Saturday, June 30, 2007

Gardner Ashburnham Birds 6/30 (Fitch 1 block)

This morning I put in 7 hours of birding, starting at 5:15Am and completed the 20 hours of preliminary observation for Fitchburg 1 block (Mass. Breeding Bird Atlas). I started at High Ridge WMA to cover the marsh for rails, and struck out again ( both Sora and Virgina Rail have been present in past years) but managed to get a decent view of an American Bittern pair. There were singing Swamp Sparrows, an Alder Flycatcher, Baltimore Orioles and a male Evening Grosbeak was calling as it flew overhead, I would hear a few more later. A few confirmed breeders were Mallard with young, House Wren feeding a fledgling and Yellow Warblers feeding young.

There were many Cedar Waxwings in the area, one pair was gathering nesting material but later, at a near by industrial park, I found waxwing entering a nest in white pine tree (below).
Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing Nest

In the same area as the as the waxwing nest was a Red-breasted Nuthatch, Nashville Warbler, Eastern towhees and this White-throated Sparrow (below).

White-throated Sparrow

In South Ashburnham I walked an abondonded RR track, I was targeting Winter Wren, which I had yet to find in this block. I first walked a few streets, for suburban type birds where I managed to find a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird feeding on wild flowers. Along the RR trail there were several Hermit Thrushes(one was feeding a begging fledgling), a few veerys and the typical assortment of woodland birds such as Ruffed Grouse, Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Red-eyed vireo, Ovenbird and Scarlet Tanager. Ebony Jewelwing along a stream

I must have walked into the nesting area of a Broad-winged Hawk, as it persistantly called moving about the forest canopy. This agitated some a nearby Hairy Woodpecker and a Winter Wren, which gave its charactoristic double chip note, one of two I heard on this walk.

The detail for the preliminary 20 hours between 5/5/07 and 6/30/07, details on the code definitions are at atlas codes

Canada Goose....CO(ON)
Wood Duck....CO(PY)
Hooded Merganser....CO(FL)
Ruffed Grouse....CO(DD)
Wild Turkey....PR(S)
Common Loon....CO(PY)
Double-crested Cormorant....OB(O)
American Bittern....PR(P)
Great Blue Heron....PO(X)
Green Heron....PR(P)
Cooper's Hawk....PO(X)
Broad-winged Hawk....PR(A)
Rock Pigeon....PO(X)
Mourning Dove....PR(S)
Black-billed Cuckoo....PO(X)
Barred Owl....PR(S)
Chimney Swift....PR(P)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird....PO(X)
Belted Kingfisher....PO(X)
Red-bellied Woodpecker....PO(X)
Downy Woodpecker....PR(S)
Hairy Woodpecker....PO(X)
Northern Flicker....PR(S)
Pileated Woodpecker....PR(S)
Eastern Wood-Pewee....PR(S)
Alder Flycatcher....PR(S)
Willow Flycatcher....PR(S)
Eastern Phoebe....PR(S)
Great Crested Flycatcher....PR(S)
Eastern Kingbird....CO(CF)
Blue-headed Vireo....PO(X)
Warbling Vireo....PR(S)
Red-eyed Vireo....PR(S)
Blue Jay....PR(S)
American Crow....PR(S)
Common Raven....PO(X)
Tree Swallow....CO(FY)
Barn Swallow....PR(A)
Black-capped Chickadee....CO(FL)
Tufted Titmouse....PR(S)
Red-breasted Nuthatch....PR(S)
White-breasted Nuthatch....PO(X)
Brown Creeper....PR(S)
House Wren....PR(S)
Winter Wren....PO(X)
Marsh Wren....PO(X)
Hermit Thrush....CO(FL)
Wood Thrush....PR(S)
American Robin....CO(CN)
Gray Catbird....PR(S)
Northern Mockingbird....PO(X)
European Starling....CO(CF)
Cedar Waxwing....
Nashville Warbler....PR(P)
Yellow Warbler....PR(S)
Chestnut-sided Warbler....PR(S)
Magnolia Warbler....PO(X)
Black-throated Blue Warbler....PR(S)
Yellow-rumped Warbler....PR(S)
Black-throated Green Warbler....PR(S)
Blackburnian Warbler....PO(X)
Pine Warbler....CO(CN)
Black-and-white Warbler....PR(S)
American Redstart....PR(S)
Northern Waterthrush....PR(S)
Common Yellowthroat....CO(CF)
Canada Warbler....PR(S)
Scarlet Tanager....PR(S)
Eastern Towhee....PR(S)
Chipping Sparrow....CO(CF)
Song Sparrow....CO(CF)
Swamp Sparrow....PR(S)
White-throated Sparrow....PR(S)
Northern Cardinal....PR(S)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak....PR(S)
Indigo Bunting....PR(S)
Red-winged Blackbird....CO(CF)
Common Grackle....CO(CF)
Brown-headed Cowbird....PO(X)
Baltimore Oriole....PR(S)
Purple Finch....PR(S)
House Finch....CO(CN)
American Goldfinch...PR(P)
Evening Grosbeak....PO(X)
House Sparrow.........PR(S)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gardner Birds 6/27 (Fitch BBA 1)

