Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shoreside Damage, and Blurry Rare Birds

I had a lovely walk at Silver Sands State Park this morning, although I had to renavigate a bit when I ran into a problem with the path. Oops... can't go that way!

This walkway used to continue off to the right and slope down to sand level, but not anymore! Superstorm Sandy really did a number on this park, tearing down whole stretches of the boardwalk (which was only put up in the past few years, I think). It's still possible to access the rest of the beach from the other end of the park, but clearly some work will have to be done. I wonder when and how they'll rebuild the walkway.

I saw lots of active birds on and near the beach, including several American Black Ducks and Mallards bathing in the marsh's high water -- I'm actually still amazed at how different these two species look when they're right next to each other, since at one point I would have easily confused an American Black Duck for a female Mallard:

Several sparrows were hanging around, including this American Tree Sparrow, a cute winter resident who I was happy to welcome back to the area:

On the beach, an adult Cooper's Hawk flew over my head:

The last bird sighting I have to share is a first for me: an honest-to-goodness vagrant. Cave Swallows live year-round in Texas, Mexico, and the Caribbean (that's their range in the field guides), but under the right weather conditions, they can get blown around and end up at the Great Lakes as well as along the northeast coast at this time of year. In fact, several people have reported seeing Cave Swallows on the Connecticut coast over the past few days, so it seems that the right weather conditions are happening now. And lo and behold, as I was wandering around this morning, I saw a group of about five Cave Swallows swooping high above the marshes -- I gotta think these southern birds weren't too happy with the freezing-cold temperature! Here's my super blurry documentation picture (my Loch Ness monster picture, if you will) -- it's not much to look at, but you can see the pale red rump contrasting with dark wings, which at least helps prove what I saw:

I guess you really just never know what creatures will show up next!

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