Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Breeding Survey Route and High Ridge WMA visit

On June 14th I conducted the Ware River Breeding Bird Survey route, the 24.5 mile route canvases areas outside and within the bird rich Ware River Watershed/ Barre Fall Dam areas. Clear and calm conditions made for good listening and a nice tally of 64 species for 494 individuals; leading the way were Ovenbirds with 72 and Red-eyed Vireo with 48, each being present on 38 of the 50 3 minute stops (76%).

This recently Fledged raven was the only bird photo of survey route, it was in between stops.
A complete list of species tallied on the BBS Route.
Species Count 
Mallard 1 
Hooded Merganser 1 
Wild Turkey 1
 Broad-winged Hawk 7 
Mourning Dove 14 
Black-billed Cuckoo 1 
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 5 
Downy Woodpecker 7 
Hairy Woodpecker 8 
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 3 
Pileated Woodpecker 7 
Eastern Wood-Pewee 7 
Willow Flycatcher 1 
Least Flycatcher 3
 Eastern Phoebe 4 
Great Crested Flycatcher 1 
Blue-headed Vireo 1 
Red-eyed Vireo 48 
Blue Jay 22 
American Crow 7 
Tree Swallow 18 
Barn Swallow 2
 Black-capped Chickadee 17 
Tufted Titmouse 16
 Red-breasted Nuthatch 1 
White-breasted Nuthatch 1 
Brown Creeper 1 
House Wren 1 
Winter Wren 2 
Veery 16
 Hermit Thrush 6 
Wood Thrush 4 
American Robin 8 
Gray Catbird 13 
Cedar Waxwing 24 
Ovenbird 72 
Northern Waterthrush 1 
Blue-winged Warbler 1 
Black-and-white Warbler 10
 Common Yellowthroat 17
 Blackburnian Warbler 1 
Yellow Warbler 3 
Chestnut-sided Warbler 8 
Black-throated Blue Warbler 9 
Pine Warbler 21 
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 2 
Prairie Warbler 2 
Black-throated Green Warbler 6 
Canada Warbler 1 
Eastern Towhee 6
 Chipping Sparrow 7 
Song Sparrow 3 
Swamp Sparrow 3 
Scarlet Tanager 12 
Northern Cardinal 2 
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 3 
Indigo Bunting 4 
Bobolink 3 
Red-winged Blackbird 4 
Brown-headed Cowbird 6 
Baltimore Oriole 4 
Purple Finch 2 
American Goldfinch 1

On Saturday 2/20 I took a late morning walk at High Ridge WMA. Within the Great Blue Heron colony were 19 active nests, with over 50 individual young and adults tallied. While I did not cover all the hay fields, nearly 50 Bobolinks were seen and/or heard. The mowing had begun, but typically some fields go unmolested until the "Bobos" are done with their nesting season (mid-late July).

A wide angle shot of the Great Blue Heron Colony

An adult (left) was greeted by its loud squawking and begging young, most of the young present were close to adult size.

Here are a few photos from cooperative Bobolinks that perched close to the road, no tramping through the hay fields was needed.

A male Bobolink perched on weeds

Another "Bobo" on milkweed

a female Bobolink, the dark mark below its bill gives it an almost proboscis monkey look.
My complete tally from the High Ridge Walk, covering just a fraction of the 2500+ acres of property:
Species Count
Wood Duck 8
Great Blue Heron 53
Cooper's Hawk 1
Broad-winged Hawk 3
Mourning Dove 2
Barred Owl 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1
Downy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 3
Eastern Wood-Pewee 2
Least Flycatcher 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Great Crested Flycatcher 1
Eastern Kingbird 1
Blue-headed Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 22
Blue Jay 5
American Crow 1
Common Raven 1
Tree Swallow 22
Barn Swallow 2
Black-capped Chickadee 7
Tufted Titmouse 8
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
House Wren 6
Eastern Bluebird 1
Veery 9
Hermit Thrush 1
Wood Thrush 4
American Robin 7
Gray Catbird 22
European Starling 3
Cedar Waxwing 20
Ovenbird 9
Black-and-white Warbler 2
Common Yellowthroat 12
American Redstart 2
Yellow Warbler 1
Chestnut-sided Warbler 3
Black-throated Blue Warbler 1
Pine Warbler 5
Prairie Warbler 1
Black-throated Green Warbler 1
Chipping Sparrow 12
Field Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 7
Swamp Sparrow 2
Scarlet Tanager 4
Northern Cardinal 1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 2
Indigo Bunting 5
Bobolink 46
Red-winged Blackbird 18
Common Grackle 4
Brown-headed Cowbird 1
Baltimore Oriole 8
American Goldfinch 7