Common Loon and chick(stretching its leg) on Lake Wompanoag

Common Loons have nested on Lake Wompanoag (located in Gardner and Ashburnham) for the past 13 years. The nest sight is located, on a small island near the dam, on the Ashburnham side.

This morning an adult and newly hatched chick were just off shore where the lake "touches" Raymond Street (in Gardner), allowing me an excellent view. I did not see this adult's mate, but saw and heard a loon calling from Crystal lake, little more than a mile away. A week ago there was a pair on Crystal Lake, it would be doubtfull they were both the Wompanoag birds as I can't imagin they would leave the nest unattended. Unfortunately there are no islands on Crystal lake to provide a nesting sight for loon. Perhaps, this would make a good location for a nesting raft.

Also at Crystal Lake was a Cooper's Hawk crossing the lake, carrying prey, practically being ridden by an angry Eastern Kingbird.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Westminster Birds 6/23/07

Saturday, I got an early start to my breeding bird atlas work, in the Fitchburg 2 block at 4:30Am , for rails at Trophet Swamp in Westminster. An early start is important here because of traffic noise on Rte2 A (Which bisects the swamp). I walked the road-side for the approx. 1/2 mile along the edge of this large cattail marsh. I have not birded this area much over the years, mostly because of the traffic. 5 Virginia Rails responded to recordings, but zero for Sora...certainly there must be Sora in this marsh. Several Swamp Sparrows, Common Yellowthroats and a few Alder Flycatchers were calling. A Mallard with young swam across the stream and an Eastern Kingbird was sitting tight on its nest atop a snag about 50 feet off the road.

From here, I was off to the Westminster side of High Ridge WMA (formerly the Gardner Colony for the Insane, the term "politically correct" was not in the dictionary in those days!) to spend the rest of the morning on foot. I worked the edge of stream hoping for and missing the Lousiana Waterthrush and Winter that "should" have been there, but a few Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers,a Pileated Woodpecker, Veeries , Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Scarlet Tanagers were nice. Fern covering the forest floor, perhaps an old logging road or landing.

After leaving the forest I traveled the road for awhile, the fields were busy with nesting Bobolinks, many of which were carrying food to nestlings. Typically the haying is "delayed" here until the later half of July to allow Boblinks to fledge. Ninty percent of the Bluebird boxes are occupied by Tree Swallows the balance are used by House Wrens and Bluebirds. I only saw one Bluebird this morning, near the Hunter Saftey headquarters. There were Chipping Sparrows along the road(including a few streaked juveniles), a few Indigo Buntings, Balitmore Orioles and Black-billed Cuckoo was seen and not heard (for a change).

A cooperative female Bobolink

After 50+ hours of work this breeding season, in 4 "blocks", I finally managed to see and hear a few Least Flycatchers. Certainly not an unusual species in the area, I just hadn't "hit" the right habitat.

By the time I got to the beaver pond on the south side of Beech Hill, I was soaked from walking through the edge of a wet hayfield but I managed to flush a Ruffed Grouse from edge of the woods. While walking the edge of the pond, a few pairs of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks constantly scolded me with their harsh chip notes and a pair of Great-creasted Flycatchers and a few titmice got in on the act for bit too. I counted 17 active Great Blue Heron nests on the pond, all high in dead snags except the one below, which appeared to be atop a stump. I don't recall seeing a GB Heron nest this low before. Great Blue Heron nest and young

