Monday, April 30, 2007

Oxford, Ma. 4/29/07

Sunday morning I attended a Forbush Bird Club field trip, lead by Paul Meleski, to the Hodge's Village Dam area of Oxford, Ma. Water levels remain high from recent flooding, behind this flood control dam, so many trails and walk-ways were still flooded but the group was still able to cover a good deal of area on foot. Some hilights from the trip included 7 species of wood warblers including Yellow, Yellow-rumped,Black-throated green, Black and White, Pine, Palm and Northern Waterthrush; 2 Vireos...Warbling and Blue-headed. We had nice looks at Wood Ducks and a pair of Hooded Mergansers.

a few happy Forbush Bird Club members

Joan Zumphe had an injurned knee and was unable to join the group on one of the longer walks through the woods. She patiently birded from a stationary location near a sandpit, while she missed an Eastern Kingbird, she was able to pick out a pair of Sandhill Cranes passing overhead, the "best" birds of the outing! A pair of Ravens were soaring together near the dam and we enjoyed watching Northern Rough-winged Swallows inspecting prospective nest holes in dam.
House Wren

Afterwards a few of us visited a Great Horned Owl nest in the town of Charlton that Paul had previously found. This nest is located in an abandoned Great Blue Heron colony, I managed a few grainy digi-scope photos though Paul's Swarovski scope from quite a long distance.

Paul and Fran discussing Owl and Eagle nests in Worcester County Great Horned Owl and Owlet Great Horned Owlet

Link to the trip list:

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Gardner/Fitchburg Birds 4/28

It was a foggy start this morning, even though I couldn't start birding until about 8AM. There did not appear to be a big influx of new migrants since I covered the same area a few mornings ago. Two Common Loons were on Lake Wompanoag, seemingly suspended in fog as they cruised across the calm water. Yellow-rumped Warblers were heard at several stops along Eaton and Raymond Streets and a few Pine Warblers was "it" for wood warblers....NO Black and White nor Northern Waterthrush! Tree Swallows were swarming around nest boxes near Mount Wachusett Community College and the Wampanoag MAS and nice Tom Turkey was displaying in the middle of the field. No big surprises but there was a lot of bird activity and song nearly every where I stopped.
Common Loon in the fog

At Crystal Lake the two Red-breasted Mergansers were still present, a Common Loon and Red-bellied Woodpecker was calling from an adjacent wood lot.

Hermit Thrush (digi-binned)
I ended up spent most of the day officiating at a track meet at Fitchburg State College but managed to pickup my my first Chimney Swift of the year...especially difficult while marking javlin and discus throws! A great surprise was finding 3 Ruddy Ducks on Snow Mill Pond, in west Fitchburg, which included a breeding plumaged drake! As far as I know Ruddy Ducks are quite uncommon in Worcester County during the spring. I managed a few indentifiable digi-scope images below.

drake Ruddy Duck on Snow Mill Pond
drake and hen Ruddys resting (note the tail of another hen in front of the drake)

Morning Bird list:
Canada Goose 2
Wood Duck 1
Mallard 4
Red-breasted Merganser 2
Wild Turkey 5
Common Loon 3
Killdeer 1
Mourning Dove 5
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 5
Hairy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 2
Eastern Phoebe 4
Blue-headed Vireo 2
Blue Jay 16
American Crow 5
Tree Swallow 20
Barn Swallow 1
Black-capped Chickadee 24
Tufted Titmouse 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch 5
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Brown Creeper 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 7
Hermit Thrush 1
American Robin 18
European Starling 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler 18
Pine Warbler 4
Eastern Towhee 1
Chipping Sparrow 12
Field Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 14
White-throated Sparrow 5
Northern Cardinal 6
Red-winged Blackbird 4
Common Grackle 7
Brown-headed Cowbird 5
Purple Finch 2
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch 21
House Sparrow 4

Friday, April 27, 2007

Westminster/ Gardner Birds 4/27/07

With the day's fowl weather, I thought it might be worth while to check out some local lakes and ponds on the drive home from work. Occasionally, migrating waterfowl may "put down" on inland bodies of water, so I hoped for perhaps a few sea ducks or grebes. My first stop at Round Meadow Pond had a nice concentration of swallows including Tree, Barn, Rough-winged and a Cliff. Meetinghouse Reservoir had nothing, Mare Meadow Reservoir had a dozen plus Double-crested Cormorants and a Common Loon (Which may have been a local breeder as they nest close by on Bickford Pond).

