Category Archives: birding

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Well that was unexpected. I spent most of the morning in Sudbury, picking up a few new migrants and a couple other things. On the way home, I debated a stop in Lincoln but decided to check the Hobbs Brook end of the Cambridge Res instead. Got there at about 11:35 and a couple Killdeer and a Spotted Sandpiper visible from the road were enough to say park and walk out.

Leaving the underpass, I pulled out my phone for a quick email check. 11:30 message subject Whimbrel in Lincoln?. Continue walking out while calling Marj. Did you check your email? What’s Norm’s number? Why did I leave my bag with notepad and pencil in the car? What’s that number again? Sorry, traffic noise is too much, what was that? Hi Norm, where’s the bird? On the way.

I did stop to scope the little bit of mud quickly (I think there were more Killdeer and a few waterfowl) before jogging back to the car and backtracking to the commuter rail station. Quick run down to Farm Meadow and no bird.

Norm appeared and started down the other side, so I went back to join him. Marj got there at about the same time and we started out along the edge of the field. No obvious Whimbrel. Halfway out, with most of the field visible, we were beginning to think that it had moved on. We continued around, but mostly talking.

Barely paying attention, we just about reached the farthest corner. And something flushed. And everyone was happy.

Whimbrel

Including the Whimbrel, which was catching lots and lots of stuff (grasshoppers and crickets presumably).

Great show as it ran around feeding and flew in closer at one point.

Although I did expect to see one in the county at some point, it certainly wasn’t on one of the nicest days of the year. In a freshly cut Farm Meadow wasn’t the place either, although it has been pointed out that the habitat isn’t quite as crazy as it seemed originally (and does anyone check the Hanscom runways?).

Tern 4

After a mediocre BBC walk at Mt. Auburn yesterday, I decided to swing over to Nahanton and finally catch up with the Yellow-throated Warbler. Took an hour and a half but I got brief, but good views (and a bit of song).

Yellow-throated

Had to get home after that, but after the grebe/Long-tailed Duck show on the res yesterday, I figured it was worth a quick check. I started by doubling back almost immediately to check some ducks before West St. that turned out to be Ring-necks. I had to double back again almost immediately as some dark blobs popped up as I started off again by Sylvan Rd. Those turned out to be 2 Horned Grebes and if I was patient I might have had some really good photos.

Horned Grebes

Around the bend there were two more blobs way out. Scoping, they had paler cheeks and I eventually realized Red-necked Grebes.

Red-necked Grebes

There were also a huge number of cormorants out by 128, haven’t gotten around to counting yet but somewhere between 100 and 200 easily (and many were already flying off).

I continued along, stopping at every opening or two for a quick scan. Most of the way down, I noticed a bird in flight. Actions looked a bit odd for a gull and the bit of pattern I could see wasn’t quite right. Two cars were passing me right then, so I had to wait a couple seconds to hop out and couldn’t refind it.

Fortunately, it came back and I confirmed the black cap, big black wedge on the wings, and huge size for a Caspian Tern. It then vanished again and took another few minutes before I was able to snap some lousy photos.

Caspian TernCaspian Tern

At this point, the phone came out. Not too surprisingly, Marj had just been there. She hadn’t seen it though. She (and Erik, who I knew was in the area) were there within 10 minutes but we never saw the bird again (whether it was just hiding, in a different corner of the res, or long gone I don’t know).

So that’s tern species #4 for Waltham! Arctic, Forster’s, or Sooty next?

Glauc!

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.

Glaucous

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.

Glaucous

Glaucous

Glaucous

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

Snowy

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.

Snowy

Glad someone was out and about, thanks Simon!

Cackling

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.

Cackling

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.

Cackling

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.

Cackling

Cackling
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?