Last Sunday was the Greater Boston Christmas Bird Count. As usual, I led the Waltham section. We had a mixed day, on the lower end for diversity (well technically exactly average) but had many high counts.
The day started at 5AM, when I walked down the street hoping the Great Horned Owl would be calling. No luck with that and no luck trying a screech-owl recording at Graverson, so back home to rest for a few minutes.
Out again at 7 to meet the group. All ready and off to our first stop by 7:30. Dunback was pretty quiet. Nothing in the woods. Lots of juncos in the gardens and one of yesterday’s sharpies was around but not much else. From here, we split up. I headed to Lot 1 with Christine and Lew while my parents, Barbara, and Mark worked Beaver St.
After dropping a car at the McLaughlin building, we started walking around Lot 1. We found a few waxwings at the pond and a Hermit Thrush at the edge of the big field. The woods were pretty quiet, so we headed to the West Meadow. Lots of robins and starlings just before the boardwalk (and a Canada Goose with them). A flicker flew over the boardwalk. The path out to Dawes was very icy, so we took the long loop. That turned out to be a good move as we found a large flock of Tree Sparrows along the parkway. More tree sparrows and a ton of juncos were around the building but not a whole lot else. We drove back to Lot 1, checking a couple feeders on the way.
Christine had to leave, so Lew and I headed to the Fernald to meet the rest of the group. The geese were not in the usual spot but we found them further down (and assumed the number was the same as Saturday). Since the others were a bit behind and there was nothing here, we changed plans and met up at the Gore Estate. Lots of geese on the lawn and a few doves around but much quieter than it had been. Part of the reason became obvious when a Cooper’s Hawk popped up as we were ready to head out.
From here, we headed to Wendy’s for a lunch break. Judy and Nancy were already there. They had the best day out of all of us, with a Pine Warbler at Prospect Hill and two pintail in front of the Y (the other group had a bunch of cowbirds at the field station but not much else).
After lunch, we hit the Charles, which was very quiet. No ring-necks and no herons. Did get one Common Merganser and a few Hoodies. The Moody St to Prospect St loop was on the quiet side as well, no Great Black-backed Gulls and no interesting ducks. There was a single tagged Ring-billed Gull, which was banded in Worcester in January and seen in New Brunswick in August.
Since we still had some time, we ran up to the Woerd Ave boat ramp where we finally found a Ring-necked Duck. Then it was back to the cars and the end of the day. I took a quick swing around, hoping to add pintail to my personal CBC list without luck.
Overall, 39 species including 3 new to the section. For a few days, the Purple Finch we had on Saturday was a count week bird, but someone did report one from Sunday eventually. A quick count of my results spreadsheet showed that we had about 12 high counts for the section (based on my numbers, so not official before 2004 and lacking the early years). With decent weather it was a very enjoyable day.