Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mount Watatic (Ashburnham, MA.) Gray Jay 10/21 to 10/29....

Sunday, when I got home from a day trip to New York, I saw a post on Massbird that a Gray Jay was found on the Summitt of Mount Watatic. Yesterday, 10/29, Oakes Spaulding reported seeing the bird about 4/5th of the way to the summit during the early afternoon, along the main hiking trail (Wapac Trail), nice to know it was still there!

This morning, I took a very quick"lung burning" hike to summit, on the way to work, and birded the summit area for about 20-30 minutes. Mashall IIliff was there, with his dog, and neither of us saw the bird while I was there, though they were staying longer. Three Snow Bunting flew past while I was there.

When I check my email at work I had a post from Bob Hill, who lives near my work in Groton, Mass. Bob hiked up Watatic, with his young son, the previous sunday 10/21 and had seen the Gray Jay then! Apparently he hikes the White Mountains of New Hampshire regularly and has seen Gray Jays up there. He did not report the bird because.... "I thought, "Oh that's cool", but am so used to seeing them in the Whites that I figured it wasn't a big stretch to see one here." .....

So its good to know the bird has been in the area for some time and perhaps others, such as myself, may still have an oppertunity to see this bird. There are photos of the bird, from 10/28 at:

For updates check the Massbird listserv. link in my links section about.

Yesterday 10/29 I saw two White-winged Scoters on Crystal Lake, in Gardner, along with 450 Herring Gulls, 75 Ring-billed, 25 Great Black-backed and an adult Lesser black-backed Gull.

Sunday 10/28 I saw a probable Cackling Goose at Tomhannock Reservior just east of Troy, New York I had a great look at dozen Canada Goose flying over the car as we drove over the causeway, one of which was very small about 1/2 to 2/3 the size of the other Canadas and about 1/2 the bulk. I had been by this spot a few years back and seen a Cackling Goose then, along with ~5-6,000 Canada Geese, this is a very good waterfowl spot in New York's Capital District.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gardner gulls 10/27/07

I took a few quick drive to look for gulls and waterfowl on Crystal Lake, Gardner High School and the Templeton Developement Center this morning. There was little on Crystal Lake, about 25 Herring, Great Black-backed Gulls and essentially no waterfowl. At Gardner High there was a few hundred gulls on the varsity football field, mostly Herring, 20 Ring-billed and two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls. One of the LBBG's in digi-scoped below.

Also of note was one apparent 2nd year gull of which I wonder if its a European type Herring Gull, LBBG or just a very pale American Herring Gull? When I saw this bird fly it appeared to have very worn plumage, perhaps it hasn't yet molted into 2 winter plumage? However this bird is smaller than the near by Herring's and closer to that of the LBBG, the primary wing projection also appears quite short, but could be do to worn primaries. A poor quality digi-scoped photo is below...with an adult Herring Gull and part of a LBBG to the right. I will check with a few folks as to their thoughts on this apparent 2nd year bird.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gardner) 10/23

A portion of the gulls at Mount Wachusett Community College this moring, the LBB Gull in near the center.

Back on 10/12 I had seen 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls in the Greater Gardner area, the first was a 1st year bird at Gardner High School and the 2nd an adult at Monty Tech High School. Then again on Sunday 10/21 the (or another) adult was present at Crystal Lake and this morning it was on the lawn in front of Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC).
Lesser Black-backed Gull
These birds tend to move about over the course of the day .... major roosting sites (that I know of)are Wachusett Reservior (West Boylston area), Notown Reservior (Leominster), Lake Nagog (Acton), Connecticut River (Turner's Falls) and Crystal Lake (Gardner). There are only a few landfills (we called them dumps when I was a kid) left in the area, one in Barre, Ma. and Westminster, Ma. to attract the larger species of gulls. Gulls move about from the roosting sites and often time feed on grassy areas such as atheltic fields, golf courses, cut or plowed corn fields and of course the landfills.

