Tuesday, January 27, 2015

South Shore-Outer Cape to home

A couple of weeks ago I joined up with Al Richards and a few other members of the Hampshire Bird Club on a field trip to Boston and areas along the South Shore.  Our main target bird was the Black-backed Woodpecker that has been hanging out at the Forest Hills Cemetery. We arrived at 8:30AM and waited 60 minutes in 10 degree weather…..NO WOODPECKER!  We weren't the only disappointed birders that day, but the woodpecker would make a comeback in the days to follow.

 We then headed down to Weymouth for the King Eider that seems to have settled in for the winter, and we located it within a few minutes. The views were hardy killer, but good enough.  Five minutes from the King Eider was the next target bird…Lark Sparrow.  This bird has also been hanging out for a while at Stoddard Park….The park was a very active dog walking park.  When we first arrived I didn’t think we had much of a chance of locating this bird with all the activity, but after ten minutes the group had found the bird.  The Lark Sparrow was surprisingly accustom to the foot and paw traffic at the park. We made one last stop in Marion for a Townsend's Solitaire, but we missed on the Solitaire, but got a Great Horned Owl calling at 3PM! From there I headed to Falmouth to visit family and do a little birding the next day on the lower cape….photos below.

Lark Sparrow- 

Hooded Mergansers...female Bufflehead in background.

White-winged Scoter-Plymouth Harbor

Iceland Gull- one of eight birds around the Provincetown area. Other gulls encountered at Pilgrim Lake- 2 Lesser Black-backed and Glaucous Gull

Common Eider-Chatham Fish Pier.

Dunlin & Sanderling-1st encounter Beach-Eastham.

Red-breasted Merganser-young male. Chatham Fish Pier.

Black Scoters- We came across a flock of 300+ at Nauset Beach in Orleans.

Closer to home...Young Cooper's Hawk hanging around the feeder.

Northern Cardinal-female...aka Miss Piggy

Savannah Sparrow-This was a brand new feeder bird for me, completely unexpected. I've had them on a couple of occasions in the yard in May, but a first in winter and at the feeding station. 

Snow Geese on Mill Valley Rd in Hadley. Unexpected in January. 

Another unexpected species for January...Turkey Vulture - early arrival or hold over from the fall?

Starling-Bill starting to turn yellow for the upcoming breeding season.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Barnacle Geese to Rough-legged Hawk.

Headed down to Agawam this morning to look for the Barnacle Geese that were discovered a week ago. Given a heads up by Tom Gagnon the day before that the Longmeadow side was completely frozen, I made my way along River Road in Agawam. I arrived around 8:40AM and found a couple of birder’s already on the geese. As it turned out, this ended up being a huge help that the other birders were on the Barnacle’s, because they were tucked in and well hidden amongst the 1900 Canada Geese. Barnacle Geese have certainly come a long way in the past 20 years or so. Once they were automatically written off as escapees, but now with a surge in their population, they are now more accepted as wild birds.
From Agawam I headed north to Northampton for a visit to the West Meadows. I read a report the day before on Western Mass birders (Facebook) of a Dark Morph Rough-legged Hawk. It only took me about ten minutes to locate this winter visitor from the north. I managed a few photos and also came across a large flock of Horned Larks (250) and found (4) Lapland Lonspurs and (7) Snow Buntings….all winter visitors to our region.
Certainly a nice morning of birding in the valley, despite the chilly temps this morning…4 degrees!
Rough-legged Hawk-West Meadows (Northampton) Dark morph.

Rough-legged Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk.

Common Merganser- Honey Pot

Horned Lark-Honey Pot