Monday, December 9, 2013

Misc Wandering 12/7

Saturday morning, at the Fitchburg Airport,  I was rewarded by closeup sighting of a small group of snow buntings near the main parking area. Also present were 25 Horned Larks.
2 of 12 Snow Bunting at the Fitchburg AP

A little closer view
Later in the day I stopped by Crystal Lake in Gardner, which was 95% frozen over a week ago, but had since opened up a bit. The lake was about 40% open and 3 scaup-like ducks were near a small group of Common Goldeneyes some 800+ meters away. Upon zooming the scope to 40X, 2 drake and 1 hen Redhead Ducks could be discerned, the males clearly showing bluish bills, black "bow and stern", gray mid body (sides and back) and of course redheads. This was only my 2nd sighting of this species in the North Worcester County area, the last being in late Oct. of 2005, also on Crystal Lake (3 males).

Later in the Birch Hill Wildlife Management Area I was fortunate to see a Northern Shrike just NW of Lake Dennison.
A wintery scene near Lake Dennison

A "poorish" digi-bin shot of the Northern Shrike

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Crystal Lake, Gardner 11/12

Before work there was a Long-tailed Duck (formerly called an Oldsquaw)on Crystal Lake in Gardner, it was only my 3rd or forth record of this species in Gardner.
Female Long-tailed Duck on Crystal Lake

another view of the Long-tailed Duck
Also present were 2 Buffleheads and 9 Common Goldeneyes.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Local Patch Birding 11/9

An enjoyable Saturday morning neighborhood walk was productive with my first "local patch" Fox and American Tree Sparrows of the fall. White-throated Sparrows have thinned out in the past week with only a few present this morning being "replaced with numerous Dark-eyed Juncos. While Song Sparrow have been absent from the yard, I was able to find a dozen plus at the edge of a nearby corn field.
One of three Fox Sparrows 

My first local American Tree Sparrow sighting of the fall
I hawkwatched for about 20 minutes from a vantage point at a vacant sandpit and noted 2 Red-tails, 2 Red-shouldered and 1 Cooper's Hawk migrating. A dozen Eastern Bluebirds passed along with a few Purple Finches.
one of two migrant Red-shouldered Hawks on the move.

Another nice surprise was small mix flock of blackbirds that contained Common Grackles, Red-winged Black birds and 9 Rusty Blackbirds, in about equal numbers!

A quick check of the Old Mill pond turned up a female Gadwall, a very uncommon species in this part of Worcester County. She was consorting with the usual large flock of Mallards, but was noticeably more skittish as I approached.
A female Gadwall at the Old Mill

Gadwall feeding,.
A House Sparrow in my neighbor's yard, that I've seen a heard a few times this week, was my first "sighting" of this species from home in over 5 years. While it was a addition to the year's yard list (now at 94 species), I consider it a "low point".

Quabbin 10/27/13

The 1027 Quabbin Gate 35 field trip got off to a late start, due to me being a week ahead yet and hour behind. At home Karin and I, under my encouragement, set the clocks an hour back! Dick and Peg Knowlton had been the only people to show at 8am for the trip, but we did connect at 9am.

Along North Dana Road was a nice selection of late migrants, including 7 Hermit Thrushes, Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets, White-throated Sparrows and Junco. Near the reservoir several Common Loons were seen, but only a single Horned Grebe and no Red-necked Grebe. Four female Surf Scoters circled well off shore and were only identifiable through the scope, a Greater Yellowlegs was also seen in flight. Land birding was poor along the water's edge due to the strong wind coming in off the water.

A minimum of 5 Bald Eagles were seen, 2 pair of adults and a single first year bird that passed close over head.
Bald Eagle pair perched on a north Quabbin island, later the
were seen perched near a nest across the water. 

Looking south west from the shoreline

Catapillar Photo = Slow birding!
After the gate 35 area tour we stopped at North/South Spec Ponds in New Salem, were several Canada Geese, 8-10 American Black Ducks, Mallards and a Pied-billed Grebe were present.

