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,


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,


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Winter Fest-Amherst & Turners Falls

Cherry Hill Golf Course- View of First Fairway.

The first Winter Fest was held today at the Cherry Hill Golf Course in Amherst, Massachusetts. Many activities were held throughout the day including two bird walks that were led by members of the Hampshire Bird Club. Mary Alice Wilson and myself led the first walk of the day, and while there was only four of us on the first walk-we had a good time. Species seen...Highlights

Red-Tailed Hawk (1)
American Crow (24)
Eastern Bluebird (10)
American Robin (36)
Northern Mockingbird (1)
American Tree Sparrow (4)
White-thr.Sparrow (1)
White-crowned Sparrow (1 )
Dark-eyed Junco (20)

American Robin- Cherry Hill Golf Course.

After the bird walk, Mary Alice and I headed up to Turners Falls to see what mgiht be on Barton's Cove. As we headed north, the snow that started in Amherst became heavier as we headed north. Despite the steady snow, we could scan most of the area around the dam - Ring-billed, Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls were present in small numbers, along with Mute Swans, a Common Goldeneye & Common Merganser. The highlight was (42) Pine Grosbeaks in downtown Turners Falls, that contained at least 10 males.

Pine Grosbeak- Male

Good birding,


Monday, February 4, 2008

February 3, 2008

On Sunday morning I birded the south end of the Quabbin Reservoir (Head Quarters Area) and later made my into North Amherst. A total of 33 species were tallied during this morning outting. Highlights below.....

Quabbin Reservoir- Canada Goose (18), Hooded Merganser (2), Common Merganser (2),
and a single Snow Bunting.

After leaving Quabbin Headquarters I headed up to the Pelham lookout on Rte 202 in Pelham. My hope was to find a Golden Eagle soaring over the westside of the Reservoir-no luck. I did manage to find a Sharp-shinned Hawk (Adult) moving past the overlook, but that was it!

After Pelham I headed to the Cherry Hill Golf Course in North Amherst - While on route to the Golf Course I came across (5) Pine Grosbeaks working over a large Crabapple tree on Montague Rd, just south of the golf course. Once at the Golf Course, I came upon a nice group of birds along the marsh and tree line on the first fairway. A nice male Pileated Woodpecker worked over a dead tree for about 5 minutes, Eastern Bluebirds, American Robins and Cedar Waxwings were feeding on berries and several Dark-eyed Juncos and American Tree Sparrows worked the edges of the fairways.

Once I finished up at the Golf Course, I headed up to Juggler Meadow Road in Leverett. This area has been good for Northern Srike over the years and today it did not let me down. I had nice looks at a imm No.Shrike for about three minutes before it just dropped out of sight. All in all a pleasant day of birding.