Friday, April 17, 2009

Westminster and Gardner Birds 4/16 and 17

The "Upper" Marsh, a 1/3 mile in from the Smith Street entrance at High Ridge WMA

Thursday evening I birded the "Upper" marsh, off Smith Street at the High Ridge Wildlife Management Area, on the east side of Rte 140 in Gardner. It had been a few weeks since my last visit here and it was about time to see if an Amercian Bittern had arrived yet. I hadn't even made it 1/2 way to the wetland and I could the hear the bittern's "water pump-like" calls from the distance. A moment later I heard what sounded like a Pied-billed Grebe, that turned out to screams from the prison, another 3/4 mile beyond the marsh. Nothing too serious though, it was likely an inmate's softball game, but from what I've been told it is in fact... serious business.
A Great Blue Heron passed over head, a snap shot through the "bins"
Closer to the marsh I spooked up a Wilson's Snipe, while there are usually a few around this wetland, during early spring, there is simply too much cover and I usually only detect them they flush and give their raspy calls. Small numbers of Common and Hooded Mergansers were on the open water, the Commons should be moving out soon while a few of the Hoodies will stay and nest. I looked hard to get a "visual" of the Bittern but it was "burried" in the cattails and not to be seen.
Two female Hooded Mergansers at rest.
A single Merlin passed over, continuing northeast and appeared to be making the most of a fine spring day and racking up some late day milage. As dusk quickly approached I tried to call in a Barred Owl, one called out a few minutes later and continued calling intermittently until I left. On the walk out a few American Woodcock where giving their "preent" calls.

I took a walk into High Ridge WMA from the Westminster side this morning 4/17, entering from Overlook Road and continuing to the "lower Marsh", which is off East Gardner Road. I was pleased to see an Eastern Meadowlark in one of the fields along with several Robins and 4 Northern Flickers. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (3) , a few Palm Warblers (one was singing), Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Swamp Sparrow (3 or 4), and a Savanah Sparrow were new nice additions to the local year list.

A "bin-shot" of a circling "Sharpy"

..and another

On marsh was an Amercian Bittern, this time I had a nice look while it was in flight and soon it disappeared on the far side of the marsh. I have always suspected there are more than one pair nesting at High Ridge, but they do move about and feed in and call from the hay fields.
A very abstract "bin-shot" of an American Goldfinch at my feeder last week.


Dan LeBlanc said...

I was reading a book today "Mother's Day" at Crystal Lake Park in Gardner, MA when I noticed a loon feeding in the cities water supply, Crystal Lake. I was wondering if this might be a spot for their mating habitat since I've noticed that loons have been here for numerous years now. Daniel LeBlanc

Dan LeBlanc said...

I noticed a loon feeding today at Crystal Lake in Gardner, MA, I've also noticed these birds in years past and was wondering if this might be a spot for their mating habitat.

Tom Pirro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Pirro said...

Hey Dan, I not have done much with the blog in recent months. The Loon nest, or have nested, on Lake Wompanoag a few miles away, but seem to enjoy Crystal lake as well. Crystal Lake has no island, so it is highly unlikely they would choose to nest on Crystal Lake.