The list from 6/23

Canada Goose..2
Wood Duck..13
Ruffed Grouse..1
American Bittern..1
Great Blue Heron..50
Turkey Vulture..1
Virginia Rail..5
Rock Pigeon..2
Mourning Dove..9
Black-billed Cuckoo..1
Belted Kingfisher..1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker..3
Downy Woodpecker..1
Hairy Woodpecker..4
Northern Flicker..2
Pileated Woodpecker..2
Eastern Wood-Pewee..6
Alder Flycatcher..2
Least Flycatcher..4
Eastern Phoebe..2
Great Crested Flycatcher..2
Eastern Kingbird..4
Blue-headed Vireo..1
Warbling Vireo..1
Red-eyed Vireo..7
Blue Jay..7
American Crow..1
Tree Swallow..39
Northern Rough-winged Swallow..1
Barn Swallow..3
Black-capped Chickadee..15
Tufted Titmouse..7
Red-breasted Nuthatch..1
White-breasted Nuthatch..1
Brown Creeper..1
House Wren..4
Eastern Bluebird..1
Wood Thrush..7
American Robin..22
Gray Catbird..16
European Starling..4
Cedar Waxwing..8
Yellow Warbler..5
Chestnut-sided Warbler..6
Black-throated Blue Warbler..1
Black-throated Green Warbler..1
American Redstart..1
Common Yellowthroat..17
Scarlet Tanager..5
Eastern Towhee..2
Chipping Sparrow..14
Field Sparrow..1
Song Sparrow..20
Swamp Sparrow..6
Northern Cardinal..3
Rose-breasted Grosbeak..11
Indigo Bunting..2
Red-winged Blackbird..50
Common Grackle..30
Brown-headed Cowbird..5
Baltimore Oriole..10
Purple Finch..1
House Finch..1
American Goldfinch..12
House Sparrow..10

Friday, June 22, 2007

Gardner 6/22 (Fitch BBA 2)

I did some "atlas" work in my home block (Fitchburg 2) this evening, trying a few streets in South Gardner and Westminster. Later, I walked some RR tracks to look over some wetlands and a power line "cut". I was able to confirm breeding on some common birds, such as Wood Duck (with young) Killdeer (w/young), Gray Catbird, Black-capped Chickadee, Black and White Warbler, Ovenbird and Scarlet Tanager (the later species all "lugging" food).

It rained, and I got fairly wet, but the rainbow (above) helped ease any discomfort. While I was enjoying the colors, I heard a barking like noise behind me in the water. Apparently my presence had annoyed a River Otter, it would duck under and come up in various spots, raise about a 1/3 of its body from the water and "bark". As I walked, for about 200 meters, along the track, the Otter followed and vocalized its displeasure at me. I digi-binned a few fuzzy photos, though my binoculars, in poor lighting (one is below).

River Otter

I did a little "bush whacking" to the back side of a beaver pond where I heard a few Hermit Thrushes singing from the Hemlocks. Looks like it'll also be a decent area form Northern Waterthrush and Canada Warbler too. At the edge of a clearing there was White-tailed Deer "frozen" and looking at me, the ears looked a bit large (in the poor light)...this was a buck with antlers in velvet. After a minute or two of staring toward each other, it grunted and bounded off. Forest area with singing Hermit Thrushes

Wood Duck...5
Wild Turkey...1
Great Blue Heron...1
Rock Pigeon...10
Mourning Dove...4
Chimney Swift...1
Downy Woodpecker...1
Hairy Woodpecker...1
Eastern Kingbird...1
Red-eyed Vireo...4
Blue Jay...2
American Crow...5
Tree Swallow...15
Barn Swallow...1
Black-capped Chickadee...5
White-breasted Nuthatch...2
Brown Creeper...1
Hermit Thrush...2
American Robin...10
Gray Catbird...4
European Starling...5
Yellow Warbler...2
Chestnut-sided Warbler...1
Pine Warbler...1
Black-and-white Warbler...2
Common Yellowthroat...6
Scarlet Tanager...2
Eastern Towhee...4
Chipping Sparrow...6
Song Sparrow...4
Swamp Sparrow...2
Northern Cardinal...3
Rose-breasted Grosbeak...1
Red-winged Blackbird...15
Common Grackle...20
Purple Finch...1
American Goldfinch....5
House Sparrow....10

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Massachusetts Sandhill Crane status

Judging from an email I received today, and I assume most folks involved in the Breeding Bird Atlas, that Sandhill Cranes have nested in Massachusetts this spring at an undisclosed location. I beleive this to be a first state nesting record for the state of Massachusetts.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ashburnham BBA 3 block 6/18/07