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Peewee nest

On Sunday (6/7) I spotted an Eastern Wood Peewee nest in the back yard woodlot; approx 40 feet high on a dead horizontal limb (red oak), in an sheltered opening 1/3 way below the forest canopy approx. 60-75' from our deck and visable from the kitchen table (through bins or scope). Material was added  to the nearly complete nest, by the presumed female, every few minutes. During these visits she would sit in the nest and fidget a bit to shape the nest cup, a male could be heard singing from near by. This continued on the following morning and evening, and she visited again early on Tuesday, but abondoned the nest and has not been seen since.

During the bird's last visit a recently fledged Downy Woodpecker landed a few feet from the nest, the female sat tight on the nest, "trying not to be seen". The young downy curiously hopped closer to look at the nest, and was immediately greeted with a "face full" of flycatcher and quickly fled the scene. The nest has not been visited by the peewee since.  Tough to reason the exact cause of the abandonment, but perhaps the location was a bit too exposed.

Easten Wood Peewe "fitting" its nest.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Yard Birds late May

While enjoying a beer or two last Friday evening, I was able to pickup 3 new yard birds for the year from the deck. Cedar Waxwings were present in the yard for the first time this year, a Great-crested Flycatcher was calling from the back woodlot and a north bound Common Nighthawk passed high overhead.

Hummingbirds have been at the feeder more frequently this past week. The male acts aggressive toward the female, which is not too much of a surprise... seeing he does not help the female with domestic chores.


 male Ruby-throated Hummingbird guarding the feeder from the "deck" perch. 

This female Ruby-throated Hummingbird slips in for a long drink, while the male is bullying elsewhere!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Late migrants and nesting Herons

During the late afternoon on the 24th a flycatcher passed over the back deck, fortunately it stopped on a nearby dead tree at the edge of the yard. Open further inspection it turned out to be an Olive-sided Flycatcher, it only stayed about 5 minutes....long enough to grab the camera and snap a few photos.

This Olive-sided Flycatcher was a yard first!
On Monday I took some time to check the progress on a nearby Great-blue Heron Colony, at High Ridge WMA.  There were 21 active nests, about 1/2 had newly hatched young in the nests, while the remainder had adults that appeared to be incubating. One industrious heron was still adding small branches, from an eastern hemlock, to a nest while its mate sat "tight" on the nest. Other hi-lights were a Wood Duck with 11 newly hatched young, a Black-billed Cuckoo calling, many Bobolinks in the nearby hay fields and some nice views of common area nesters.

A pair of Chestnut-sided Warblers

A "scolding" House Wren

A very cooperative Red-eyed Vireo

Great-blue heron coming for a landing, its mate's head can be seen in the lower left of the photo.

Adult with newly hatched chicks

A Common Grackle sitting on eggs, with out the bright eyes it would have gone unnoticed.

Great-crested Flycatcher

This Wood Duck had 11 youngsters.

An Alder Flycatcher from along Scoot Brook in Royalston.

Swamp Sparrow also from Scott Brook.
An other nice local bird was a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher heard during hike with Karin, at Wachusett Mountain, along the Jack Frost trail.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Am. Woodcock and WW Scoter migrants

While some of the later migrants have just arrived in the past week including; Alder and Willow Flycatchers and Eastern Wood Peewees, many of the earlier arrivals and residents are settling down to their domestic chores. During lunch earlier this week I was fortunate to view and photograph an American Woodcock with a single chick, not far from Lake Dennison. The sea duck migration is still on and a few White-winged Scoters dropped in to Crystal lake during heavy fog on Monday the 18th.
Female Red-winged Blackbird in Gardner

A handsome American Goldfinch in its finest breeding plumage, at home.

Its always a treat to see scoters on inland bodies of water during migration, these White-winged Scoters  set down Crystal Lake on Monday 5/18 during heavy fog. They likely moved on as quickly as the fog burnt off. 

male Baltimore Oriole in Gardner

A female Common Yellowthroat

a male Chestnut-sided Warbler from Otter River State Forest

An American Woodcock chick, the tail end of the parent is to the left.

The parent Woodcock with its chick (just behind), staying inside the car helped to keep the birds at ease.