Twelve birders gathered at the Donald Barnes Boat Launch in Enfield for the first of seven visits to local boat launches along the Connecticut River. Tolerable temperatures, light winds and clear skies made for a near perfect day of birding.
Our first task of the morning was sorting through the two-thousand or so Canada Geese gathered along the far shore of the river. In time, our group was rewarded with sightings of not one, but two Barnacle Geese, a species typically found this time of year wintering in northwestern Europe. We were also fortunate enough to discover a drake Barrows Goldeneye among the constantly diving Common Goldeneye, three Bufflehead and seven Ring-necked Duck.
Of course, Bald Eagles showed well, at least ten birds were spotted between the Donald Barnes and nearby Kings Island boat launch. An odd sighting at the Kings Island boat launch were two Wild Turkey roosting high in the trees next to the eagles!
The State Boat Launch just south of the Dexter Coffin Bridge in Windsor provided birders with a nice view of an active Bald Eagle nest as well as a number of Common Merganser hunting for fish in open water.
The Bissel Bridge Boat Launch, also in Windsor, allowed a couple more distant Bald Eagle sightings and a Belted Kingfisher. But the highlight of the stop, and most surprising, was when a pair of Peregrine Falcon decided to perch in a dead tree right next to our group! The falcons were so obliging, people were even taking selfies with them! Both of these birds are alleged to have previously nested under this exact bridge.
Boat launch stops at Riverside Park and Charter Oak Landing in Hartford produced two Bald Eagles, Hooded Merganser, a variety of common gulls and one more Peregrine Falcon. Our last site, the Wethersfield Cove boat launch in Old Wethersfield, left us with an lasting image of an eagle soaring over a picturesque winter scene. A fitting way to end a successful day.
In addition to seeing great birds, this trip was designed to expose people to lesser known Hartford birding sites and an easier way to enjoy bird watching during harsh winter months.