Last year (11/04/06) I saw a Great Black-backed Gull that was color died green, I only saw it once at the Crystal Lake roost. I was able to find that 2 studies in the north east, one in Maine and another in maritime Canada, had used green die on GBB Gulls.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A little of this and that from here and there

Yesterday 10/20 my girlfriend and I took a 6mile walk along some back roads of Keene, NH toward the end I heard Evening Grosbeaks calling along with House Sparrows...which sort of kind sound alike. While similar, the Evening Grosbeaks is a brief "piercing" whistle like call and once acustom to this call is quite distinctive. There were at least 6 Evening Grosbeaks visiting a feeder and feeding in an Ash tree that was "loaded" with seeds. This winter is looking very promising from a winter finch stand point. Evening Grosbeaks have been report in small numbers from eastern Mass. and Cape Cod, ditto for Pine Siskin, a few White-winged Crossbills were seen on Pack Monadnock last week, and (while NOT a finch) Bohemian Waxwings have been report from New Hampshire(the Whitefield area) and Cape Cod, Ma.

Also, yesterday I stopped by Hinsdale, NH along the Conn. River ... 9 Pied-billed Grebes and about 2,000 Red-winged Blackbirds was nice. Resent counts, by local birders, of blackbirds coming into roost in the large freshwater marsh, have exceeded 10,000. I did not stay until dusk...choosing to move down stream to Turner's Falls Mass.

In Turner's Falls I "caught" the evening waterfowl roost, with bird congragating just upstrean from the anadromous fish station. Mixed in with approximately 2,000 Canada Geese was a single Cackling Goose. This minature Canada is now considered a separate species from the larger forms of Canada Goose, which may have something to do with the recent increased sightings. Two Northern Shovelers, 25 Common Mergansers along with 200+ Mallards was nice too....many, many puddle ducks continued to pour in after dark.

Today 10/21 I headed down to Concord, Ma. to try for a view of the Barnacle and Greater White-fronted Goose that have been present for about a week. I hit a few cut corn fields with no luck and finally bumped into Chris Floyd and Mark Lynch at Great Meadows and was told both those birds were about a 1/2 mile back, on a small pond (where they were "supposed to be":). I had nice looks at each of these before heading back home.

A poor quality digi-scoped photo (through my old swift scope)
Numbers of waterfowl at the Great Meadows impoundments....300+ Green Winged-teal, Pintails, Am. Wigeon, Wood Duck, 200+ Mallards , Black Ducks and 100's of Canada Geese was just as impressive as the rare birds.

Lastly, this evening at Crystal Lake, in Gardner, Ma. (just up the street from my house), I caught the evening gull roost which included an Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. Perhaps this was the same bird I saw in Westminster last week? About 600 Herring, 100 Great Black-backed and 50 Ring-billed Gulls were also present. Last year gull numbers maxed out with nearly 3,000 coming into the lake in late November, I maybe the only person in town that thinks this is a good thing...as Crystal Lake is Gardner's water supply.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Moorhen and Lesser B-b Gulls

Typically gulls will congregate on the athletic fields of Gardner High School in the early morning after disbursing from their roost on Crystal Lake about a mile away. After leaving my son at school this morning I scanned the gulls, numbering over 100, and was fortunate to find a first winter type Lesser Black-backed Gull among the more common Herring and Ring-billed Gulls. These birds usually pick through the grass for eath worms and maybe a few crumbs left over from the previous day's snacking atheletes.

Chuck Caron had told me the previous year that gulls also gather on the atheletic field of Monty Tech Regional High School, in nearby Westminster. Feeling lucky, I decided to swing by Monty Tech on my way into work. Upon arrival I saw nearly the same number of gulls as in Gardner and with the Herring and Ring-billeds was another Lesser Black-backed Gull, this one an adult.

This species, while still uncommon, still appears to be on the increase in Massachusetts, and I would presume in other north eastern states too. I read a report of one found nesting on a remote island in Maine, just over the New hampshire border. If I recall correctly that Lesser Black-backed Gull was paired off with a Herring Gull.

Yesterday I was fortunate to find a Common Moorhen along the Nashua River in Pepperell, Ma. , near my work. I revisited today, and saw it was still present, and loosely associating with 4 American Coot. Other birds of note in Pepperell were Wood Duck (3) Blue-winged Teal (9), Northern Pintail (3), American Wigeon (2), Black Duck (1), Mallard (~30), Lesser Scaup (1), Mute Swan (8) and Pied-billed Grebe (13).