Along Minot Road I came across Wild Turkeys in 3 different locations, all acting fairly tame so long as I remained in the car. With this year's Massachusetts breeding bird atlas beginning, one can't help think of the population expansion of this species since the first atlas. There were a few warblers in a wetland along the road, a few Yellow-rumped, 1 Palm and an early male American Redstart.

Continuing on to Wright's Reservoir and an un-named pond (that's always been good for Goldeneye and Ring-necked Ducks) yielded nothing of note. But, my last stop, I managed to find a nice pair of Red-breasted Mergansers on Crystal Lake in Gardner....never a common bird up this way.

Wild Turkeys along Minot Road in Westminster

This evening's list:
Canada Goose 2
American Black Duck 1
Mallard 3
Red-breasted Merganser 2
Wild Turkey 11
Common Loon 1
Double-crested Cormorant 18
Great Blue Heron 2
Eastern Phoebe 2
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 1
Tree Swallow 50
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 3
Cliff Swallow 1
Barn Swallow 15
Black-capped Chickadee 5
American Robin 10
Yellow-rumped Warbler 8
Palm Warbler 1
American Redstart 1
Swamp Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 1

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bolton Flats 4/25/07

Bolton flats remains some what flooded, but with knee high boots can be birded from the main parking area, off Rte117. I did not attempted to drive through the water to enter the parking lot. Good numbers of waterfowl remain with about 100 Green-winged Teal to the south of RTE117 and another 250 to the north, well back from the road. These birds flushed as I walked the dirt road from the parking lot so an educated estimate was made (as with most of the birds present in higher numbers). I did not see the previously reported Sandhill Crane nor the Eurasian Wigeon. A pair of Northern Pintail, drake American Wigeon, drake Gadwall and 4 Blue-winged Teal were to the south of Rte117.

Blue-winged Teal

As I walked north from the parking lot, off RTE117, I flushed an American Bittern and came upon a very tame Least Sandpiper (previously reported from earlier in the week). The bulk of Green-winged Teal , seen this evening, flushed from the grassy area to the north so I was unable to check if any were of the Eurasian variety. I was a bit surprised I did not see many shorebirds such a Snipe and I only heard a few Greater Yellowlegs call from the distance.

Least Sandpiper

The list from this evening:

Canada Goose 275
Wood Duck 75
Gadwall 1
American Wigeon 1
American Black Duck 1
Mallard 50
Blue-winged Teal 4
Northern Pintail 2
Green-winged Teal 350
Ring-necked Duck 2
American Bittern 1
Killdeer 4
Greater Yellowlegs 2
Least Sandpiper 1
Ring-billed Gull 300
Herring Gull 15
Mourning Dove 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 3
American Crow 10
American Robin 25
Savannah Sparrow 15
Song Sparrow 10
Swamp Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 1
Red-winged Blackbird 100
Common Grackle 50

Monday, April 23, 2007

Gardner Birds 4/22/07

Sunday afternoon I birded the Wompanoag Mass Audubon Sanctuary near Lake Wompanoag, in Gardner, for about an hour. I spent about 45 minutes hawkwatching and managed to see my first Broad-winged Hawks of the year (3) along with 1 Osprey, 1 Bald Eagle (juvenile just beginning to molt its flight feathers), 3 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 1 Red Shouldered hawk (which did not appear to be migrating) and 3 American Kestrels. Tree Swallows were at their nest boxes in the fields and flying "circles" around the field, the past few weeks have been terrible conditions for this species and other insectivores. Here are few quotes from folks watching over bluebird nest boxes (the bulk of which are used by Tree Swallows) in upstate New York.

