Sunday, July 12, 2009

Plum Island - Part One

I went to Plum Island today and took a ton of pictures so am going to be doing this in installments as there is so much to see and write about. Let's just say the trip was well worth it as you will see by the photos! All of the birds on my blog today are "lifers".
My birding buddy Alan and I decided to head to Plum today, to see if we could get some shorebirds and the Purple Martins I have been anxious to see.
Sure enough, once we arrived we could see the 10 or so Purple Martins all in their various condos. If you check out the photo above you will see a House Sparrow appears to live in on of the complexes too! Very odd. I was so looking forward to seeing these birds and they didn't disappoint either with their serious spunk and cute little chatter.

My favorite picture of them is the one above. So cute!

Next it was onto I think one of my favorite birds of the day (and the month of July) which was the Least Tern. The photos came out lousy but let me tell you these birds are so entertaining to watch. I love how they flutter in the air looking for fish and then dive straight into the water and vanish, only to come out seconds later with dinner in hand! I could spend the day watching this as it's fascinating but we had to move on as there was way too much to see in one short day.

A picture of one scratching itself. Wish the picture came out better but it was digiscoped the the lighting conditions would not cooperate with me.

Picture of one flying in the air and getting ready for breakfast!

Next it was onto another target bird for the day which was the Piping Plover (another favorite bird for me today and for the month of July). Such a wonderful bird to see and even more special because these birds are endangered but the folks and volunteers at Plum have done everything they can to ensure breeding success for these precious birds. We did not see any young, but we did run into another birder who said he some there yesterday!

These birds are not that shy and I was able to get close enough for a half way decent shot without digiscoping.

This was about 1 of 8 or so that we saw all in the same area.

Next it was onto get the Short-billed Dowitcher. Why they call it short-billed is beyond me as it doesn't look short to me, but if I spent all of my time trying to figure out how birds got their name as some don't make any sense, I wouldn't have any time left for birding! ;o). I loved watching them hunt for food. They are very methodical in their approach and it is often compared to a sewing machine needle when sewing thread which is a very good comparison.

Next it was onto see the Willet's we had seen flying around various places of the refuge. We were hoping we could get some standing still and sure enough there they were!

They look rather plan when on the ground, but once in flight they have gorgeous black and white pattern to their wings that makes identifying them rather easy compared to other shorebirds.

And I saved the best shot for last. Check out the Willet going after the Great Egret!! The egret was most likely going over the Willet's nesting territory which the bird didn't like one bit as evidenced by the photo above. So funny to watch these birds and they were definately one of my favorite birds of the day and for the month of July.

Ready for more? Okay, then let's continue. ;o). My birding friend Alan had seen a Least Bittern when we were looking at the Willet's. Sure enough this secretive bird went into hiding before we could get a good look at it. We had met up with other Central MA birders near a pool of water and they were trying to find a White-rumped Sandpiper mixed in with quite a few other sandpipers when suddenly I looked over to a small pool of water and saw a bird. Being a typical newbie, I call out to the others "what's that?". Suddenly all optics are on the bird and excitement fills the air as they are able to confirm that it is indeed a Least Bittern!!

I get nervous at this point because I know I only have a few seconds for a record shot and sure enough after two lousy shots off it goes into thick marsh!! The photos do not do this bird justice as it is absolutely gorgeous! The most special bird of the day.

And last but not least, a Snow Goose. I had seen this bird all by itself out of total luck. Sure enough we were able to confirm it was indeed the Snow Goose people had reported seeing on the Island.

It was all by itself which was kind of depressing to see. Perhaps it was sick or something and had to stay behind. I hope it get well soon so it can be with its own kind!

Have a lot more photos that I will be posting in the next day or so. Take care all.


Chad said...

Wow! Looks like you had a great time! I am jealous.

Kim said...

Thanks Chad!!! I still have quite a few birds to get to your list, but slowly but surely I am adding to my list. ;o). Not that I have been as crazy tracking them anymore as the excitment of lifers is starting to ware thin on me a little, but it was still great to see after the lack of bird activity in my area lately.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Great day Kim!!!
Most of those would be lifers for me.

Tina said...

You really had a great shore bird many of those birds would have been lifers for me too! I have never seen a martin up close..nor the plover..jeeze, don't you know those darn house sparrows show up everywhere.. quite persistent.

Steve B said...

Good trip, I'm glad you finally made it out to the coast to get some of our Essex County treasures.


Nice group of birds you had there. The Least Bittern was a good one to get and you had it in the open. Well Done!

Amy said...

Now that sounds like an awesome day! Sounds like you were a hero after pointing out the Least Bittern. Congrats on all the lifers - I can't wait to read more!

Jayne said...

What a great day with such varied sightings!

Beth said...

What a great list of lifers for one day! I would love to see a Piping Plover. They're too cute for words.


Deborah Godin said...

Boy that is an impressive list, and great photos. Terns are among my favorite birds. we get lots of Commons, and the occasional Caspiam around here. I love how the Common dive bomb and smack right into the water!

Anonymous said...

It certainly looks like you were kept busy taking pictures of all the birds.

Thank you very much for visiting my birds blog and for the comment you left me there.
My Birds Blog

janet said...

Sounds like you had a great visit.

If you think short-billed dowitchers have long bills you should see the long-billed dowitchers.

Larry said...

Wow! You saw a lot of lifers-sounds like your birding skills are really sharp right now.-I'm sorry to say that any birds seen between July 1st and July 22nd don't count as lifers.-it's in the birders handbook-Oh Well.Nice day of birding anyway.

dAwN said...

HEE hee..that Larry is quite a jokester..
Great birds! you are getting to be a really good birder! I am enjoying your plum island trip

Larry said...

Yes-only kidding of course.


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