Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lancaster/Bolton/Oxbow 5/7

I "hit" 3 key Worcester County birding habitats on Saturday morning: The "Lancaster Wild Life Management Area" (essentially an old sandpit) at the end of Pine Hill Road in Lancaster is a great spot for "scrub-shrub" like birds. An Eastern Whip-poor-will was calling at the gate when I arrived at 5AM and soon after walking into a more open area, along the dirt road, I could hear Field Sparrows calling, Eastern Towhees and way off in the distant an American Bittern. At first I thought the bittern was calling from an adjacent wetland to the west, but realized it must have been on Bolton Flats, 0.8 miles away (by measuring on a map).

Soon afterward, I would hear a Vesper Sparrow singing on territory and a few hundred yards was another. At the edge of a grassy area a Grasshopper Sparrow was singing and teed up on a sign post. There is great Grasshopper Sparrow habitat nearby, on the Devens military base (South Post), which is an active training area, fortunately at least a few Grasshopper Sparrows have defected to civilian territories. This bird had a metal band on its left leg, though no numbers could be read.

Arriving at Bolton Flats at 6AM, two American Bitterns could be heard calling and the spring shorebird show was nice with 9 species present including Killdeer (10+), Greater (18) and Lesser Yellowlegs (5), Solitary (15), Spotted (5), Least (2), Pectoral Sandpipers (3), Dunlin (4) and Wilson's Snipe (8).

A cryptic Wilson's Snipe
3 of 4 Dunlin and a Pectoral Sandpiper

One of many Solitary Sandpipers.

On the Marsh bird side of the equation, in addition to the bitterns was a Virgina Rail, in full view and two Marsh Wrens. I did not hear the previously reported Sora, but the two Green Herons flying overhead were my first of the year.

Virginia Rail.

Pectoral Sandpiper, from behind.

Another nice surprise was a Blackpoll Warbler, I usually don't expect them until about the 15th, so I was happy to "get one" a week earlier than normal. Blackpoll Warbler on Bolton Flats

Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge was fairly active with vireos with Yellow-throated (3), Red-eye Vireo (1), Blue-headed (1) and Warbling (7). A male Orchard Oriole was a nice addition to the 10+ Baltimores. While I walked the trail there were good numbers of Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Gray Catbird, Great-crested Flycatcher, and a dozen species of wood warblers including:

Nashville Warbler ...2
Yellow Warbler ...12
Northern Parula ...7
Chestnut-sided ...Warbler 1
Pine Warbler ...2
Blackburnian Warbler ...1
Yellow-rumped Warbler ...20+
Blackpoll Warbler ...1
Black and White Warbler ...7
American Redstart ...4
Ovenbird ...5
Common Yellowthroat ...15
Many digi-bin photo attempts turn out like the one above... a Green Heron

This gem stood out among the birds at Oxbow.

On the way home drove past the west side of Wachusett Mountain in Princeton

I see these turbines, on the flank of Wachusett Mountain, fairly often but never turning in unison at they were mid-day on Saturday.

Praire Warbler

Blackburian Warbler, every one oooh's and aaauh's about the males, but this female was looking pretty spiffy!

The Lancaster/Bolton Flats/Oxbow area produced 100 species and an aditional 10 were added on the drive back to Westminster, via Wachusett Reservoir and the west side of Princeton, ending in the early afternoon with a very welcomed nap.

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