Westport CT Christmas Bird Count 2014

Cedar Waxwing, with Juniper berry, winter, migrant, Hamonassett SP, Madison, CT. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Cedar Waxwing, with Juniper berry, winter, migrant, Hamonassett SP, Madison, CT. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Westport, CT CBC Christmas Bird Count Sunday, December 21, 2014.

This year is the 68th Annual Westport Christmas Bird Count, and the 115th Anniversary of the National Audubon CBC concept. This fall has been pretty exciting for Connecticut birders with a number of unusual species being seen in our area. CBC participants are looking forward to finding the unusual and the commonplace too, as all birds count on a CBC.

The CBC tradition has volunteer bird watchers at all levels of experience spend all or part of one day, around the holiday season, going out into the field in various locations within the local Count Circle. Teams of observers will canvas many local hot spots.  The object is to identify and count each species of bird they see and to record how many of each type they see in one day.

The Westport CT Christmas Bird Count is conducted during a 24-hour period (rain, sleet, snow, or shine) from midnight to midnight, Sunday, December 21th, 2014. The intent of the count is to locate, identify, and count all wild birds found within a 15-mile diameter count circle, centered at Westport’s twin Bridges on Route 57. The Westport Count also includes Norwalk, Weston, Easton, Fairfield and New Canaan. Small groups of birdwatchers, led by a Captain, scour pre-assigned territories in order to maximize coverage. Others conduct backyard feeder counts in the same areas. Data collected (as well as totals from 18 other counts in Connecticut) is submitted to the National Audubon Society.

Count participants (observers) range in birding ability from pigeon-feeders to “Olympic Champions”. ALL ARE WELCOME TO PARTICIPATE. Westport CBC Count Week is Thursday 12/18 through Wednesday 12/24. Generally experienced birders are paired with those who have less experience. Most observers start looking for birds at sunrise (7am), but some go out several hours earlier searching for owls and rails. Some make a daylong affair, land & boat., others participants for just two or three hours. Field activity tends to wind down at sundown.

Remember the CBC is supposed to be fun, so stay safe. Drive carefully; watch your step, stay off private property unless arrangements have been made, wear appropriate clothing and footwear. If you are just getting started in birding or have tons of experience and think you want to join a CBC field team.

  • Contact: Mardi Dickinson – Westport CBC Compiler & Captain
  • Email: mardi1d@gmail.com
  • Tel: 203-846-0359.

For additional information about the Westport CT CBC Christmas Bird Count 2014 Backyard Birds Feeder PDF list Click Here. Christmas Bird Count Attire Click Here. Christmas Bird Count History Click Here

Backyard Feeder Counts: Some birders also choose to stay home, but they too can participate by observing their backyard bird feeders and counting local visitors. These counts have certain guidelines but are welcome additions to the science that 113 years of continuous data collection supported by the National Audubon Society.  Feeder forms can be obtained by clicking here on Westport CT Backyard Bird Feeder Form. 

The CBC results are published in AMERICAN BIRDS online magazine along with the input from 2200 other counts conducted nationwide and throughout the Americas. This is the longest running annual census of bird populations in the country, thanks to over 63,000 thousand birdwatchers who volunteer their efforts.

After the count this year the Westport CT CBC observers then will gather at 6pm to tally the results and join in on a potluck dinner celebration to discuss the highlights of the day.

Posted in Connecticut, CT Birding News, Science | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to our family and friends around the world.

~ Mardi and Townsend

Turkey, late spring, backyard, East Norwalk, CT. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Turkey, late spring, backyard, East Norwalk, CT. ©Townsend P. Dickinson. All Rights Reserved.

Thanksgiving

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Posted in Conservation, Kymry | Tagged , | 2 Comments

NEW Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

 

NEW Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM. Annouced by Canon U.S.A on November 10, 2014.

NEW Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM. Annouced by Canon U.S.A on November 10, 2014.

It’s official, the NEW Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM has just been announced.  This is the last in the L Series of the White lenses to be updated in the Canon family.  A long awaited lens that has many new features describes below. This lens for many will be a go to lens for carrying around for many types of photography situations. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM Super-Telephoto Zoom Lens is scheduled to be available in December 2014 for an estimated retail price of $2,199.00

The New Super-Telephoto Zoom Lens Delivers an Enhanced IS System Providing Four Shutter Speed Steps of Correction, a Rotation-Type Zoom Ring, and New Optical Element Formula to Help Maximize Image Quality.

MELVILLE, N.Y., November 10, 2014 ─ Canon U.S.A., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced the highly anticipated  Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM lens, a second generation compact super-telephoto zoom lens featuring significant advancements in optical quality, image stabilization performance up-to-four steps, and rotating-zoom-ring design. This new L-series super- telephoto zoom lens features Canon L-series weather resistance and rugged magnesium housing to meet the needs of wildlife and sports photographers or photojournalists working out in the elements. Fully compatible with all EOS cameras, the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM features a completely redesigned optical formula containing one Fluorite and one Super UD lens element ─ a combination unique to lenses in this focal range ─ to help deliver sharp images with high resolution and contrast. This combination of elements helps thoroughly suppress chromatic aberration throughout the entire zoom range.

