Friday, April 4, 2008

Bolton Flats 4/03

Dirt road along the north side of Rte 117, along Bolton Flats

I had a nice walk at Bolton Flats located, in Bolton and Lancaster, Ma., the evening of 4/3. With recent rains and spring snow melt the "flats", a series of wetlands and corn fields along the Nashua River are partially flooded. This is one of the best locales for spring waterfowl and shorebirds in Worcester County, shin high boots are helpfull...hip boots even better!
Just on the south side of Rte 117 I counted nearly 200 Wood Ducks in one small area, I am convinced there were many more hidden in the portions of uncut corn stalks....quite a sight. Along with the Woodies were many Mallards, a few Black Ducks, 50+ Green-winged Teal, a dozen Northern Pintails and a pair of American Wigeon. I flushed an American Woodcock and saw a single Wilson's Snipe near the woodies.
On the north side of Rte 117, I had expected to see more Snipe, I saw none but a single of each Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs was very nice! Many Killdeer were moving about and calling and more Green-winged Teal were in the lower portions of the field. My first Blue-winged Teal of the year were nearly hidden behind thick brush as were a few Ring-necked Ducks in deeper water. I never made it into the pond, which is well hidden by brush and difficult to get to without hip boots....I had none and wanted to stay dry.
Steve Anderson was walking the dirt road and while we chatted, a Peregrine Falcon (which has been present for the past week or two) came "steaming" across the corn field causing a panic and took a quick swipe at a flushing American Robin. At first, I thought it caught one as something was dandling from its feet. This "item" did give an appearance of a thin piece of grass rather than a prey item. The bird perched, about 300-400 yards out, and fiddled with didn't seem to be eating. We scanned the area to see if a falconer might be in the area, as it occured to us this "dangling object" could be a jesse. With poor light and a distant bird we could not make out enough detail to solve the "mystery.

Looking west across the flooded corn field, nice spring waterfowl and shorebird habitat and not a bad sunset.

Attention was redirected to the Lesser Yellowlegs was "stretched" out in a horizontal posture trying to be "one with the water" and avoid being dinner. As Steve and I got back to the parking area, an other birder Chuck Johnson, had just seen the Peregrine perched close, but it took off before he could get his scope on it. The 3 of us chatted a bit and the Peregrine was seen again, this time passing directly overhead and low...and solving our mystery..while we didn't see the straps as it was nearly dark, were could hear the jiggling of bells coming from the passing bird ... and the erasing of Peregrine Falcon off my Worcester County year list.

The evening's bird list:
Canada Goose 40
Wood Duck 195
American Wigeon 2
American Black Duck 12
Mallard 125
Blue-winged Teal 3
Northern Pintail 12
Green-winged Teal (American) 120
Ring-necked Duck 2
Common Merganser 2
Great Blue Heron 1
Killdeer 20
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Lesser Yellowlegs 1
Wilson's Snipe 1
American Woodcock 2
Ring-billed Gull 15
Mourning Dove 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
American Crow 10
Tree Swallow 6
Black-capped Chickadee 3
Tufted Titmouse 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Eastern Bluebird 2
American Robin 75
American Tree Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 12
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird 100
Common Grackle 2750
American Goldfinch 3

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