Another species of note, was a Barnicle Goose found in Concord, Ma. yesterday and still present this morning. Its an unbanded bird, with no unusual feather wear, arriving with migrate geese during peak migration which will leave many (especially the one's who have seen it!) to beleive this is a bird of wild origin. Last week, a Barnicle Goose was seen passing on the New Hampshire coast by Jane and Steve Mirick(same bird?)! See the massbird link (in my links section) above for further details.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Groton, Ma. Birds 10/10/07

This noon I birded Fitch's Bridge Road in Groton, walking about 1/3 mile along a dirt section that bisects agricultural fields. The fields are a mixture of corn, pumpkin and squash, with mixed weeds (in the "squash sections) and adjacent irrigaton ditchs making for excellent sparrow habitat. During October and through the autum there is generally good numbers Song, Swamp, Savanah, White-throated, Junco and Chipping Sparrows...though Chipping will be essentially gone by early Novemeber and replaced by American Tree Sparrow. Fewer numbers of Field, Lincoln's, White-crowned and an occasional Vesper maybe mixed in during October.
Savanah Sparrow(D-B)

Over the years I have found a few more species (considered unusual in this area) of sparrow and sparrow types birds in the fields. Which include Nelson's Sharp-tailed, Grasshopper, Clay-colored and Dicksissel.

Swamp Sparrow (D-B)

10/10 lunch list:
Canada Goose...2
Northern Harrier...1
Cooper's Hawk...1
Mourning Dove...8
Red-bellied Woodpecker...1
Downy Woodpecker...1
Hairy Woodpecker...1
Blue Jay...3
American Crow...5
Black-capped Chickadee...4
Tufted Titmouse...5
White-breasted Nuthatch...1
Golden-crowned Kinglet...1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet...2
Eastern Bluebird...4
American Robin...2
Gray Catbird...2
Yellow-rumped Warbler...15
Palm Warbler...8
Common Yellowthroat...1
Chipping Sparrow...40
Field Sparrow...1
Savannah Sparrow...15
Song Sparrow...15
Lincoln's Sparrow...4
Swamp Sparrow...25
White-throated Sparrow...30
White-crowned Sparrow...4
Dark-eyed Junco...2
Northern Cardinal...3
Red-winged Blackbird...300
Rusty Blackbird...6
Common Grackle...8
American Goldfinch...5

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Keene Airport 10/7/07 (Swanzey, NH)

I birded the Keene Airport, after visiting my girlfriend today, ( a two airport day!) area later this afternoon, walking the back road to the waste water treatment plant and back. Over the past few years I have seen good reports from here by local birders, so I figured it was worth the effort. While there were no big surprises I was pleased to see 9 White-crowned (7 Imm. and 2 adults) , 1 Lincon's and 1 Field Saprrow along with a Rusty Blackbird and several Cedar Waxings. Any time I see an Owl during the daylight is special and this afternoon I had a nice look at this Barred Owl (below).

Barred Owl (digi-binned)
Barred Owl (D-B)

The bird list:

Canada Goose...50
Turkey Vulture...2
American Kestrel...1
Mourning Dove...3
Barred Owl...1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker...3
Downy Woodpecker...6
Hairy Woodpecker...2
Northern Flicker...5
Eastern Phoebe...7
Blue-headed Vireo...2
Blue Jay...20
American Crow...6
Black-capped Chickadee...10
Tufted Titmouse...1
White-breasted Nuthatch...2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet...1
Hermit Thrush...1
American Robin...2
Gray Catbird...3
Cedar Waxwing...50
Black-throated Blue Warbler...1
Yellow-rumped Warbler...8
Palm Warbler...6
Common Yellowthroat...4
Field Sparrow...1
Savannah Sparrow...8
Song Sparrow...6
Lincoln's Sparrow...1
Swamp Sparrow...10
White-throated Sparrow...20
White-crowned Sparrow...9
Dark-eyed Junco...8
Eastern Meadowlark...1
Rusty Blackbird...1
Purple Finch...3
American Goldfinch...5
House Sparrow...2

Northern Wheatear 10/07 (Orange, Ma.)

The Northern Wheatear, first found by Mike Polana on Friday 10/5/07, was still present this morning between 7:30 and when I left the area at 8:20am. It perched atop an orange snow plow shortly after I arrived and showed nicely for 8 birders that where present. It moved from the plow to a short fence in front of the airport office, to a picinic table then to edge of the runway and to the back of a truck.

Northern Wheatear perched on a picinic table.

