Category Archives: birding


I was planning on a quick run around the res this morning, but it appeared to clear up a bit so I ran to the Arlington Res first. Turned out that it wasn’t very nice but it was well worth the trip.

For a change, I went to the main parking lot. Two Herring Gulls were on the close islands and I could see more on the flat across the way. A quick scan showed one looking very white. There had been a very bleached one lately, but this looked different. A quick photo seemed to show an interesting bill pattern, so I hurried around to get better views.


Nothing obvious got me to pause on the way, so it only took a couple minutes to get to the far side. And as expected, the bird looked like a young Glaucous Gull.

Unfortunately, at this point, it hopped onto the rocks for a few seconds, then got up and started flying. I got some nice flight views and shots but was disappointed to watch it drift off instead of coming back in.




The rest of the walk was too windy and I barely avoided the heavy rain, but no complaints (I would trade days though…).


With the rain today, wasn’t expecting to go out (had debated circling the res but didn’t bother). A 3:15 call from Marj was a nice surprise then.


Glad someone was out and about, thanks Simon!


Today was supposed to be on the lousy side. I planned to be a bit lazy and then go on a quick check of the res and maybe some other ponds and the School St. fields if it wasn’t too bad. Instead it was bright and sunny, so I headed out early. A full loop of the Arlington Res was pretty quiet. One pintail, one Blue-winged Teal, and a snipe were about it on the water and nothing interesting among the sparrows at Busa.

Moving on to Sandy Beach, I had a couple Blackpolls but none of the other warblers that had been around (should have gone last week). A quick scan from the boat club had nothing, so I headed out to Acton. Construction made for a slow ride and there were no birds visible in the field. More construction on the way back and nothing but cormorants on Flint’s Pond.

From here, I decided a quick check of the north end of the Cambridge Res would be a good idea. I drove up and could see Bob getting into his car. I somewhat jogged down but he was long gone. A quick scan showed a few small ducks and some interesting lumps (which turned out to be lumps). That was enough to double back for the scope.

As I got the scope out, I could hear a good number of geese coming in. Once I was back at the opening, I gave them a quick count, saw nothing of interest among them, and went back to the ducks. Two wigeon were close (and a Greater Yellowlegs had wandered out) and there were teal further out. After some staring, I decided two were Blue-winged and the rest Green-winged. There had been a couple in fairly close too, so I panned back to confirm my count. The geese were swimming through and I noticed one looked very short-necked. Checking more carefully, it was also shorter-billed and smaller overall.


Feeling pretty good for Cackling, I attempted a couple photos (light is not good in the middle of the day here), then gave Bob a call, figuring he’d still be nearby. While waiting for him, the goose swam across and climbed out onto the far shore. The size difference was quite obvious as it crossed.


Bob arrived to confirm pretty quickly and Marj was a minute or two behind. Although distant, views actually were a bit better. As they fed, we got good comparisons at all angles. It was interesting how some views made it very obvious and others made it hard to pick out.


After a few minutes viewing, we all moved on. Marj went back later in the afternoon and got much better photos. So how many teal?

More Patch Ticking

After yesterday’s double (decided I wasn’t totally comfortable with the Lesser Yellowlegs), I agreed to lead a BBC chase for the sparrow, which would have been the 300th bird in the club’s Big Year. I decided to walk again, but since it was an early start, I went straight up Trapelo.

I did go down Emmaline and check conditions at the West Meadow (was soaked 1/3 of the way down and no obvious flycatchers), so I came in from Dawes. Almost as soon as I got through the gate, a warbler gave a couple chips to the left. I took a quick scan and saw what looked like a yellowthroat. However, on getting bins on it, the entire belly looked yellow and there was a fairly obvious eye-ring. I fumbled for the camera and managed a photo quiz quality shot:


The bird moved a bit and I lost track. Moving a bit closer to try and refind it, I heard another chip up high. I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be coming from this:


My first August White-throated Sparrow.

I then met up with the large crowd and we fanned out. No luck with the Lark Sparrow and no luck refinding either of these goodies. Back home, seeing the photo on screen made it very obviously a Mourning Warbler and a quick email around was good confirmation. So my second for Waltham, first overall in fall, and a third patch tick in 2 days (only fourth of the year).

A Series of Events

1. Muffler falls out yesterday.

2. With no car, decide that I should walk the Greenway.

3. See likely Olive-sided Flycatcher at West Meadow.

4. Start for south side of BBN, watch flock of yellowlegs (patch tick! possibly 2!) fly north. Decide it’s too wet and thick and maybe the yellowlegs landed in the marsh on the other side of Concord Ave.

5. No yellowlegs, decide to walk down the road to Rock Meadow instead of doubling back.

6. Walk through Rock Meadow. Find Bob in parking lot.

7. Get ride to duck ponds.

8. Get ride to West Meadow to look for Olive-sided. Park by McLaughlin and whack through the vegetation from Dawes.

9. No Olive-sided. Start to say I’ll walk from there but decide that there’s not enough around and the ride sounds better. Return via the other path and around the parkway.

10. Get back to the car, say to Bob “the area behind the building has nice habitat.”

11. Decide to walk there quickly. Both look at the one bird that pops up and exclaim “Lark Sparrow!”

Lots of things combined for that to happen. Of course, #2 meant I didn’t bother with the camera, but the bird stuck around long enough for Devin  Hefferon to get some nice pictures

Fall Starts with a Bang

Went to Prospect Hill this morning hoping for some early migrants. Started at Big Prospect where I had a Pine Warbler before heading down the slope. Chickadees and titmice all over but nothing with them. I took one of the side trails back up and had very little. Nothing at the end of Whitney, so I headed up the Ridge Trail to start towards the back end of the park. Reaching the more open area just below the tower, I heard some more chickadees and stopped to pish. Four birds promptly flew across the path. The first three were chickadees, the fourth was clearly not.  A quick look showed it to be an American Redstart. Worth a few minutes to work through anything else with them.

Pretty quickly, another warbler popped up. Initial views showed big wingbars and left me a bit puzzled as the only thing I could think of was a Blackpoll, which would have been ridiculously early. After a few seconds of hiding, it came out again and I got a better view. A tiny, tiny tail and a huge eyebrow. That was enough to get Cerulean into my head and another look showed the confirming bluish back.

I scrambled for the camera and got a few poorly lit shots (of anything that moved, somehow I got a cardinal and the redstart before getting the warbler). I wasn’t helped by the fact that I only had enough room for maybe 10 shots on the card and had to scramble for a new one. Fortunately a couple were identifiable. The bird moved towards the tower and I chased after it. A few more shots and it moved down the road.


It took a couple minutes to relocate, but this time it posed for some nice shots.



Check out that blue near the tail!

The bird continued down the road and I let it go and rushed out an email. I then finished my loop through the park. Probably not quite concentrating, but lots more chickadees with not much among them. One hummingbird was nice and a couple of Gray Hairstreaks would have been the highlight on another day.

Back at Big Prospect, I made another pass and eventually caught up with Bob on the Whitney Trail. Although the flock was still present (we could hear the redstart among others), it took a good bit of effort to coax the Cerulean back out. And then we realized that the original spot was much better lit, so we coaxed it up there and got some moderate shots.


And then it was time for lunch.