"He had been sitting at the table watching "his" Tree Swallows going in and out of the many boxes on his property, but there was one box they wouldn't go near. Upon investigation, Barry was shocked and dismayed to find fifty-one (51) dead Tree Swallows in that one box!! "
and another New York report
"We had a similar situation on our trail at the Iroquois National Wildlife and the adjoining State WMA's last week. We found 216 dead Tree Swallows in the boxes. This week we found 11 more. I have never experienced this before either. "

Tree Swallow

During the evening, I walked the area of High Ridge Wildlife Management Area off Smith Street in Gardner to spend time near the marsh. Water levels were not as high as I expected, it appears some drainage work had been done to prevent excessive flooding. A Canada Goose was sitting on a nest, which is built atop a beaver lodge (2 nd floor apartment) and while I was walking the edge of the marsh I flushed an American Bittern. A bit later there was 2 Bitterns in flight, one left the marsh heading south east while the other settled back onto the marsh.

A comical scene was a raccoon walking towards me on one of the rails on the RR tracks, what this even more interesting was I was doing the same thing heading toward it! I was able to "digi-bin" a very poor image of it through my binoculars. While this image is poor indeed it is still on par with a certain "recording", of a certain woodpecker, that's been in the news.

Raccoon "tight-roping" the rail

Clear nights with southerly winds should help bring the spring migration back on schedule.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Harvard/ Bolton Birds 4/19/07 (Glossy Ibis)

I checked out the water levels and birds at Bolton Flats this evening, but first stopped along the road to Still River canoe launch in Harvard. Among the typical assortment of blackbirds was an Eastern Meadowlark singing from a perch, atop a tree.

Eastern Meadowlark

Rte 117 was back opened and the water level had receeded enough to allow very limited parking along a few of pull-offs along rte 117. Ring-billed Gulls numbered about 300 and while there were no unusal gulls mixed in, there was a single Glossy Ibis, first reported by Barton Kamp a few days ago. It prefered to associate with the gulls, when they flew and would circle about and settle right back in with the Ring-bills. There was also 5 Greater Yellowlegs feeding in the shallow water, a single Wilson's Snipe flew past and good numbers of watefowl (certainly only a small fraction was visible from the road) .

Glossy Ibis ...always a prize in Worcester County

The lingering flood waters should make for a potentially attractive shorebird migration on Bolton Flats this spring.

Great Yellowlegs

This evening's highlights:

Canada Goose 150
Wood Duck 15
American Wigeon 2
American Black Duck 4
Mallard 60
Green-winged Teal 20
Ring-necked Duck 30
Great Blue Heron 1
Glossy Ibis 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Killdeer 6
Greater Yellowlegs 5
Wilson's Snipe 1
Ring-billed Gull 300
Mourning Dove 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 1
American Crow 4
Tree Swallow 10
American Robin 20
European Starling 4
Song Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird 20
Eastern Meadowlark 1
Common Grackle 20
Brown-headed Cowbird 4
American Goldfinch 3
House Sparrow 10

A nice sunset over the hills of Leominster

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

High Tide along the Nashua 4/17/07

With heavy rains of the recent storm many streams and rivers have flooded their banks causing several road and bridge closures. Yesterday I drove on Fitch's Bridge Road in Groton, to look for waterfowl and snipe or other shorebirds. Today the water had come up several feet making the end of the road impassable and the water still rising.

Fitch Bridge Road flooded

I did not bird for long, just snapped a few photos and glanced at a few Mallards, but once the water receeds the lower areas will retain water and attract decent numbers of ducks, geese and hopefully shorebirds with the next warm front. The rte 119 bridge (on the Pepperell/ Groton border) was still opened at noon time, but would soon be closed as rising water would flood over the road. Near the boat launch (along Rte 119) several robins, and blackbirds were feeding along the river. I heard a Rusty Blackbird calling and quickly found it walking along the water's edge and managed a few photos through my binoculars.

Rusty Blackbird feeding onlong the Nashua River

High water at the Shirley Icehouse Dam

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Keene, NH (Krif Rd.) 4/14/07

Saturday evening I checked out the semi flooded corn fields off Krif Road in Keene, NH for waterfowl and snipe. While the number of waterfowl were limited to less than 50, there were a few Wood Ducks feeding close to the road with Mallards. A little further out a 1/2 dozen Green-winged Teal were in another pool, all were of the Northern American variety and no sign of the previously report Eurasian "common" Teal from last week.

Mallards and Wood Ducks feeding beside Krif Road.

