Birding for the atlas in winter

Frank Gallo – author of the book Birding in Connecticut – has been one of our biggest contributors of data, especially from southwestern Connecticut where he has spent a lot of time visiting blocks that have no data. Here he writes about the pleasure of birding at sites he’d never even considered visiting until the atlas came along:

“Atlasing has taken me into many new areas I’d have otherwise never known about. I’ve discovered some real gems hidden within urban sprawl and residential neighborhoods. It has been enlightening to see the broad spectrum of species that seem to thrive around human habitation, especially in winter. On one early winter atlasing session, while walking a neighborhood near the New York border, I discovered a lingering Blue-headed Vireo, five species of woodpeckers, including a Pileated pillaging a dead ash in someone’s yard, and two Winter Wrens. On another day, in a nearby block, I had a Barred Owl respond to my hooting during broad daylight, along with two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers that arrived to see what the ruckus was about. Visiting atlas blocks has provided me a chance to explore without preconceived expectations; each day has been different, and many days were magical. It’s also been a great excuse for me to get out of the house for a bit of fresh air and exercise. I also did a mini Big January, trying to find as many species as I could within my atlas blocks, and plan to do it again next year.

If you haven’t taken the opportunity to try atlasing, now is a perfect time. The trees are free of leaves; visibility is unobscured, and birds are waiting to be found. This is a chance to make a real contribution to our understanding of Connecticut’s birdlife.”