved across it faster than we had planned.  Although as we traveled east it did quiet down, we also got more and more excited to get to Rhode Island. 

And, that is where you will find us next time.  Or at the very least where you will find our blog.