Memorable Words of Wisdom and Inspiration

********************** Being able to recognize and identify birds is crucial to our awareness of the world around us. - LEE ALLEN PETERSON *********************

**** Birding is something that we do for enjoyment; so if you enjoy it, you're a good birder. If you enjoy it a lot, you're a great birder. - KENN KAUFMAN ****

Monday, April 25, 2011

eBird Report - Great Brook Farm SP, 4/24/11: An Easter to remember!

Most often for me over the years, Easter is relatively unmemorable. The usual spending time with family (always welcome nonetheless), the usual stuffing your face, the usual stomach-ache afterwards. But on this past Sunday's Easter, it was a day I surely will never forget!

I met up with Kirk in Burlington by 7:30 am, then we headed off to Great Brook Farm State Park in Carlisle, MA to get our bird on, after having had a long, arduous and dull week at work. Yesterday was a much needed day outdoors, and Great Brook Farm (and Oxbow as I will mention later) did not disappoint!

We had had aspirations of coming across at least one of the 2 Winter Wrens at Great Brook, but we were in the wrong area (stayed around the Meadow Pond trails). But thats okay, because we were treated with something we had not seen before (though I have yet to see a Winter nemesis bird!), something that one might find in a nature documentary on Animal Planet. After coming across numerous Palm Warblers and a few Yellow Warblers (they were also singing) near the juncture of the Maple Ridge Trail, we chanced upon 2 Pileated Woodpeckers on the same dead of which we had already come across early along the Maple Ridge Trail......but it was what these two Pileateds did that took our breath away! Kirk, having had spotted these woodpeckers first, had a feeling, with the way these two Pileateds were interacting with one another, that a love-making session might be in order! And sure enough (lasting only 5 seconds......hmmm, sounds like most guys huh ladies??), these 2 love-birds (no pun intended) got it on, the male spreading out his wings as he planted the seeds of life! Just something you surely don't see every day, 2 woodpeckers copulating, and Pileateds to boot! The female stayed on a large snag on the dead tree, preening herself while the male flew off after doing the dirty deed. Certainly an unexpected and unique treat! And no, we aren't voyeurs, even if I am indeed a pervert!

Other highlights were several Wood Ducks and Ring-necked Ducks on Meadow Pond, 2 singing Brown Creepers following one another along the Keyes Loop Trail, a myriad of singing Chipping Sparrows throughout (3 of which we were actually able to observe), a singing Ruby-crowned Kinglet (one observed, others heard) and 2 Black-and-white Warblers (one along the Maple Ridge Trail on our way back to the parking lot and one near the junction of the Corn Cob and Erickson Trails). A truly remarkable time at Great Brook Farm we had, all 3 hours of our time there, with a good variety of birds and fantastic weather conditions (lows 70s, light and variable winds, sunny).

Location:     Great Brook Farm SP
Observation date:     4/24/11
Number of species:     27

Canada Goose - Branta canadensis     4
Wood Duck - Aix sponsa     6
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos     5
Ring-necked Duck - Aythya collaris     6
Great Blue Heron - Ardea herodias     2
Rock Pigeon - Columba livia     7
Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura     5
Pileated Woodpecker - Dryocopus pileatus     2
Eastern Phoebe - Sayornis phoebe     3
Blue Jay - Cyanocitta cristata     5
American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos     3
Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapillus     9
Tufted Titmouse - Baeolophus bicolor     4
Brown Creeper - Certhia americana     2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Regulus calendula     1
American Robin - Turdus migratorius     13
Yellow Warbler - Dendroica petechia     3
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) - Dendroica coronata coronata     11
Palm Warbler (Yellow) - Dendroica palmarum hypochrysea     16
Black-and-white Warbler - Mniotilta varia     2
Chipping Sparrow - Spizella passerina     3
Song Sparrow - Melospiza melodia     3
Swamp Sparrow - Melospiza georgiana     1
Northern Cardinal - Cardinalis cardinalis     2
Red-winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus     13
Common Grackle - Quiscalus quiscula     7
American Goldfinch - Spinus tristis     7

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We left Great Brook by 11 am and made a fairly brief (about 45 mins) visit at Oxbow NWR in Harvard, MA. We didn't expect to see much, and we really did not, seeing more Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warblers and most notably, a singing Blue-gray Gnatcatcher! But the HUGE moment was coming upon a BLANDING'S TURTLE along Tank Road near the top of the hill underneath the tall white pines, that of which are fairly close to the junction of Turnpike Trail and Tank Road. This Blanding's was on the right-hand side of Tank Road if you are heading northwards on it. Kirk captured several pictures of the amazing turtle, and after going further up Tank Road for a brief spell, on our way back I observed the Blanding's splooshing into the pools of water lining the edge of the railroad tracks.

