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.

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