After viewing and trying to photograph the ducks from the car, I move further down the road to look for Wilson's Snipe. I was able to find at least 9 snipe feeding in the flooded muddy areas with few Killdeer and Robins. After dark I could hear at least 1 American Woodcock calling and then displaying overhead, near the Keene State College athletic fields.

A drake Wood Duck

The bird list:
Canada Goose 5
Wood Duck 3
American Black Duck 2
Mallard 33
Green-winged Teal 6
Killdeer 5
Wilsons Snipe 9
American Woodcock 1
American Crow 2
American Robin 15
Song Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 1
Red-winged Blackbird 2
Brown-headed Cowbird 1

Friday, April 13, 2007

Groton/Townsend Birds 4/13/07

During my lunch break I scanned over a former apple orchard near the Groton/Ayer town line, in past years I have conducted a hawkwatch from here. I did see a few raptors moving north east, 2 Ospreys and a high flying Northern Harrier, but the fields were covered by American Robins ( I estimated about 500). Another hilight was 2 Eastern Meadowlarks, first heard singing and after a bit of work I was able to see one and then two perched in the grass. Eventually, they flew back and forth across the fields, hopefully these birds will remain and nest.

American Robin "digi-binned" through 8x32 binoculars

On the commute home from work I birded the fields off West Meadow Road in Townsend, typically an area I have only birded from the road. Many Robins and blackbirds ( Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles and Cowbirds) were feeding among the corn stubble. I had a nice look at a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, my first spring record of the year, and there are still American Tree Sparrows (8) soon to be replaced by Chipping Sparrows. Waterfowl seen included about 40 Canada Geese, 20 Green-winged Teal, 8 Wood Ducks and about 25 Ringed-necked Ducks (a farm pond near the headwaters of the Squannacook River.

Headwaters of the Squannacoock River in Townsend

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Gardner Birds 4/11/07 C. Loon back on Lake Wompanoag

I took a prework drive past the MWCC yesterday morning (4/11) to check for the previous day's Shrike, there was a bird "teed" atop a tree up near the campus pond, but this was an American Kestrel being harrassed by a few Blue Jays. Continuing up Raymond Street I noticed several Wild Turkeys, in a back yard, one was a nice tom displaying to several females. I made a few road side stops for a quick look and listen and I was able to pick up my first Purple Finches of the year.

Most lakes and ponds without a strong flowing inlet are still completely ice covered, but Lake Wompanoag, with inlet at the south end, was about 50% open and a small number of waterfowl were present. Two Ring-neched Ducks, 5 Common Mergansers, a few Canada Geese and after a few mintues of scanning a Common Loon surfaced. This bird kept diving and resurfacing with a medium sized fish, loons have been breeding on this lake since at least 1995. I did not have time to study the bird for colored leg bands (many of the breeding loons in Massachusetts are banded) but I assumed it was one of the summer residents, which typically return very soon after "ice out".
Ring-necked Ducks on Lake Wompanoag

At the Wompanoag Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary (MAS) I found only one Tree Swallow atop a Bluebird nest boxe. Perhaps this species has had to retreat, do the recent cold snap. A few weeks back I had seen about 300 along the Conn. River just south of Hinsdales, NH and about 250 along the Nashua River in Pepperell, Ma.

Birds from (4/11/07) AM :

Canada Goose 2
Ring-necked Duck 2
Common Merganser 5
Ruffed Grouse 1
Wild Turkey 9
Common Loon 1
American Kestrel 1
Mourning Dove 4
Downy Woodpecker 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Blue Jay 10
American Crow 3
Tree Swallow 1
Black-capped Chickadee 4
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
American Robin 10
European Starling 4
Song Sparrow 5
White-throated Sparrow 2
Dark-eyed Junco 12
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird 5
Common Grackle 3
Brown-headed Cowbird 1
Purple Finch 2
American Goldfinch 5
House Sparrow 10

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Gardner 4/10/07 (Northern Shrike)

While driving past Mount Wachusett Community College this morning, I noticed a "blob" of whitish-gray on the shrub line on the far side of the campus pond, off Green Street. Back in December I had seen an adult Northern Shrike in that very spot, and a month and half later ,what presume was the same bird, in the campus pond area. I was hoping it would be a shrike and not a piece of litter hung up in the shrubs. Now that we are well into April I was hoping (a real long shot) it would be a Loggerhead, but once I had my binoculars "on it" I could clearly see it was indeed a shrike...a Northern Shrike. It was my latest spring sighting of this species in the area, I had seen one back on 4/9/1999 in Templeton.

