Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Westminster CBC 12/27

I was hestitant to start this count very early, as freezing rain was predicted for early morning changing over to rain. At 5:30AM my driveway was icy but sanding crews had taken care of the roads, so the driving was better than expected. None of this ice stuck to the trees, which was a relief after the disaster of 2 weeks ago.

The wind was calm so I decided to do a bit of owling. Just down the street, I stopped near a hemlock stand and managed to "lure" a Northern Saw Whet Owl to call out. Smith Street in Gardner, inside High Ridge WMA, was plowed so I walked in a 1/2 mile, but could not manage another owl. The same for the few stops along Kelton Street near Lake Wompanoag, though a distant pack of coyotes answered my "suspiciuous" Barred Owl calls.
Sunrise over the Smith Street marsh at high Ridge WMA, well not really, those are the prison lights!

Walking around near Mount Wachusett Community College, I started my daylight birding at 7AM. American Tree and Song Sparrows, plenty of American Robins, I heard a Common Redpoll calling over head, being a nice surprise. While Redpolls were wide spread last year, but they are very scarce this year.
Three large Cedars, at Crystal lake Cemetery, were snapped in half during the recent ice storm, this type of scene was all too common in the area
Near Crystal Lake Cemetery, I work some feeding stations, near a powerline cut and pickup my 1st Carolina Wren of the day and my only Mockingbird. I am surprised to see a good size flock of waterfowl over head which included about 50 Mallards and 2 Black Ducks, with no open water in my area, these are bonus birds!

This Carolina Wren remained quiet, but stood at attention for a digi-bin photo.
The rain stays light, for most of the morning, and the birds are responding well to my screech owl imitation, so the numbers of Downy Woodpeckers, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatche and juncos, add up nicely. I manage a few Red-breasted Nuthatches, Golden Crowned Kinglets, 2 flocks of Pine Siskins and Wild Turkeys, off Raymond Street.
I "ran" into Butch on Raymond Street, well... he was doing all the running, I had found my 1st Carolina Wren in his back yard.

By mid-morning the rain begins to pickup and feet are wet , my species list is decent at about 30, but the rain is slowing things a bit. Enough with the wet feet ,there is a nice locally owned shoe store, Dow Family Shoes, on the west side of my territory...it only takes 20 mintues, 100 bucks and I'm standing in a new pair of waterproof and warm Kamik winter boots. Now I am ready to walk some city streets!
Remains from the recent ice storm, this appears to be a vacant house. No tree removal has taken place, nor the broken bay window repaired.

Most year's finding one Carolina Wren is good for Gardner, but today I managed to find 4, only one called, the others remained quiet. The past few years I have worked the "city" streets a bit more, that helped with the wren count today. Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers were a nice find too, another formerly rare bird in these parts, now they are regular. This count will easily break records on both Carolina Wren and Red-bellied Woodpecker this year.
The rain is off and on the rest of the day, but I am able to add common species near feeding stations. It is difficult to add new species in the afternoon, as the habitat is more less similar to what I've already covered. Late in the afternoon, while "spishing" in a flock chickadees , I thought to myself, "boy I could really use a Pileated Woodpecker right about now"! I literally turned around, and saw a crow sized bird flying past with white flashing on the underwings, BINGO....that doesn't happen too often.
I ended the day with 34 species, up from 32 last year and 1081 individuals which was EXACTLY the same 1081 as last year!
The list for the day from my territory, on the north side of Gardner:

Canada Goose...1
American Black Duck...2
Wild Turkey...27
Red-tailed Hawk...1
Ring-billed Gull...7
Rock Pigeon...97
Mourning Dove...31
Northern Saw-whet Owl...1
Red-bellied Woodpecker...2
Downy Woodpecker...14
Hairy Woodpecker...2
Pileated Woodpecker...1
Blue Jay...67
American Crow...35
Black-capped Chickadee...188
Tufted Titmouse...29
Red-breasted Nuthatch...2
White-breasted Nuthatch...21
Carolina Wren...4
Golden-crowned Kinglet...2
American Robin...159
Northern Mockingbird...1
European Starling...70
Cedar Waxwing...3
American Tree Sparrow...25
Song Sparrow...5
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)...53
Northern Cardinal...7
House Finch...2
Common Redpoll...1
Pine Siskin...23
American Goldfinch...43
House Sparrow...105

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