Another North Central Mass stop was the Church/Norcross Hill area, in Templeton , where Cooper's, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks were seen. A Northern Harrier worked the edge of a field and "caught" the attention of the 200+ American Crows. Many White-throated and Song Sparrows were present but the recently reported pipits were seen or heard.
A Red-shouldered Hawk scanning a corn field.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gardner/ Westminster Birds 10/20

 Late Sunday afternoon I checked a few local ponds for migrant waterfowl, really hoping some scoters might have dropped down for a rest before continuing onto the ocean, however that was not the case. The "best" water birds were two Pied-billed Grebes on Round Meadow Pond, a Common Loon on Mare Meadow Resevior and two Common Loons on Lake Wompanoag (the loons were likely lingering nesters). However thicket birding paid off with a nice variety of sparrows, numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.
Swamp, Song and White-throated Sparrows were the common species found, but juncos were also present in a few spots and a Lincoln's Sparrow showed nicely in Gardner.
Swamp Sparrow in Westminster
A handsome White-throated Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow (Left) , Song Sparrow (Right)

Another "Swampy" taking a gust of wind from behind.

Lincoln's Sparrow (right profile)

Lincoln's Sparrow (left profile)

Lincoln's Sparrow (Straight on)

Lincoln's Sparrow (full side view)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Eastern Bluebird

Also I checked Crystal Lake for roosting gulls near dusk, all three "common" gull species were present, but in low numbers; Ring-billed Gull (45), Herring Gull (12) and Great Black-backed Gull (11).  Nothing like former years when hundreds would congregate at dusk during the fall and spring. One of my largest gull counts, at Crystal Lake, was from Nov. 24th, 2006 with 75 Ring-billed, 2200 Herring and 500 Great Black-backed Gulls. With many landfill fill closures those days are likely gone (for Herring and "Black-backs"), not a bad thing for the water treatment profession.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Cooper's Hawk / American Pipits

I was looking out the kitchen window, last Sunday, and noticed a Black-capped Chickadee and an American Goldfinch quietly staring in the same direction. Upon further "investigation" I was able to find the subject of their interest, a handsome adult Cooper's Hawk, an apparent male based on the gray cheek and small size.

Adult Cooper's Hawk

This past week there were many American Pipits near some farm fields in Templeton, a conservative estimate was in the 125 to 150 range. A few digi-bin flight shots of different single birds are below.
Am. Pipit

Am. Pipit

Am. Pipit
Am. Pipit a "rear end" view

Sunday, May 19, 2013

More Feeder Birds 5/19

The feeders and yard continue to be fairly busy with bird activity. While not on the feeders a Tennessee Warbler was a nice surprise yesterday morning when I returned from birding High Ridge WMA. Its sharp 3 parted song was heard from high in the trees.
In the past few weeks several species have fed from our suet feeders, including the expected Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers; Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch. Others included American Robin, Chipping Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, Pine Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Baltimore Oriole. A few photos below:

A Tree Swallow flying over the deck

The always reliable Black-capped Chickadee

An "incoming" female Rose-breasted Grosbeak 

finally settled in.

A colorful Baltimore Oriole

Another pose

Monday, May 13, 2013

Recent Yard Birds

The past few years I've kept a yard bird list, I was surprised in 2011 to tally 101 for the year and 2012 98, currently the list stands at 73 as of May 13th. The feeders have been colorful the past few days, American Goldfinches in breeding plumage and Blue Jays have been recently augmented by Gray Catbird, Pine Warbler, Indigo Bunting and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. On Mother's day 3 male Rose-breasted visited the feeder at once.

Blue Jays had been scarce all winter but recent arrivals have woken up the neighborhood
This gray Catbird came to the suite feeder.

A nice mix of blue and gray

This Indigo Bunting added a new tone to the blue scale.

Sunday 3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were on the deck at once!
 I heard my first yard Scarlet Tanager on Sunday, after work on Monday a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak was carrying nesting materials.

