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


Larry said...

What a close encounter you had with the deer.-beautiful photo-Sounds like you are quite the birder.-I have a book about birding in Massachusetts that I'm currently reading-Maybe I'll make a visit to Mass some time.

Tom Pirro said...

Thank You, Larry. The deer was very close and remained remarkably calm ("for being face to face".)