Birdathon 2009

Yesterday (well Friday night and yesterday) was Mass Audubon’s annual birdathon. I’ve never really done it before (a few hours in the rain a couple years ago was it) and since I had Mt. Auburn duty the following morning, I didn’t want to go all out.

We started Friday night by walking up to Lot 1. The hope was for a late peenting woodcock but no luck with that. The resident Blue-winged Warbler was singing when we arrived and we heard several other birds that we wouldn’t get on Saturday. Even better, just as it got dusk, we noticed a big lump on one of the bare trees. A Great Horned Owl had slipped in and was sitting out in the open. It ignored us completely as we walked right by it on the way out.

On Saturday, we didn’t get going until close to 8. We started at the Concord heron rookery. Parking here is even more restricted than it was the last time I visited, but we lucked out and someone started to leave while I was turning around. The woods were quiet, but the herons were all over. We also had a couple Red-bellied Woodpeckers and a singing Brown Creeper. A Black-throated Blue Warbler sang a couple times along the road, which was pretty much the only migrant of the day. Unfortunately, the Pileated didn’t show in the minute or two we waited.

The next stop was the Old Rifle Range. On the way, we picked up two Eastern Bluebirds on the wires. At the Rifle Range, we were a bit distracted by some flowers that turned out to be Starflower. The hawks that I hoped for were not showing but we did have a hummingbird moving among the trees.

After a quick check of Knox Trail, we wandered around the little open area on the other side of the shopping center in Acton. Our first Indigo Bunting of the day and another Blue-winged Warbler were the avian highlights but the bugs were more interesting. There were many dragonflies around, mostly baskettails but also my first Common Whitetail of the year and a couple darners. The baskettails ran the range from no black on the wings to very extensive (Mantled?).


There were also many butterflies around including my first Pearl Crescents and Common Sootywing of the year. Several tiger beetles were in the sandier patches including Big Sand (C. formosa):

Big Tiger

Big Tiger

and mating Festive (C. scutellaris):

Mating tigers

Mating Tigers

Mating Tigers

We moved on to Great Meadows, which was surprisingly quiet. There was a turtle walk going on, which made parking a mess. We ended up walking in from the water treatment plant. To make things worse, the trail to the left along the river was closed as it had started to erode at the grate. Most of the hoped for marsh birds were hiding and we didn’t find any sandpipers, but the moorhen was out in the open, with many other Birdathoners watching.


After a lunch break, we headed to Prospect Hill to see if the Hooded Warbler was still around. No luck with that and not much around. I missed a turkey but did get the only Herring Gull of the day. There were a few good insects around including my first Four-spotted Skimmers of the year and this Stream Cruiser:

Stream Cruiser

That was pretty much the end of the day. At 5:30, we walked down to the corner and added Cedar Waxwing. I realized we didn’t have a pigeon and ran over to Graverson to see if any were sitting on the wires there, but no luck. The day ended with 61 species, which wasn’t too bad since we weren’t exactly trying hard.