Extended Charles

I finally got around to checking the Watertown side of the Charles on Saturday. Nothing unexpected but there was a good lesson in there.

At the bridge over the river, I had one Ring-neck, a couple Hoodies, and at least 15 black ducks mixed in with the Mallards. Crossing the bridge, I decided it was probably a good idea to put on the yaktrax-type things (first time I’ve done so and they’re well worth it). Down at the first overlook there was a small flock of Common Mergansers. On a later scan, one of the females looked a bit smaller and thinner-billed and had a dusky chest. Red-breasted! A quick snap or two and off I went.

Merganser Mix?

Further down was a flock of Ring-necks and a young male goldeneye.

Young Goldeneye

Reaching Bridge St, I moved to the other side of the river and headed back. A Cooper’s was feasting (bad light so no photo right now). Back at the Ring-necks, I noticed a second young goldeneye.


The merganser was here as well (at least it wasn’t back with the others so I assume it was the same).

With the Watertown section completed, I decided I might as well check the Waltham side too. A couple Fish Crows were calling in the parking lot and most of the Mallards and geese were on land. Down at the Newton St overlook were the two coots and a few Ring-necks.

Crossing over, there were about 30 more Ring-necks here (no scaup though) and a couple more goldeneye including an adult male.


I decided to continue walking to Moody and Prospect St. That part’s still totally frozen and there were no interesting gulls on the ice. At the little opening by Prospect St, I found one Common Merganser in with the Mallards and after extended scanning, finally picked up the American Wigeon. On the way back, two Fish Crows were chasing a Red-tail around. At the fruiting trees I heard a waxwing and eventually found a flock of about 16 nearby. Hopefully they’ll take a few days to get through all the food.

Back at Elm St, the yellow-billed goldeneye was back and looked slightly more like a Barrow’s today (comments please).



Pretty quiet from here back to the car. However, at the bridge there was a close merganser that I presumed was again the same.


Back at the car, I spent a few minutes going through the gulls (a Russo’s truck was dumping baked goods and created quite a frenzy). Nothing unusual and I couldn’t refind the tagged one but Fish Crows were up to 5. From here it was back home.

Back at home, I quickly downloaded photos and sent out a quick message. A few hours later I went to enter the day into Avisys and pulled up the photos again. Suddenly the bill on the merganser didn’t look quite so long and thin and the first shot was showing a really strong contrast between the head and neck. Outside of the chest and white loral stripe, it looked pretty normal for a Common. Guessing a bit of retained juvenal plumage (and the small size means it was a late hatch?). Another reminder to go over every feature.