belted kingfisher

Backyard River Birds

As I was doing dishes this morning, I looked out the window at the river and saw a little Merganser diving for fish. On a whim, I grabbed my camera and snuck down to the edge of the river to try to grab a shot of him Unfortunately, I moved too quickly, and he spooked and flew upriver.

However, a Belted Kingfisher was perched on the power lines that cross the river, and while I was trying to take a picture of some Mergansers coming down the river, I heard the Kingfisher hit the water after a fish. While I didn't catch the entry, I did catch him as she flew toward me to perch on a stick and eat his meal.

And eat it he did. My best guess is that this is a male juvenile Kingfisher. Males have a single blue chest band, and females have the blue chest band with an additional chestnut band further down the belly. Since juveniles can have a mix of chestnut and blue in their upper band, I think the single band on this bird makes him male.

It was quite a piece of luck to come out to shoot a Merganser and end up with a Kingfisher flying toward me with a fish in his mouth. This might be a good time to mention that clicking pictures will blow them up to the full size of your browser window.

And, with a little bit of patience after the Kingfisher flew off, I even got a nice shot of some Hooded Mergansers coming down the river.

Sign up with your email address to receive an e-mail notification when there is a new entry in the Journal.

* indicates required

Friends and Peeps

Jeremy and Ben joined me today for another outing on the Hammonasset River. It was, after all, Jeremy’s idea in the first place. We rented them kayaks at a place on the river and then paddled up almost to Jeremy’s house and back down.

The last couple of miles of the river are essentially a grassy tidal flat, so the lowering tide exposed lots of mud on the banks.

I originally thought this guy was a Sanderling, but I’m not wonderful at identifying peeps, and now I’m not so sure. It’s nice that he and his friends were so cooperative about letting me take a series of pictures that could be reviewed later.

He’s definitely in the Calidris genus, but that’s where it gets more tricky.

If it’s not a Sanderling, which its brown color and face marks make less likely, it’s either a White-rumped or Least Sandpiper. I was able to rule out lots of the similar peeps based on the color of the legs (many candidates have black legs and could be ruled out), the size, the location (CT seacoast) and the behavior, but I’m really stuck between these last two. Pretty guy, nonetheless.

After reviewing the photos together, my dad and I have decided pretty firmly that these guys are Least Sandpipers.
We also got a chance to see a pair of Belted Kingfishers scoping the river for their lunch. They were a bit wary of us, so we never got too close. Fortunately, as they’re the only CT Kingfisher, they were an absurdly easy ID.

Ospreys are also an easy bird to shoot, but this one had half an enormous fish up with him in his tree, so I had a good time trying to frame the shot with the tree.

This guy is an old friend, the Saltmarsh Sparrow. There’s really nothing else it could be, but I worry that I may be wrong anyway, since all the entries I’ve read on these guys talk about their secretive behavior, and the two I’ve met have been quite unconcerned about my boat as it drifts closer and closer.

The crabs are definitely some kind of Fiddler Crab, but if you take a second and look up that genus of crabs, you’ll find a dizzying array of species. I gave up after a few minutes.

Regardless of the species, I like the composition of the shot.

Sign up with your email address to receive an e-mail notification when there is a new entry in the Journal.

* indicates required