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


Larry said...

How long have you been birding Tom?-Looks like you are pretty hardcore-I'm much more casual, but have only been birding for about 3 or so years.

Tom Pirro said...

I started about 1985 (so 20 plus years), was causual for the first 5 years or so, then I got more serious. Most of my birding is close to home, but hopefully in the furture I will the oppertunity to travel and bird more outside New England.

Larry said...

I stick close to home too-I think there are some pluses to concentrating on your local area.