Monday evening I took a bit of time to walk a sandpit in Winchendon (the same from my 6/3 report) from about 8 to 9:30PM in hopes of hearing Whip-poor-wills. There was a single dirt bike there, when I arrived, but they left shortly after. Despite being confident there are "whips" at this location I struck out (this time)! All was not lost, I enjoyed the scene above while listening to a 1/2 dozen Hermit Thrushes and few White-throated Sparrows singing.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Gardner Birds 6/17 (Fitchburg 1 block)

The focus, for the first hour out, this morning was marsh birds in the northwest corner of High Ridge Wildlife Managament area. I had a nice surpise as I approached the marsh area that is adjacent to Neighborhood Road, a Marsh Wren singing from the cattails about 30-40 feet off the road. I had not seen or heard it the last time I visited(less than a week ago) and I have only 3 records of Marsh Wren in the area in nearly 20 years of birding. Two sighting from this marsh, one in May and one in October and the 3rd from a weedy field in templeton a year or two back. It appears the cattails are expanding in the marsh and it will be interesting if this bird sticks around.

The "Upper Marsh" at High Ridge WMA (from neighborhood Road)
Marsh Wren persistantly singing this morning
On the other side of Neighborhood Road, which bisects the west edge of the marsh, were 3 female Hooded Mergansers perched atop 2 duck boxes (below). I wondered where the youngsters might be, or perhaps they had not been successful this year. But a hundred feet or so away I saw another female with 1/2 grown young following closely behind her. They quickly disappeared into the vegetation once they noticed my presence.
Hooded Mergs at rest
I was not able to see or heard any rails, I had briefly played a recording of both Sora and Virginia Rail, from Nieghborhood Road and from Smith Street, but got no response. However, from the Smith Street side I saw an American Bittern a few hundred yards away and took a few photos of it through my binoculars (diito for the above wren and mergs above).
American Bittern (from High Ridge WMA)

When I got back to my car I heard a Green Heron calling from the wetland0 at the junction of Rte140 and Smith Street, actually there were 2 in flight together and a 3rd one a hundred yards away, also in flight. A White-tailed Deer was very close to rte 140 browsing in the shrubs, I hid behind my car so as not to spook it. She walked very close to me, perhaps 20 feet away, fortunately she remained calm and did not "bolt" toward rte 140, which was rather busy. I took the picture below as she looked me in the eyes, then she walked off into the marsh.

On Lake Wompanoag a single Common Loon was swimming, perhaps its mate is tending the nest. Hopefully, in the next few weeks this pair will have a chick or two...they have been nesting on this Lake since 1995. At the Wompanoag Audubon sanctuary were several woodland species such as Hermit Thrush, Magnolia and Canada Warbler and a few Broad-winged Hawks, one adult and one year old bird in heavy molt. Bobolinks were busy flying back and forth over the field, the first I'd seen them here this year. While walking a woodland path an the sanctuary I came across a Ruffed Grouse that immediately began squealing and trying to distract me from the area. This bird obviously had a nest or young close by, I immediatley left the area this display was enough to confirm breeding for this species.

At Mount Wachusett Community College I saw several Barn Swallows, which seemed confused and distressed, flying to the garage doors out back. I would surmise these may have built nests inside and now the doors were closed for the weekend, leaving them no access to get back to their duties?

Barn Swallow (at MWCC)

This morning's list, from 0530 to 1030:
Canada Goose ...4
Wood Duck...2
Mallard ...1
Hooded Merganser ...12
Ruffed Grouse ...1
Common Loon ...1
American Bittern...1
Great Blue Heron...4
Green Heron ...3
Broad-winged Hawk ...2
Mourning Dove...6
Downy Woodpecker...1
Hairy Woodpecker...1
Northern Flicker ...1
Pileated Woodpecker...1
Eastern Wood-Pewee...1
Alder Flycatcher...3
Willow Flycatcher...3
Eastern Phoebe ...1
Great Crested Flycatcher ...1
Eastern Kingbird...3
Blue-headed Vireo...4
Warbling Vireo ...2
Red-eyed Vireo...7
Blue Jay ...7
American Crow ...9
Common Raven ...1
Tree Swallow...16
Barn Swallow ...8
Black-capped Chickadee...9
Tufted Titmouse...5
Red-breasted Nuthatch...2
Brown Creeper...5
House Wren...3
Marsh Wren ...1
Hermit Thrush...4
Wood Thrush ...3
American Robin...9
Gray Catbird ...7
Northern Mockingbird...1

