Thursday, November 1, 2007

Mount Watatic Gray Jay 11/01/07

Gray Jay at the summit of Mount Watatic in Ashburnham, Ma.

I was able to hike up to mount Watatic today to try for the Gray Jay that has been present since at least the 21st of Oct. During the 1.1 mile hike from up the Wapck/Midstate Trail there were many Golden-crowned Kinglets and a few Ruby Crowned as well as lots of Black-capped Chickadees. I spished and imitated a Screech Owl to call in the song birds, hoping for a Boreal Chickadee but had no luck. I ran into a few birders hiking down and they reported the Jay was present and taking handouts. They also reported a Red Crossbill flew past.

Upon arriving near the summit I noticed a guy (Randy) looking in a spruce tree and I asked if he had the Jay. "Is that what this thing is?", he was hiking and while fairly knowledgeable on the common birds of our area, he was unfamiliar with Gray Jays. Notice Randy got a little more familiar with the species (below)!

I came baring food for the bird, peanuts, I also brought M+Ms...but those were for me! I held out a few peanuts for the Jay, it didn't come at first. Foolishly, I placed the open can of nut beside me and we all know corvids are fairly smart....I turned around and the bird was eating from the can of nuts. This tame behavior is very typical of the species, as they are seemingly very trusting and known as the "camp robber".
Why take a measley nut when I can have the whole can!
I capped the can, the Jay came to my boot!
Then my hand!

Time for a drink of bottled water!

I also did some other birding today, I saw my first Iceland Gulls of the adult at Gardner High School this morning and a 1st year Iceland at the Crystal Lake roost in the evening. Gull numbers at the the evening roost on Crystal Lake continue to be high, last night there was approx. 2,250 birds on the lake, this evening just over 1,000....gulls continue to arrive after dark so this evening apparent decline may just be the birds arriving later. There was also an adult and 1st year Lesser Black-backed Gull tonight! The bulk of the gulls have been Herring (80%), Ring-billed(10%) , Great Black-backed (5%) and just a few rarer species. Though, GBBG may increase to occasionally 400-500.


Larry said...

Great photos! I did see Gray Jays this summer in New Hampshire, but have yet to see a Boreal Chickadee.
I'm amazed by birders who can identify a Crossbill flyover.-I've only seen 1 WW Crosbill in CT.-they must have seen many.

Tom Pirro said...

This bird, as other Gray Jays I've see up north, are always a lot of fun. I think the folks had one crossbill fly past yesterday, but knowing their flight calls is key and worth listening on CD or the internet. SO far in mass., all the winter finches have been detected, in limited numbers, except for Hoary Redpoll. Hopefully the numbers will continue to build, as winter and CBC's approach!

Anonymous said...

Tom what great pictures and what a great interaction with the bird! Jealousy to the depth of my soul! I have never even seen a Gray Jay, never mind play with one!