Thursday, February 28, 2008

Gloucester, Mass Feb. 24th

Gloucester/Rockport, Massachusetts

The Quest for the Slaty-backed Gull continues….

I spent the good part of the day birding and scouting out areas around Gloucester and Rockport for my up coming trip with the Hitchcock Center March 1st. While I had hoped the Gull Gods would have looked down favorably on me this day, the Slaty-backed Gull never made an appearance-at least while I was Niles Pond. However, little wind, temperatures near forty degrees and a recent snowstorm made for a very pleasant winter day in New England.

First stop Gloucester Harbor- Greater Scaup, Common Eider, White-winged Scoters and Red-breasted Mergansers were present in modest numbers. A first cycle Glaucous Gull provided great looks and photo opportunities.

Red-breasted Merganser

Common Eider

Glaucous Gull

After Gloucester Harbor I made a brief stop to Niles Beach and then to Rockport Country Club in search of the Townsend’s Solitaire. After about twenty minutes the Solitaire flew in and began feeding at eye level. The Townsend’s Solitaire is a rare find in New England; this one has been present at the Rockport Country Club since December 07. Interesting, this is my second one in the state- both in Rockport! Other birds around the Country Club included – Carolina Wren, many American robins and a Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Townsend's Solitaire

Niles Pond
Northern Shrike

I headed back to Gloucester and spent the rest of my allotted time at Niles Pond. While the Gull show continued to be very impressive – the highlight was mammal! A Fisher kept working the far edges of the frozen pond. Several of us watched this beautiful and elusive animal through our scopes for almost two minutes. Back to the Gulls…
Six species were observed before my departure, most notable- a first cycle Thayer’s, (11) Iceland and (4) Glaucous Gulls. A Northern Shrike patrolled the tree tops around the pond and provided great looks to the many observers looking for the Slaty-backed Gull.

Good Birding,