Tag Archives: townbirds

WIR 9/11-9/17

Wednesday 9/11: Nothing at Rock Meadow or the duck ponds.

Thursday 9/12: Couple Osprey at Great Meadows. Probable White-rump at Cambridge Res.

Friday 9/13: Duck pond refilled from rain. More of the same at Cambridge Res (eagles at the south end).

Saturday 9/14: Added BT Green and Cape May to the yard list and had yet another Broad-wing.

Sunday 9/15: Lots of warblers and vireos at BBN, including my first Philadelphia in Waltham. More of the same at Cambridge Res.

Philly

Monday 9/16: Would have been a very good day at Prospect Hill if the light was better and it didn’t start to rain. Even so, 10 species of warblers including a Tennessee and a Cape May and a good number of vireos and flycatchers plus my first Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the fall. Quick stop at Cambridge Res had a single eagle. Hardy Pond had a big swift flock that I searched through and came up with a Cliff Swallow eventually (and while watching that a Blue-winged Teal flew across). Afternoon trip to Dunback was quiet, Parula, Magnolia, few redstarts, White-throat.

Tuesday 9/17: Started scouting Farm Meadow for an MBC walk this weekend. Wasn’t hopping but a bright Philadelphia Vireo made it worthwhile. Handful of warblers and many pewees besides. Quick walk around Lindentree had a Lincoln’s Sparrow and my first Palm Warbler of the fall. Stopped at Heard Pond on the way home, where there was a large flock of swallows, all distant. After multiple scans through those (only able to pick up Barn and Rough-winged), I noticed an adult Bald Eagle sitting in the treetops right where the flock was hanging around!

Philly

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

WIR 5/22-5/28

Wednesday 5/22: Went to Rock Meadow and BBN. Good numbers of warblers including a Blackburnian, at least two Black-billed Cuckoos, and a few other things but my main highlight was a singing Alder Flycatcher, which is Waltham #204.

Thursday 5/23: Wandered to Mt. Auburn eventually. Worked for thrushes in the Dell with minimal success, then took a short wander where I found 2 Turkey Vultures in trees. Also an Indigo Bunting and late-ish Yellow-rump but struck out on the Mourning. Quick trip around the Cambridge Res had 2 Common Loons.

Friday 5/24: Quick loop of Prospect Hill had the adult ravens down near the start of the road, a few warblers (BT Green, Parula, Ovenbird were the most interesting), and 4 Indigo Buntings. Nothing on Cambridge Res or Flint’s Pond. Got a little brighter out, so continued to Great Meadows and had a beaver swimming right below the new platform and first Blue Dashers of the year.

Saturday 5/25: Cruised Cambridge Res, Flint’s Pond, Heard Pond, Purgatory Cove, etc without finding anything.

Sunday 5/26: Tried again for storm-blown birds. Lots of swallows including Bank at Heard and Hardy but nothing else of note.

Monday 5/27: Dunback had lots of the usual breeders (including bluebirds) but the only things resembling migrants were Redstarts. Quick stop at Hanscom got meadowlark and a Broad-wing.

Tuesday 5/28: Harvester at the duck ponds. Very good nighthawk show at Great Meadows at dusk but no Cave Swallow.

WIRs 12/5-12/18

Well the hosting move took a bit longer than I had hoped. Catching up…

Wednesday 12/5: Nothing at the duck ponds.

Thursday 12/6: Nothing different at Hardy Pond, good numbers of Red-breasted Nuthatches at the back side of Prospect Hill.

Friday 12/7: Paine Estate list was about the same as Prospect Hill.

Saturday 12/8: Huge flock of stuff on the Cambridge Res including 12 scaup (both species), 200 Ring-necks, 50 Ruddy, a Loon, 25 wigeon, and 20 coots. Nothing at Flint’s. Finally made the Fresh Pond run for Canvasback for the year.

Sunday 12/9: Waltham St. was quiet. Ran into Marj and Renee at Dunback where we had Barred and Great Horned Owls in the pines (plus I had a Rusty Blackbird before joining them). Went and twitched the Hammond Pond Redheads after, 5 Aythya within 24 hours. Gave the Res another look after and had a few more scaup, about the same of the rest plus a Bufflehead.

Monday 12/10: On the Charles by Purgatory Cove: 31 Coots, several Ring-necks, a few Hoodies, and then it got fogged in. Red-breasted Nuthatches in the trees and redpoll flew over. Drove around to Charlesbank where there were a few coots (and some ducks along Norumbega Rd that I didn’t stop for…)

Tuesday 12/11: Nothing much at Hardy or BBN.

Wednesday 12/12: Iceland Gull was very obvious off Cronin’s. Got about halfway down the path to Prospect St and heard and odd call. Looked up and watched a Pine Grosbeak fly over my head. Ran back and found it in one of the fruit trees, where it posed a bit.

Pine Grosbeak

Wasn’t unexpected but still a big shock and a nice bird for Waltham.

Thursday 12/13: Nothing at Hardy or Gore. Double-crested Cormorant was visible at Prospect St. as I drove by.

Friday 12/14: Decent number of Tree Sparrows at BBN and West Meadow but not much else.

Saturday 12/15: Checked Lot 1 and West Meadow in some last minute CBC scouting without much (flyover redpolls and Common Mergansers were nice). Prospect Hill was quiet in a very short check. Figured I was almost at the res, so went around. A scoter was a surprise in the middle. Female-type unfortunately, but I think I got enough to call it a White-winged.

Front spot is fairly rounded and (not visible here) the bill seemed to extend under it.

Scoter

Picked up parents and we walked Moody to Prospect without much of anything. Continued up Woerd Ave where the Iceland Gull was sitting on the boat ramp.

Iceland

Opposite Purgatory Cove were a few scaup, a Gadwall, and a few of the more usual stuff. We continued around to Norumbega where I easily found the Eurasian Teal John Hines had found earlier in the week (see Monday to see why I’m kicking myself).

Teal

Based on some correspondence via Massbrd, it appears to be the Newton City Hall bird (which means it moved outside the CBC circle).

Sunday 12/16: Greater Boston CBC. Started owling, first walking to Graverson, then driving to BBN (and skipping as there was a police car parked) and Paine. No response anywhere. Met the group and we were at Dunback by 7:30. No luck in the pines. We decided to check the gardens quickly but some screaming crows sent us down the back side where Eric quickly picked up the Barred Owl (I’d learn later that it was actively hunting). After enjoying that, we worked our way out. Most of the way back, someone picked up a big flock of small birds flying back and forth. I was pretty sure I saw enough of a white flash to say Snow Buntings, but we hurried to Waltham St. to be sure. A quick pass didn’t find them (and we figured 50 birds couldn’t hide so didn’t walk every bit of field), but just as we got ready to leave, they started circling again and eventually landed. Didn’t get much in photos, but I used this one to actually count them (and almost doubled the 50 I guessed with 86):

Snow Bunting

We split up and I took the Metropolitan Parkway, UMass Field Station, Paine, and Lyman Pond bit. Weather was getting a bit worse and it was pretty quiet at most of those. Only highlight (other than 4 blackbirds that got away but were probably Rusties) was a Sharp-shinned at Lyman and hearing a couple people working at the field station talk about people looking for Blue Grosbeak.

Lunch at Burger King beat Wendy’s. We headed to Moody St where it was quite nasty out and didn’t see much beyond the cormorant.

DC

And a leucistic robin

Leucistic Robin

Went to check the boat ramp for the gull only to find a boat being launched, so on to Purgatory Cove. Lots of gulls but no Iceland and not much else (but a second DC Cormorant was on one of the docks as we drove off). Back to the river walk, starting at Elm St. where there was a Red-tail, a Great Blue, and a few Hoodies. We moved on to Shaw’s, got out to the bridge and decided not to bother. Got back to the cars and thanked everyone. A few gulls were flying over and Christine said “there’s your Iceland” (jokingly I think). And there it was. It circled a couple times and then landed on one of the light poles, so everyone got good views.

That pretty much ended the count, although I took a quick walk down Hardy Pond Rd and added a kingfisher and another heron. And a Great Horned flew in front of the car on the way to Habitat.

Monday 12/17: Raining and tired, didn’t bother going out.

Tuesday 12/18: Usual at Hardy. Tons of Hoodies in the middle of the res, nothing else good though.

WIR 10/31-11/6

Wednesday 10/31: Purgatory Cove: Great Cormorant had moved down here. Water level up, one of the docks was by the road, and the path through the woods along the edge was taped off but otherwise not bad. Birds were slow beyond the cormorant. Driving out, I saw some white along the water by Mt. Feake, so pulled in at the boat ramp. Couldn’t see it from there so walked the trail a short distance and found the egret.

Thursday 11/1: Went to Purgatory Cove before work. One of the cormorants was roosting on the island (and a second swimming around, possibly a third too). Osprey overhead and a calling winter finch were about it otherwise. Coot count at Charlesbank was up to 45. Quick scan of Mt. Feake on the way back to the office didn’t turn up the egret, but one of the cormorants was sitting on the dock at the boat ramp.

Friday 11/2: Rock Meadow was pretty quiet.

Saturday 11/3: Started at Waltham St. One Tree Sparrow, a good number of Red-wings, and not much else. Moved on to Dunback, where I met up with Marj and Renee. We had 3 Fox Sparrows, about 15 Purple Finches, 7 Pine Siskin, and a Gray Catbird. I continued on to the West Meadow where a Marsh Wren was chattering (second patch record!). Walked back through BBN, where one of the first birds I found was an Orange-crowned Warbler (#202 for Waltham!).

Marsh Wren

Sunday 11/4: Went to Plum Island for the first time in months. Eurasian Wigeon was obvious, usual sea stuff (tons of scoter) and good numbers of Snow Buntings. Missed crossbills here, along with Purple Sandpiper and probably some other stuff. Went over to Salisbury where the White-winged Crossbills put on a good show. A quick scan of the ocean had more of the same as Plum plus a flock of Green-winged Teal (on the water). Horned Larks over the parking lot made for a good finish. Also a few Monarchs at both places and an Autumn Meadowhawk at Salisbury.

Monday 11/5: Prospect Hill: no hoped for winter finches but 5 Hermit Thrushes and a few waxwings were nice.

Tuesday 11/6: Light enough to bird in the morning again, so went to Dunback before work. Five Fox Sparrows (including a sining one) were the highlight. Rock Meadow later had 2 more. A quick stop at Hardy Pond on the way to vote added a Gadwall and a good number of Hooded Mergansers.

201

Morning Fog

Wasn’t sure if I made the right decision to get up early this morning when I saw the fog. But since I was up, I headed to the UMass Field Station.

Blue Grosbeak

And found #201 for Waltham, a nice Blue Grosbeak. Trying to phone-bin a photo in the fog didn’t quite work, but you can see the general color at least. Got better views later but didn’t try for another photo.

Unexpected Milestone

Not exactly what I was expecting this morning when I pulled in at Hardy Pond for a quick scan.

Actually saw one (of the two) diving while still driving in. That set off alarm bells but I expected Black Terns so they really started ringing when I took a look and saw how white they were. Mad scramble for the scope and they were obviously Leasts. A bit headless chicken at that point (call someone? send email? take pictures?) but I eventually got the video.

I suspect they cleared out almost immediately (all the swifts in the area started getting higher and higher and the terns weren’t immediately visible on a last scan before heading to work, not to mention no one else seeing them).

Believe it’s the third record for the county and it’s #200 for Waltham! I did see the Great Meadows birds in 2003 (almost to the day). Given the dates, I will speculate that they’re potentially from the interior populations doing a bit of post/failed-breeding wandering or otherwise early migration (which would mean they’re probably more regular but hard to stumble across*).

*The only reason I stopped today was that my parents were running errands so my father and I didn’t take our usual pre-work walk down to the end of the street. Any other day and I would have not been there.

WIR 5/23-5/29

Wednesday 5/23: North end of the Cambridge Res: BT Green, Redstart, Parula, Blackpoll, Spotted Sandpiper, kingfisher, etc. Good number of dragonflies although lots too far to ID.

Thursday 5/24: Habitat survey early had the usual plus a parula and blackpoll. Duck ponds at lunch had first pondhawk and jewelwings of the year.

Friday 5/25: Rock Meadow survey had the usual. Not much at Purgatory Cove or near the landfill.

Saturday 5/26: Lincoln

Sunday 5/27: Ended up being lazy. That turned out to be good when John Hines stopped by to report having a Summer Tanager at Prospect Hill. We ran right over and were able to hear, but not see, the bird. That’s 199 for Waltham! Also Prairie Warbler and Ovenbird.

Monday 5/28: Back to Prospect Hill. Ran into Cliff and then Glenn and Vin and had no luck.

Tuesday 5/29: BBN: first Red-spotted Purples of the year, plus Blue-winged Warblers in possibly a new spot.

277/198

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):

Grebes and Gulls

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).

Bonaparte's

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.

WIR 11/9-11/15

Wednesday 11/9: Rock Meadow had nothing exciting.

Thursday 11/10: Common Merganser, couple Hoodies, few Ruddy at Hardy Pond. More Ruddy and Hoodie at Cambridge Res.

Friday 11/11: Checked a few ponds midmorning. North end of the Cambridge Res had Hooded Mergansers. Flint’s Pond had Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, and mergansers. Cambridge Res had a Long-tailed Duck (197), Hooded Mergansers, and the flock of coots. Hardy Pond had more mergansers, ruddy, and a cormorant.

Saturday 11/12: Fresh Pond for the easy Canvasback year tick, plus many Ring-neck, Ruddy, and coot. Also a loon but not much else. Purgatory Cove: 8 GW Teal was in the corner, 2 Wood Duck (another on the river), few coots, wigeon on the river. Many meadowhawks in the woods. Charlesbank had 50+ coot and a cormorant.

Sunday 11/13: Started with the MBC trip to Arlington Res. Red Fox, nice snipe, about the usual. On to Waltham St (couple Tree Sparrows and nothing else), UMass Field Station (Song Sparrows, geese, juncos), and Gore Place (sulphurs, no birds). Evening walk turned up the best thing of the day with a Flying Squirrel outside the door.

Flying Squirrel

Monday 11/14: Green darners and not much else at BBN.

Tuesday 11/15: Nothing at the duck ponds beyond a couple Autumn Meadowhawks.