New Haven, Connecticut
Sunday 19 January 2020 43 °F
As promised, today I took the Metro-North Railroad into Connecticut (a new state for me!) to chase a Pink-footed Goose that has been frequenting the area around the town of Orange, CT recently. If found, this goose would be a lifer for me! Unlike yesterday’s blizzard, it was a beautiful day to be out and about. The train ride into Connecticut included many river crossings:
After the train and a quick uber ride, the driver (who drove a beautiful Tesla!) dropped me off in the middle of the beautiful Connecticut countryside at a place called “Treat Farm” where the goose was seen yesterday.
Not a single goose was around. So, I decided to make the 45-minute trek along country roads to Lake Wanatauk, the other location where the goose has been fairly reliable for the past few weeks. Along the way, I saw more idyllic countryside, met a couple who pointed me in the right direction, and had a few common rural-area birds like CAROLINA WREN:
And WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH:
TUFTED TITMOUSE, a species that has been weirdly conspicuously absent from Manhattan this winter. Hopefully, the reason is a strong seed crop in other parts of their range!
DARK-EYED JUNCOS, another “winter bird” that is oddly scarce in Manhattan.
NORTHERN FLICKER, my first of the year:
HERMIT THRUSH, nice! Perhaps the most uncommon landbird today as Connecticut marks the far northern tip of their winter range.
Then, I arrived at the lake where there must have been upwards of 1,500 Canada Geese roosting at the far end. This picture gives a view of what I had to scope out:
Almost immediately, I picked out two strange geese in the middle of the flock: the left bird with its hefty bill is a textbook SNOW GOOSE while the bird on the right is an enigma. It has the extremely stubby bill of a Ross’ Goose, but lacks the clean white head that a dark-morph Ross’ Goose must have. In addition, the outer wing feathers appear to be white in coloration, reminiscent of a blue-morph Snow Goose, so I would say that this is almost definitely the SNOW X ROSS’ GOOSE hybrid that has also been noted to have been hanging out with the flock recently. What a cool bird!
It wasn’t my target Pink-footed though. I kept scanning; a few MALLARDS and a NORTHERN SHOVELER (center) were mixed in with the geese. Looking for this Pink-footed Goose was turning out to be quite the “needle-in-a-haystack” situation!
AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS with the geese.
GREAT BLUE HERON presiding over the flock.
This MUTE SWAN stuck out noticeably.
And I will always marvel at the beauty of a handsome RING-NECKED DUCK.
An inquisitive SONG SPARROW popped up in response to some “spishing.”
And HOODED MERGANSERS were a delight to see, diving and displaying for the female birds with their namesake hoods.
This PIED-BILLED GREBE was a nice surprise:
I birded part of the time with a couple named Stacy & Heidi, and they graciously offered me a ride back to the Metro-North. Thanks a million! Unfortunately, neither I nor any birder I talked to today had seen the Pink-footed Goose — huge bummer! This would have been a great lifer, but as I noted in yesterday’s post, part of being a birder is acknowledging and accepting the fact that there will be misses. They leave something for next time!
Bird-of-the-day to that hybrid goose with runner-up to the SNOW GOOSE. No awards for the missing Pink-footed!
World Life List: 1108 Species