Euopean Starling ...3
Cedar Waxwing...7
Nashville Warbler...1
Yellow Warbler...5
Chestnut-sided Warbler...1
Magnolia Warbler...1
Black-throated Blue Warbler...2
Yellow-rumped Warbler...1
Black-throated Green Warbler...6
Blackburnian Warbler...1
Pine Warbler...4
Black-and-white Warbler...6
Northern Waterthrush...1
Common Yellowthroat...12
Canada Warbler...1
Scarlet Tanager...1
Chipping Sparrow...4
Song Sparrow...12
Swamp Sparrow...9
White-throated Sparrow...1
Northern Cardinal...2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak...3
Indigo Bunting...2
Red-winged Blackbird...29
Common Grackle...27
Brown-headed Cowbird...2
Baltimore Oriole...3
Purple Finch...2
American Goldfinch...15
House Sparrow...2

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ashburnham (BBA 3) 6/16

Saturday 6/16, I retraced my birding trip from 6/3 to upgrade as many species as possible for the breeding bird atlas project. Old County Road is surprisingly busy, for a dirt road (below) that goes no place, its passable in 4 wheel drive vehicles with decent ground clearance. Two trucks approached at about 6AM, the truck stopped and rolled down the window...followed by a plume of cigar smoke.... "we're runnin dogs this morning". I was soon surrounded by a 1/2 dozen happy, howling Beagles each with a small "cow-bell" ("gotta have that cow bell") on its collar. I never realized that the "dog men" also get in on the act, while the beagles yelp along through the woods(cow bells a ringin) the "dog men" yell to the dogs in sort of a jibberish cajun, redneckian dialect, the dogs completely ignor. Old County Road (Ashburnham)
Cute little Beagle, but judging by this jesture, it didn't think too highly of me.

After moving away from the dogs, following an old rail bed, I followed a narrow path along some wetlands. An American Woodcock rose up from a few feet in front of me and fluttered away, squawking in a raspy distressed voice . A single , newly hatched chick, was on the ground just in front of me. I quickly snapped a photo (below) and made a carefull and quick retreat, to keep the disturbance to a minimum. Fortunately the pack of dogs was now well in the distance!

Newly hatched American Woodcock (NO flash used, I am not sure what the "dribble" on its back was? Perhaps from the hacthing process.)

Many of the same species were present as the last trip, on the 3rd, and in the same spots...these birds have been on territory for a while. Plenty of Veerys, Hermit Thrushes and a nice assortment of wood warblers (Nashville, BT Blue, BT Green, Canada's and a few Magnolias and Northern Waterthrushes).

Magnolia Warbler

Tree Swallows, Easten Bluebird and House Wren were present in an area of dead trees, in a beaver "impoundment", but the Virginia Rail and American bittern were not seen or heard this morning. Also, confirmed nesters in this area were Flicker, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Song and Swamp Sparrows along with C. Grackle and Red-winged Blackbird(below).

New fledgling Red-winged Blackbird

I stopped by the old Ashburnham Landfill and got permission to walk the edge of the grass cover site, hoping for any grassland species but detected non.

Mountain Laurel, will soon be in full bloom.

6/16 List:

Canada Goose ..2
Wood Duck..1
American Black Duck..1
Ruffed Grouse..1
Wild Turkey..13
Common Loon..1
Great Blue Heron..2
Turkey Vulture..2
Broad-winged Hawk..2
American Woodcock..1
Mourning Dove..9
Belted Kingfisher..1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker..1
Downy Woodpecker..4
Hairy Woodpecker..3
Northern Flicker..2
Pileated Woodpecker..1
Eastern Wood-Pewee..1
Alder Flycatcher..4
Great Crested Flycatcher..2
Eastern Kingbird..2
Blue-headed Vireo..3
Red-eyed Vireo..14
Blue Jay...13
American Crow..6
Common Raven..1
Tree Swallow..22
Northern Rough-winged Swallow..1
Bank Swallow..2
Barn Swallow..6
Black-capped Chickadee..34
Tufted Titmouse..5
Red-breasted Nuthatch..2
White-breasted Nuthatch..1
Brown Creeper..4
House Wren..2
Winter Wren..2
Eastern Bluebird..1
Hermit Thrush..14
Wood Thrush..1
American Robin..8
Gray Catbird..9
European Starling..5
Cedar Waxwing..18
Nashville Warbler..4
Yellow Warbler..5
Magnolia Warbler..3
Black-throated Blue Warbler..4
Yellow-rumped Warbler..3
Black-throated Green Warbler..3
Blackburnian Warbler..4
Pine Warbler..9
Prairie Warbler..1
Black-and-white Warbler..6
Northern Waterthrush..2
Common Yellowthroat..22
Canada Warbler..6
Scarlet Tanager..5
Eastern Towhee..6
Chipping Sparrow..5
Field Sparrow..2
Song Sparrow..16
Swamp Sparrow..14
White-throated Sparrow..9
Northern Cardinal..1
Red-winged Blackbird..15
Common Grackle..60
Brown-headed Cowbird..2
Baltimore Oriole..1
Purple Finch..1
American Goldfinch..16
House Sparrow..2

