WIR 10/14-10/20

Wednesday 10/14: BW Teal, 40-70 Killdeer, and little else at Great Meadows.

Thursday 10/15: First Hermit Thrush of the fall at BBN.

Friday 10/16: 2 egrets, 2 Semipalmated Plovers, 2 Greater Yellowlegs, tons of Yellow-rumps at Hobbs Brook.

Saturday 10/17: Led an MBC walk at Waltham St. Slow start but 2 snipe, a Rusty Blackbird, and a flyover pipit made it worthwhile. Most of us continued to Dunback with a raven, BH Vireo, and Merlin. I went on to BBN to thrash around in the dry marsh but couldn’t kick up anything good.

Sunday 10/18: Went to Nahanton for something different. Orange-crowned and probably 2 Nashvilles plus 2 Field Sparrows. Went to Millennium briefly after, too many dogs and too windy to do a full loop but an egret was on the water. Hobbs Brook had 3 yellowlegs and 55 Wood Duck. The res had 3 Bufflehead, 2 Ruddy, and about 40 wigeon plus a Greater Yellowlegs, finally in Waltham (ignoring that that end of the res is Lincoln).

Monday 10/19: Few Ring-necks and a Pied-billed Grebe at Purgatory. Had a few minutes to kill in the evening, so quick stops at Heard Pond and the town building added Osprey and a coot.

Tuesday 10/20: Nothing terribly exciting at the West Meadow or nearby part of BBN.

WIR 4/15-4/21

Wednesday 4/15: College Pond had a gnatcatcher, calling Barred Owl, and first Mourning Cloak of the year.

Thursday 4/16: Harrier and not a whole lot else at Kaveski.

Friday 4/17: Nothing but scaup at the res on a pond check (rather nasty for the few minutes I was out).

Saturday 4/18: Started with the MBC trip at Horn Pond. First of spring Yellow-rumps were a good beginning. As the group approached the phoebe bridge, I backtracked a bit to scan for hidden teal. No ducks, but something moved in the leaves. Bright white undertail, bright yellow bill. Sora! I ran back and, amazingly, it stayed more or less visible for the entire group. Rest of the walk had more of the typical stuff.

Stopped at Arlington Res on the way back, lots of Yellow-rumps, a few Palms, Bufflehead, a Ruddy, not much else. Duck ponds were quiet other than a Cabbage White. Stopped at BBN to check water levels by Dawes (too high) and flushed a snipe on the way back (Waltham #210!). While trying to get another look at that, the first Common Green Darner of the year flew by. Checked Cambridge Res quickly, 8 Greater Scaup, 7 Ring-neck.

Sunday 4/19: Led the MBC walk at BBN. Flyover loon, lots of Palms, Hermit Thrushes, sparrows, not a whole lot else. Scaup still at Cambridge Res, goldeneye and Ring-necks at Flint’s. Got home to see that the Yellow-throated Warbler I expected yesterday at Arlington Res had showed up, wandered over midafternoon and got it easily. Checked duck ponds again just in case but nothing at all there.


Monday 4/20: Nothing at Farm Meadow/Codman. Barn Swallows at Heard Pond and the town marsh (missed the kingbird though).

Tuesday 4/21: Chimney Swift, 2 Ravens, and a bunch of Yellow-rumps at Purgatory Cove.

Tern 4

After a mediocre BBC walk at Mt. Auburn yesterday, I decided to swing over to Nahanton and finally catch up with the Yellow-throated Warbler. Took an hour and a half but I got brief, but good views (and a bit of song).


Had to get home after that, but after the grebe/Long-tailed Duck show on the res yesterday, I figured it was worth a quick check. I started by doubling back almost immediately to check some ducks before West St. that turned out to be Ring-necks. I had to double back again almost immediately as some dark blobs popped up as I started off again by Sylvan Rd. Those turned out to be 2 Horned Grebes and if I was patient I might have had some really good photos.

Horned Grebes

Around the bend there were two more blobs way out. Scoping, they had paler cheeks and I eventually realized Red-necked Grebes.

Red-necked Grebes

There were also a huge number of cormorants out by 128, haven’t gotten around to counting yet but somewhere between 100 and 200 easily (and many were already flying off).