After having nice looks a few birders left and the rest of us moved to a different vantage point scan the airfield for other species. Upon walking back to my car, alone, I noticed the bird had moved closer to parking lot and I managed to snap a few more digi-bin photos though my 8x binoculars (below).

Wheatear foraging near a pile of scrap wood.

Perched atop the fence (note the differnce in buffy color from the picture above and the previous..which are much lighter, sometimes the angle of view, lighting and exposure can give very different impressions as to coloration of the same individual). With subtle colors, caution should always be used when making judgements.

How long will the stay in the area is alway a question that might come up, and it did. With the recent warm and summery weather it is not a surprise that it did not move Friday or Saturday nights. But with a cold front coming through today it may very well move on tonight and today could be the last day its present. Typically this species does not tend to linger very long, especially in inland locations! Time will tell.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Back yard birds 10/5 and 10/6

White-throated Sparrow numbers are at a high level in the area right now. When I wake up in the morning I can hear several of their chip notes from the back yard and the occasional "broken" and incomplete song. Along with the White-throats have been was a Yellow-bellied Sapsuck and Chestnut-sided Warbler on 10/5. There is now a pair of Carolina Wrens in the thicket that borders my yard as well, here is a digi-bin photo of one below.
Carolina Wren

And...the big news in north central Massachusetts was a Northern Wheatear found by Mike Polana at the Orange, Ma. airfield yesterday 10/5! It sounds like Mike got the news out quickly and many birders have been able see this rare thrush. There are only a handfull of records of this species from the interior of Massachusetts. I may not have a chance to chase this one today, maybe tomorrow if its still present.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pepperell Birds 10/4

This noon I took a lunch break along the back-waters of the Nashua River to see what might be in the area for waterfowl. The visit turned out to be quite productive for a few species that tend to be locally uncommon. First I noticed 5 American Coot, while this species is a regular on certain bodies of water, such as the impoundments at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refudge (Concord, Ma.) I have not seen this species in the immediate area before, though my efforts haven't been extensive.
A few other nice species were 14 Blue-wing Teal, 10 Pied-billed Grebes and an Osprey that had just "pulled up short" on a dive for a fish. Ospreys tend to be very localized breeders in massachusetts away from the coast, but there are a few pairs the nest in this general area.

2 of 14 Blue-wing Teal rest on a downed tree

While pulling out of the parking lot at work (In Groton, Ma.), I notice a sparrow hopping on the lawn. Three evenings ago there was a White-crowned Sparrow in this very spot and thats what it was, still present.

A Handsome adult White-crowned Sparrow working the lawn

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Gardner Birds 10/3

I made a series of quick stops along Kelton and Raymond Streets this morning, between 7 and 8AM. Before leaving I hear a few White-throated Sparrows in my yard and a Carolina Wren, which has been present for the past several days. While Carolina Wrens are not too uncommon they still not terribly wide spread in the higher elevations of north Worcester County.

I did see a few Black-poll Warblers, which are now thinning out in numbers. Some years Black-polls are the most common warbler in the area during mid September.

I spoke briefly with a genlteman who lives on Lake Wompanoag, who mentioned the pair of Common Loons did indeed loose their young this year. Apparently both adults where very adgitated for about 2 days after he had last seen evidence of the chick(s). He said he'd seen two young, but I personally had seen just one newly hatched chick...so perhaps the chicks were lost on two different dates.

last evening, in Groton, I had a nice look at an adult White-crowned Sparrow. October tends to be the best month for sparrows in this area.

This morning's list:

Ring-billed Gull...4
Downy Woodpecker...2
Hairy Woodpecker...1
Northern Flicker...3
Eastern Phoebe...3
Blue-headed Vireo...1
Blue Jay...10
American Crow...2
Black-capped Chickadee...15
Tufted Titmouse...3
Red-breasted Nuthatch...4
White-breasted Nuthatch...1
Brown Creeper...1
Carolina Wren...1
Golden-crowned Kinglet...2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet...8
American Robin...1
Gray Catbird...6
Yellow-rumped Warbler...6
Pine Warbler...1
Blackpoll Warbler...2
Common Yellowthroat...6
Eastern Towhee...1
Chipping Sparrow...2
Song Sparrow...2
Swamp Sparrow...1
White-throated Sparrow...3
Purple Finch...8
American Goldfinch...3