Friday, March 26, 2010

Here and There from Worcester County 3/25

I "hit" a number of good birding locales in Worcester County today, ranging from close to home in Westminster and Gardner and then to Wachusett Reservoir, Lancaster and Bolton Flats.

Last Sunday Karin and I hiked around the Crow Hills area, in Leominster State Forest. We had seen 2 unattended Canada Goose eggs, on a small island on Crow Hill Pond. Today, the eggs were still there and no parents were nearby. One would think that any self-respecting corvid (or other opportunist) would have taken advantage of that "situation", apparently the neighborhood has gone down hill on both ends of the equation.

Goose eggs
My first Tree Swallows were seen near the Westminster Landfill and first Swamp Sparrow, with an American Tree Sparrow, in a shrubby wetland near Lake Wachusett.

High Ridge Wildlife Management area was also "lively", 3 Red-shouldered Hawks were interacting and calling high overhead. Song Sparrows were everywhere and 2 handsome Fox Sparrows were a nice addition to my year list. American Robins were scattered on the fields and few Purple Finches "showed" nicely. The marshy wetland was nearly ice free, where the present Canada Geese, Mallards and Hooded Mergansers are likely to begin their "domestic chores".

An obscured shot of a Fox Sparrow

A Purple Finch curiously looks on.... likely wondering "what are those strange noises".

a Purple Finch in flight (a lucky shot)
I had stopped by the Fitchburg Airport hoping to find a Meadowlark or Kestrel, neither were present. The highlight here was a group of 4 Red-tailed Hawks soaring together.
3 Red-tailed Hawks over the Fitchburg Airport

The same 3 as above with the 4th now in view
An Eastern meadowlark was present at Sterling Peat, in Sterling, I first heard its buzzy call notes as it flew overhead. Three ravens were near the Sterling Airport and the pond at Sterling Peat had a nice assortment of waterfowl, which included 105 Ring-necked Ducks.

A "perky" looking Ring-necked Duck
A handsome pair of Ringers
I checked out Dexter Drumlin, in Lancaster, for the previously reported Bonepart's Gull, this species is not likely to linger so "not so unexpectedly" it was not seen. Nearly 200 Ring-billed Gulls were present and at least 6 had tags (#'s 235, 475, 449, 450, 451 and 414). In the distance a large number of Common Grackles passed, numbering between 1500 and 2000 birds.
The Bolton Flats had another 150ish "ringers" present, which included tagged birds numbered: 158, 467, 442, 438 and 417. I suspect some of these were from the "record haul" that the DCR had captured and tagged on 3/16 in Leominster, when they captured 38, details of these birds should arrive from the DCR shortly.
Waterfowl is always a main attraction on "the flats, during early spring, and good numbers of Canada Geese and "at least 360 Green-winged Teal were seen (fortunately most were in the open, which is not always the case). Considerable time was spent combing through the teal looking for a Eurasian "type" and to count and recount, these little ducks are easy to overlook in the late day's fading light and vegetation. Other waterfowl present were Wood Duck, Black Duck, Mallard, Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Ring-necked Duck and Bufflehead.

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