Here is a somewhat fuzzy digi-scoped photo, the only one it allowed as it quickly flew off.

Northern Shrike at WMCC

Monday, April 9, 2007

Pepperell 4/09/07

I took a visit to Gardner Farm, along the Nashua River in Pepperell , Ma., this evening to look for waterfowl. Generally during March and early April good numbers of puddle ducks and geese can be found in the wet depressions adjacent to the corn fields. Hooded and Common Mergansers along with diving ducks can be found in the river, these usually peak while there is still ice away from the main channel. Much of the waterfowl has appeared to have moved north and or dispersed now that many lakes and ponds are ice free in the lower Nashua River watershed. Tonight there was only a fraction of the waterfowl that was present a week ago.

Grassy wetland along the Nashua River

An American Kestrel put on a nice show for me, first perched on a distant branch, to which it returned to over and over inbetween brief "sorties".

Eventually it was "joined" by a single Blue Jay which was displeased with the falcon's presence.

Blue Jay and Kestrel having a "civil discussion"

Then it moved onto some nearby corn stubble, offering excellent viewing.

Beautiful male American Kestrel

Birds seen and heard:
Canada Goose 20
Mute Swan 2
Wood Duck 6
American Black Duck 2
Mallard ~50
Green-winged Teal 6
Great Blue Heron 2
Red-tailed Hawk 1
American Kestrel 1
Killdeer 2
Mourning Dove 4
Blue Jay 2
American Robin ~50
European Starling ~75
Song Sparrow ~15
Northern Cardinal 1
Red-winged Blackbird ~300
Common Grackle ~25
Brown-headed Cowbird ~100
American Goldfinch ~4

Sunday, April 8, 2007

High Ridge WMA 4/8/07 (Leucistic Am. Robin)

A cold start this morning, 28f with an over night low of 25f, it felt more like Christmas that Easter and a 10MPH NW wind to boot. I spent just over an hour and half birding the Smith Street area of High Ridge WMA in Gardner, Ma.. The recent cold snap has slowed up the movement of spring birds, there were lots of Juncos, a few American Tree Sparrows and many Song Sparrow (both territorial and migrants). A few nice highlights were a passing Northern Harrier (Male) and a single Fox Sparrow.
The Smith Street Marsh

Good numbers of American Robins were working the open areas in the corn fields, some are very dark birds (perhaps of the Canadian Martime race). The bird photographed below first appeared to be head-less against the snow. While leucistic robins are very uncommon, I have seen perhaps a 1/2 dozen over the years. I was fortunate to get a few shots, "digi-binned" through my 8X32 Pentax binoculars.

Leucistic American Robin
Leucistic American Robin

This morning's list:

Canada Goose 2
Mallard 12
Hooded Merganser 5
Common Merganser 3
Northern Harrier 1
American Woodcock 1
Ring-billed Gull 3
Herring Gull 10
Mourning Dove 3
Downy Woodpecker 2
Hairy Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Blue Jay 3
American Crow 5
Common Raven 1
Black-capped Chickadee 8
Tufted Titmouse 3
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 3
Brown Creeper 2
American Robin 75
American Tree Sparrow 4
Fox Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 40
Dark-eyed Junco 20
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird 20
Common Grackle 30
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
American Goldfinch 4

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Templeton Birds 4/7/07

I took a drive over to the Templeton Development Center and drove the roads through the property to bird from the car. One of the nicer views in North Central Massachusetts is from the main road just north of Church Hill in Templeton.

Mount Monadnoc from Church Hill

While driving, on rte 68, I was fortunate to catch a glimps of an odd lump about 50 feet off the road in one of the hay fields. I backed the car up, 90% of the time the "subject" turns out to just an odd lump, but this time it was an American Woodcock! Woodcocks are usually not difficult to find, at dusk and dawn while calling and displaying, in the area but this bird was very coopertive, visible and in decent light. I watched for about 15 minutes as it fed and bobbed its rump up and down.

