Sunday, January 30, 2011

Superbowl VIII 1/29/2011

Dan Berard, Chuck Caron, Rod Jenkins, Paul Meleski and I participated in Mass Audubon's (Joppa Flats) Superbowl of Birding, under the team name the "Burger Kinglets".

Paul and Dan play in the snow at Catherdral Rocks.

We made one major modification to our traditional route, Nahant was deleted. Their had seemed to be few reports of high scoring species from Nahant and we hoped to makeup any Nahant losses elsewhere with a more compact route. A rough overview of our route was Flax Pond Lynn, Essex(owling), Rockport, Gloucester, Essex, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, Newburyport, Plum Island, Salisbury and Amesbury.

We got a previously reported, and scouted, Northern Shoveler at 4:50AM on Flax Pond and stayed on it until the clock struck 5AM, the two teams at the location both received bonus points for simultaneously calling this 5 point species. Ambient neighborhood lights were enough to ID the species needed without the aid of a flashlight or high powered spot light. Also, previous to 5AM an Eastern Screech Owl began calling and fortunately it returned our screech owl imitation after 5AM. We left Flax Pond in Lynn a fine shape.

Our first owling stop along Harlow Road in Essex yielded a Northern Saw-whet Owl, that called nicely under perfect listening conditions. Only two team mates heard a Great Horned call from the same spot, it wouldn't call again, so we moved on. Fortunately we stopped again along Rte 1A and one was calling by the time the last door was long would these fortunes last?

We hit Andrew's Point next getting Harlequin Duck, Purple Sandpiper, Red-throated Loon, Red-necked Grebe along with other ocean birds. Around the corner Cathedral Rocks we scored on Razorbill and headed off the Halibut Point. We tried (but didn't expect) for a previously reported Dickcessel, missed it, however a small flock of White-winged Crossbills passed over calling and we added Cedar Waxing. Our fortunes kept pace on the drive to the Loblolly Cove we stopped twice to ID perched accipitors, the first a Sharp-shinned, the next a Cooper's, we would see 2 more "shins" and another "Coop" later on!

At Loblolly we'd get the Barrow's Goldeneye, from Atlantic Drive we got the King Eider and Sanderlings inbetween! On Eastern Point a nice adult Iceland Gull arrived just as we pulled in (with 2 other teams), Brace Cove got us "Jack" but the Peregrine was on the Gloucester City Hall weather vein. Gloucester harbor yielded Greater Scaup and Mute Swan but NO Thick-billed Murre. Checking the I-phone later we'd found not only did others get the Thick-billed Murre, but a Common was found and a Dovekie! Ouch!

We had high expectations for Comono Point Road, in Essex, but missed Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren and Golden-crowned Kinglet that Chuck and Rod had on Wednesday. But on the point we added Dunlin, about 50 were present, on the drive out a Swamp Sparrow added a little consolation! But, at least Rod and Chuck had TWO....guaranteed...GUARANTEED... White-crowned Sparrows from another location in Essex...ya right. Rod was still contentious on the ride home they were there. But, all was right in our world when we picked up Turkey Vuture about 15 minutes later, scoring another 3 pt. bouns!
In Ipswich, we picked up momentum with Northern Flicker, Brown Creeeper, Winter Wren and Eastern Towhee, all at one stop! Further on in Ipswich we got Horned Lark near Aguila Road. A Snow Goose that was near Ipswich Center on Wednesday was NOT there, but there was plenty of Snow. Labor-in-Vain Road turn out to be "Labor-not so-in-Vain Road" by producing Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Hermith Thrush.

Brown Creeper in Ipswich

Horrible digi-bin shot of a female Eastern Towhee.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker off Labor-in-Vain Road.

Sunshine Farm, on Rte 1A, in Newbury produced Horned Lark, Snow Bunting and Lapland Longspurs. We'd "hit" Plum Island with 80 species and 168 points, however Parker River NWR was "dead", but at least we added Rough-legged Hawk.

At the Salisbury State boat ramp we missed Savannah Sparrow , added 2 Lesser Scaup (apart from nearby Greaters) but Northern Harrier (who apparently hadn't packed the snowshoes) looked like it would be a big miss! Along Mudnock Road, in Salisbury, we added Brown-headed Cowbird and Red-winged Blackbird and it was now down to crunch time, with only about an hour left to cover a few stops along the Merrimac River. Nothing new at Cashman Park and Savoy was now looking like we'd not only dip on Northern Harrier but Bald Eagle too...oh my! Perhaps an eagle would be roosting near the Chain Bridge?

