Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New Birds on a Late Summer Woods Walk

Well, they've finished filming that giant-fish-eating-people movie at Naugatuck State Forest! I made my return to those woods this morning, and except for a few tire tracks, you'd really never know a film crew was set up there for weeks. I was pleasantly surprised at how unchanged the place was, actually. Go film crew!

Anyway, the place was just as awesome as always, with lots of wildlife out and about. That thing happened where I got stuck standing in one spot for half an hour, because a constant stream of various birds just would not stop passing through. This time, that spot was on a little bridge over a stream, with tall conifers on one side and small leafy shrubs on the other, and birds were going crazy all over.

Among those birds was this sweet little Northern Waterthrush -- a type of warbler -- who sat bobbing its tail in the brush over the stream and chirping at me:

I've seen Louisiana Waterthrushes in these woods a few times before -- they look very similar to Northern Waterthrushes, but have brighter white eyebrows and an unstriped throat -- but this is my first time seeing this species. The close view made the encounter extra cool.

And another awesome bird was climbing up and down the tree trunks nearby -- a Red-breasted Nuthatch:

Red-breasted Nuthatches appear year-round in Connecticut, but they're much less common than White-breasted Nuthatches, and I'd never seen any around here at all until I happened to spot a few passing through the trees in our yard a couple of weeks ago. I'm so used to seeing White-breasted Nuthatches, and these birds are quite dainty in comparison -- they're just as talkative, though! And after years of never seeing Red-breasted Nuthatches, of course, I saw them several times during today's walk. :P

Update 9/13/12: According to this post from the Connecticut Audubon Society's blog, we're currently experiencing an irruption of Red-breasted Nuthatches in Connecticut, meaning that (for whatever reason) there are many more of these birds in the area now than there have been in previous years. That would definitely explain why I'm seeing them now when I'd never seen them before!

I'm kind of in love with these birds, actually, and I wish I could meet them more often. I think their stripey heads are very cool looking, from any angle:

I hope to see you around again someday, little bird!

While watching the birds in this spot, I got distracted by some other things in the trees, too. This moth was doing a pretty good job at camouflage, and I think it's a type of underwing, so it probably could've broken its cover pretty dramatically if it had wanted to:

Higher up, an active paper wasp nest hung from another tree -- I could see the wasps going in and out, and I was glad that I was down on the ground:

I have one last sight from today's walk to share. Is that rock moving?

This location for the film suddenly seems appropriate, because there's definitely something lurking under the water. Two somethings, in fact!

It'd better be two, actually -- not even considering the two heads in the previous picture, I'd rather not consider the possibility of a Common Snapping Turtle this big:

(Really, though, I'm pretty tickled by these two snapping turtles hanging out together. They seem like such solitary creatures, and I love the idea of snuggling snappers.)

Hooray for a fun woods walk, as summer comes to a close.


  1. I wonder if those snapping turtles weren't engaging in mating activity. It seems unlikely they'd be hanging out together for any other reason. What do you think?

    My Audubon reptile guide says they breed from April to November, and that hatchlings in temperate climates can overwinter in the nest.

    1. I was wondering about that! I think mating activity sounds like the most plausible reason for two snapping turtles to be associating so closely, and thanks for the supporting research. Very cool!