Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Tropics In Connecticut

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Loading the car in the morning provided my first official Connecticut bird – an American Goldfinch, believe it or not.  Despite some GPS trouble, I made my way to Cove Island Park which is right on the waters of Long Island Sound.  Why there? 

Fork-tailed Flycatcher!  This cousin of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher has no business being anywhere north of Texas. But here it was in chilly New England. Was it a life bird?  No. I saw one in Ontario some years back (September 5, 1996, to be exact. Life Bird #375).  But, I basically figured “Look – if I am going to visit and bird Rhode Island and Connecticut, I should see the good stuff that is there.”  Originally, that was NOT the plan, but I changed it. 

In addition to stunning looks at a very cooperative flycatcher, the Monk Parakeets provided an interesting accent to an interesting morning.  The parakeets, with their crisp, glowing green feathers, are native to South America, but they are found breeding (and are therefore countable) in some major northern cities.    Two South American tropical birds on a chilly morning…in Connecticut.  Go figure.

Stops at Lighthouse Point Park and Hammonasset State Park were shockingly unproductive.  Knowing I needed to get back to the Cape for another go at Dovekie and the Black-headed Gull, I set off for Massachusetts again, via Sachuest National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island. Again. The place, while not at all huge, it THAT cool; it warranted a second trip. 

Dinner was at the Coddington Beer Company in Middletown, Rhode Island.  Blueberry Blonde, Golden Ale, India Pale Ale, Irish Red Ale, Irish Stout, Oktoberfest, and Pumpkin Ale (#864-870) were on tap.   They served up the Blueberry with actual blueberries in it. A nice touch. 3’s and 4’s for all!

While the lobster ravioli was awesome, it was here that I decided I should work on a side job. Lots of people do in these tough times.  I, for a substantial fee, will name your beers.  Really.  Give me some time and lots of free samples for family and friends, and I will research your location and find out what makes you unique.  I will find a name for your beer so you don’t have to use boring junk  like “India Pale Ale” or “Irish Stout.”

It was here, too, that I saw something very disturbing. Really. The opportunity to sample beers here was very awkward. The idea behind sampling is exactly that – samples. Small ones.  That way, a visitor can see what the place has to offer without calling for a cab later. A large part of beer tasting is all about being responsible and not stupid. It is about enjoying a time-honored tradition, and not shifting into a blithering idiot.   Most samples are not more than 4 ounces and a “flight of beer”, as they are sometimes called, may be 6 beers, plus or minus.  This place?  Seven beers at seven ounces each.  7x7=49 divided by 12 ounces in a regular beer = 4 beers + one ounce. 

You have to be kidding me.  After I explained to the waitress the blatant stupidity of the sampling procedure, she was more than happy to fill my glasses 1/3 of the way. 

Lodging that night was in Hyannis, Massachusetts (again) to be close to First Encounter (again) because of west winds (again) so I could try , at dawn (again) for Dovekie (again) and maybe bumble into a Black-headed Gull (should have gone to Halifax).

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