Mac 2

The Fenway MacGillivray’s isn’t the only one currently in Massachusetts. One was found on 11/21 in Medford by Anna Piccolo. It’s in an area that’s less accessible than Fenway and isn’t as cooperative, but it’s a new bird for me in the county so I headed over today.

After a bit of GPS confusion, we arrived at Wright’s Pond and started to look for the correct spot. Luckily, Leslie and Barry were walking out successfully. They told us that there were plenty of people looking so we hurried over.

At the correct spot (which was only a short distance away), we ran into Anna and Patience and could see Marj and Renee working down below. Almost immediately I heard the bird chipping right up close. It proved to be illusive but after starting down the hill, I got two brief flashes of yellow (enough to count it combined with the chipping).

Everyone moved partway down the hill and we began to wait. There were long periods of silence followed by a quick chip or two. Occasionally there’d be a little bit of movement but it never stayed in one place and was very hard to get anything approaching a view. At one point I did get it on the ground and could pick up the eye arcs and gray head but couldn’t get anyone else on the spot.

This continued for almost an hour. At times the bird was fairly noisy but the call was very hard to pinpoint (often sounded to be bouncing back and forth between several spots). Finally, it popped up in the open at the bottom of the slope and everyone got acceptable views. I even managed a couple photos, the best (I use that loosely) of which is below.

Medford Mac

Not surprisingly, everyone took off after that. So, county bird #268 but more importantly, county year bird #200. That’s the first time I’ve hit that number and is not overly easy to do working full time (although given the number of regular birds I’ve missed this year, it shouldn’t be all that hard). The lousy butterfly season ruined my goal of 325 combined birds, butterflies, and odes, but that appears to be a decent goal and hopefully one for next year.

Charles Lesser Black-back

Excerpt from an email I sent last Sunday about the Iceland Gull:

Now to find a Glaucous and a Lesser Black-back…

One of the first birds I looked at Wednesday along the same stretch of river:

Things really shouldn’t work out that easily.

The photo is from this morning when it wasn’t quite as cooperative. Here’s a couple flight shots:

Lesser leaving

Lesser leaving

And a Cedar Waxwing just because they were there:


Pine Grosbeaks finally

So it’s an irruption year for Pine Grosbeaks and they’ve done all they can to avoid me. A calling bird that we never found at the top of Mt. Watatic last year did get it onto my year list. This year, we tried in Royalston on a freezing cold day that had all the birds hiding for the short time we were able to stand being out. While out at Ethan’s for a weekend, I did get a very brief fly-by view at the Athol McDonald’s, but that’s not very satisfying.

I was beginning to think I wasn’t going to get any photo ops and wasn’t going to be able to get them on my Middlesex County list (kicking myself for not going out to Groton early in the winter when they appeared to be pretty regular). Fortunately, on Thursday, Paul Peterson reported several at the train station in Lincoln and Marj Rines found them again Friday. Although it was supposed to be nasty all day Saturday, it wasn’t raining when I got up, so we took a quick ride out. The train station trees were just about stripped bare (although a few of the waxwings that had been around showed up along with a bluebird). We wandered down through the community gardens looking for other fruit trees and found some in front of the police station. Unfortunately, there were no birds in them. Continuing on to the Codman Estate, we were rewarded with a fairly good view of a Pileated Woodpecker. The rain picked up, so we headed out.

Today, I started by not doing much of anything ad finally decided to try again around 9:30. The train station looked empty, so I drove past the police station (also empty) and headed to Nine Acre Corner. I attempted to enjoy my first Green-winged Teal and Northern Pintails of the year, but the freezing wind made it difficult. There had been a White-fronted Goose around, but the majority of the geese were behind vegetation or in horrible light. Barbara Volkle and Steve Moore drove up, agreed on the difficulty with the geese and we all headed back to the other side to try from there. No luck with the geese and the Killdeer that Barbara and Steve had seen had also gone into hiding, so I headed back to the train station.

On the way back, I cut down 126 to Codman Rd. to check for the Pileated again (Marj had mentioned that it appeared to have been working on a hole for quite awhile last year). At the stop sign, the car in front of me was being slow, so I looked to the police station and noticed a brighter spot in the trees. The car was still sitting there and there was no one behind me, so I grabbed my binocs and had a Pine Grosbeak. I went back to the train station to park and ran over and found at least 4 birds feeding in the trees right in front of the station, including one gorgeous adult male.

And since I’m sure no one read all that, here’s the pictures:

Pine Grosbeak

Male Pine Grosbeak

Male Pine Grosbeak

Male Pine Grosbeak

Note how many berries he started eating and didn’t finish.

(Update: in the comments, Norm Levey points out that they eat the pips and not the fruit itself)

Male Pine Grosbeak

Male Pine Grosbeak

A couple waxwings joined them as well.

Cedar Waxwing

I headed off to other things but caught Barbara and Steve as they drove up and was able to point them to the police station.

After my parents got home in the afternoon, they decided to take a run over and see them themselves. We got to the police station with empty trees. There was an odd call from across the street and we looked up and all saw a grosbeak. After a few seconds, we realized we were all looking at different birds. They flew back into the fruit trees, giving much better views. Unfortunately no adult male this time, but still good for everyone to get them.

Pine Grosbeaks

Second bird almost visible there.

Pine Grosbeak