I continued along, stopping at every opening or two for a quick scan. Most of the way down, I noticed a bird in flight. Actions looked a bit odd for a gull and the bit of pattern I could see wasn’t quite right. Two cars were passing me right then, so I had to wait a couple seconds to hop out and couldn’t refind it.

Fortunately, it came back and I confirmed the black cap, big black wedge on the wings, and huge size for a Caspian Tern. It then vanished again and took another few minutes before I was able to snap some lousy photos.

Caspian TernCaspian Tern

At this point, the phone came out. Not too surprisingly, Marj had just been there. She hadn’t seen it though. She (and Erik, who I knew was in the area) were there within 10 minutes but we never saw the bird again (whether it was just hiding, in a different corner of the res, or long gone I don’t know).

So that’s tern species #4 for Waltham! Arctic, Forster’s, or Sooty next?

WIR 9/11-9/17

Wednesday 9/11: Nothing at Rock Meadow or the duck ponds.

Thursday 9/12: Couple Osprey at Great Meadows. Probable White-rump at Cambridge Res.

Friday 9/13: Duck pond refilled from rain. More of the same at Cambridge Res (eagles at the south end).

Saturday 9/14: Added BT Green and Cape May to the yard list and had yet another Broad-wing.

Sunday 9/15: Lots of warblers and vireos at BBN, including my first Philadelphia in Waltham. More of the same at Cambridge Res.


Monday 9/16: Would have been a very good day at Prospect Hill if the light was better and it didn’t start to rain. Even so, 10 species of warblers including a Tennessee and a Cape May and a good number of vireos and flycatchers plus my first Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the fall. Quick stop at Cambridge Res had a single eagle. Hardy Pond had a big swift flock that I searched through and came up with a Cliff Swallow eventually (and while watching that a Blue-winged Teal flew across). Afternoon trip to Dunback was quiet, Parula, Magnolia, few redstarts, White-throat.

Tuesday 9/17: Started scouting Farm Meadow for an MBC walk this weekend. Wasn’t hopping but a bright Philadelphia Vireo made it worthwhile. Handful of warblers and many pewees besides. Quick walk around Lindentree had a Lincoln’s Sparrow and my first Palm Warbler of the fall. Stopped at Heard Pond on the way home, where there was a large flock of swallows, all distant. After multiple scans through those (only able to pick up Barn and Rough-winged), I noticed an adult Bald Eagle sitting in the treetops right where the flock was hanging around!


A Series of Events

1. Muffler falls out yesterday.

2. With no car, decide that I should walk the Greenway.

3. See likely Olive-sided Flycatcher at West Meadow.

4. Start for south side of BBN, watch flock of yellowlegs (patch tick! possibly 2!) fly north. Decide it’s too wet and thick and maybe the yellowlegs landed in the marsh on the other side of Concord Ave.

5. No yellowlegs, decide to walk down the road to Rock Meadow instead of doubling back.

6. Walk through Rock Meadow. Find Bob in parking lot.

7. Get ride to duck ponds.

8. Get ride to West Meadow to look for Olive-sided. Park by McLaughlin and whack through the vegetation from Dawes.

9. No Olive-sided. Start to say I’ll walk from there but decide that there’s not enough around and the ride sounds better. Return via the other path and around the parkway.

10. Get back to the car, say to Bob “the area behind the building has nice habitat.”

11. Decide to walk there quickly. Both look at the one bird that pops up and exclaim “Lark Sparrow!”

Lots of things combined for that to happen. Of course, #2 meant I didn’t bother with the camera, but the bird stuck around long enough for Devin  Hefferon to get some nice pictures

WIR 5/22-5/28

Wednesday 5/22: Went to Rock Meadow and BBN. Good numbers of warblers including a Blackburnian, at least two Black-billed Cuckoos, and a few other things but my main highlight was a singing Alder Flycatcher, which is Waltham #204.

Thursday 5/23: Wandered to Mt. Auburn eventually. Worked for thrushes in the Dell with minimal success, then took a short wander where I found 2 Turkey Vultures in trees. Also an Indigo Bunting and late-ish Yellow-rump but struck out on the Mourning. Quick trip around the Cambridge Res had 2 Common Loons.

