Saturday, January 10, 2009

Milford, NH Snowy Owl 1/10/09

A Snowy Owl was reported a few weeks ago in Milford, NH; which was found during the Nashua-Hollis CBC. Fortunately this bird has stuck around and has been enjoyed by many birders, and I arrived at Hayward's Icecream Stand about 10AM, got out of the car and began scanning the large fields. Nothing....I put the glasses down, looked up and realized while I had been concertrating on long distance scanning, the bird was only 50 yards away sitting atop a pile of old railroad ties...NICE!

Snowy Owl on a pile of Rail Road ties

I got back in the car and repositioned the vehicle so I could enjoy the bird from inside, better for both the owl and me. While watching the owl I noticed a flock of waterfowl, in flight, about 400 yards out and one stuck out as being different, either a drake Common Merganser or Northern Pintail. I watched the owl another few minutes as it sat tight and I decided to see if I could find those ducks.
Digi-binned photo

Digi-scoped Photo
After driving North River Road on of all places... the north side of the river, I decided to walk some conservation land with trails along the river. Many robins , some starlings and a few Cedar Waxwings were feeding on bittersweet along the river. After crossing a few foot bridges I was along a stream and noticed some movement in the water...there was a drake Northern Pintail, which immediately flushed and moved on, there was also a some of the Mallards and an Amercian Black Duck.

The Snowy was on a nearby roof top later in the afternoon, before it flew off and perch upon a dirt pile several hundred yards away.
A bit further on the trail I heard the call notes of a Winter Wren and got a 1/2 decent look at it too, but not good enough for a photo.
The Sharp-shinned Hawk below chased some of the many robins and missed them all and proceeded to perch in a birch tree. It sat tight and I got the photo below.
Digi-bin of the "shin".
I had not noticed there was a some Bittersweet below the Sharp-shinned, nor did I see the American Robin, that perhaps had frozen still when the hawk perched above it. But, the "shin" had and when I tried to get a better photo of the hawk, it flew toward me, did a "180" back into the thicket and nailed the robin. I could hear the robin's last calls as it was carried off, the "shin" finished off the robin on the snow before moving into the pine grove with its meal.
There was lots of Oriental Bittersweet, along the Souhegan River, which attrached the robin which attrached the hawk.

An American Robin, well....what was left after it "flew off".... attached to the above Sharp-shinned an uplanned dinner.
Another nice surprise was a Great Blue Heron that flushed from the stream. That pintail made another close pass, while watching it I was able to pickup a small group of 4 White-winged Crossbills, in flight and calling.
American Goldfinches, note the one to the right (reaching down to feed on a seed head) was a "white-capped" bird, having white were the normal black forhead would be in their alternate (breeding) plumage.
Besides having some nice birds, I had the good fortune to bump into some nice folks, including Jerry Coffee and Scott Spangenberg.
The complete bird list from the day:

Canada Goose....86
American Black Duck....1
Northern Pintail....1
Great Blue Heron....1
Sharp-shinned Hawk....1
Red-tailed Hawk....1
Rock Pigeon....35
Mourning Dove....24
Snowy Owl....1
Downy Woodpecker....2
Hairy Woodpecker....3
Blue Jay....15
American Crow....12
Black-capped Chickadee....20
Tufted Titmouse....4
White-breasted Nuthatch....6
Winter Wren....1
Golden-crowned Kinglet....3
American Robin....75
Northern Mockingbird....1
European Starling....75
Cedar Waxwing....2
American Tree Sparrow....8
Song Sparrow....1
White-throated Sparrow....1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)....8
Northern Cardinal....3
House Finch....4
White-winged Crossbill....4
Pine Siskin....6
American Goldfinch....25
House Sparrow....30

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