Thursday, February 4, 2010

Super Bowl VII 1/30/2010

The "Burger Kinglets" (Dan Berard, Chuck Caron, Rod Jenkins, Paul Meleski and myself) were at it again this year, in the Super Bowl of Birding VII. We left Westminster at 3:15 AM with the mercury at zero and the wind howling, no need to calculate the wind chill...we've got the idea!
This year's route would be similar to last year's, working from South to North (Nahant to the Newburyport area), with some tweaking based on scouting. We began owling on a back road in Essex, we managed Screech, Barred and Great-horned Owls after 70 minutes of owling. We were "riding high" not expecting to get 3 owls in these conditions. The next stop was Flax Pond, in Lynn, we got American Coot and headed for Nahant.

Early morning in Essex.

During the week I had found Gray Catbird, Winter Wren, Common Grackle and Fish Crow at the Nahant Stump Dump. Upon leaving the vehicle Dan spotted a small falcon, it turned out to be a Merlin a nice surprise. However, we "bomb" in the stump dump and get none of the previously mentioned high scoring birds.

Upon returning to the car Chuck "beams in" the I-phone and found another team has reported a Northern Shoveler, in Nahant at Forty Steps Cliff! No one knows where that is, BUT Chuck starts to google on the I-phone ....and I start thinking (it was bound to happen).... when I scouted on Wednesday I recall seeing a baby stroller...near a cliff (this can't be good)...with steps nearby leading to down the water! I guess its about....forty steps down to the water from where the stroller was. Chuck's google search "jives" with my thought and 4 minutes we are all looking at a female Northern Shoveler packed in with a 100 American Black Ducks. The sun is almost up, on Lynn Beach.

Dan, Chuck and Paul scan the water near Nahant.
Off to the Nahant Thicket (a small Mass Audubon Sanctuary), a previous scouting trip yielded a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Winter Wren, We missed both. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Hermit Thrush were nice replacements. While we missed several key birds (seen during scouting) totaling 19 points, the surprises (not seen on the scouting trip) add up to 20 points...of course the idea is to get ALL the points.
A poor "shot" of the "Nahant" Sapsucker .
The only issue with birding Nahant, during this event, is the long trip up to Cape Ann, a MUST location.
On Cape Ann we got the Peregrine Falcon in Gloucester, from Jodrey Fish Pier, but no Iceland nor Glaucous Gulls. Sea ducks are added at Niles Beach, Black Guillemot and Gadwall are seen from Eastern Point. We see a huge mass of gulls a mile offshore, but there is no way to ID them due to the distorted visibility from the cold temps. At Niles Pond there is not a gull to be found, while there were more in Brace Cove none are "white-winged". I can't recall birding this circuit in winter and EVER missing Iceland Gull, until.................

We find similar frustration along Atlantic Drive, missing the King Eider and a likely Common Murre that slipped away before we could confirm the ID. A mixed flock of Purple Sandpipers and Sanderlings dropped in right in front of us, near the Elk's Club, a poor consolation. We left Cape Ann with 52 species, 8 lower than last year! Next stop........................

Purple Sandpipers and Sanderlings from Atlantic Drive.
....Comono Point, Essex, we headed right to our previously scouted Brown Thrasher...a Sharp-shinned Hawk dove into the thicket nearby upon our arrival...are we too late. Paul had spotted the thrasher last week and found it again, a few Yellow-rumped Warblers are also nearby. Our luck has changed, futher up Comono Pt. we found a Bald Eagle, Dunlin and Red-throated Loon.

Eastern Bluebirds, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Common Flicker were along Gardner Road, but we have not seen any Turkey Vultures in the area (a key bird for us). In Rowley at the end of Stackyard Road added Rough-legged hawk to the list, but we missed Snowy Owl and Northern Shrike. As we continued toward Plum Island we desperately looked for Turkey Vultures but all we can find are more pesky Bald Eagles!

Rough-legged Hawk from Stack Yard Road in Rowley.
At Plum Island, we checked the ocean from the Lot 1 area, we'd had great birds on Thursday, but today the ocean is choked with ice from the Merrimac River, No Razorbills, Kittywakes, Bonepart's or Iceland Gulls. Further down the island at "the warden's" we finnally get a long distance view of a Snowy Owl but no Northern Harrier or Shrike. We leave the Parker River Refuge with 73 species and with an hour to go it is evident we'll not be close to last year's total of 83 species.

A Snowy Owl off Plum Island.

Working our way up the Merrimac River toward the Chain Bridge, in Amesbury, we spotted a Northern Harrier high over the Salisbury side of the river. More Bald Eagles were seen from Cashman Park and we added Common Merganser to our list here. We spend 30 minutes near the Chain Bridge, our final stop, looking for a Great Blue Heron, that often is in the area. Similar to last year we looked up, down and across the river, even under the bridges, but no heron. The last bird of the day was a Peregrine Falcon that cruised low over the river and then under the Rte 95 bridge, where is frightened a group of roosting pigeons, not a bad end to a good effort.

We tallied a total 148 points and 75 species.
Red-throated Loon ....2
Common Loon....1
Horned Grebe....1
Red-necked Grebe....2
Great Cormorant....1
Canada Goose....1
Brant ....3
Mute Swan ....1
Gadwall ....2
American Black Duck....1
Northern Shoveler....5
Greater Scaup....2
Common Eider ....1
Harlequin Duck ....2
Surf Scoter....1
White-winged ....1
Black Scoter....2
Oldsquaw ....1
Bufflehead ....1
Common Goldeneye ....1
Hooded Merganser ....2
Red-breasted Merganser ....1
Common Merganser ....1
Bald Eagle ....2
Northern Harrier ....1
Sharp-shinned Hawk ....3
Cooper's Hawk ....3
Red-tailed Hawk ....1
Rough-legged Hawk ....3
American Kestrel ....3
Merlin Falco....4
Peregrine Falcon....3
American Coot ....4
Sanderling ....3
Purple Sandpiper ....2
Dunlin Calidris ....3
Ring-billed Gull ....1
Herring Gull ....1
Great Black-backed Gull ....1
Black-legged Kittiwake ....3
Black Guillemot ....2
Rock Dove (I) ....1
Mourning Dove ....1
Eastern Screech-Owl ....2
Great Horned Owl ....3
Snowy Owl....3
Barred Owl ....3
Red-bellied Woodpecker ....3
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker ....8
Downy Woodpecker....1
Hairy Woodpecker....2
Northern Flicker....3
Blue Jay....1
American Crow....1
Black-capped Chickadee ....1
Tufted Titmouse....1
White-breasted Nuthatch....1
Carolina Wren ....2
Eastern Bluebird ....3
Hermit Thrush ....3
American Robin ....1
Northern Mockingbird ....1
Brown Thrasher ....8
European Starling ....1
Yellow-rumped Warbler ....3
American Tree Sparrow .... 1
Song Sparrow ....1
White-throated Sparrow ....1
Dark-eyed Junco....1
Northern Cardinal ....1
Red-winged Blackbird ....3
House Finch ....1
American Goldfinch ....1
House Sparrow....1

1 comment:

Kim said...

Congratulations to all of you Tom, especially with how cold it was last weekend!

Sounds like you still got a bunch of really good birds, allthough the lack of gulls at Cape Ann is mind boggling. All in all, you got an impressive number of species which isn't easy in January! Take care.