A cooperative American Woodcock

Woodcock digging for worms, with a watchful eye

On Norcross Hill there was an American Kestrel (Male) atop a deciduous tree.

A late day American Kestrel "teed" up

Hilights from this evening:
Canada Goose 4 Wild Turkey 40
American Kestrel 1
Killdeer 3
American Woodcock 1
Rock Pigeon 40
Mourning Dove 2
American Crow 6
American Robin 30
European Starling 20
Dark-eyed Junco 15
Northern Cardinal 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 1

Friday, April 6, 2007

Osprey Nest in Pepperell, Ma. (4/06/07)

During my lunch today, I took a drive over to a beaver pond, off Elliot Street, in Pepperell to have at look at the Osprey nest, atop a pole toward the middle of the pond. I immediately heard the whistles of an Osprey, as I opened the car door, it was overhead in the mist of a skirmish with a Herring Gull that was passing by. I stayed for about 20 minutes, the Ospreys would remain in the air for the duration of my visit.

I first learned of this nest a few years ago from a local birder. There is another Osprey nest in the area on a cell tower, while Ospreys are fairly common (but local) nesters in south-eastern Mass., they are uncommon nesters inland. I used to fish the Nashua River, near by, back in the 80's. I recall there being a "healthy population of goldfish, some as large 10-12 inches....nice targets!

Osprey's nest just left of center

On the pond were a pair Canada Goose, 1 Hooded Merganser and 5 Common Mergansers.

Common Mergansers

A Common Flicker was drumming on the top of a Bluebird nest box in the distance, it was using the edge of the sheet metal peak for extra volume. I recall hearing a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, several years back near Quabbin Reservoir, tapping on the metal caution sign affixed to a steel power line tower.

A "drummin" Flicker

Lots of American Robins are passing through now, the recent cold weather and snow has concentrated them to limited open patches of grass and turning over leaves where possible.

A Robin works the leaf litter

Other highlights from Pepperrel today:

Green-winged Teal 5
Wood Duck 6

Red-bellied Woodpecker 2

Tree Swallow 3

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1

Golden-crowned Kinglet 2

Rusty Blackbird 1

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Gardner Heron Colony (4/5/07)

Beaver pond after an early April snow fall

This evening I made a quick stop at the end of Linus Allian Ave. in Gardner to view the small Great Blue Heron Colony. At least a few pairs of Great Blues have nested here for at least 10 years, last year there were 7 active nesting platforms. I didn't spend much time, a few herons flew off as I was arriving and a Black Duck flushed as well. But, one distant Great Blue stood atop its nesting platform, snow covered from last evening's 4" snow fall, giving me an opportunity to "digi-scope" the bird through my scope. It, is older swift scope ... the original cost wouldn't even be enough cover the cost of an eye-piece for today's top end scopes... so the photos will be modest at best.

A Great Blue Heron "standing guard"

4 Sandhill Cranes (Townsend, Ma.) 3/30/07

On the drive to work, I made a "last second" decision to check on the Cackling Goose, that had been present the evening before. "Why bother" it was present at sunset on the 29th, but fortunately I checked. Just as I pulled off Rte 119 and over the small bridge on West Meadow Road, I immediatley saw 4 Sandhill Cranes, a mere 50 meters from the road, walking in the corn field. These birds leisurely walked about and fed, on the remains of last year's crop, for the ~10 minutes I watched from my car.

Afterwards, I moved on down the road and looked for the Cackling Goose, but I could not find it. This bird was associating with a flock of 100+ Canada Geese, while the same approximate number of Canadas remained, the "Cackler" was not seen. While returning to Rte 119 I noticed the 4 Sandhills had moved a few hundred yards near some manure piles. A few other birders would try for the birds later in the day, including myself after work, but they had moved on.

Sandhill Crane sightings have increased in Massachusetts over the past 10-15 years, last week there was a sighting of a single bird in Leicester, Ma., last fall Rachel Scheerer and I had seen 2 from the Mount Watatic Hawkwatch and I understand there is now a pair nesting in the state of Maine.