A Great Blue Heron was quickly found at the Chain Bridge, and the last 20 minutes were used to scan for an eagle. At about 4:47PM Dan spotted an adult Bald Eagle, perched across the river, and we all enjoyed our last addition with another team "Eagle Eyes".
End of the day from the Chain Bridge area.
Once again, we had a great effort, more fun and even more laughs, while totaling 86 species, 185 points....and for the first time our route, time management, luck and strong team work was good enough for the Joppa Cup.

Our complete list:

Common Loon.....1
Red-throated Loon....2
Horned Grebe....1
Red-necked Grebe.....2
Great Cormorant.....1
Great Blue Heron.....3
Turkey Vulture.....8
Canada Goose.....1
Mute Swan.....1
American Black Duck.....1
Northern Shoveler.....8
Greater Scaup.....2
Lesser Scaup.....3
King Eider.....4
Common Eider.....1
Harlequin Duck.....2
Surf Scoter.....1
White-winged Scoter.....1
Black Scoter.....2
Common Goldeneye.....1
Barrow's Goldeneye.....3
Hooded Merganser.....2
Red-breasted Merganser.....1
Common Merganser.....1
Ruddy Duck.....4
Bald Eagle.....2
Sharp-shinned Hawk.....3
Cooper's Hawk.....3
Red-tailed Hawk.....1
Rough-legged Hawk.....3
Peregrine Falcon.....3
American Coot.....4
Purple Sandpiper.....2
Ring-billed Gull.....1
Herring Gull.....1
Iceland Gull.....2
Great Black-backed Gull.....1
Black Guillemot.....2
Rock Dove.....1
Mourning Dove.....1
Eastern Screech-Owl.....2
Great Horned Owl.....3
Northern Saw-whet Owl.....4
Red-bellied Woodpecker.....3
Downy Woodpecker.....1
Hairy Woodpecker.....2
Northern Flicker.....3
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.....5
Blue Jay.....1
American Crow.....1
Horned Lark.....2
Black-capped Chickadee.....1
Tufted Titmouse.....1
White-breasted Nuthatch.....1
Brown Creeper.....3
Carolina Wren.....2
Winter Wren.....4
Eastern Bluebird.....3
Hermit Thrush.....3
American Robin.....1
Northern Mockingbird.....1
European Starling.....1
Cedar Waxwing.....2
Yellow-rumped Warbler.....3
Eastern Towhee.....4
American Tree Sparrow.....1
Song Sparrow.....1
Swamp Sparrow.....3
White-throated Sparrow.....1
Dark-eyed Junco .....1
Lapland Longspur..... 3
Snow Bunting.....3
Northern Cardinal.....1
Red-winged Blackbird.....3
Brown-headed Cowbird.....3
House Finch.....1
White-winged Crossbill.....4
American Goldfinch.....1
House Sparrow.....1


Hilke Breder said...

Great report. Congratulations!

corey said...

Wait 'til next year!

Nice summary of what was a heck of a day that you guys had.

Larry said...

Sounds like a fun day and lots of good birds.

Tom Pirro said...

Thank Hilke, Corey and Larry. Yes, Corey we had a good "run" and were fortunate not to miss much. BTW for future reference, there are TWO small spots on Flax Pond that remain open. We first checked the "coot" side, couldn't find the bird and moved to the other side..found it 10 minutes early...but stayed on the bird until 5AM. "Eagle Eyes" was there too, both teams had the bird and their captain, Strickland Wheelock called it in for both teams. When Am. Coot was a 5 pointer, one year 8 teams got the bonus. SOunds like you had a great day...nice find on the Dovekie! ..and nice writeup on 10,000 birds!


dAwN said...



Terrific summary of a great day of birding. You guys are the team to beat :)

Hopefully, if the Bloggerhead Kingbirds return next year, we at least get that Shoveler.

forestal said...

super day of birding!


John said...

Congratulations on your win!

Tom Pirro said...

Thanks John, "dude", Dawn and Dan,

Things just fell in place for us this matter the result we've always had a great time. Especially with this year's great weather.