Truly what a remarkable way to end our morning on Easter, seeing that Blanding's Turtle, something of which both Kirk and I have been desperately hoping to see at Oxbow due to the fact the USFWS is managing breeding populations there. Happy birding everyone, and just think, the big Spring migration is just around the corner (starts salivating......**DROOOOOOL**)!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

eBird Report - Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge, 4/9/11 - First visit of the year at my paradise in Mass!

What a superbly gorgeous day to be outside, no doubt about that! Temps in the low 60s, light and variable winds, a crystal-clear azure sky, with wood frogs and spring peepers abounding in song! I was at my own little slice of heaven here in Massachusetts, Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge in Harvard, MA, just after having finished up my work week in Bedford, MA. I honestly didn't expect to see much, but most appreciatively, was surprised to see what I did!

First up was a lone Wild Turkey just strutting around along the dirt road that leads to the entrance and parking lot for Oxbow NWR. I know, most everyone sees a turkey here and there (had a sizable flock in my own backyard last week), but I found this one most amusing for it didn't seemed to be phased by my car's presence at all as I was driving into the refuge. After a few minutes, it considered I posed no threat and meandered off slowly.

Next up I came across 2 Fox Sparrows along the Riverside Trail, nearer to the junction of said trail and Turnpike Trail. These two Fox Sparrows were calling to each other, Peterson referring to such a call as a "strong, flat chup." One was about 5 feet up in the snags of a pine tree while the other was foraging on the ground with its characteristic "double-scratching" move, kicking up the forest floor detritus for deliciousness.

Onwards I came across a soaring Red-shouldered Hawk on the Turnpike Trail, going in relatively lazy circles, its flight of choppy wing-beats in evidence.....though what is more tell-tale and striking is its "translucent window" along its primaries near the outer-edges of its wings....the sun was blazing gloriously through them as I followed its flight....the first time, as with the Fox Sparrows, that I had ever seen such a bird at Oxbow. I had seen Red-shouldered Hawks before at SVT's Memorial Forest in Sudbury, but to see it in my little slice of heaven was a real treat!

However, the biggest treat of the day has to go to while I was on my way back to the parking lot along Tank Road (along the wetlands on your left as you are walking back). Such a treat was an American Woodcock being flushed out in broad daylight, but to my good fortune, the woodcock landed about 15 feet away, just along the edge of the pathway and the mucky leaf matter littering the area. Whats most amusing to me was that I had been practically on top of this bird initially, me being unaware of the bird's presence as I was looking at other birds in the area. The timberdoodle had me in its sights the entire time, but whilst this bird was walking along, 15 feet away, it was performing its "mating dance" where it teeter-totters and bobbles in a herky-jerky motion that is purely comical and a delight to behold! Such a bizarre bird, I instantly fell in love with this bird the moment I first saw it, over 2 years ago, in the same area at Oxbow that I saw this particular woodcock today! 4 times now during my many ventures at Oxbow NWR have I had the good fortunes of coming across an American Woodcock out in broad daylight. Simply wonderful!

Anyhoo, the full listing of my sightings today during my time at Oxbow (12:45 to 2:45 pm) are below.....happy birding everybody and enjoy this superb weather we are finally having!

Location:     Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge
Observation date:     4/9/11
Notes:     Ruffed Grouse heard only drumming near parking lot; Red-shouldered seen on Turnpike Trail along the boardwalk sections; American Woodcock seen bobbing whilst walking amongst muck and leaf matter alongside Tank Road; Fox Sparrows seen along Riverside Trail nearer to the junction with Turnpike.
Number of species:     26

