Yesterday I joined the Concord CBC for the first time. After some initial discussions about being in either Wayland, Weston, or Lincoln, I was assigned to cover section 7 in Sudbury. Section 7 is bordered by Wayland to the east, Rt. 20 to the north, Brimstone Lane to the west, and Framingham to the south. Other than at the Wild Birds Unlimited feeders, I don’t think I’ve ever birded in the area. Luckily, I was given a list of 3 places to try and some directions.
We had gone to scout Lyons-Cutler Reservation last weekend, finding 4 Brown Creepers and not much else. Otherwise it was all completely new to us. Driving there, we did see a field or two that were part of Great Meadows. However, today was the last day of hunting season and that area was labelled “Hunter Parking Only” so we weren’t about to stop.
Today, we left the house at about 7:15. Just before we got to Wayland center, a Great Blue Heron flew by. Not in the territory, but likely to be missed by whoever, so I marked it down. We turned down Pelham Island Road to see if there was anything obvious in the fields once we crossed the town line. Before we got there, a Belted Kingfisher flew over Heard Pond. Also marked down in case it wasn’t seen later.
There was nothing on Pelham Island Road, so we headed over to Lyons-Cutler. Since the way in from Raymond Rd. had some tough walking, we went to the other entrance, near the Israel Loring School. Unfortunately the directions were wrong (the last turn was left and not right) but we did see a few crows while sidetracked. A mockingbird and starling were both calling at the school and several juncos were on the grass.
We started down the road and heard a White-throated Sparrow and Carolina Wren. The actual entrance to Lyons-Cutler is through a private easement that runs on the edge of a rather expensive property. We reached the trail quickly and almost immediately had the bird of the day. A Ruffed Grouse flushed and gave us a brief but good view of it as it flew. A county bird and only the 3rd I’ve seen, although it was in the top 5 of the birds I should have seen in the county by now.
We continued down the trail and headed to the right. A whole bunch of crows flew in nearby and started screaming, but we couldn’t see anything and kept going. We reached the water, where I thought I heard a creeper and there were lots of Mallards and Black Ducks as well as a Mute Swan and a Red-tailed Hawk. The crows were getting louder, so we went down the side path to see if we could get a better view. No luck with that, but we did find a Cardinal and several White-throated Sparrows.
The crows were still screeching when we returned, so I decided that we really should check them out. Unfortunately, they stopped as we got closer (the pines they were in weren’t near any trail anyway). We continued on and tried another side path without finding much.
We reached the spot where we had the creepers and other birds last weekend but it was totally silent today. Continuing on however, we soon heard several chickadees. Stopping to check them out, we found quite a few birds. Mostly chickadees, but a few nuthatches, titmice, and a Downy or two mixed in. We moved to get a better view and a larger bird popped up in the lower trees to the side. Very reddish brown. A Fox Sparrow! It was joined by a junco and started to preen facing away from us. But then a second one popped up and stared in our direction. Very nice birds. And it got even better as a Red-breasted Nuthatch made a brief appearance (the first one I’ve seen in Eastern Mass since May).
We took one more side trail, trying to get another view of these birds but it didn’t quite work. A second Carolina Wren started calling though. Returning to the main loop, we started around and back. Not too far up, a large brown bird took off from a tree on the side of the path. It couldn’t have been anything but a Great Horned Owl. Another excellent bird.
We continued along and this time definitely heard a Creeper at the same spot as the possible one earlier, but never found it. Two Hairy Woodpeckers called as well. A Kingfisher was sitting out in the open over the brook. On our way back to the trail out, we heard another creeper.
Back at the car, we returned the way we came. I hopped out at the Raymond Rd. entrance to walk back up the road and see if there was anything around. A single crow and jay, along with a Tree Sparrow were it, although a Muskrat was in the brook and sat for a few seconds.
We decided that the best course of action from here would be to head to Nobscot Reservation and get directions to the railroad trail at lunch. Although there are several entrances, we ended up at the main one on Nobscot Rd. There were a few of the basic forest birds around the parking lot and by the feeders but not much else. We took the Legion Trail for a few minutes, but since we saw and heard nothing, we headed back. On the way, we picked up a Blue Jay and heard a Hermit Thrush chucking.
Deciding to move on, we went back to Landham Rd. and walked along the edge near the brook. It was very quiet, but we did find a Golden-crowned Kinglet and a Kingfisher put in an appearance as we got back to the car. I called it a second one and think it was likely, although it may have been the one at Lyons-Cutler.
It was lunchtime so we headed to Wolbach Farm to meet with the other Sudbury people. Although we expected several, there were only 4 others. The chili was very good and it felt real good to relax out of the cold for a while. Ron showed me where to go for the railroad, although he wasn’t sure of how easy it would be.
We headed out again around 1 in moderate snow. Parking at Mill Village, we started down the trail. It was a bit overgrown in places and hard to see with the snow picking up a bit. We finally found 2 Mourning Doves and soon came across one good pocket, with many White-throats, Juncos, Titmice, Cardinals, Chickadees, a Carolina Wren, and a Golden-crowned Kinglet. We soon reached the bridge. It was slippery and we couldn’t judge the condition that well, so we turned around. Before doing so, a Song Sparrow called, the first one of the day.
Back at the car, we decided to drive around and look for feeders. We tried for 45 minutes but didn’t find any active ones. We did find plenty of Rock Pigeons and 2 Ring-billed Gulls to get the day’s list up to 33.
At 2:20, we gave up and went to Dunkin’ Donuts to get a hot chocolate and add up the totals. We sat around until about 2:50 then went to Wolbach to turn everything in. I didn’t hear much from the other groups, but one did have 4 screech-owls and another had a catbird, so it sounds like everyone had a fairly decent day at least.
We could have stopped after the first bird and had a great day, but the morning as a whole was excellent. The snow hindered the afternoon. Hopefully next year, I’ll find a few more areas to cover and be able to fill out the day.