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mt. Monadnock Hike 6/10/07

Looking West, from the Marlborough trail, toward Perkin's Pond

Sunday afternoon my friend Laura and I hiked up Mount Monadnock, via the Marlboro Trail on from the west. The trail head is off Shaker Farm Road, a dirt road that can be traveled in a passanger car with a reasonable amount of caution. In the parking lot there was a hand full of cars so we did not expect too much "people" traffic until we approached the summit.

From near the parking lot a few species of woodpeckers were heard...Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hairy and a Pileated. Other species such as Red-eyed vireo, Ovenbird and Blackburnian were heard. Black-throated Blue (from mountain laurel) and Black-throated Green Warblers (from hemlocks) were heard along the trail before the mature forest gave way to scrubbier trees, as we neared the tree line. These higher elevations with stunted trees had several Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows and a few Eatern Towhees and Nashville Warblers. Bird song was minimal on the way up, in mid-afternoon, one could imagine at sunrise you'd be completely surrounded by the songs of Junco, White-throats and Towhees.

Purple Finch

At summit there was a dozen or Turkey Vulture soaring and a Northern Raven (one was carrying a food item), these ravens could probably make a decent living off spilled food from hikers. There was a few dozen people on the summit and dozens more on the way to and from the top, but nothing like autumn.

Interesting, on the way down I heard a Junco singing a 2 parted song, the first part the typical trill and second part was 2 or 3 additional "deeper more musical" notes spaced further apart.

Dark-eyed Junco

Our time to reach the summit was about 2 hours, but we took several stops to enjoy the view and laura now knows that birders make for slow hikers.

The bird list:
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker...1
Hairy Woodpecker...2
Pileated Woodpecker...1
Eastern Wood-Pewee...4
Red-eyed Vireo...8
Blue Jay...2
Common Raven...1
Black-capped Chickadee...5
Nashville Warbler...2
Black-throated Blue Warbler...5
Yellow-rumped Warbler...3
Black-throated Green Warbler...4
Black-and-white Warbler...1
Eastern Towhee...1
White-throated Sparrow...3
Dark-eyed Junco...15
Purple Finch...1
American Goldfinch...5

Monday, June 11, 2007

Gardner Birds (Fitch 2 Block) 6/09/07

Saturday morning (from 5AM to 8AM)I did some local birding in the Fitchburg 2 block of the Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas II. This block has a wide variety of habitats most of downtown Gardner and much of South Gardner. There are several ponds, suburban and city streets, forests and wetlands.

At Crystal Lake Cemetery there was at least one pair of Eastern Kingbirds by the lake shore, Baltimore Orioles, Song Sparrows and a Carolina Wren calling from a near by powerline cut. A Common Loon called from the north end of Crystal Lake, in the Fitchburg 1 block, sometimes a loon can be found here during the breeding season. It maybe one of the Lake Wompanoag Birds or an unpaired bird, do to the fog I could not see the bird to look for colored leg bands.

Off Saunders Road I located a White-breasted Nuthatch's nest, actually I found it last week, while walking with my friend Laura. Today, it was carrying a large dragonfly...a darner of some type...into the slash in a tree, the nestlings could be heard chirping when the adult arrived.