Canada Goose - Branta canadensis     2
Wood Duck - Aix sponsa     2
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos     5
Ruffed Grouse - Bonasa umbellus     1 (Heard only, drumming near parking/train tracks area)
Wild Turkey - Meleagris gallopavo     1
Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura     2
Red-shouldered Hawk - Buteo lineatus     1
American Woodcock - Scolopax minor     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker - Melanerpes carolinus     1
Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens     3
Blue Jay - Cyanocitta cristata     3
American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos     4
Tree Swallow - Tachycineta bicolor     3
Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapillus     13
Tufted Titmouse - Baeolophus bicolor     4
White-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta carolinensis     2
Brown Creeper - Certhia americana     4
Eastern Bluebird - Sialia sialis     2
American Robin - Turdus migratorius     21
Fox Sparrow (Red) - Passerella iliaca iliaca/zaboria     2
Song Sparrow - Melospiza melodia     3
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) - Junco hyemalis hyemalis/carolinensis     3
Northern Cardinal - Cardinalis cardinalis     1
Red-winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus     5
Common Grackle - Quiscalus quiscula     32
American Goldfinch - Spinus tristis     6

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Monday, March 28, 2011

eBird Report - Nashoba Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, 3/28/11 - A Phoebe and 2 Ravens!

More signs of Spring have become evident with the coming of the Eastern Phoebe! The phoebe I observed at Nashoba Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Westford was not the first one nor would it be the last one for today! When I got up this morning, after having showered and had breakfast, I observed a singing Eastern Phoebe on the edges of our backyard while taking Mr. Gildor, our Corgi, outside for a bathroom break. And as the phoebe at Nashoba was not the last one, another was heard singing along Gray Farm Road in Littleton while taking Gildor for a walk late this afternoon, after having done my 4 miles worth of trekking at Nashoba.

It sure was a pleasant day to be outside, in spite of the brisk winds and slightly-below-normal temperatures. Today's little excursion started off with coming across 5 Golden-crowned Kinglets way up in the tops of the pines along the Woodland Loop Trail. Onwards, while on the trails situated on lands owned by the Westford Conservation Trust that connect the 2 parcels of property that make up Nashoba Brook, I came upon a Brown Creeper going from tree to tree, singing its lovely, ethereal song....a treat that was since the song of the creeper is one of my favorites! Lastly, the other most notable species of bird I came across was while on the trails near Nonset Brook that reside within property owned and maintained by the Westford Conservation Commission. These trails also connect to the MAS lands comprising Nashoba Brook. This particular species was a pair of calling Common Ravens observed flying just above the treetops heading northwards. I just love their guttural croak! The full listing of birds seen at MAS Nashoba Brook Wildlife Sanctuary are below:

Location:     Nashoba Brook Wildlife Sanctuary
Observation date:     3/28/11
Number of species:     17

Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos     6
Great Blue Heron - Ardea herodias     1
Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis     1
Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura     3
Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens     5
Hairy Woodpecker - Picoides villosus     1
Eastern Phoebe - Sayornis phoebe     1
Blue Jay - Cyanocitta cristata     1
American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos     15
Common Raven - Corvus corax     2
Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapillus     18
Tufted Titmouse - Baeolophus bicolor     6
White-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta carolinensis     14
Brown Creeper - Certhia americana     1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - Regulus satrapa     5
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) - Junco hyemalis hyemalis/carolinensis     2
Red-winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus     4

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Before I depart here, I also wanted to mention a bird I have never had in our yards at home before until this past Saturday, that being a lone Fox Sparrow that came around late afternoon time (4:15 to 5:40), kicking up the ground very much in the fashion of an Eastern Towhee.....twas only the 3rd time I had ever seen a Fox Sparrow! Below is the full listing of birds in our yards observed at that time:

Location:     83 Hartwell Avenue, Littleton, MA 01460
Observation date:     3/26/11
Notes:     First Fox Sparrow I have ever seen in our yard, only the 3rd Fox Sparrow I have seen in my life thus far (first in 2009 in Sanbornton, NH; 2nd in 2010 at Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary).
Number of species:     15

Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura     4
Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens     1
Hairy Woodpecker - Picoides villosus     1
Blue Jay - Cyanocitta cristata     2
Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapillus     7
Tufted Titmouse - Baeolophus bicolor     5
Red-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta canadensis     2
White-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta carolinensis     2
Carolina Wren - Thryothorus ludovicianus     2
Fox Sparrow (Red) - Passerella iliaca iliaca/zaboria     1
Song Sparrow - Melospiza melodia     1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) - Junco hyemalis hyemalis/carolinensis     5
Northern Cardinal - Cardinalis cardinalis     2
House Finch - Carpodacus mexicanus     6
American Goldfinch - Spinus tristis     4

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

It has been another good year of birding thus far! Get out there folks and enjoy it! Happy birding!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Winter Wren Portrait

