Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bolton Flats and Wachusett Meadows

I decided to head up North again today in hopes of getting more shorebirds and went to Bolton Flats this morning to get there by 7am. The place was crawling with birds (and bugs, worse I have seen in Central MA so far this year). Anyhow, the water levels made it passable enough to get to the first series of mud banks which are closer to the entrance than they were this spring.

There were over 8 Killdeer, 10 Least Sandpipers and 4 Solitary Sandpipers. The two pictures above are of the Solitary Sandpiper which is a lifer for me believe it or not. These birds are not that shy so getting pictures of them was rather easy despite me not having one of those fancy lenses.

The Killdeer were out in full force as well and I was treated to a Killdeer fight on one of the mud banks. I have noticed a lot of birds fights recently and its always fascinating to watch. These two stared each other down and then one flew after the other to chase it away.

The Solitary Sandpipers appear to be more civil and were able to mingle amongst themselves without any fists flying. ;o)

The Least Sandpipers were out as well. I liked this photo because it shows you the size comparison between a Killdeer and this very small Sandpiper.

I also ran into some of my more common birds which are those I can't identify!!! You see, I am not afraid to admit that I run into a few birds each month that I can't identify despite my field guides, google, etc. There are plenty of expert bird bloggers out there but I am not one of them. With that said, check out the photo above. I saw this bird when I first entered the area and instinct told me it was about ready to fly off because it heard me. I took two quick photos and off it flew through the thick brush which meant I couldn't get a good look at it in flight. I think it's a Great-blue Heron but the thick bill totally throws me off. Perhaps its just the angle of the camera and the lighting. I thought it was interesting though.

And I am not done yet folks! A flock of ducks flew above me and I was lucky enough for one quick shot that came out half way decent. I previewed the picture and was puzzled. Hmmmm perhaps Mallards in eclipse plumage as I heard Mallards and saw them fly off when I arrived. Then I started thinking. If they are in eclipse plumage than how the heck are they flying so well. Sigh, the perils of being a newbie!

I spent about an hour at Bolton Flats and then headed to Sterling Peat in hopes for more shorebirds. There are no mud flats there yet so no shorebirds that I could see of. Of course there were a ton of people fishing there as well so that may explain the absence.

Since I only stayed at Sterling Peat for about 1/2 and hour I decided to head on more a little north to Wachusett Meadows. The last time I was there for a bird census, it got rained out and was disappointed as I had never been there before. The weather was fantastic and birds were everywhere. The picture above is one of 4 Bobolinks I saw.

An American Goldfinch gathering materials for her nest I am assuming.

A female Red-winged Blackbird who decided to pose perfectly for me for a photo. She was in the midst of getting insects for her young. There were quite a few Red-winged Blackbirds doing this today so I am guessing there is a baby boom at the meadows!

And of course I saved the best for last! I was hiking along a wooded path when suddenly I could hear the call of a raptor. You see this is my favorite sound of all as they are my favorite species of birds so my ear pick up on them like sonic radar. Anyhow, I stopped for a moment to try and pinpoint the location through sound. It sounded as if it was coming from the woods which would most likely mean a Broad-winged, but then I decided to try and find an open area as once again I trusted my gut and something told me this hawk was flying. I walked (or rather sprinted) to some open land and this is what I saw.

My first crappy photo of a Northern Goshawk LIFER and a sweet one at that. Sigh, this is one of the birds I just had to see this year besides the Red-shouldered Hawk. I am trying to steer away from lists more as it is not the quantity but the quality and yadda, yadda, but I am voracious when it comes to birds of prey. I want to see them all, and I want to see them now. ;o). If you enlarge this photo you can see the black markings along its eye. Also note how broad the wings are in comparison of a Coopers. I wish I could have gotten better pictures, but this bird was up pretty high and was agitated so didn't stick around for long.

And another picture just to confuse you even more if you are looking for field marks. I took these photos and immediately previewed them and was fairly convinced it was a Northern Goshawk based on its call and its size. I come home and blow them up and spent over a half an hour trying to confirm based on field marks my pathetic little camera could never pick up on due ot the distance of the hawk.

Wachusett Meadows is a fabulous place to go to if you are looking to bird, butterfly watch or hike so it you are from the Central Massachusetts area than I strongly suggest you check it out. Dick and Peg Knowlton and all of their wonderful volunteers do a great job of keeping it up and it showed. I was there for three hours today and didn't even cover all of it.

Have a great week all. I will probably not be blogging or birding much as I have a lot of stuff going on this week. Cheers!!


Betsy from Tennessee said...

You got some great photos, Kim---even the ones WAY up in the sky!!!!! Love those first couple --with the reflection in the water. Neat!!!!

Those Bobolinks certainly do stand out, don't they????

Have a good week. We'll miss you!!!

Shellmo said...

Great series of photos! I love those killdeer and was glad you showed the size comparison to the sandpiper. Have a great week!!

Deborah Godin said...

I may have said this before, but I love how you include your thoughts and ID musings in your posts. Even your "crappy" photos are..not really all that crappy!!

birdsonthebrain said...

If you like raptors you've got to make the trip out to Rochester, NY next year sometime in April to see the migration. This year over 12,000 raptors were recorded flying over the hawkwatch on April 25th-- 10,000 of them were Broad-Wings. You get some really amazing looks at them, it's truly spectacular.

and thanks for the site recommendation, I'm always looking for new places to go birding!

Ratty said...

I'm glad you have the American Goldfinch here. I just got through chasing several of these and this makes it much easier for me to identify them. There are dozens at a park I just came from.

Bird World Blog said...

Congratulations on the goshawk.

NCmountainwoman said...

Have a great week. This post should keep us busy for a while. Loved the reflections.

dAwN said...

Howdee Kim.
Congrats on then Northern Goshawk!
Great Birds you are seeing Kim!
Love following your birdie trips!

Tina said...

It sure looks like getting up so early and beating away the bugs was well worth it...great series of photos! You really captured some neat birds and yes I would have run out to look into the sky to see that raptor..what is it that makes us want to see them now!! lol
Enjoyed this post! Have a good week!

Larry said...

The photos do indeed look like a Great Blue Heron and Mallards.

Kim said...

Thanks everyone and thank you Larry for confirming for me. These birds love playing mind games on me I tell ya. ;o)

MaineBirder said...

Looks like a Great Blue Heron. Excellent series of photos Kim! I would imagine the Goldfinch is gathering nest material as they nest late summer/early fall.

Chad said...

Nice pics. I love to see pictures of Shorebirds because I stink so bad at identifying them! I got a Spotted Sandpiper today, pretty exciting! Where exactly are the Bolton flats?


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