Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Night Hawking and Birding Millbury-Tuesday

Do you see that dot in the picture. Yes, the dot looking object right underneath the moon. THAT my friends is a Common Nighthawk and it was a first for me. I did some running and birding at Brierly after work today and decided to go visit Alan up at the mall in Millbury as I knew he would be there looking for nighthawks.
Fran decided to join us and we soon had three sets of eyes searching the sky for any signs of these birds and soon enough we were getting a couple here and there. This was my first time nighthawking and let me tell you it's a blast! It requires full concentration and good eyes and you get such a rush when you find one because they were not that common this evening as we would soon find out.
We had a total of 15 which I thought was fantastic because I wasn't expecting any to begin with but Fran said it was pretty poor and 100 makes more respectable number which I can't even imagine as I was overjoyed with our pathetic 15! Anyhow, many of the 15 we did see could be seen with the naked eye and it was very interesting to observe as both Fran and Alan were discussing flight pattern of these birds with me (they actually fly differently when they are gleaning for insects vs. migrating through) and I was able to witness the difference in flight w/ my own two eyes which was interesting. Will be going out a couple more times this week to see if we can beat our record which shouldn't be too hard to do. ;-)

The nighthawking in Millbury takes place at the Millbury Mall which is at a higher elevation than most of the town so it also allows you the opportunity to see other birds including a Great Egret that was way to the left of us headed toward Grafton and this Great-blue Heron shown above.
Also saw some planes go past us like the one above.

Before going up to the mall, I decided to go run some of the trails at Brierly and on my way there, I saw a couple of Ring-billed Gulls at the pond and had to pull over as I haven't seen these birds here since early summer.

As soon as I got out of my car and over to the shore I could hear a couple of "peeps" or "leasts" and I knew there were shorebirds there and I saw two Least Sandpipers go over to the other series of mud banks to hang out with the Killdeer that were over there.

They were hidden from my view so I decided to go over the the first series of mud banks they were on, make my way through some mud and plant myself on a big rock, betting they would return and sure enough they did after a couple of minutes.

They didn't see me at first so I was able to get a couple of good pictures and looks at them without bins but right the minute one of them saw me all hell broke lose as they cried in alarm and flew over to the Killdeer again.

American Crow picture taken near the trails. No it wasn't calling it was just hot and had it's bill open as it sat there baking in the sun. I took one look at this and wondered if I should even be running in this weather as it was obviously a little toastier than I first thought. ;-).

And lastly a couple of pictures of a Ruby Meadowhawk taken on a path during my run. This is the same area that was a warbler pocket just a couple of months ago, and now my highlight are dragonfly's. Sigh, my how times change in just a short few weeks.

Take care all!


Matt said...

Just finally had to come out from lurking, and tell you how much I enjoy your blog. I too was up at the Shoppes at Blackstone tonight, and heard the nighthawks, which I mentioned to my friend. They always remind me of my dad ( who is 96 and an alum of the Forbush Bird Club since it's beginning, he used to work for the T&G night shift, in the 1970's if I wanted to use his car ( I was in high school) I would have to pick him up. Sometimes we would go up on the roof downtown, to see and listen to them, I think they we're nesting there too, but not sure now.
Anyway, thanks for posting. One of these days I'll hit Mark up ( he knows me, tell him Matt with the Hammer Head Sharks sez hi), and go on a bird hike with you all. I'm just too rusty, I think, and feel intimidated.
P.S. In Jr. High and HIgh School, I used to send Lloyd Jenkins illustrations of birds I did, and he always printed them in the paper. Funny, how these things never leave you! They we're horrible, of course, but still, it was nice.

Matt Mattus

Larry said...

I was very excited when I saw my first nighthawk through binoculars-(only last year I think). Their wing shape and pattern areinteresting to see.It took me a minute to figure out what I was looking at.-Nice dragonfly photos too.

Chris said...

Hi Kim,
Congrats on your Common Nighthawk, I've personally never seen one! A good tour again you got there.

Kim said...

Hey there Matt, you should join us up at the mall one night as we are near Target! We will be up there just about everynight this week I think. So glad you finally introduced yourself and loved reading your background and the info on your father. I bet Fran knows him so I will ask.

Larry, nighthawks are soooo cool! I am such a dork that I get a rush when I see the flash of white on its wings as it flys by. HA. ;o)

Thanks Chris. No nighthakws in Iceland? ;o). You get some really cool birds there that we don't get though so I guess it's good balance!

Kim said...

Oh and Matt, I am rusty too and all of the Forbush members like it when rusty people join them as it helps them sharpen their own skills because most like to teach! ;o) We are going to Plum Island this Sunday. Just sayin...... Take care

MaineBirder said...

Nighthawks are a real treat this time of year. Monday evening we watched 20+ go after dragonflies in our marsh.

Love the images!

Ginnymo said...

Great shots Kim!

NCmountainwoman said...

I just love Nighthawks! There is something so mystical and magical about them. I can't imagine seeing a hundred.

Deborah Godin said...

I love the sound of a nighthawk in the evening (bad movie quote paraphrase not intended)


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