Video and audio of Winter Wren by The Music of Nature

I truly LOVE all wrens, whether it be House, Marsh, Carolina, Sedge and Winter (though there are the Western species still to see). But I without a doubt, above all the other wrens, the Winter Wren is my absolute favorite! However, sadly enough, it is my NEMESIS bird! So many times I have heard their truly remarkable, tinkering, cascading song, whether it be at Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge of Jefferson, NH; up in the various locales in Pittsburg, NH; or even in some places out in central to western MA. But never have I actually seen a Winter Wren! Last year was the most gut-wrenching while being up in Pittsburg, NH for family vacation. 10 different occurrences in our 7 days up there in the North Country of NH I heard this bird sing, but never could I get upon one! THIS YEAR will be the year I mark the Winter Wren off my list of Lifers to get, and no more shall the Winter Wren be my Nemesis bird!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ducks galore in Concord, MA!

Ah, a beautiful day it was to be outside today, though it would've been even nicer had it been a tad bit warmer! Beggars can't be choosers eh??! Kirk and I desperately needed to get outdoors and scare up some good birds! We were hither and yonder in Middlesex County, but mainly around the Concord area.

Our first stop was Nine-Acre Corner in Concord where we had good reports from there the past few days via Massbird. Our ultimate hope was to see a Horned Grebe in breeding plumage, but we had just missed the lone bird by about 20 minutes to our arrival (which was around 9:30 am). Nonetheless, we had plenty of ducks to look at, amongst dozens and dozens of Canada Geese. David Swain had reported 107 Green-winged Teal the day before, and there had to be at least that many there this morning. We also had about a half-dozen Northern Pintails, a number of American Black Ducks and Mallards, at least 40 Ring-necked Ducks, a small contingent of Common Goldeneye and one Pied-billed Grebe. There was also a handful of Wilson's Snipe in the mud flats bordering the flooded farm fields there. A Red-tailed Hawk and a Turkey Vulture also made an appearance, and there was also a number of Red-winged Blackbirds. We even had the good fortune of meeting Willy Hutcheson and Pam Sowizral, but most notably, the venerable David Allen Sibley himself (well, he does live in Concord afterall)!

Next up on our list was Dunback Meadows in the Waltham/Lexington area. Numerous Song Sparrows we had, as well as a few Blue Jays pestering a Red-tailed Hawk. We had aspirations of perhaps coming across Fox Sparrows there, but it seems they had already moved through (they had been reported earlier in the week at Dunback). For me, the highlight at Dunback was coming across a couple Golden-crowned Kinglets.

Onwards we stopped over at the Waltham Street Fields where there were at least 30 Canada Geese, but more notably, several (at least 7) Wilson's Snipe that we flushed out as we made our way around the fields there. What amusing calls they have with their erratic flight that is reminiscent of most shorebirds, but especially American Woodcocks.

Our last stop was Great Meadows NWR in Concord. Unfortunately, we thought the dike trail in its entirety was passable.....well, it was, that is if you don't mind getting your feet wet! Highlights there were a few Swamp Sparrows, Song Sparrows, a large contingent of Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds (especially near the Concord River), a handful of Buffleheads, a small group of Common Goldeneye, a couple of Mute Swans and a very large flotilla of Ring-necked Ducks. We also saw several Muskrats, a lone Downy Woodpecker and more notably, a Northern Harrier. What was most nice to see while there, and for Kirk and I, a more significant telltale sign Spring is well at hand and that warmer temps are coming, is that we saw 2 Tree Swallows flying around the center dike trail nearest the Concord River canoe launch. Soon enough there will be hundreds of Tree Swallows at Great Meadows!

Not the most momentous day of birding, but decent enough and certainly more than worth it, for any day of birding, whether it be good or bad, is far superior than a good day of work or being at home doing absolutely nothing! Happy birding everyone!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Winter finches galore on this day of my birth!

What a year of bird watching it has been thus far, and today has by far and away been the best day of birding yet, and there has already been several momentous occasions! On the day of my birth (30 today) that had promised milder temps, some sun and the allure of the hunt for seeing more winter finches, brought us all that and more (even a few intermittent snow flurries in Royalston)!

