Saturday, July 11, 2009

Birding Westborough and Northbridge

Red-tailed Hawk in Northbridge. If you click on the photo you will notice I was lucky enough to get it with its bill open.

I decided to do some birding today in areas that I normally don't go to. I have been in a birding rut of sorts so thought this would be the perfect time to venture off to a couple of places I normally don't frequent. I only had until 1PM as I had plans in the afternoon so set off to rather early. My goal was to go to the Assebet Conservation Area in Westborough as I had never been there before but read about it on the Central Mass Bird Sighting web site.

And as always, I couldn't find the place and got myself good and lost. I decided to make the best of it and park along side the road where there was a lot of brush and trees and seemed rather birdy so wanted to check it out.

Blue Jays were everywhere, including the one above who was just begging for a photo with a pose like that!

I was proven right as right the minute I got out of my car, I could hear a lot of scolding going on between House Wrens. This is one of about 6 that I saw while I was there. I also saw a Great-crested Flycatcher, Song Sparrows, Common Yellowthroats and even a Yellow Warbler who almost flew right into me and would have done so if I hadn't ducked!

After a little bit of walking around I decided to try for Assebet again and finally found it. It is a wonderful place but didn't get any worthy pictures to post because all of the photos seemed to be washed out for some reason. One highlight was all of the berry producing shrubs in one part of the preserve. All one had to do was sit in one spot and you would see Baltimore Orioles, Cedar Waxwings, American Robins, etc. There were also a few Warblers mixed in with the flocks but I don't think they were going after the berries. I was able to get a really good look at an Eastern Wood Peewee too, but the photo came out way over exposed. Eastern Phoebes were out in full force as well.

The one picture I did take that came out half decent (because it was in shade!) was this picture of a honey bee getting nectar from some Milk Weed. A welcome sight indeed as I don't see too many honey bees anymore.

I spent about two hours there and then decided to head off onto the Northbridge Sewer beds. I realized that there probably wouldn't be any shorebirds there and that was okay with me as there are other types of habitat there that would make it worth the trip anyhow. There were no shorebirds but plenty of the usual suspects including about 15 Song Sparrows. The birds here were very camera shy and after a while I didn't even try and get pictures and just listened to them all instead.

Of course, that didn't stop me from taking pictures of one of my favorite birds to photograph (second to the Peregrine Falcon). Check out all of the tail feather loss this Red-tailed hawk has. At least that's what I am guessing based on the photos I took.

I also believe I see some primary feather loss but may be mistaken as this is the first year I have ever really looked at these hawks.

The winds were perfect today for the Red-tailed Hawks and they made sure to take advantage of it as I saw them at every location I went to.

My last stop was the pond behind Riverdale Mills. The last time I was there, they had drained the pond and I was hoping for the same as it may attract some shorebirds. Wouldn't you know the photo above is what I saw! The once dried up pond was filled with water.

In the middle of the pond was a bird that I couldn't make out with my eyes alone, so I zoomed my camera in on it to realize it was a Double-crested Cormorant. This was the first time I had ever saw it standing still for a long period of time so it was quite the treat.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, one appeared to the right, and another to the front of the bird! The family or Cormorants were all out on the pond now enjoying the sunshine and having themselves a late breakfast

This one had its wings spread for about two minutes straight. I am assuming it is perched on something and just enjoying stretching its wings and enjoying the summer . ETA: I was just reading in one of my bird guides that DC Cormorants will strech their wings like this in order to dry off. How cool is that!

Take care everyone!


Anonymous said...

Wow -- a beautiful selection of birds to see.

54th Wedding Anniversary Today

Chris Petrak said...

good day of birding!

Deborah Godin said...

Yes, I heard that DC cormorants (and some others) don't have the oily feathers to keep the water out, so they periodically have to dry out their water-logged feathers.

NCmountainwoman said...

Another great birding day for you. I cannot imagine just sitting and knowing I would see orioles and waxwings. Great photographs of a fun morning.

Steve said...

Looks like you had a great day in the end. Excellent hawk photos. Weather was not too great over here so I stayed in and did some garden bird photos.

Ratty said...

These are perhaps my favorite group of pictures from you. Your others are all good, these are just personally familiar to me right now. I like capturing the birds with their mouths open for some reason. I was just taking very similar pond pictures myself today, and the same goes for the milkweed. If you look closely at the milkweed blooms they look positively evil. And lastly, the cormorants are now some of my favorite birds because I've been able to study some very closely.

Susan Gets Native said...

Love the RT shots. I think its primaries are just fresh...meaning they have emerged from the sheath and are catching up to the others.
The tail is cool, too. To lose two in the middle like that...I would say there was some butt-biting going on. Got "plunked" a bit by another bird.
Great shots!
( you know raptor photos will get me over here!)

Kim said...

Thanks Susan! I figured it anyone would know it would be you. I bet the Blue Jays did that to it! ;o)


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