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.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Late April to May 15th

Most migrants have returned to the area, here are a few photos from the last few weeks.
An adult male American Redstart at Crystal Lake Cemetery

Black and White Warbler from High Ridge WMA, in Gardener
A Magnolia Warbler from the Crystal Lake area.

This Savanah Sparrow was looking "sharp" at Sholan Farm in Leominster.

Eastern Kingbird in Baldwinville

Brown Thrasher, one of a pair at High Ridge WMA...collecting nesting material.

This Gray Catbird showed nicely at home.
Green Heron from Neighborhood Road within High Ridge WMA.

A handsome Rose-breasted Grosbeak in the yard.

Back on 4/21 I found a pair of Merlins in Gardner, that were checking out an old crow nest, the male had flown in with prey (a House Sparrow) to offer the female. They were present on subsequent days showing interst in the nesting site and each other. The male flew a "figure 8" pattern around the area and female waited and call from a prominent perch, were the male would join her and they mated several times. The scene has been more quiet in early May, but I did see the female on 5/08 on the edge of the nest, but I have yet to see her incubating, nor the male in the area. During the week of 5/11 I did not see them, on brief perhaps they have not "taken to" the site.
They seem to be "hitting it off" fairly well.

The separation after the "deed".

Female on the edge of the nest 5/8.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mid- April

Early spring migrants continue to arrive such Pine, Palm and Yellow-Rumped Warblers; Louisiana Waterthrush and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. I have yet to see or hear a Black and White Warbler, but the next warm front should help aid their return.
 Bald Eagles continue to show well, particularly at Round Meadow Pond (Westminster), Broad-winged Hawks have are arriving and Osprey are still passing through.

Common Mergansers and a few Common Goldeneye continue to linger on a few bodies of water in the area, notably Crystal lake (Gardner) and some back-waters at High Ridge WMA. They will clear out of the area in the next week or two.

Its time to hang out the hummingbird feeders, as a few very early arrivals have been noted from lower elevations of Massachusetts; the main influx is usually the first week of May.

Below are a few photos from afield during the past week:
A pair of Common Mergansers at High Ridge WMA

A male Bufflehead on Lake Dennison

Osprey at Round Meadow Pond

male Northern Flicker

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Tree Swallow at High Ridge WMA

Ruby-crowned Kinglet at High Ridge WMA

a dorsal view of an "eastern" Palm Warbler

Front view of a different Palm Warbler

A handsome male Pine Warbler, in a pitch pine.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

April 6 -12th North Central Mass.

Sunday 4/12 finally "broke open" as the first real day of spring, after another tough week of weather.

I birded around Westminster/Fitchburg a bit, on Sunday, with highlights being 3 immature Bald Eagles at Round Meadow Pond, 2 Glossy Ibis continuing at Monty Tech High School and 2 Osprey over Saw Mill Pond. Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Palm Warblers and Hermit Thrushes have arrived too, but Pine Siskins are still lingering; and few redpolls were present on Friday 4/10. Tree Swallows are starting to inspect nest boxes, phoebes are wide spread and Great Blue Herons were at their nesting "stations" at a nearby colony. An adult Bald Eagle (the 4th of the day in town) was perched in that middle of the Great Blue colony , but the herons all remained calm.

 Many lakes and ponds are carrying a lot of ice, and there is still a good deal of snow in heavily shaded woodlands, but it does appear that spring has arrived.

Here are a few recent photos:
A female American Kestrel launching from a grave stone near the old Gardner Landfill.

Bald Eagle in Westminster, which was perched in the middle of a Great Blue Heron Colony.
Same as above...shot 2

Great Blue Herons, 1 of 15 nests in Westminster the left bird was letting out a squawk

Our 1st yard Purple Finch of 2015

Hermit Thrush along the Otter River in Baldwinville's "Back Bay", on a cold and miserable Wednesday 4/8.