My good buddy and fellow birder Kirk and myself ventured back out to West Concord at the Thoreau School again to get more of a Redpoll fix! It was my 3rd time visiting this location, and today's hope was not only to see the myriad numbers of Common Redpolls, but also to see if we could chance upon at least one of the Hoary Redpolls that the venerable David Sibley had observed earlier in the week. This time around, we didn't have to wait for the Redpolls to show up, for we got there at about 8:30 am and two-thirds of the flock was present and accounted for, mowing down upon the feeders full of millet. One of the Redpolls that alighted on the feeders was without a doubt a Hoary Redpoll. It was marginally larger, had that frostier, paler appearance and the more refined and less noticeable brown streaking along its flanks. It also appeared to have an even stubbier yellow bill than that of its Common brethren. We were there in West Concord for about 20 minutes before deciding to head out west to continue to feast our eyes upon more winter finches! There was another Redpoll that seemed to be a candidate for a Hoary, but we weren't definitively sure of it. Nonetheless, that one Hoary we saw was fantastic, never mind the fact of just having all those Redpolls there at once down here in the Bay State!

Location:     Thoreau School, West Concord, MA
Observation date:     3/13/11
Notes:     The sizable flock of Redpolls continues at this location, though only about half to two-thirds of the flock was present and accounted for. The Hoary (1 of a few that had been reported earlier in the week by David Sibley) has all the features we were looking for: the slightly larger size, the even shorter, stubbier yellow bill, the more refined brown streaking along the flanks than that of the Commons, and just the overall "frostier" appearance, looking like it has just spent a night in the freezer!
Number of species:     8

Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura     4
American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos     3
Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapillus     5
White-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta carolinensis     2
American Robin - Turdus migratorius     1
Common Redpoll - Acanthis flammea     40
Hoary Redpoll - Acanthis hornemanni     1
American Goldfinch - Spinus tristis     3

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Here are a couple pics of the myriad of Redpolls seen in West Concord by my good buddy and birding mentor, Kirk Marshall:
Common Redpoll goodness in West Concord, MA near the Thoreau School

Part of flock of Common Redpolls visiting millet feeders in West Concord, MA

About an hour and a half later, at around a little after 10:30 am, we started our venture within the town of Royalston, MA in hopes of coming across other notable winter finches that had been reported earlier in the week by Paul Peterson, Pete Gilmore and Paul Sullivan along North Fitzwilliam Road, Northeast Fitzwilliam Road and Proctor Hill Road. Around Northeast Fitzwilliam Road, we didn't come across any of the winter finches we were hoping for, but things started off fairly well when we arrived there, with 3 American Crows harassing the living daylights out of a calling Common Raven! We had parked in the parking lot near the church in the center of town (we weren't sure which building was the Phinehas S. Newton Library). After seeing the Raven, we walked northwards along NE Fitzwilliam Road and came upon a sizable flock of about 40 Red-winged Blackbirds and at least 8 Common Grackles. Even more notable here was a Mink that Kirk had spotted crossing NE Fitzwilliam Road right near the juncture with Frye Hill Road....I hadn't seen a Mink since being at Wompatuck on the South Shore last summer! After having no luck with finding winter finches along NE Fitzwilliam Road, we decided to head up North Fitzwilliam Road. Driving for about a half-mile to 3/4 of a mile up, we came upon a house with a large flock of Common Redpolls just covering the ground and the feeders that were out in front of this white house with 3 deciduous trees in the front, right along the side of North Fitzwilliam. But not only were Redpolls there (we couldn't discern any Hoary's, especially since most of the Redpolls went to the feeders in behind the house), but there were at least 2, probably more, Pine Siskins there as well.....great looks at them, along with the "ZZZZZzzzzzzrrrreeeeeee" vocalizations in effect! What also astonished us was the presence of a Brown Creeper looking for deliciousness on the ground near the base of the middle tree. Never before had Kirk or myself seen a Creeper on the ground! Just fantastic!

After getting our Redpoll meter up to maximum for the day, we continued on northwards on North Fitzwilliam Road and turned left onto Proctor Hill Road. Paul Peterson and his posse reported that a local resident had a flock of at least 17 Evening Grosbeaks at her feeders at her home that was the 2nd home on the right on this road. We checked out this home and had no luck (though there are numerous feeders there), so we went up the road for about another 1/4 mile and decided to turn around just in front of a large white farmhouse with barn animals and a friendly yellow dog present. Just as I was finished making my 3-point turn, we had noticed a flock of birds in the treetops in behind this farmhouse we were turning around at. Then Kirk exclaimed with glee: "There they are!!!" And sure enough, there they were indeed, a flock of 17 Evening Grosbeaks! We just gawked at these amazing Life birds for the both of us, admiring the startling beauty of both male and females, but especially that of the male EVGR, with its bright patterns of golden-yellow, black, rich brown and grays with black wings marked with bold, white wingbars! These Evenings were very noisy and very social amongst themselves.....but 17 just wasn't enough! About 7 or so minutes later, another group of EVGRs joined the flock already there, bringing the total tally of birds to at least 35, possibly more!! Below is a location map of where we were in Royalston today:

The lat/long marker at the top left is the spot where the Evening Grosbeaks were seen on Proctor Hill Road. The middle lat/long marker along North Fitzwilliam Road is where the Redpolls, Pine Siskins and the Brown Creeper was observed. The location along NE Fitzwilliam Road is where the blackbirds and grackles were seen.

Location:     Proctor Hill/N. Fitzwilliam/NE Fitzwilliam Rds., Royalston, MA
Observation date:     3/13/11
Notes:     Brown Creeper, Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls seen at home along North Fitzwilliam Road, about a half-mile to 3/4 mile from junction with NE Fitzwilliam Road at white house along left-side of road with feeders and 3 deciduous trees in front yard. Also feeders along side-yard and in backyard; flock of at least 35 Evening Grosbeaks seen about 3/4 mile up Proctor Hill Road on left-hand side of road in trees behind white farmhouse with barn animals and a lovely yellow dog present. Grosbeaks were very social and communicative....simply startling and gorgeous! What a Lifer! The EVGR appeared to be engorging themselves on feeders in behind the farmhouse, though we could not tell for sure the existence of feeders or not without fear of trespassing.
Number of species:     19

Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura     5
Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens     2
Hairy Woodpecker - Picoides villosus     1
Blue Jay - Cyanocitta cristata     6
American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos     3
Common Raven - Corvus corax     1
Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapillus     12
Tufted Titmouse - Baeolophus bicolor     16
Red-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta canadensis     1
White-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta carolinensis     3
Brown Creeper - Certhia americana     1
American Tree Sparrow - Spizella arborea     12
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) - Junco hyemalis hyemalis/carolinensis     3
Red-winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus     43
Common Grackle - Quiscalus quiscula     8
Common Redpoll - Acanthis flammea     70
Pine Siskin - Spinus pinus     2
American Goldfinch - Spinus tristis     15
Evening Grosbeak - Coccothraustes vespertinus     35

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

My gods.....what a phenomenal birthday, and moreover, a fabulous day of birding! Now all I need is both Crossbills and a Pine Grosbeak to round out the winter finches (neverminding the Rosy Finches out in Colorado)! I could not have asked for a better day.....thanks be to Ryan Schain, David Sibley, Paul Peterson, Pete Gilmore and Paul Sullivan....and of course Kirk Marshall, for contributing in some manner to make such a day come to fruition!! Happy birding to everyone out there!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

3 Common Redpolls just simply is not enough to satiate my hunger!!

After having a fantastic day of birding the day before with Kirk in numerous locations across northeastern Massachusetts, you'd think I would have had my weekly fill of our fine avian friends. However, there was one bird in particular that I just simply had to see more of! After having seen a report online this morning on the Massachusetts Birding List by Willy Hutcheson of the numbers of Common Redpolls being seen at the feeders near the Thoreau School in West Concord, I just had to try and see more of these wonderful winter finches! So, just prior to the rains moving in, I arrived at the aforementioned location that I had visited yesterday with Kirk by 12:20 pm. Having waited for 15 minutes with only a lone American Goldfinch at the feeders, a few Redpolls moved in to chow down. But minutes later, the whole rest of the flock maneuvered in! Only a few more alighted on the feeders, the rest of the brethren (over 70 birds!) perching themselves in the deciduous trees forming a perimeter around the grouping of feeders! All of them were quite communicative and flitty, moving as a whole over my head from tree-to to tree-top! What a spectacular sight this all was, and surely I had gotten my fix for least for now!