A Red-eft nearby add nice ground colors

A "chippy" or is it reincarnation of Don Zimmer impersonation...!
The yard list for May 12, 2013:
 Mallard 3
Mourning Dove 3
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Downy Woodpecker 3
Hairy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Blue-headed Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Blue Jay 5
American Crow 3
Tree Swallow 1
Black-capped Chickadee 3
Tufted Titmouse 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
House Wren 2
American Robin 4
Gray Catbird 2
Ovenbird 1
Black-and-white Warbler 1
Nashville Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 1
Northern Parula 2
Yellow Warbler 1
Chestnut-sided Warbler 1
Pine Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 8
Prairie Warbler 1
Black-throated Green Warbler 3
Eastern Towhee 2
Chipping Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 1
Scarlet Tanager 1
Northern Cardinal 2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 4
Indigo Bunting 1
Common Grackle 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
Baltimore Oriole 1
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch 2

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Annual East Quabbin Trip 5/5/2013 and feeder birds

This past Sunday I lead the Forbush Bird Club's drive through tour of the East Quabbin watershed, beginning in the gate 45 area in Hardwick. We then covered parts of the former townships of Greenwich, Dana and North Dana and exited Gate 35 in New Salem.. While the spring migration was bit behind schedule based on our observations; the scenery, company, road conditions and weather were great even the black flies were "reasonable"!
One a several beaver ponds we visited

The group just after seeing a Nashville Warbler and close in
Pileated Woodpecker.

We saw few birds on the water at this stop, but no one seemed to mind!

While birds were few we enjoyed watching this northern water snake (or milk snake?) swim by.

A adult Bald Eagle, one 3.

Another Bald Eagle, this one near a nest. We couldn't see any
activity in the nest but it was a long  way off.
Another view of the "Prairie"

This Prairie Warbler showed nicely in a shad bush.

Some "barometer" species, to gate the current state of the spring migration (for this area), are Gray Catbird (missed), Scarlet Tanager (missed), Baltimore Oriole (1), Rose-breasted Grosbeak (1) but the wood warbler species count was 13, about average for this trip. However within a week to 10 day these previously mentioned species will be back in good numbers. 66 species for the day was a bit below the average of 70 since I began leading the trip 8 years ago.

Species List
Canada Goose 6
Wood Duck 7
American Black Duck 1
Mallard 4
Hooded Merganser 5
Wild Turkey 1
Common Loon 7
American Bittern 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Turkey Vulture 10
Bald Eagle 3
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Broad-winged Hawk 1
Ring-billed Gull 1
Mourning Dove 3
Belted Kingfisher 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 10
Northern Flicker 2
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Least Flycatcher 5
Eastern Phoebe 3
Eastern Kingbird 3
Blue-headed Vireo 11
Warbling Vireo 1
Blue Jay 19
American Crow 2
Tree Swallow 54
Black-capped Chickadee 15
Tufted Titmouse 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 3
Winter Wren 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Eastern Bluebird 1
Veery 3
Hermit Thrush 1
Wood Thrush 3
American Robin 28
Nashville Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 6
Chestnut-sided Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 32
Black-throated Blue Warbler 9
Black-throated Green Warbler 10
Blackburnian Warbler 1
Pine Warbler 22
Prairie Warbler 2
Palm Warbler 1
Black-and-white Warbler 12
Ovenbird 6
Common Yellowthroat 4
Eastern Towhee 22
Chipping Sparrow 28
Field Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 2
Swamp Sparrow 1
White-throated Sparrow 3
Northern Cardinal 2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1
Red-winged Blackbird 12
Common Grackle 12
Baltimore Oriole 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 5
Purple Finch 1
American Goldfinch 6

After returning the gate key to DCR headquarters I "spied" this Black Vulture atop a mill chimney in Ware Center.  

Black Vulte in Ware, Ma. 

Some recent feeder birds over the past few weeks:
This Pine Warbler had been visiting the suet feeders, but has moved on in the past few days 

This Comom Grackle was looking rather 2 dimentional in this pose.

A Preening Mourning Dove.
All 6 common woodpecker species are now about near the yard, Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied visit the feeders about every day. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker can be heard drumming from near by most mornings and an occasional Northern Flicker and Pileated Woodpecker are heard or seen.
Female Red-bellied Woodpecker