At the end of Linus Allain Ave. is a small industrial park that has a few nice wetlands, one of which has 5 active Great Blue Heron nests which had young. A pair of Black-billed Cuckoos was a nice find, an Alder Flycacther was calling (Alders are more common is this part of Worcester County than Willows.) and I had a great look at a Great-crested Flycatcher. One Northern Rough-winged Swallow repeatedly entered a small hole in the bottom of a "semi" trailer, I assume it has a nest inside. The snapping turtle below was laying eggs on top of a sand pile adjacent to the wetland.

Snapping Turtle

Off Rte 2A, in South Gardner, there are a few good sized marshes that may have rails, but there is a a lot of traffic making hearing anything difficult. This was toward the end of my birding, but even at 7:30 Am there is a good deal of traffic. There were Common Grackles feeding fledglings, Red-winged Blackbirds (carrying food), copulating flickers, and a distant Pileated Woodpecker calling and drumming.

The bird list:

Great Blue Heron 10
Rock Pigeon 16
Mourning Dove 12
Black-billed Cuckoo 2
Chimney Swift 6
Downy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 2
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee 1
Alder Flycatcher 2
Eastern Phoebe 3
Great Crested Flycatcher 2
Eastern Kingbird 6
Warbling Vireo 3
Red-eyed Vireo 10
Blue Jay 3
American Crow 6
Tree Swallow 6
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 1
Black-capped Chickadee 11
Tufted Titmouse 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Carolina Wren 1
House Wren 3
Veery 1
Wood Thrush 2
American Robin 32
Gray Catbird 19
European Starling 41
Cedar Waxwing 15
Yellow Warbler 6
Pine Warbler 1
Ovenbird 2
Common Yellowthroat 3
Scarlet Tanager 1
Chipping Sparrow 7
Song Sparrow 9
Northern Cardinal 4
Bobolink 2
Red-winged Blackbird 13
Common Grackle 28
Brown-headed Cowbird 6
Baltimore Oriole 5
House Finch 4
American Goldfinch 18
House Sparrow 12

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Ashburnham Birds 6/03/07 (part 2)

I walked a large sand pit in the Ashburnham 3 block this morning (actually the sand pit area is in Winchendon), after birding off Old County Road. Most know sand pits can be quite productive for birding as the edges can be good for species such as Indio Bunting, Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow and Nashville and Prairie Warbler, to name a few. The steep sides can be good for Bank Swallows and Belted Kingfishers to excavate their nest holes in the sand or clay. Of course red-necks (not Grebe , Phalaropes nor Stints) also frequent sand pits, and are known to sometimes breed in these locales.

While I did not actually see any Red-necks this morning, I could hear them from a distance (on buzzing dirt bikes before I arrived), but they (2 I think) had vanished by the time I arrived just like those pesky Ivory-billed Woodpeckers down south. I have some photographic evidence (and better than Cornell's) below......

Reck-neck fire

Carefully review the contents of the above fire, yes it was still smoldering, for Red-neck evidence:

#1.) A tire ... for a long lasting fire ...helps keep the bugs away.

#2.) That propane cylider to right of center...what more can I say.

#3.) Empty beer bottles (nearly always domestic varieties)...and a "forty" to boot.

#4.) Apparently newspaper is too flamable and dangerous to burn...that stuff could be leathal.

More Emptys (some serious dranken going on)

The sad part for the Belted Kingfisher that took the time excavate a nest hole (below) at this location is the dirt bikers used the wall of the sand bank as a"banked corner" coming just a few feet from the nest hole opening. Obviously this bird had to move on.

Belted Kingfisher nest hole (upper center) and dirt bike tracks.

Later I did find an active Kingfisher nest in another sand pit, that did not appear to be used as a "rec" area.

Ashburnham Birds 6/03/07 (Part 1)

Looking toward Cheshire Pond (Ashburnham)
From 5 am till noon I birded in the Ashburnham 3 block of the Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas. Despite living and birding in the general area for 20 years I have (sadly) only birded this area a few times. I walked up Old Country Road off Rte 101, just outside of South Ashburnham, toward a piece of Ashburnham State Forest and Cheshire Pond, via an old rail road bed. Some of the views across this small pond and associated wetlands gives one the impression of being in northern New Hampshire or Maine. Unfortunately, since the last time I visited (15 years ago) a small housing sub-divison has been developed on the east side of the pond, across from the power lines that "skirts" the pond.

I had hoped for an American Bittern, as the habitat had looked promising, and while I didn't hear "them" calling flew overhead and landed a 100 meters away. A Virgina Rail called in the distance from the same marshy area at the edge of a beaver pond (below).