Location:     Thoreau School, West Concord, MA
Observation date:     3/6/11
Notes:     Arrived at Thoreau School parking lot in West Concord by 12:20 pm to get my fill of observing Redpolls after getting my first taste at the same location the day before. Waited about 15 minutes before a few showed up at the feeders. Then a few minutes later, the whole flock arrived of at least 70 birds. I think it is safe to say the flock was larger than 70, but that is what I could count before my I lost track as they kept flying together around me from tree to tree that forms a perimeter around the feeders.
Number of species:     4

Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura     5
American Robin - Turdus migratorius     2
Common Redpoll - Acanthis flammea     70
American Goldfinch - Spinus tristis     3

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Today was also the day I usually spend time observing my own feeders here at home for Cornell's Project FeederWatch. I had missed Week 15's observance last Sunday due to being busy with family, visiting the Peabody Essex Museum. Nonetheless, today did not yield much in the total numbers of birds, but the number of species of birds in attendance is in keeping with the entirety of the FeederWatch observance to date, at least for the most part. My ever-present,  good little buddy, the Red-breasted Nuthatch, was still hanging around, taking its opportune moments to swoop in and score some black sunflower seeds. A Carolina Wren also came around, being as noisy and boisterous as ever!

Mourning Dove4
Downy Woodpecker1
Hairy Woodpecker1
Blue Jay1
American Crow1
Black-capped Chickadee7
Tufted Titmouse4
Red-breasted Nuthatch1
White-breasted Nuthatch1
Carolina Wren1
American Robin1
Dark-eyed Junco1
Northern Cardinal2
House Finch3
American Goldfinch1

A weekend full of wonderful birding was had, and it had been some time since I have had such a memorable, full weekend birding (at least since January 1st of this year). So far, I have 5 new Lifers this year (Green-tailed Towhee, Spotted Towhee, King Eider, Great Cormorant, Common Redpoll), thusly, a great start! But me thinks I am being greedy, for I would still love to have Redpolls here at my own feeders before this winter is said and done! But that is just being selfish isn't it??! Anyhoo, good birding to everyone!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A hint of Spring is in the air with the last vestiges of Winter still lingering!

With "Cabin Fever" taking a firm grip all over the Northeast and its inhabitants, my good buddy Kirk Marshall and myself just had to get out and about, what with the mild temperatures (40s to 50s), the promise of drenching rains the next couple of days and the fact work was wearing on the both of us! We made a day of it, getting our "bird on", going up the shoreline just north of Boston-proper to the rocky shores of Cape Ann, even making a final stop not too far off from my town of residence, visiting a spot in West Concord!

Our day started off in Belle Isle Marsh in East Boston. It is a favorite haunt of Kirk's, but twas only the 3rd time I had been there, and of course, prior to becoming friends with Kirk, had never been there before. Our hope for this first stop was to chance upon the sizable flock of Common Redpolls that had been reported by Ryan Schain the day before (a flock of 48 of them!), but alas, no such luck. Besides the fact that such a cute little winter finch is so nomadic, I am sure the numbers of dog walkers and the planes overhead flying into Logan held the Redpolls either at bay or scared off altogether. Nonetheless, Belle Isle Marsh offered up an equally wonderful bird, 3 Rusty Blackbirds!! These birds were still in their winter plumage, so thusly they were still had the rusty hue to their feathers that gives them their common name. Whats more is that these Rusty's were singing, which on the only other occasion I had a chance to see a Rusty Blackbird at Oxbow NWR, they had not been. Other birds of note was a sizable group of Buffleheads (a diving duck), 16 in total, and this year's first sightings of Red-winged Blackbirds and a Common Grackle, both signs of warmer times ahead of us! The full list of birds seen at Belle Isle Marsh is below:

Location:     Belle Isle Marsh--IBA
Observation date:     3/5/11
Notes:     How fantastic it was to come upon the 3 Rusty Blackbirds, still in their winter plumage, singing away in the trees right near the parking lot for Belle Isle Marsh. We had hoped to come upon the good-sized flock of Common Redpolls that had been seen the day before by Ryan Schain (48 of 'em), but no luck.
Number of species:     16

Mute Swan - Cygnus olor     2
American Black Duck - Anas rubripes     9
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos     2
Bufflehead - Bucephala albeola     16
Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura     4
Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens     1
Blue Jay - Cyanocitta cristata     2
American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos     2
American Robin - Turdus migratorius     12
Northern Mockingbird - Mimus polyglottos     1
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris     50
Song Sparrow - Melospiza melodia     1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) - Junco hyemalis hyemalis/carolinensis     1
Red-winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus     8
Rusty Blackbird - Euphagus carolinus     3
Common Grackle - Quiscalus quiscula     1

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Our next stop was King's Beach (part of the Lynn Shore & Nahant Beach Reservation) along the Lynn/Swampscott town line in our pursuit of the very rare Mew Gull. Alas, we didn't have luck with that bird either, however, we did come across 8 more Buffleheads and a flotilla of Brants, at least 60 in number!

