June 4: This morning the New Haven Bird Club conducted a walk at White Memorial in Litchfield, one of Connecticut’s most well-known birding sites. The 4000 acres here includes many different habitats, from wetlands to mixed deciduous and conifer forests. The species count totaled sixty-nine including both singing Willow and Alder Flycatchers, with the morning’s highlights being a fledgling Barred Owl and a Pileated Woodpecker chick peering out of its nest hole.
The afternoon featured a specially arranged tour of the nearby Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy, a unique facility founded especially to husband and breed mainly rare or threatened ducks, geese, and swans. Here one can study the habits of some elusive species one might otherwise never get the chance to see in the wild, such as Baikal Teal, Falcated Duck, Whooper Swan, Spectacled Eider, and many others. I had seen a few Spectacled Eiders in Gambell and Nome in 2012, but at that time of year (early October) they were just fleeting distant in-flight views. Here these exotic-looking ducks, in their full breeding plumage, can be fully appreciated up close. The facility is open to the public on weekends and is well worth the trip.