Friday 5/24: Quick loop of Prospect Hill had the adult ravens down near the start of the road, a few warblers (BT Green, Parula, Ovenbird were the most interesting), and 4 Indigo Buntings. Nothing on Cambridge Res or Flint’s Pond. Got a little brighter out, so continued to Great Meadows and had a beaver swimming right below the new platform and first Blue Dashers of the year.

Saturday 5/25: Cruised Cambridge Res, Flint’s Pond, Heard Pond, Purgatory Cove, etc without finding anything.

Sunday 5/26: Tried again for storm-blown birds. Lots of swallows including Bank at Heard and Hardy but nothing else of note.

Monday 5/27: Dunback had lots of the usual breeders (including bluebirds) but the only things resembling migrants were Redstarts. Quick stop at Hanscom got meadowlark and a Broad-wing.

Tuesday 5/28: Harvester at the duck ponds. Very good nighthawk show at Great Meadows at dusk but no Cave Swallow.

WIRs 12/5-12/18

Well the hosting move took a bit longer than I had hoped. Catching up…

Wednesday 12/5: Nothing at the duck ponds.

Thursday 12/6: Nothing different at Hardy Pond, good numbers of Red-breasted Nuthatches at the back side of Prospect Hill.

Friday 12/7: Paine Estate list was about the same as Prospect Hill.

Saturday 12/8: Huge flock of stuff on the Cambridge Res including 12 scaup (both species), 200 Ring-necks, 50 Ruddy, a Loon, 25 wigeon, and 20 coots. Nothing at Flint’s. Finally made the Fresh Pond run for Canvasback for the year.

Sunday 12/9: Waltham St. was quiet. Ran into Marj and Renee at Dunback where we had Barred and Great Horned Owls in the pines (plus I had a Rusty Blackbird before joining them). Went and twitched the Hammond Pond Redheads after, 5 Aythya within 24 hours. Gave the Res another look after and had a few more scaup, about the same of the rest plus a Bufflehead.

Monday 12/10: On the Charles by Purgatory Cove: 31 Coots, several Ring-necks, a few Hoodies, and then it got fogged in. Red-breasted Nuthatches in the trees and redpoll flew over. Drove around to Charlesbank where there were a few coots (and some ducks along Norumbega Rd that I didn’t stop for…)

Tuesday 12/11: Nothing much at Hardy or BBN.

Wednesday 12/12: Iceland Gull was very obvious off Cronin’s. Got about halfway down the path to Prospect St and heard and odd call. Looked up and watched a Pine Grosbeak fly over my head. Ran back and found it in one of the fruit trees, where it posed a bit.

Pine Grosbeak

Wasn’t unexpected but still a big shock and a nice bird for Waltham.

Thursday 12/13: Nothing at Hardy or Gore. Double-crested Cormorant was visible at Prospect St. as I drove by.

Friday 12/14: Decent number of Tree Sparrows at BBN and West Meadow but not much else.

Saturday 12/15: Checked Lot 1 and West Meadow in some last minute CBC scouting without much (flyover redpolls and Common Mergansers were nice). Prospect Hill was quiet in a very short check. Figured I was almost at the res, so went around. A scoter was a surprise in the middle. Female-type unfortunately, but I think I got enough to call it a White-winged.

Front spot is fairly rounded and (not visible here) the bill seemed to extend under it.


Picked up parents and we walked Moody to Prospect without much of anything. Continued up Woerd Ave where the Iceland Gull was sitting on the boat ramp.


Opposite Purgatory Cove were a few scaup, a Gadwall, and a few of the more usual stuff. We continued around to Norumbega where I easily found the Eurasian Teal John Hines had found earlier in the week (see Monday to see why I’m kicking myself).


Based on some correspondence via Massbrd, it appears to be the Newton City Hall bird (which means it moved outside the CBC circle).

