Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Final Preparations for the "Chicken Run!"
I've started to think about packing as my co-leader and I prepare to head with a group to Colorado, visiting "chicken" leks including Lesser and Greater Prairie-Chicken, Greater Sage-Grouse, Gunnison Sage-Grouse, and Sharp-tailed Grouse. Dusky Grouse and White-tailed Ptarmigan are possibilities, too, the later found at elevation when driving from Denver to Vail via Loveland Pass at over 12,000 feet. It really is a grand adventure, touting spectacular mountain scenery flanked by inspirational prairie lands. We live in a great country that offers many off-the-beaten-path gems to explore. AG

Friday, March 21, 2014

We have been expanding our services here at the EcoTravel office by ramping-up our optics sales and now carrying the NEW Second Edition of The Sibley Guide to the Birds. Give us a call if you need a binocular upgrade or would like more info an selecting the best binocular for your budget.

Our eagle boats are running, finally, after all the ice in the river has cleared. We will be extending the season to the end of April with numerous Eagle/Osprey cruises offered.

This weekend will be a busy one, attending a Sibley book signing in Mystic tonight, a Tanzania reunion party tomorrow, and giving a presentation on Cuba up in Pomfret, Sunday afternoon. Spring is coming!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In The Office

(Bald Eagle and Bullhead - Mark Jankura)

A crew from NBC Connecticut dropped by yesterday afternoon, with reporter Doug Greene, a kind and interested fellow. They were asking about the recent "fish kill" that occurred on the lower Connecticut River, creating a larger concentration of Bald Eagle in an area that historically has few. A couple of thousand 18 to 20 inch Striped Bass got caught up a shallow creek by a cold snap and an unusually low tide. The fish just could not survive the extremely low water temperatures which led to a buffet of fish for eagles and gulls. HERE IS THE LINK to the snippet that appeared on the news last night. Enjoy!   AG

Friday, November 22, 2013

I was just sent a great article on binoculars; how to choose the right one, suggested models, etc. I would like to share that article with you. LINK. When looking to purchase a binocular, I always say to establish your budget at its highest level and go from there, keeping in mind the old adage of "you get what you pay for" will ring-true true for binoculars. CAS EcoTravel is a dealer for binoculars and we can get you the best binocular, at the lowest price, that fits your budget. Call us at 860-767-0660, M-F, 830AM-430PM. We are happy to drop-ship to anywhere in the US so you can have your binocular in-hand in a matter of a few days.

Keeping Track

I was recently asked what I do for keeping records of all the birds I have seen over the years and through the many countries I've had the fortune to visit. Here are my thoughts on my record keeping.

After I am gone, there will likely be no one who will be interested in looking through an electronic record of what I saw. That is what eBird is for. So…I keep all my sightings in the field guide for that country or region. This way, when people look at what I saw, they can view the bird, too. For the countries where I have significant sightings, I have hard bound those field guides and created a uniform look to the collection. All volumes are green. Cost of binding the books is about $35 each. My North American life list is in the original Cornell, spiral bound life list book that came out sometime in the 80’s, now bound, without the spiral, like the others in the collection. This is also where I keep track of my Connecticut list and my yard list. My next book to be bound will be the one for the Pantanal as I have just completed my third trip there.

The only lists I have counted (so far) are the North American (focused on the continental 48 states), Connecticut list, and the most important…my yard list! The rest of the lists, I really don't care about. When I travel outside of the US, for some reason I have never thought about how many birds I can see. I have always, before the trip, found two or three birds I think would be cool to see, and I focus on them. I still really want to see an Ornate Hawk Eagle! Heard one once. And there is a really cool bird in the South Pacific called the Feline Owlet Nightjar! Awesome! I got to see that! If you don’t know this bird, Google it, and you will be hooked! Let me know if you want to join me!

So, that’s the listing world according to Andy! Lots of ways to fry these potatoes!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Vireos, Vireos, Vireos!
Connecticut has recently been experiencing an influx of vireos as the fall migration for song birds reaches flood stage. With approaching cold fronts, one is never sure of what will show. Below is a nice study in one of the not-so-easy identification puzzles one may run into in the field. The first three images below are by my friend John Schwarz at who enjoyed this PHILADELPHIA VIREO at Bluff Point in Groton. The same day, I captured some images of the similar bird at my patch in Ivoryton, in different light that might lead one to believe this to be a WARBLING VIREO. Consensus is that it is a Philadelphia. Lighting in the field as well as in camera images can be a real issue. Just because you got a good image doesn't mean the challenge ends! There is an excellent discussion of fall Warbling Vireo vs. Philadelphia Vireo at this LINK. Scroll down to photo #8. Think image #8 is a Warbling? Enjoy the challenge!  AG  

Nova Scotia: An Outstanding Fall Destination
I recently returned from what I think was my sixth trip up to Nova Scotia! This time the theme seemed to be "Eagles Everywhere!" We took advantage of great photo ops of adult eagles at close range as they retrieved fish from the back of a boat. The same day, travelers enjoyed views of over a 1,000 Atlantic Puffin and outstanding landscapes of sea and cliff. Clouds of shorebirds, extreme tides, pristine bog habitats, and grand hotels were the standard! We plan to repeat the trip next year. Each group is limited to five participants, so call soon.    AG

Friday, July 20, 2012

Black-billed Cuckoo Image by Wolfgang Wander

Listening to the Night
Just the other night, at about 1045PM, I heard one of the great sounds of summer, a night calling Black-billed Cuckoo! It is not too often that I have heard them at night, but it is always a fun event. It's always one of those "What the..." moments. The bird, in my yard, called for a solid hour. Got to love it!  AG

Friday, July 6, 2012

Getting Ready!!!
The shorebirding season is just starting and so it's time to get ready to head for one of the Meccas of the discipline, the Bay of Fundy. The extensive mud and sand flats that make-up the Bay at low tide (50 foot tides in some places), are an indispensable fueling ground for hundreds of thousands of sandpipers, turnstones, dowitchers, and other shorebirds, so much so, that one can sometimes literally see "carpets" of birds standing shoulder-to-shoulder.

This year I have a wonderful group of faithful Connecticut Audubon Society EcoTravel patrons joining the adventure. We will be flying into and meeting in Halifax, make our way to the Bay of Fundy, travel out on the Bay and to the northern end of Minas Bay, and then explore the northern tip of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, a unique and wild place on its own, with lots of Moose, grouse, whales, and grand hotels!

If I have the chance, I will post entries while on the trip. Let me know if you are watching!