Location:     King's Beach, Lynn/Swampscott
Observation date:     3/5/11
Notes:     Attempted to re-find Mew Gull that had been reported in previous sightings along King's Beach, alas, to no avail. The flotilla of Brant was very nice to come upon though!
Number of species:     3

Brant - Branta bernicla     60
Bufflehead - Bucephala albeola     8
Ring-billed Gull - Larus delawarensis     12

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Then we were off to the Rockport area of Cape Ann, in search of ducks that you would normally see during the winter-time along the coastlines. However, the diving duck in question we were going after is one wintering duck you wouldn't normally see, as compared to other birds I will mention shortly. We had hoped to come across the adult male King Eider that had been reported along the rocky shores in-between Folly's Cove and Halibut Point, or perhaps the one located just off the shores near the Elk's Club in Gloucester. We sadly could not come upon either majestic male, (though he had been seen earlier in the day off the Elks, half way in-between the shoreline and the horizon). Nonetheless, our consolation prize was seeing 2 1st-winter juvenile male King Eiders right near the rocky shoreline just south of the cliff face at Halibut Point. We also visited Andrew's Point, Cathedral Ledge and the aforementioned shoreline near the Elk's Club in Gloucester and were rewarded with good looks at Harlequin Ducks, all three Scoter species (Surf, Black and White-winged), Greater Scaups, more Buffleheads and another Life bird, a lone Great Cormorant off of Halibut Point. Total numbers from all the locations visited on Cape Ann are below:

Location:     Cape Ann--Halibut Point
Observation date:     3/5/11
Notes:     2 first-winter juvenile male King Eiders seen right off the rocky shore just to the south of the cliff face for Halibut Point; please note total numbers are for all birds seen around Cape Ann and at the shoreline in front of the Elk's Club in Gloucester; as such: Common Eiders and Harlequin Ducks were seen at Halibut Point, Andrew's Point and Cathedral Ledge; the Buffleheads were seen in Gloucester near the Elks and at Andrew's Point; the White-winged Scoters were only seen near the Elks; the Black Scoters at Andrew's Point; the Common Merganser at Andrew's; and the Great Cormorant at Halibut Point.
Number of species:     10

Greater Scaup - Aythya marila     3
King Eider - Somateria spectabilis     2
Common Eider - Somateria mollissima     50
Harlequin Duck - Histrionicus histrionicus     20
Surf Scoter - Melanitta perspicillata     8
White-winged Scoter - Melanitta fusca     3
Black Scoter - Melanitta americana     12
Bufflehead - Bucephala albeola     14
Common Merganser - Mergus merganser     2
Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo     1

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Lastly, to use the proverbial "icing on the cake" expression, we made our final stop of the day in West Concord at the Thoreau School in hopes of seeing the small flock (12 at max) of Common Redpolls that had been reported earlier in the week by David Swain at the feeders directly across from the teacher's parking slots at Thoreau. It was 4 pm by the time we got to West Concord and obviously, our light was waning steadily. But after waiting for about 15 minutes (Redpolls were seen 15 minutes prior to our arrival at the school), our patience and long waiting for a new winter finch had paid off! 3 gorgeous, wonderfully cute Redpolls came to the grouping of feeders filled with millet, busily stuffing their faces, but also wary of our presence and even skittish of the Mourning Doves that were perusing the snows below them at the feeders.

Location:     Thoreau School, West Concord, MA
Observation date:     3/5/11
Notes:     Though more Common Redpolls have been reported here, 3 were seen at a grouping of bird feeders in the back yard of a home directly across from the teacher's parking slots of the Thoreau School in West Concord. What a wonderful Life gorgeous, so flitty.....only 2nd winter finch species of the year (had a Pine Siskin on Dec. 26th in North Reading, MA).
Number of species:     3

Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura     4
White-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta carolinensis     2
Common Redpoll - Acanthis flammea     3

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My gods, what a way to end the day!! 3 new Life birds in one day (King Eider, Great Cormorant, Common Redpoll). After this hellacious winter we have all endured, such a day of great birding and time with my good buddy and birder, Kirk, was much needed!! Here is to a relaxing day tomorrow and to a great year of bird watching!! Happy birding too all my friends!!