Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wampanoag Audubon Sanctuary 10/30

I hawkwatched from 10AM to just after 1PM today, at the Wampanoag MAS in Gardner,and despite the strong southwest wind averaging ~15MPH, there was a fair movement of hawks. The flight was more or less in slow motion, as these determined raptors had to fight a tough head wind. Of course this allowed for prolonged views and it kept them fairly low.

A Northern Goshawk, a handsome adult, passed low overhead, though it did not look to be a migrant, as it passed from west to east, eventually dropping into the trees. These few fuzzy shots do not justify the view "in person".

The "gos" overhead...

headed east...
Just after the "gos" passed a juvenile Bald Eagle came into view, from the northeast passing closely over headed southwest.
This photo, nearly the same "pose" as yesterday's Golden Eagle from Mt. Watatic, note the larger headed and billed Bald's head protrudes so much more than the Golden for 10/29.
You don't get'em much closer than this...

Red-tail surprise in late October...were the most numerous hawk species today.

One of 25 Red-tailes that passed, not bad considering the tough head wind.
While making a "pit stop" near the adjacent forest, I noticed this "odd-ball" leucistic Black-capped Chickadee. I have come across more than 1/2 dozen of odd plumaged chickadees over the years.
Note the pink feet!
Mottled black and white head.... eyestripe... must be trick or treating as a Mountain Chickadee this year!?
The hawk total from today:
Turkey Vulture 2
Bald Eagle 2 (1 Juv. and 1 Adult)
Sharp-shinned Hawk 5
Red-Shouldered Hawk 1
Red-Tailed Hawk 25
also, not migrating an Osprey thats been hanging out at Lake Wampanoag for the past few weeks and the Goshawk.
Pine Siskin 5, American Crow 194 migrating and of course many robins!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mt. Watatic 10/29

I spent a few hours hawkwatching on Mt. Watatic this morning and the first bird was an unidentified eagle off the Wapack Ridge and then it disappear below the horizon. It seemed to have more fluid wing beats than a Bald Eagle when it flapped.....otherwise it gave away little as to its true indentity. But, after 10 mintues the bird never resurfaced and it appeared this one, perhaps a Golden Eagle had "escaped", log entery 1 "UE". Another 5 or 10 minutes passed and I spotted raven not too far out over the main summitt....and beside it....was a Golden (a juvenile)! It soared briefly with the raven and quickly "set its wings" to make a long glide to the southwest.
A few "record" shots, poor ones at that.

its golden nape is visible here and a bit of its "two-toned" tail.
Its white tail with strongly demarcated dark terminal band shows a little better in this shot.

I am not sure if this was the "lost bird" from a few mintues before...but its doubtfull I'll loose any sleep over it.

Rain showers moving in from the west.

Total migrate raptor for the moring:
Osprey 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 3
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-shouldered hawk 3
Red-tailed Hawk 4
Peregrine Falcon 1
Golden Eagle 1

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Recent Worcester County Hilights

A Raven just off the "ledge" of Mt. Watatic, one of 17 that circled and frolicked about on the afternoon of 10/23.

The full moon was impressive as it rose over Sterling, Ma. during the evening of 10/23, this just after watching literally thousands of American Robins arriving to roost in the area immediately surrounding Muddy Pond!

Just a "tiny" snapshot of the robins arriving ...what you can not see is all the birds behind them, below them, above them, behind me..... and they just kept on coming! The magnitude of the flight is best observed in the morning at dawn, as they leave the roost. A systematic attempt at estimating the birds on 11/26 put the total over 50,000 robins. Similar large roosts have been witnessed on Cape Cod and even larger roosts of robins occur down south, where some reports have exceeded a million robins.

These Sterling birds are roosting in mainly deciduous trees and shrubs but some white pines are nearby. I would suspect the roost may begin to breakup over the next few weeks or they may simply move to the near by conifers...should they not cleanout the food supply! Regardless of the exact number this is an impressive sight!

This handsome Pectoral Sandpiper dropped in beside me, allowing me to run back to the car, grab the scope and digi-scope these shots against the red scrubby foliage.

Same bird.

This Woodchuck posed nicely at Bolton Flats on Sunday the 24th.

A few Northern harriers have been coursing over the field of Bolton, this juvenile was just over the corn stalks to the north of Rte 117

The "tail end" of a large flock of passing Common Grackles at Bolton Flats.

Sterling Peat is not the only locale with a large roost of birds, on Sunday evening Chuck and I counted nearly 30,000 blackbirds (predominately Common Grackles) flying passed Bolton Flats headed to roost. We also tallied at least 1,000 American Robins, so even though it would seem every robin in Worcester County is roosting in Sterling, that is not the case! Back in the 1960's, reports from "The Chickadee" mention a blackbird (mainly Common Grackles) roost that existed in Oxford, Ma. of a million birds.

