Our NH birdathon team (Chuck Caron, Paul Meleski and I) decided to do something a little different, for us at least, for this years NH contest. We loaded up the "land yatch" and headed to northern New Hampshire and birded the wilds of Coos County,concetrating on Pittsburg looking for some northern specialties planning then to work our way south to Whitefield/Jefferson area.
The "Walmart" of Pittsburg
We arrived mid-day on Friday and scouted some of the logging roads, Indian Stream and East Inlet Roads, north of the town of Pittsburg. The weather was cold, windy with on and off rain, snow flurries and hail. Bird song was minimal but finding territorial species such as Northern Parula, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue (and Green) and Yellow-rumped Warblers was not an issue. We heard a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, while probably a common bird up here, May 23rd seemed a tad earliy for so far north or maybe because we'd heard it just after being "hailed" upon.
Later in the afternoon, we checked into the Colebrook Country Club and got dinner a few miles away, the only place that had a generator (there was a local power outage). After dinner we drove some of the back roads in the Colebrook area where we had Savanha Sparrow, Bobolinks an Amercian Bittern and heard winnowing Wilson's Snipe.
Most impressive, to ME, was a yard that had so much junk in it, you couldn't even tell what was there ...and guess who left his camera at the motel...this would've certainly taken 1st prize on Foxworthy's "Red-neck yard of the week"! I was one vote short to get this locale on the Saturday route, my plea of "*@$# the Spruce Grouse", fell on deaf ears!
On "game day" we got started a bit before 4am, hitting some back roads in Colebrook as we worked toward Pittsburg. The song of White-throated Sparrows was constant, we picked up the song of a distant winnowing Snipe and American Bittern. Once we got up to Pittsburg and onto Indian Stream Road bird song was constant, nothing fancy but never out of ear shot from the song of Northern Parula, American Redstart, Magnolia (especially), Blackburnian, BT Blue, BT Green Warblers. Northern Waterthrush and Ruby-crowned Kinglets were very common as well.
Along East Inlet Road there was still pockets of snow between the Balsm Fir, we picked up a Bay-breatsted Warbler, Evening Grosbeak and Rusty Blackbird. At the East Inlet spillway we missed the Hooded Mergs that were present on Friday but, a Gray Jay came in and took handouts! We would see 3 more during the morning. We continued up East Inlet Road carefully looking for Spruce Grouse, missing it but we got a few Boreal Chickadees.
Our first surprise species was 4 Surf Scoters on Scott's Bog Pond, 2 drakes and 2 hens, along with a pair of Ring-necked Ducks and Hooded Merganers. On 2nd Connecticut Lake we got 5 White-winged Scoters and a Bald Eagle, and a hen Common Goldeneye flew past over 1st Connecticut Lake. We found a nice flock of swallows along on Rte 3 which was mostly Cliff Swallows, that were nest building on a gift shop and a few nearby homes.
We spent most of the morning in Pittsburg and got 2 of the 4 boreal specialties we'd hoped for, missing Spruce Grouse and Black-backed Woodpecker.
Scott's Bog Pond
The view from the platform at Cherry Pond was spectacular with the Presidential range as a back drop to this natural pond.
On the walk to Little Cherry Pond we added Blackpoll Warbler and Red-breasted Nuthatch which now brought our total to 99 species. The mosquitoes were now out in force as we continued onward, some one commented "there better be something good out here". As we arrived at the viewing platform we heard an unfamilar sound, that was most likely a Black-backed Woodpecker. However, this was on our "had to be seen list" and we had some uncertainty so this went uncounted. A monemt later a Black Tern was seen on the far side of the pond, a perfect bird to bring us over the century mark for the day! A hen Wood Duck was seen a moment later and then a singing Tennesee Warbler on the walk back to the car.
Our last bird of the day was a Chimney Swift in Twin Mountain, after we'd eaten dinner at a local restaraunt. We finished off with 104 species and we had some interesting misses, such as Downy Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, White-breatsed Nuthatch, Northern Cardinal, Scarlet Tanager and Northern Rough-winged Swallow to name a few. Though, some of these may be tough to find up north and we did not spend a lot of time worrying about these.
Our list of birds for 5/24:
Great Blue Heron
American Black Duck
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler