We have one more week in which to collect data for the winter atlas this season. Should you need inspiration to head outside, and see what you can find, read this short piece that Dave Provencher – regional coordinator for the southeast Connecticut region – recently posted on the Connecticut Audubon Facebook page.
“The air was cold and still this morning as I walked through the forest in eastern Connecticut. The frozen trail was hard as concrete and my boots made satisfying thuds as I walked. Once again I was out counting birds for the Connecticut Bird Atlas project. The forest was quiet except for the calls of Tufted Titmouses, Black-capped Chickadees, and White-throated Sparrows. Many woodland species that winter here form mixed flocks and move about the forest foraging together. I had already tallied some interesting species. The rich red and gray of Fox Sparrows always thrills me, and I had found several with a small flock of Juncos and White-throated Sparrows. Brown Creepers, perfectly camouflaged, crept upward circling the trunks of trees searching out the hidden insects they need to survive. I stopped and listened to the bird calls trying to identify everything. After a few moments I “pished” to bring everything into view and something big flew out of the trees and alit on a branch near me. A Barred Owl had heard me and instantly flew in to see what it had heard, and no doubt to see if it was suitable to eat! I raised my camera and got off a few shots while the owl appraised me. Soon the bird flew off to a higher perch further away from me and began to ignore me as it scanned for prey. Apparently I was too big a morsel. Nearby a Red Squirrel barked nervously. It was a the kind of day in the forest that makes you feel truly alive. As I continued my surveying it started to snow tiny snowballs, neither flake nor sleet. The frozen vernal pools soon looked polka-dotted with tiny white balls resting on the crystalline surfaces. In the distance the croak of a Raven made me feel very much at home here among trees.
The Connecticut Bird Atlas needs your help. The Late Winter period is rapidly passing. A walk in the woods can do wonders for a soul, or a stroll through the neighborhood, and you can do good some good as well. Wherever you are in Connecticut, you can help. Please visit the website at http://www.ctbirdatlas.org/ and see how you can help our birds. You do not need to be an expert, far from from it. All you need to do is care, and go for a walk…”