While many rarities have also turned up in the state, these large autumn roosts of common birds are equally impressive.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wachusett Reservoir and Bolton Flats 10/12

I visited Wachusett Reservoir on the morning 10/12 hoping that perhaps some Black Scoters and other waterfowl. While no scoters of any type were present, there were 21 Common Loons, 2 Red-necked Grebes and 2 Horned Grebes...leading the way for water birds. The Horned Grebes were out in the middle and too distant to even bother lifting the camera, but a few loons and one of the Red-necks were cooperative.

Common Loon with forehead "raised".
Another COLO, this one was a local breeder....

While preening it showed off one of its "sporty" leg bands, my spreadsheet with the state's banding data show this is a female that was banded on Washusett Reservoir in 2000, 10 years ago! Also note, there is a Quabbin bird that was banded in 2003 with orange bands on the left leg too, but each of these has different colors on the right side.

This Red-necked Grebe appeared suspended!
The flat sounding "check" notes of many Yellow-rumped Warblers in the nearby wood lots could be heard, we are still in the peak of this species passing through the area. Common resident species such as Tufted Titmouse and Blue Jays showed well too.

Tufted Titmouse foraging in the oaks.
This Blue Jay posed nicely.
An American Coots was a nice surprise on nearby South Meadow Pond along with 50+ Mallards, 1 American Wigeon, a Green-winged Teal and a dozen Ring-necked Duck. Greater Scaup numbers on Coachlace Pond grew from 2 last week to 21 yesterday.
Later I headed over to Bolton Flats to see how the sparrow-fest was progressing, and it was! While I did not find any rarities, there were good numbers of Swamp, Song and White throated Sparrows of which I counted over a 100 of each...though keeping trackin the weedy habitat is diffiecult to say the least, but you should get the idea! Mixed in were a few White-crowned, Savanah, only one Lincoln's and a few Juncos.

The farmer was beginning to cut the corn stalks, he did manage to get stuck in a wet depression, but he managed to work the rig out with some skill and finess. This activity kept the Red-winged Blackbirds on the move, approx. 1,000 were roving the area.
Good numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers, a dozen plus Palm Warbler (2 westerns were in the mix), a Blackpoll and Common Yellowthroat. 14 Tree Swallows were a nice sight, perhaps the last I'll see of this species for the year (at least in Worcester County) and many Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a few American Pipits and migrating hawks and Canada Geese high overhead.

Savanah Sparrow.

Swamp Sparrow
a leusistic Song Sparrow, I seem to find at least one leusistic version of this species nearly every year.
A normal Song Sparrow.
An immature White-crowned Sparrow, looking rather reagle next to a song sparrow.
A nice surpise were 2 Yellow-billed Cuckoos in the same tree at close range, the light was bad but I managed one photo through the binocular. There have been many reports in the last week on MASSBIRD.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
A few other noteable species were Blue-headed Vireo, House Wren, Marsh Wren and two Northern Harriers.

Some nice fall colors along the path on the south side of rte 117.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fitchburg Airport 10/1

I made a quick stop by the Fitchburg Airport this morning, 10/1, and was fortunate to find 3 American Golden-Plovers. A very deep and loud "shot" went off (either from a contruction site or a noise deterrent to scare the crows from the runway) and put up 14 Killdeer and the "goldens". In flight they all circled the airport for about 15 minutes before settling back in the grass. I got one fuzzy digi-scope shot ...

American Golden Plovers at Fitchburg Airport

Also, noteable were 2 handsome Coyotes walking the edge of the runway.

The Peregrine Falcon, below, was near Wachusett Reservior just before the heavy wind and rains began. It passed me point blank but I didn't get a shot off until it moved away.
A digi-bin shot of a juv. Peregrine Falcon

Mid September Mount Watatic

Here are some images from the Mount Watatic Hawkwatch, in Ashburnham, Ma., from the middle of September. The results from mid- september can be found at

Looking toward the east summit watch site from the summit cairn.

Steve Hoffman, 3rd from the left, founder of Hawkwatch International and the guest speaker for this year's Eastern Mass Hawkwatch meeting joined us on Sept. 11.
Paul scanning to the east

Preetinder photographing

Its doubtfull there many birds in the sky when every one is looking in a different direction.
" Aurrrr....rogue kettle off ye west flank of Pack...look quick ... so ya don't catch ye scurvy"

Broad-winged hawk in good light.

heading away...

nice tail!

Yes, Broad-wings will soar with a slight dihedrel, certain conditions of strong thermal lift.

Note the "left over" juvenile plumage on the outer tail feathers of this Broad-wing.

Close in Sharp-shin (juv.)

..same "shin" another angle ..note full crop

Distant Bald Eale passing below the summit

Osprey overhead
Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk