After a pretty quiet morning Sunday, I made one last stop at the greenhouse side of the Waltham St. fields. The back corner has been good for Connecticut Warbler in the past, so I made a bit of a beeline there. Just a House Wren and a couple phoebes in the veggies. Working the back side, I saw one of the farm workers pull in. Waved hello, said hi to the dog, and worked my way to the front.

Still wasn’t seeing much of anything as I worked my way out when a hawk flew up from the ground in the plowed section. It seemed a bit odd shapewise and looked pretty dark, so I went for the camera and started firing away. It went up and circled a bit before drifting off.

Swainson s

Looked down at the photos and it was pretty clearly not something I was expecting around here. I quickly checked Sibley, the HWI app, and a few Macaulay photos and found nothing to go against Swainson’s. Still not believing, I sent a back of camera photo out (should have captioned “talk me down” instead of just “thoughts?”).

No immediate response and with the bird apparently having drifted off, I decided going home and looking at photos on screen was the best thing. Got the first confirmation back before I got to the computer and that was enough to send out the messages and emails.

Unfortunately the weather deteriorated and despite people spread out, it didn’t reappear.

Goose Hunt

Sunday afternoon, the Middlesex RBA group dinged with a picture of a Barnacle Goose at Bullough’s Pond in Newton. No way to chase it then, but I figured I could stop by on the way home Monday. It turned out the bird had been seen at the cemetery too, but disappeared shortly after.

Monday turned crappier than expected and I ended up lazing around but reports were negative anyway. I thought the Charles seemed a likely place and planned on a few stops Tuesday.

Tuesday morning, I pulled in at the Norumbega parking lot (where I actually had been when the initial message came through, unfortunately I was about to pick up a sub and didn’t have time or optics to have chased it then). Lots of geese including a few down the road but nothing exciting. Behind Charlesbank was pretty dead, so I continued to Forest Grove.

Parking at Auburndale Park, I decided to do the river side first instead of my normal loop through Flowed Meadow and along the landfill. Nothing near the playground. I went down the tiny trail that gives a view partway down. There were two Canadas sitting in the river right there and I almost didn’t, but then decided I could hide behind the big tree without bothering them too much. A quick scan didn’t show much but there were a few geese down near the dock and one looked pretty white-headed. I quickly jogged down to the pump house where the view was more open and there was the Barnacle Goose!


Messages sent, then a quick walk to make sure at least one of us was on the Waltham side. Waited around for a few in case anyone was nearby, then made a quick loop down to the cove. Came back to watch the goose drifting north but fortunately the first arrivals were there.

Hopefully it’ll be consistent in habits for a few days and let others catch up.

Great Meadows

Been quite some time since I had 2 new birds at Great Meadows in a day (2019, which was also the last year I had more than 1 in the year).

Black billed Cuckoo

Yellow crowned Night Heron

Should have been 3 but the ibis didn’t cooperate.

‘Commute’ 240

After nothing new for the ‘commute’ list in a couple months (missing multiple Yellow-throated Warblers among other things), two this week. The Golden-winged Warbler at Mt. Auburn was moderately expected. This wasn’t though:

Night Herons

That means only 10 from the 250 milestone. Obvious birds remaining are Common Nighthawk (tougher because of the time that qualifies as ‘commuting’), Clay-colored Sparrow, Surf Scoter, Northern Saw-whet Owl, and Worm-eating Warbler. Others that seem reasonable include Lesser Black-backed Gull, Lapland Longspur, Gray-cheeked Thrush (have a /Bicknell’s that I could count), Red-headed Woodpecker, Upland Sandpiper, and Worm-eating Warbler. Black Vulture, Nelson’s Sparrow, White-eyed Vireo, Short-billed Dowitcher, and Sandhill Crane are all reasonable too. And plenty of random rarities.

Averaging 8-9 a year for the last couple years, so likely still a year away.