Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Middleboro 11/8

.....and the manure pit wins, by a nose. The Cumberland Farm Fields in Middleboro, Ma. has attracted some "awfully" nice birds this fall (acutally most years great stuff shows up there). First the "head spinning" Brown-chested Martin, then a LeConte's Sparrow and latest a Lark Bunting (today's target). I never had the chance to "get" the Martin, but made the trek last weekend for the LeConte's and got nice, yet brief, looks at it.

Not as picturesque as New Hampshire's White Mountains, but Lark Buntings are in short supply up north, in the "Whites".
There were many Song Sparrows along the walk in, but I didn't drive to Middleboro to see Song Sparrows. With the mild conditions many Song Sparrows were singing, poorly but singing.
The Cumberland Farm fields (aka Cumbies) encompasses a large area, I had a rough idea where it had been seen but knew little of this particular bird's habits. Upon arrival, at 9 AM, there were may cars, all with bird club stickers, so there would be plenty of help. While walking in I passed a few birders that had not seen the Lark Bunting, not great news. One contrast between "this" and hiking are the mountains are non-migratory and Lark Buntings are.
I took my time along the road, but kept "one eye" on the other birders' habits. As I approached what looked to be THE spot, I noticed Linda Pivecek and 3 other birders' attention was focused in the same direction...a good sign. I picked up the pace a bit and sure enough, they "had" the bird and a moment later so did I.

By the time the Lark Bunting settled to a perch (just above dead center) it was fairly distant, but I managed a few snap shots through the bins.
A bit closer but partially hidden.
After the bird "dove" back into the thicket, I walked around the manure pit area and was able get nice looks at a few White-crowned Sparrows, my first American Tree Sparrows of the fall and also many Savanah Sparrows, including one "Ipswich" . A subspecies which is very uncommon away from coastal sand dunes. Upon returning to the Lark Bunting spot, it perched up nicely allowing for better photos.
Lark Bunting with ts crown "slicked" back.

...with its crown feathers raised.

...another shot.
I took an indirect route home, stopping by state forest property, in Dracut, for previously reported Red-headed Woodpeckers. The directions were good and the woodpeckers were active, noisey and easy to find. A Belted Kingfisher was near by too.

A Male Belted Kingfisher.

An adult Red-headed Woodpecker in flight.

A distant shot, through the scope, of an adult.
I saw a least one adult and one immature (with a brown head), however other reporters have been of 2 adults and 1 immature. They mixed it up with near by Blue Jays and worked caching acorns into the dead snags in the wetland area. Perhaps they had bred in the area, which would be very good news. From this spot I heard and/or saw Pileated, Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers as well as a Flicker.


Kim said...

Tom, so glad you chose the manure pit! ;-)Great shot of the Lark Bunting with its crown raised and all the others really show that heavy bill they have.

Very happy to see you got the Red-headed Woodpecker too (and the juvenile no less).

Productive birding day indeed!

Tom Pirro said...

It was a tough, with the mild weather the hiking would have been great up north...but the mountains will be there and the bunting not! It was a nice bird, it would disappear for longish periods then suddenly reappear and "T" up nicely. The Red-headeds were nice too, it had been a while since I'd seen one. Its sounding like there are 4 , Bill Drummand reported 2 adults and 1 Juv., while Bob Stymiest reported 1 Adult and 2 Juv., and a local birder is saying they've been around since 2007.