NEW Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM. Canon U.S.A. Melville, N.Y., Nov 10, 2014.

NEW Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM. Canon U.S.A. Melville, N.Y., Nov 10, 2014.

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM is the logical evolution of the very popular EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM introduced 16 years ago,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, President and COO of Canon U.S.A., Inc., “This long awaited, next generation lens was developed to be a highly portable and adaptable telephoto zoom lens for today’s modern professional and advanced amateur photographers.”

For photographers who want to work as closely as possible to their subjects, the minimum focusing distance of the lens has been reduced to just 3.2 ft. (0.98m), resulting in maximum magnification of 0.31x.  The original EF  100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM was well known for its push-pull zoom adjustment, but the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM uses a rotation-type zoom ring similar to the one found on the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens that allows for more precise adjustments, easier handling, and consistently excellent weight balance during handheld photography. In addition, the lens features an improved zoom torque adjustment ring that allows for the easy setting of zoom tension based on personal shooting preferences. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM also features an inner focusing system, a powerful yet quiet Ring USM, a high-speed CPU and optimized auto focus (AF) algorithms for fast and accurate autofocusing in various shooting situations.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II MTF Chart - Click for Larger

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II MTF Chart

NEW Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM. Canon U.S.A. Melville, N.Y., Nov 10, 2014.

NEW Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM.

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM features three Image Stabilization (IS) modes ─ standard, panning, and during exposure only.  Each IS mode is individually engineered to help provide outstanding results in a wide variety of shooting situations, and all serve to satisfy the personal preferences of photographers based on the type of IS they desire. The optical IS provides up to four shutter speed steps of correction, increased from 1.5 steps in the previous model*. In addition, the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM features Canon’s newly developed Air Sphere Coating (ASC) which helps to reduce backlit flaring and ghosting significantly, as well as a 9-bladed circular aperture Electro-Magnetic Diaphragm that helps to enhance beautiful, softly blurred backgrounds.

ET-83D Lens Hood which allows easy access to your filters such as a Circular Polarizer.

ET-83D Lens Hood which allows easy access to your filters such as a Circular Polarizer.

As with all L-series lenses, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM is highly resistant to dust and water, with excellent durability in even harsh conditions, ideal for wildlife photographers even in rainforest environments, or sports photographers on the sideline grabbing action shots of the big game. Fluorine coating on the front and rear surfaces of the lens can repel dust particles and water droplets. It also makes smears and fingerprints easy to remove without the use of lens cleaning fluid. Included with the lens is the new ET-83D lens hood, that features a cleverly placed and convenient side window allowing the user to easily adjust specialty filters while the lens hood remains in place. In addition, the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM is equipped with a newly designed detachable tripod mount which can be removed to reduce weight during handheld operation.

NEW Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM. Canon USA Announces November 10, 2014.

NEW Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM. Canon USA November 10, 2014.

Posted in Photo Equipment | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Salute to our Veterans

Today, We honor those American Veterans and Fallen Soldiers who have served in the Armed Forces.

Viet Nam Memorial, Viet Nam Veterans private visits, War Memorial, Danbury, CT. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson/ KymryGroup. All Rights Reserved.

Viet Nam Memorial, Viet Nam Veterans private visits, War Memorial, Danbury, CT. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson/KymryGroup. All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Viet Nam Memorial | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Preserve in Old Saybrook CT permanently protected

 

GREENWICH, CT – Audubon Connecticut, the state office of the National Audubon Society announces (CT/NY) “Governor Malloy’s announcement that the state will contribute $3.3 million to permanently protect the 1000 acre Preserve in Old Saybrook, Connecticut is the culmination of years of effort by local activists, elected officials, and leading conservation organizations, including Audubon Connecticut. We salute the leadership provided by the Trust for Public Land, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, and the Nature Conservancy—and we have been privileged to be part of the campaign to save this valuable parcel,” said Stewart Hudson, Executive Director of Audubon Connecticut.

“Audubon Connecticut’s mission is to protect birds and their habitat, and today’s announcement does both. It protects a critical forest block that provides habitat for imperiled species like the scarlet tanager and wood thrush. It enhances water quality in Plumbank Creek and its associated tidal marsh in Long Island Sound. It provides greater resiliency to the kind of storm events that we have seen all too often in Connecticut. And it is a special place for people and wildlife, one that will be recognized as such across the state.” He added, “We particularly recognize the Preserve as an area of ecological significance within the Atlantic Flyway, the avian superhighway used by birds during spring and fall migration each year that the National Audubon Society is working so hard to protect.”

