May 20, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 16 December 2010 12:30
One of the more unusual problems birders face is being considered potential terrorists.
Airports happen to be great places to spot many kinds of interesting birds. For instance, Snowy Owls are regularly seen in winter at Logan Airport in Boston, and many unusual species of grassy flatlands-loving birds are seen at the Stratford airport. Both are near the ocean.
Now comes word of a rare sighting at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks of a Mountain Bluebird, typically found in the region around the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. and Canada. The airport is not only a commercial airline stop, but also home of the Connecticut Air National Guard.
Someone spotted the Mountain Bluebird there last week, and birders from all over the region began descending on the airport.
The state police, in charge of airport security, apparently flipped out."A group of us were at Bradley at 7 a.m. and promptly were told to leave by a very hostile police person,” Sara Zagorski told a birding network, sponsored by the Connecticut Ornithological Association. “As Bill Asteriades and Jamie Meyers were walking back to the Fire Academy, they found the bird perched in a tree by the road. We got the group — Nick Bonomo and Jim Dugan — together for a fast look before the same, very angry policeman started yelling at us.
“So you can drive and try to see it, but don’t get out of the car,” Sara wrote.
Roy Harvey of the birding network said, “The situation with the state police telling birders to leave, though they were walking on what appears to be a public road, is confusing and unfortunate, but the problem is very real. Some people saw the bird between passes by the police, at least one saw it by driving past over and over (without stopping or getting out of the car) until it was seen perched on the perimeter fence. The last reports were that the police were very serious and it was not a good idea to go for the bird.”
Birder Jim Dionne felt that the police were just doing what they are supposed to be doing — protecting the airport and the people working and flying there.
“I’m surprised that the access road is open to the public,” Jim wrote the group. “A lot of airports only permit authorized vehicles on their access roads. I’m a photographer and was recently challenged in Charleston, S.C., for photographing the bridge on Port Authority property. There were no signs stating I couldn’t be there. The police just told me I couldn’t be there. He was very nice about it. Probably the Connecticut plates gave him the nice feeling.
“With today’s terrorism climate, even an innocent birder or photographer could be a terrorist documenting their next target. I guess we have to live with the no-approach zones.”
Ted Ogonek of Stamford has been following the woodpecker vs. houses discussion and reports, “I have many years experience with the problem of woodpeckers attacking the cedar shingles on my ranch house. They make holes in the gable ends, never under the overhangs. I have reshingled part of my house but they drilled onto them also.
“Your article of Dec. 4, mentions some deterrents I tried plus plastic owls etc. After a while they become used to them.
“My latest invention is black, plastic netting hung on small brass screw hooks placed about two feet apart in the rake board or rake board molding at the roof.”
He said it comes in two weights and can be purchased in a nursery. “The lighter weight is less visible,” he said, adding the netting “has been up most of this year and so far it works.”
Stamford-Greenwich Christmas Bird Count, Sunday, Dec. 19, pre-dawn to 5 p.m., Greenwich Audubon, call Ted Gilman to join a counting team, 203-869-5272 x230; info at www.audubon.org/bird/cbc
“First Sundays,” bird walks open to all ages and skills, at Greenwich Point, with Meredith Sampson, first Sunday of the month, through May, 9 a.m. sponsored by Wild Wings, Inc., Bruce Museum and Audubon Greenwich, 203-637-9822.
Copyright 2010 by Jack Sanders. Send sightings or comments to: jackfsanders [at sign] yahoo.com, or to Bird Notes, Box 1019, Ridgefield, CT 06877; or call 203-438-1183, extension BIRD (2473), and leave a message with your report, spelling your first and last names and telling us your town. If you need help identifying a bird, try your local nature center. If you find an injured bird, call wildlife rehabilitator Darlene Wimbrow of Redding, 203-438-0618, Wildlife in Crisis of Weston, 203-544-9913, or Wild Wings of Greenwich, 203-637-9822. The columnist’s website is www. sandersbooks. com.
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