Wednesday 1/16: Went to the river walk in crappy weather. About 9 Ring-necks, 1 Hoodie, and 2 coots were about it.
Thursday 1/17: Nothing exciting at the duck ponds.
Friday 1/18: Moody St. again. Two Bufflehead and not much else. Gull was present and was just a Herring.
Saturday 1/19: Pretty slow at Dunback and elsewhere.
Sunday 1/20: Started with a Charles tick, 2 Canvasbacks at Norumbega. Continued to finally try for the chat behind the Kohl’s in Burlington. No luck with that but I finally got a Red Crossbill for the county flying over. Horn Pond next was fairly quiet, one flock of redpolls was about it. On to Silver Lake and hopefully another county bird. No luck with the Glaucous Gull however and not many gulls to scan through. That turned out to be good as I got to the coast just in time for the Mew Gull show, would have missed it if I had lingered at all.
Monday 1/21: Lazy start, eventually heading to Merriam’s Corner (Red-tails everywhere but not much else) and Kaveski Farm (nothing exciting). Great Meadows after that had a few goldeneye, bufflehead, and a Ring-neck plus a very cooperative redpoll and the screech-owl was in the usual hole.
Tuesday 1/22: River walk finally had a goldeneye. Otherwise about the same (2 coots, 9 Ring-necks, 10ish Hoodies, no Common Mergansers).
Last night I did my usual routine after dinner: turned off phone, took off shoes, took off socks, and picked up laptop. I was debating if it was hot enough to lose my pants as well when I noticed that Echofon (twitter client) was showing activity even though I had just checked. That generally means someone has been spamming the BBC account. Sure enough, I switched over and saw a new mention. However, not spam: @jryandoherty: @bbcbirds Black-bellied whistling duck @ great meadows concord!
After whacking the retweet button, I realized it was still a little before 8 and fairly light out. A quick check confirmed that sunset wasn’t for another half hour or so. Grab socks, put on shoes, and run out the door (suddenly glad that I’ve been too lazy to take the scope out of the car). No traffic and green lights meant I made it in 15 minutes.
I started down the path and at the bridge I heard an odd whistle. It took a second time but then it clicked that it would be the duck. A quick scan of the water didn’t turn it up and I could see people further down so I kept walking. Another couple feet and it called again. This time I scanned the air and found it in flight. Nice looks as it circled a couple times before dropping into the far corner.
I made my way down to the group, thanked Ryan, and said hello to Bob, Martha, Ryan, and Jeff. Turns out that the bird had been sitting right on the edge (as seen in Ryan’s photos). That would have been nice, but a couple minutes later and I would have seen nothing so I won’t complain.
Eventually Simon joined the crowd and we moved to the new platform hoping the extra couple feet in height would be enough. It wasn’t, but the duck eventually called and then flew off (barely showing enough for the late arrivals). I attempted some phone video but since I can’t see or hear the bird it’s not being posted.
With the duck gone and the mosquitoes coming out, we headed off. Definitely a good night.
I missed a Bonaparte’s Gull at Great Meadows yesterday (see WIR eventually). However, one of the eBird comments mentioned something about it possibly having been around for a few days, so I figured I’d head over this morning before the rain started.
I decided to bird my way over, checking the Cambridge Res and Flint’s Pond on the way. The southern end of the Cambridge Res was busy (although I initially drove by and decided to double back) with a couple Common Mergansers and some Wood Ducks. Rounding the bend, I pulled over to scan in the usual spot and saw enough to get out the scope (it had starting spitting a bit, so I did hesitate). First thing in the scope were four birds together. Three were quite dark and one showed some white. The odd one out stopped rolling over and looked like the rest. Yellowy ‘horns’ were also visible, a group of Horned Grebe! This is among the high counts for Middlesex county (ties the highest in eBird).
Panning around, things got much better when two small gulls came into view. An adult and a young Bonaparte’s! Much better to find my own. Called home, sent out a quick email, and then spent 10 minutes attempting to get photos. They were too far out, but this video is almost passable (believe you have to click through to play):
Note that they all lined up. My parents pulled up and the birds all drifted off to the right, which made for a tense minute or two before I refound them.
On to Flint’s where a Common Loon was among the swallows (and almost nothing else).
Walking in at Great Meadows, I ran into Linda Ferraresso who immediately said that there was a Bonaparte’s Gull on one of the boxes. Third of the day, not bad for a county bird. Also not the one seen the day before (which was an immature).
Not exactly a high quality photo, but you do better with a phone in the rain.
I walked down to the river and heard a couple rails. Being patient, I waited around until one actually stepped into the open (if I figure out how to trim video I may post eventually). On the way back, my first Warbling Vireo of the year was singing.
From here, I headed off for a quick run through some of the other local ponds. Red-necked Grebe continued at Horn Pond but no fallout birds there or at the Mystic Lakes, Spy Pond, or Hardy Pond. And Arlington Res was as dead as I’ve seen it, not even a swallow flock.
The long weekend provided lots of birds. Sunday was the Big Sit, so I spent the day at the tower by parking lot 7 on Plum Island with Joshua Rose and Nick Paulson. Felt slower than last year but we ended up with 72 species (plus several things like peep sp) so it couldn’t have been that bad. Highlights included a good afternoon jaeger show, 2 bitterns, and a Merlin hunting at dusk. And this guy:
Whatever it is.
There’s been plenty of good stuff still being reported at the Arlington Res, so that was the first stop today. I quickly picked up some of the White-rumped Sandpipers before attempting to wade through the piles of Yellow-rumps and sparrows at Busa without finding much. Working around the res, I got better looks at the sandpipers and eventually got the Great Cormorant to wake up enough to confirm it.
From here, I headed to Danehy Park in Cambridge, hoping for Blue Grosbeak and sparrows. The hill where they’ve been seen was in use as a race track for screaming kids on scooters, so you can guess how that worked out. Did find a sapsucker, Nashville, and couple Cooper’s.
Quick stop home and then off towards Concord to look for Snow and White-fronted Geese. On the way, I watched a Pileated Woodpecker fly over Rt. 2. At the prison fields, I found more geese than I can remember seeing. A quick scan through found one smaller, darker bird. Jumping out to scope it, it turned out to be a Brant! A somewhat overdue county bird (fairly regular and I’ve either missed or been too lazy to chase several). A very quick scan through the rest of the geese didn’t turn up anything (other stuff was reported later, don’t know if I missed them or they flew in).
So no new birds for the county for about 10 months and then 2 in just over 10 days.
Nice series of events last night and this morning:
1. Laptop keyboard and trackpad stops working.
2. Make Apple store appointment for the morning.
3. Decide that even though it’s raining, might as well stop at Arlington Res on the way and hopefully find the Blue Grosbeak.
4. Arrive at Arlington Res, take quick look at berm.
5. That bird looks rather white.
6. Run back to car for scope.
7. Confirm Sanderling, county bird #275 (and 25th shorebird).
Laptop also appears to have started working on its own, which left time to run home and grab the camera (did manage identifiable phone-scoped shots but no one needs to see those).
As promised, chased the Pink-footed Goose today. After driving around Nine Acre Corner and vicinity a bit, we finally stopped at Davis Field. Fortunately, Officer Harris pulled in right next to us and directed us to the back field. After a good bit of searching, we successfully located the goose in the back corner. Views were basically head and neck but good enough.
In the afternoon, we returned with my mother. Pulling in, we were immediately told to go across the street (Frost Farm, which is private but seemed to be open for access for now). The goose was preening on the side of the pond with much better views (if not exactly better photos).
With the White-fronted right here (actually cropped out of this shot) and a Snow back at Davis, I believe 7 geese would be possible in Massachusetts today.