Sunday 12/16: Greater Boston CBC. Started owling, first walking to Graverson, then driving to BBN (and skipping as there was a police car parked) and Paine. No response anywhere. Met the group and we were at Dunback by 7:30. No luck in the pines. We decided to check the gardens quickly but some screaming crows sent us down the back side where Eric quickly picked up the Barred Owl (I’d learn later that it was actively hunting). After enjoying that, we worked our way out. Most of the way back, someone picked up a big flock of small birds flying back and forth. I was pretty sure I saw enough of a white flash to say Snow Buntings, but we hurried to Waltham St. to be sure. A quick pass didn’t find them (and we figured 50 birds couldn’t hide so didn’t walk every bit of field), but just as we got ready to leave, they started circling again and eventually landed. Didn’t get much in photos, but I used this one to actually count them (and almost doubled the 50 I guessed with 86):

Snow Bunting

We split up and I took the Metropolitan Parkway, UMass Field Station, Paine, and Lyman Pond bit. Weather was getting a bit worse and it was pretty quiet at most of those. Only highlight (other than 4 blackbirds that got away but were probably Rusties) was a Sharp-shinned at Lyman and hearing a couple people working at the field station talk about people looking for Blue Grosbeak.

Lunch at Burger King beat Wendy’s. We headed to Moody St where it was quite nasty out and didn’t see much beyond the cormorant.


And a leucistic robin

Leucistic Robin

Went to check the boat ramp for the gull only to find a boat being launched, so on to Purgatory Cove. Lots of gulls but no Iceland and not much else (but a second DC Cormorant was on one of the docks as we drove off). Back to the river walk, starting at Elm St. where there was a Red-tail, a Great Blue, and a few Hoodies. We moved on to Shaw’s, got out to the bridge and decided not to bother. Got back to the cars and thanked everyone. A few gulls were flying over and Christine said “there’s your Iceland” (jokingly I think). And there it was. It circled a couple times and then landed on one of the light poles, so everyone got good views.

That pretty much ended the count, although I took a quick walk down Hardy Pond Rd and added a kingfisher and another heron. And a Great Horned flew in front of the car on the way to Habitat.

Monday 12/17: Raining and tired, didn’t bother going out.

Tuesday 12/18: Usual at Hardy. Tons of Hoodies in the middle of the res, nothing else good though.

WIR 10/31-11/6

Wednesday 10/31: Purgatory Cove: Great Cormorant had moved down here. Water level up, one of the docks was by the road, and the path through the woods along the edge was taped off but otherwise not bad. Birds were slow beyond the cormorant. Driving out, I saw some white along the water by Mt. Feake, so pulled in at the boat ramp. Couldn’t see it from there so walked the trail a short distance and found the egret.

Thursday 11/1: Went to Purgatory Cove before work. One of the cormorants was roosting on the island (and a second swimming around, possibly a third too). Osprey overhead and a calling winter finch were about it otherwise. Coot count at Charlesbank was up to 45. Quick scan of Mt. Feake on the way back to the office didn’t turn up the egret, but one of the cormorants was sitting on the dock at the boat ramp.

Friday 11/2: Rock Meadow was pretty quiet.

Saturday 11/3: Started at Waltham St. One Tree Sparrow, a good number of Red-wings, and not much else. Moved on to Dunback, where I met up with Marj and Renee. We had 3 Fox Sparrows, about 15 Purple Finches, 7 Pine Siskin, and a Gray Catbird. I continued on to the West Meadow where a Marsh Wren was chattering (second patch record!). Walked back through BBN, where one of the first birds I found was an Orange-crowned Warbler (#202 for Waltham!).

Marsh Wren

Sunday 11/4: Went to Plum Island for the first time in months. Eurasian Wigeon was obvious, usual sea stuff (tons of scoter) and good numbers of Snow Buntings. Missed crossbills here, along with Purple Sandpiper and probably some other stuff. Went over to Salisbury where the White-winged Crossbills put on a good show. A quick scan of the ocean had more of the same as Plum plus a flock of Green-winged Teal (on the water). Horned Larks over the parking lot made for a good finish. Also a few Monarchs at both places and an Autumn Meadowhawk at Salisbury.

Monday 11/5: Prospect Hill: no hoped for winter finches but 5 Hermit Thrushes and a few waxwings were nice.

Tuesday 11/6: Light enough to bird in the morning again, so went to Dunback before work. Five Fox Sparrows (including a sining one) were the highlight. Rock Meadow later had 2 more. A quick stop at Hardy Pond on the way to vote added a Gadwall and a good number of Hooded Mergansers.