“With Governor Malloy’s announcement today, and the support of federal, state and local officials, as well as citizen groups and our conservation partners, we are a significant step closer to ensuring that the children and families of CT – and the birds – will continue to enjoy The Preserve for generations to come. We congratulate the Governor for taking this historic step.”

Governor’s Announcement:

Gov. Malloy Announces Plan to Protect 1,000 Acres Along Long Island Sound as Open Space Agreement Will Preserve the Last Remaining Large, Unprotected Coastal Forest Between New York and Boston

Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced today a plan for the state to play a major role in purchasing and protecting as open space a 1,000-acre parcel along Long Island Sound known as The Preserve, which is located in the towns of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook.

“We will take action to make funds available for the state’s participation in the purchase of the property and to address issues concerning joint ownership and stewardship of the land with the Town of Old Saybrook, which will also be making a significant financial contribution,” said Governor Malloy. “The permanent protection of The Preserve has been a goal of the land conservation community across our state for more than 15 years and it’s time to act to achieve this important goal.”

Audubon Connecticut, the state office of the National Audubon Society with more than 10,000 members statewide, works to protect birds, other wildlife and their habitats using science, conservation, education and advocacy for the benefit of people and the earth’s biological diversity. Through our network of nature centers, protected wildlife sanctuaries and local volunteer Chapters, we seek to connect people to nature and inspire the next generation of conservationists.

                                                                       # # # # #

Posted in Audubon Connecticut, Conservation, CT News, State of Connecticut | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joel Greenberg on Passenger Pigeon

John James Audubon's portrait of a male and female passenger pigeon is the best know of any for the species. His classic The birds of America included 435 hand-collored plates and was released in four volumes between 1827 and 1838. These were accompanied by five volumes of text entitled Ornithological Biography. (From the collection of Garrie Landry). Courtesty of Bloomsbury USA, New York  Publisher. Joel Greenberg, author talk on "A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon's Flight To Extinction" at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. New Haven, CT. March 12, 2014. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson/KymryGroup.

John James Audubon’s portrait of a male and female passenger pigeon is the best know of any for the species. His classic  The birds of America included 435 hand-collored plates and was released in four volumes between 1827 and 1838. These were accompanied by five volumes of text entitled Ornithological Biography. (From the collection of Garrie Landry). Courtesy of Bloomsbury USA, New York Publisher. Joel Greenberg, author talk & book signing on “A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight To Extinction” at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. New Haven, CT on March 12, 2014.

Pigeon Rivers, Gone, But Not Forgotten.

On a recent late winter evening, in the magnificent lecture hall at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, we learned first hand about author Joel Greenberg’s fascination with the Passenger Pigeon. Mr. Greenberg has complied all that he could unearth on this subject into a book. A Feathered River Across the Sky by Joel Greenberg is a beautiful hardcover book published by Bloomsbury USA New York, that relates almost everything that can be pulled from historical sources on “The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction.” The Connecticut Audubon Society and The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies jointly sponsored this talk. CAS President Alexander R. Brash introduced the speaker.

Joel Greenberg, author talk on "A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon's Flight To Extinction" at School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. New Haven, CT. March 12, 2014. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson/KymryGroup™

Joel Greenberg, author talk & book signing on “A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight To Extinction” at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. New Haven, CT on March 12, 2014. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson/ KymryGroup™ All Rights Reserved.

It is a bit sad to realize that everything that is known about this bird that can be uncovered by a skilled and determined researcher can be contained in 286 pages including extensive notes, references and color plates. Martha, the last of her species died in 1914, 70 years before her death, there were most certainly in excessive of a billion Passenger Pigeons winging over the skies of Eastern North America.

Range Map of Passenger Pigeon. Joel Greenberg, author talk on "A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon's Flight To Extinction." at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. New Haven, CT. March 12, 2014. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson/KymryGroup™ 

Range Map of Passenger Pigeon. Joel Greenberg, author talk & book signing on “A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight To Extinction.” at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. New Haven, CT on March 12, 2014. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson/KymryGroup™ All Rights Reserved.

A few of the points from his talk about his book stood out and remain with me today. A John James Audubon contemporary recorded in his journal a flight of pigeons that darkened the sun and was continually moving overhead for a period of 4 days; extrapolation of the numbers from this passage produces a staggering figure in the billions of birds just in this one flock. They nested in huge concentrations. One of the last mass nesting contained perhaps a million birds, it was the last one observed and they were commercially extinct shortly there after. Trains and the telegraph made it possible for commercial harvesters to relentlessly follow the rivers of protein and deliver steady train-loads of barrels of pigeons to food markets in big cites.

