Monday, August 25, 2014

Come By For a Visit!

My dear friend, traveler, and EcoTravel supporter Diana Atwood Johnson has been impressing the public for years with her bird and wildlife photography. In addition to being a talent behind the lens, she is also the author of a fabulous book titled “Swallow Tales” all about the avian phenomenon that appears nearly in her backyard every fall. Diana is a talented photographer and writer and we know you will fall in love with her work. There is no pressure to purchase a piece so please just stop by for some food, drink, and comaraderie while you enjoy the exhibit.

Diana has been kind enough to dedicate one night’s proceeds of her exhibit sales to benefit Connecticut Audubon Society EcoTravel when she and I will be co-hosting this wonderful event on Thursday, August 28th 5:30-7:30pm. There will be both framed photographs and works on canvas ranging in size from 9” x 6” to 40” x 36”. The prices of these photographs are very reasonable and will make a fabulous accent to any home or office or make a great gift for your favorite nature enthusiast. As well as a variety of bird-themed pieces, Diana is also exhibiting her large mammal photographs taken while visiting Etosha National Park in Namibia.

We hope you will join us for this special event and if you cannot make it that evening, please take the time to stop by the exhibit at the Sill Gallery of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Old Lyme (84 Lyme Street – Exit 70 off of Route 95). The Bird’s Eye View exhibit ends August 30th.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Armchair Birding


I went out last night to listen for any in-flight migrants heading north over my yard with intentions of bolstering my yard list with a Solitary Sandpiper or something equally as fun. The skies were quiet, overcast, and looking a bit unfriendly. So, I went back in and turned on the TV to watch the final round of the NCAA National Golf Championship being held in Kansas. I like the golf but the big bonus is the birdsong in the background and it was the best I have ever heard! I called my buddy Jay Hand in Arizona, got him on the TV and we set out birding from our armchairs, in KANSAS. We tallied about 20 species including Summer Tanager and a Bell's Vireo. Not too bad! The question arose as to if hearing a bird through a live broadcast was legit birding, with the thought that it was just an electronic device like a super hearing aid. And, should we be posting our list on eBird? Makes sense to me! Oh, I am sure there could be some thoughts on this from the birding community! It was loads of fun birding with my buddy in Kansas (while he was in Arizona and I in Connecticut)! Give it a try and let me know how you do! If we could just get the commentators to stop talking, we could do so much better!  AG

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


Retailing
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

Binoculars
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 www.birdspix.com 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