Sunday, December 23, 2007

Westminster, Ma. CBC (N. Gardner) 12/22/07

With the exception of one year, owling has been rather unproductive in my section of this Christmas Count. But, it is the "home town" count so I usually put in a few token hours of effort before dawn. After hitting a few spots from the car, I took the 1.5 mile snowshoe route I had scouted on Thursday. While my owling "luck" held true, I had a very enjoyable walk through the woods, got some exercise and saw lots of fresh deer and snowshoe hare tracks.

I was at Mount Wachusett Community College just before dawn trying to pick up the Pine Grosbeaks seen there earlier. The first bird I hear is a Mourning Dove's wings as it leaves its roost, a few American Tree Sparrows are in the marsh. Pine Grosbeaks call in the distance, but a real surprise...drum roll please.... is a lone Canada Goose flying west. CBC's are a "relative thing" when it comes to species distribution, and I did not expect any waterfowl with this year's heavy snow and ice cover. Another "good bird" is a single Snow Bunting calling as it flew overhead, it makes a few passes but I never locate this bird in the binoculars.

Female Pine Grosbeak near the college

25 Pine Grosbeaks will be the final tally in this area before moving up to the Lake Wompanoag area. I pickup a small flock of Evening Grosbeaks and 4 more Pines, in the same tree on Stone Street! Evening Grosbeaks were once very common birds, but they have been in short supply for the past several years. Wild Turkeys are seen along road sides and in trees in 3 different area, I continue add chickadees, nuthatches, Blue Jays, the stuff CBC's are made of.

Wild Turkeys on Stone Street, Gardner

I move back in town for the chore of counting House Sparrows, Rock Pigeons and European Starlings. A small flock of Common Redpolls pass overhead and then an adult Red-tailed Hawk at Crystal Lake cemetery, which I will meet up with again. The old landfill, once the "epicenter" for gulls, crows and starlings, a place to really add some "numeric heft" to the total, was essentially "null and void", an avian desert since it closed in 2005!

While walking some city streets I manage to find my, and the counts, only White-throated Sparrow with more "regulars" but a close look at an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk is nice.

Golden-crowned Kinglets are in short supply this year, but I have seen a few in recent weeks near the east side of Crystal Lake. As I got out of the car, a Red-tailed Hawk passes very low behind a snow bank, it doesn't come out the other side. I slowly move for a better angle and see it has just cut the city's squirrel population by one! It stays "put" and I get a series of 1/2 decent pictures (1 is below). The "tail" then moves to the cover of the nearby woodlot of eat in privacy. I miss the kinglets but this is the most enjoyable sighting of the day!

Red-tailed Hawk with Gray Squirrel (digi-binned)

The list from my section (only) of the count:
Canada Goose...1
Wild Turkey...13
Sharp-shinned Hawk...1
Red-tailed Hawk...1
Ring-billed Gull...1
Rock Pigeon...113
Mourning Dove...80
Downy Woodpecker...9
Hairy Woodpecker...3
Pileated Woodpecker...1
Blue Jay...43
American Crow...28
Common Raven...1
Black-capped Chickadee...154
Tufted Titmouse...18
Red-breasted Nuthatch...2
White-breasted Nuthatch...15
Brown Creeper...2
American Robin...8
European Starling...281
Cedar Waxwing...26
American Tree Sparrow...20
White-throated Sparrow...1
Dark-eyed Junco...43
Snow Bunting...1
Northern Cardinal...12
Pine Grosbeak...30
House Finch...9
Common Redpoll...10
American Goldfinch...40
Evening Grosbeak...12
House Sparrow....102


Anonymous said...

Too bad about the owls. The only CBC I do any Owling is for the "Home Count" too. I have a pretty good idea where I can pick up Barred, Great-horned and Screech locally. Maybe this year Saw-whets will be added to the list.I remian impressed/jealous of the number of northern species you are getting. I only have Siskins so far but Repolls are starting to be seen in the immediate area, so who knows.

Larry said...

I finally ended up seeing Pine grosbeaks Tom.-Up in Norfolk.-I'll be keeping an eye on the B. Waxwing reports now.

Tom Pirro said...

Larry nice! I saw your blog and nice photo and video. The Bo Waxes outta be down soon. Another team had one on the Westminster CBC just around the corner from my house. Cape Cod and Cape Ann, along the coast had a huge influx (hundreds) last weekend.