Beaver Pond (Ashburnham State Forest)

Mosquitoes were out in full force, hearing the more distant bird song was an issue over the buzzing vampires. A Barred Owl and Turkey called soon after I left my car and a bit further up the road a Northern Goshawk passed silently overhead (obviously I wasn't too near its nest sight!). There were good numbers of Black-throated Blue , BT Green, Canada Warblers, White-throated Sparrows and a few Blackburnian and Magnolia Warblers. I was fortunate to hear a few Ruffed Grouse drumming and Pileated Woodpeckers calling. Alder Flycatchers are back in force I saw and heard a few calling from the various open wetlands, in one spot a Willow Flycatcher was calling providing a good comparison between these two apparent identical looking species.

Alder Flycatcher

After this 4 mile walk I stopped by the Raven's nest sight, previous report here, where there was only 2 juveniles left in the nest and one adult. Further down in a wetland off Depot Road I was fortunate to find the Great Egret, Digi-binned below.

Great Egret

In addition to birds White-tailed Deer, Muskrat, an upclose Porcupine and flowers.

Blue Flag
The "business end" of a Porcupine
Cinnamon Fern

Later I checked out a few sand pits and found nesting Bank Swallows and Belted Kingfisher.

This morning's bird list:
Canada Goose 4
American Black Duck 1 flying overhead
Mallard 1
Hooded Merganser 2 females in flight
Ruffed Grouse 2
Wild Turkey 1
American Bittern 1
Great Blue Heron 2
Great Egret 1
Green Heron 1
Northern Goshawk 1
Virginia Rail 1
Killdeer 1
Mourning Dove 8
Barred Owl 1
Chimney Swift 2
Belted Kingfisher 2 (1 at nest hole)
Downy Woodpecker 1
Hairy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 2
Pileated Woodpecker 2
Eastern Wood-Pewee 2
Alder Flycatcher 6
Willow Flycatcher 1
Eastern Kingbird 3
Blue-headed Vireo 2
Red-eyed Vireo 8
Blue Jay 12
American Crow 9
Common Raven 3 2 juv and 1 adult on nest
Tree Swallow 13
Bank Swallow 4 nesting a small colony
Barn Swallow 12
Black-capped Chickadee 26
Tufted Titmouse 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Brown Creeper 1
Winter Wren 1
Veery 8
Hermit Thrush 9
Wood Thrush 1
American Robin 9
Gray Catbird 6
Cedar Waxwing 7
Nashville Warbler 6
Yellow Warbler 5
Chestnut-sided Warbler 4
Magnolia Warbler 4
Black-throated Blue Warbler 5
Yellow-rumped Warbler 6
Black-throated Green Warbler 14
Blackburnian Warbler 4
Pine Warbler 8
Prairie Warbler 1
Black-and-white Warbler 10
American Redstart 1
Ovenbird 22
Northern Waterthrush 2
Common Yellowthroat 18
Canada Warbler 8
Scarlet Tanager 4
Eastern Towhee 5
Chipping Sparrow 4
Field Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 5
Swamp Sparrow 7
White-throated Sparrow 9
Northern Cardinal 1
Indigo Bunting 1
Red-winged Blackbird 21
Common Grackle 39
Brown-headed Cowbird 4
Baltimore Oriole 2
Purple Finch 3
American Goldfinch 8

Friday, June 1, 2007

Osprey Nests in Pepperell (5/31)

During my lunch hour , on thursday 5/31, I took the opportunity to visit the two Osprey nests in Pepperell (and Dr. Dave's ice cream stand). The first nest , which I first posted about on this site back in April, is off Elliot Street "centered" in a beaver pond. An adult was standing in the nest and I could make out the head of at least one young Osprey moving just below the rim of the nest.

This nest, and I would suppose many other large raptor's nests , is a "multi-cultural" dwelling as both House Sparrows and European Starlings were bringing nesting materials into the lower portions of the large stick nest. Occasionally a Starling would get a bit too close to the rim of the nest would and get "THE evil stare" and a vocal warning from the adult Osprey. The Starling was perfectly willing to comply and retreat, knowing it has a good deal going with the "first floor lease" arragement.

The second nest in located high atop a cell tower at Lomar Industrial Park off Rte 111. The adult was standing and did not appear to be incubating eggs, so hopefully young have successfully hatched out in this nest.