Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Hitchcock Center for the Environment’s first birding field trip of the 2008 season began today. (Saturday/Feb.16th) I started the birding course a little earlier this year, with the hope of finding, and showing the group some of the winter finches that have moved into New England this winter. First stop was to Turners Falls in search of Pine Grosbeaks. This small town has many downtown streets lined with Crabapple Trees that over the years has been very good for Cedar Waxwings, and occasionally large flocks of Bohemian Waxwings. This winter so far has been especially good for Pine Grosbeaks, probably the most consistent location in Western Mass in recent weeks for these large winter finches.

After about fifteen minutes we finally found (6) Pine Grosbeaks, a life bird for many in the group. After enjoying these birds we headed towards the center of town and came across a larger flock-also feeding on Crabapples. Believe it or not, this group afforded us even better views than the pervious group, and the highlight was two stunning males.
From there we checked the Canal and Barton’s Cove, both areas were pretty quite- Mute Swans, Canada Geese, Mallards, Ring-billed, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls were present in small numbers.

Continuing on are quest for winter finches, we headed east for the town Royalston. This small, but beautiful little town in Worcester County has played host to Pine Grosbeaks, Redpolls and Evening Grosbeaks throughout the fall and winter. We arrived late morning and had immediate success with Pine Grosbeaks-about (12). We birded around the center of town and later had six Evening Grosbeaks, along with Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Cardinal, American Tree Sparrows, and Dark-eyed Junco’s. All in all a nice way to start off 2008 spring birding class.

Trip List:

Mute Swan (9)
Canada Goose (25)
Wild Turkey (25)
Cooper’s Hawk (1 Imm)
Red-tailed Hawk (3)
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
Blue jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren (2) Amherst
American Robin
Cedar Waxwing (8) Amherst
American Tree Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Pine Grosbeak (57) Turners Falls/Royalston
House Finch (5)
American Goldfinch (4)
Evening Grosbeak (6) Royalston
House Sparrow

Good Birding,