Tuesday 8/24: Checked Cambridge Res before work. At least 2 terns were still around. Ran over to the north side as well, found the Red-shouldered but nothing else.
Wednesday 8/25: Hardy Pond in the rain without anything of note.
Thursday 8/26: Prospect Hill at lunch had a redstart. Led a BBC/MBC walk at Great Meadows in the evening. Had about 150 very distant nighthawks and tons of swallows but shorebirds were nonexistent.
Friday 8/27: Paine at lunch had a small flock of warblers including Redstart, Magnolia, Pine, and Black-and-white. Ran over to Mystic Lakes after work where we found the Laughing Gull (county bird #3 of the week) but couldn’t find the Bonaparte’s. Stopped at Dunback on the way home without much of anything (no Golden-wing).
Weekend 8/28-8/29: BBC Pelagic, separate post tomorrow. It was good.
Monday 8/30: Paine had a single Black-and-white.
Tuesday 8/31: Prospect Hill had a Gray Hairstreak.
Tuesday 8/17: Paine had a couple Red-breasted Nuthatches and not much else.
Wednesday 8/18: Dunback before work was pretty quiet. Two Brown Thrashers, 2 Warbling Vireos, 1 kingbird on the move, and a ton of flickers were about it. Prospect Hill was dead at lunch. Surprise yard bird at night when several Least Sandpipers flew over.
Thursday 8/19: Duck ponds had sandpipers finally: 4 Solitary (3 juv), 1 Spotted, 1 Least (juv), 1 Semipalmated (juv). Also two redstarts, assuming migrants but still wondering after the one in early July.
Friday 8/20: Cambridge Res before work had a good variety of shorebirds and two BC Night-Herons. BB North had an Indigo Bunting at lunch.
Saturday 8/21: Plum with Menotomy. Most of the usual stuff (guess I’m too late for Purple Martin and Willet this year, oops) plus a Forster’s Tern. Unfortunately no one was looking up when a Buff-breasted Sandpiper flew over our heads and miscommunication caused us to miss a Hudsonian Godwit.
Sunday 8/22: Started with a quick check of Arlington Res. Not sure how the water is so high, but 2 Spotted Sandpipers were out in the vegetation. On to Horn Pond, where there’s been a terrific shorebird show lately. Tons of Semipalmated (both plover and sandpiper) and a Snowy Egret were highlights. Beaver Brook ponds were quiet on the return. Thought it was too rainy to go out again but I made one more trip.
Monday 8/23: Rained all day so didn’t expect much. Transformer outside work caught fire and they had to cut power to fix it, so everyone was sent home at 11. We were supposed to check in around 12:30 to see if things were back but I called every few minutes and never got an answer. At 2, I decided to run over and see. No lights and no staff cars, so I headed to Hardy Pond. Almost immediately, I found a bunch of Black Terns in with the swallows. Unfortunately it was raining heavily and blowing right in from the pond so it wasn’t pleasant to view. I ran home and we walked over from the other side (so on the nonmotorized list but couldn’t get them from the house).
That was good enough, but John Hines stopped by again. This time he had a Sterna tern on the Cambridge Res and wanted some help (and a scope) to confirm it. We ran over and immediately found three. We were fairly sure they were Commons but it took quite some time to get good enough views to feel confident. Yet another county bird!
After this morning’s birding, I came home, watched tennis, and then took a nap. Not too long after getting up, the doorbell rang. John Hines was passing by and figured I might want to know that he just had found a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at the Cambridge Res. After last year’s screwup, this was a very wanted bird in the county for me.
I got boots, camera, and binoculars in seconds and five minutes later we were at the res. Fortunately, the bird was right where John had left it and it stayed in the general area for the few minutes we watched. It was dark and the bird was behind vegetation, but I managed a couple passable photos of county bird #271:
Forgot to up the ISO on these but not too bad (and there was a chance it would have walked out of sight while I fiddled with the camera).
Five minutes later, we were back home ready for dinner. Hope the bird sticks around and others get to enjoy it.