Shooting Wild Pigeons in Northern Louisiana is based on a sketch by smith Bennett and apppeared in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News of July 3, 1875. Schorger consedered this picture to be particularly accurate (From the collection of Garrie Landry). Courtesy of Bloomsbury USA, New York Publisher. Joel Greenberg, author talk on "A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon's Flight To Extinction" at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. New Haven, CT. March 12, 2014. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson/KymryGroup

Shooting Wild Pigeons in Northern Louisiana is based on a sketch by smith Bennett and apppeared in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News of July 3, 1875. Schorger consedered this picture to be particularly accurate (From the collection of Garrie Landry). Courtesy of Bloomsbury USA, New York Publisher. Joel Greenberg, author talk & book signing on “A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight To Extinction” at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. New Haven, CT on March 12, 2014.

The life history and nesting habits of these birds were never studied. Few laws were passed to protect the species and any that were arrived to late to have an effect. The Passenger Pigeon was perhaps the most numerous species of bird on earth certainly in it’s day, it spoke to the richness of the North American ecosystem. However the living ecosystem even then was undergoing dramatic change by the hand of man through drainage of wetlands and loss of forests, and the pigeon was over and out by the time before anyone knew what was happening. Would such abundance even be allowed today; would it be classified as a pest in need of control?

l to r. Alex R. Brash President, CT Audubon Society, Joel Greenberg, author talk on "A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon's Flight To Extinction" at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. New Haven, CT. March 12, 2014. ©Mardi Welch  Dickinson/KymryGroup™All Rights Reserved.

l to r. Alex R. Brash President, CT Audubon Society, Joel Greenberg, author talk & book signing on “A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight To Extinction” at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. New Haven, CT. March 12, 2014. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson/KymryGroup™All Rights Reserved.

Clearly there are modern lessons from this extinction to be learned and applied if we have the moral conviction and fortitude to fight such battles in the face of apathy and financial interests. We only have to look at the “commercial” fish in the world’s oceans, once too vast to count, now dwindling to commercial extinction in many fisheries. Yet the unsustainable harvest goes on, after all there are people to feed and of course money to be made. Similarly but less obvious is the migrant bird loss proven without a doubt by the alarming studies began by Sidney A. Gauthreaux of Clemson who determined from spring radar studies from 1960’s to the 1980’s that the number of Neotropical migrants crossing the Gulf of Mexico were reduced by half during that period. Now you might say that there are still lots Neotropic migrants left, but losing perhaps one half of the avifauna flooding into North America in a short 20 years ought to set off alarm bells. Why are we not screaming for action? With such apathy, the question concerning modern Passenger Pigeons such as the fishes and common birds is will we do something or will our children be reading about another tragic loss in a hundred years that could have been prevented and wonder why nothing was done.

Audience member reads a poem she wrote about the Passsenger Pigeon Joel Greenberg, author talk on "A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon's Flight To Extinction" at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. New Haven, CT. March 12, 2014. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson/KymryGroup. All Rights Reserved.

Sharon Sweet, poet, reads her poem about the Passsenger Pigeon. Joel Greenberg, author talk & book signing on “A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight To Extinction” at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. New Haven, CT on March 12, 2014. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson/KymryGroup™ All Rights Reserved.

There were other Passenger Pigeon enthusiasts in the room such as poet Sharon Sweet.

Joel Greenberg, author booking signing and talk on "A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon's Flight To Extinction" at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. New Haven, CT. March 12, 2014. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson/KymryGroup™ All Rights Raserved.

Joel Greenberg, author booking signing and talk on “A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight To Extinction” at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, New Haven, CT on March 12, 2014. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson/KymryGroup™ All Rights Raserved.

Joel’s remarkable summary of the flight to extinction that saw the Passenger Pigeon’s population plummet from billions to zero in 40 years ought to make us think about our responsibilities today to those critters where it may not yet be too late to help. Get tough and regulate the fisheries. Make North America safe for migrants. Turn off the lights in your cites, consider where you place your wind turbines, and towers. Cover your toxic lakes. Promote contiguous forest patches. Create migrant safe zones all along the route to the breeding areas. Watch your application of any chemicals to the land and, most of all act responsively

Passenger Pigeon specimen. Ectopistes Migratarus North America. Coll. W.F.H. Rosenberg Edgwaro England 5591 from the Peobody Museum of Yale University.  Joel Greenberg, author talk & book signing on "A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon's Flight To Extinction" at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. New Haven, CT. March 12, 2014. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson/KymryGroup™ All Rights Reserved.

Passenger Pigeon specimen. Ectopistes Migratarus North America. Coll. W.F.H. Rosenberg Edgwaro England 5591 from the Peobody Museum of Yale University. Joel Greenberg, author talk & book signing on “A Feathered River across the Sky. The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight To Extinction” at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, New Haven, CT on March 12, 2014. ©Mardi Welch Dickinson/KymryGroup™ All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Bird Migration, Conservation, Environmental | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment