Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Bird Count-Sturbridge

Alan, Paul and I headed out to the Sturbirdge area today for the Sturbridge CBC which was the first Christmas bird count I have ever done. The morning air was chilled but not frigid and icy roads made driving and walking a little challenging at first but soon all of that was forgotten as we headed to our first destination off Route 20 with proper optics hung around our necks to make walking easier as well as lesson the chance of losing them. The sun was just starting to rise and avian life soon came alive as we walked our way through snow laden paths and thick brambles to get our first count of the birds.
There were many birds in this area with the most notable being over a hundred American Robins we had seen where ever we went (with one even doing its spring song). We also had an impressive amount of Cedar Waxwings and Northern Cardinals which was a great way to start the bird count.
Next it was onto other areas and I decided to not put it in order as I am tired tonight and there were so many stops, I will be bound to mess them up so instead I am going to do it somewhat by species with the first being no other than the Black-capped Chickadee as these birds seemed to be at every stop we made.
Now I knew I would like participating in Christmas Bird Counts as it is right up my alley being citizen science and all but what I really enjoyed were all of the common birds out there that I often don't pay much attention to as I am always searching for hawks, gulls or the current twitch of the week so these birds will sometimes get over looked which is rather unfortunate at times because who else than a Black-capped Chickadee would be trusting enough to get close to you for a photo like the one above.

Or this one where it is doing its Chick a dee-dee-dee call no more than 5 feet next to me.
I am going to inundate you with Chickadee photos as most of the ones I took came out great so couldn't make up my mind on which ones I like most so I decided to post them all! ;-)

I had forgotten how much I liked the chickadee as this bird was actually the first bird that got my attention even before I started birding as it sat outside my window one late spring morning and sang its Fee Bee song.
It was still dark out at that point and I was not a birder but I remember sitting by my computer and hearing a bird sing a song that was so pretty I got out of my chair and tried to search for the bird to attempt to figure out what it was.
I wouldn't find out for another four months or so that it was a Black-capped Chickadee when I started getting into birding but will always remember that about the chickadee so it still remains one of my favorite birds.
Next it was onto the Chickadees side kick the Tufted Titmouse who always seems to be right along side the Chickadee. Kind of like Batman and Robin, Simon and Garfunkel, Ernie and Bert and....well you get he picture.......
It felt just like the old days last year when I spend many winter mornings trying to track down a titmouse well enough for a decent photo and it just never seemed to happen because I was never quick enough for the hyper active bird.
And whenever I was indeed quick enough it would decide to make a weird face like the one above. We had these birds everywhere we went today as well as White-breasted Nuthatches I believe.
We only had two Red-tailed Hawks today which was great but wanted to see at least one or two accipiters today, especially a Sharp-shinned Hawk but it just wasn't in our cards. Happy to report though that some people had them in their sectors today as well as Cooper's Hawks.

We did get some special finds today like the Carolina Wren above who was part of a pair of them.
Love these birds so it's always a treat to see one. Would have been happier though if it were a House Wren.....Just sayin......
We also had a good amount of woodpeckers with Downy Woodpeckers at just about every stop we made. We also had three Northern Flickers and some Red-bellied Woodpeckers like the one above.
More woodpecker pictures.
The largest count of sparrows we would get today were the White-throated Sparrows like the one below. Oddly enough we would get very little in terms of Song Sparrows which I never would have expected as they are the most abundant of sparrows in my area so expected the numbers in our sector to be a little higher.
Not complaining though as this sparrow is quite handsome.
Later in the day the sun was warm as we made out way through a path to search for American Tree Sparrows we had heard. It was so nice out at this point that I could have walked forever because I missed the warm sun so much after the past few days of cold we have had.
Suddenly a small flock of birds fly into a tree and we are thrilled to see they are Eastern Bluebirds.
Never mind the wonky colors on the photo above as I am too tired to fix it, just believe me it that it was a picture perfect moment to see them all!
Oh and I just want to go on record that I did in fact make Christmas Cookies this year like the ones above I brought to share. See, who says there is still some domestic goddess in me despite my constant birding. ;-). Now off to get some much needed sleep. Believe it or not, I am tired after a three day birding binge and want nothing more right now than a comfy pillow and a good 7 hours of sleep. Take care all.

ETA: Special thanks to Paul who was the leader for our CBC today. Thank you Paul for making my first CBC a very enjoyable one. The weather was perfect, the birds were plenty and I can't wait to do it again. See you on Saturday!


Mary said...

Kim, what pulled me here was that Chickadee, you know. Your birds are plenty and gee how I wish I could bird with you one day. You got 'em all, girl!

Best part, after all that fresh air and fun, you can treat yourself to a dozen cookies. Mmmmmm....


Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Sounds like an exciting day.The Chickadees are always good for another picture.They are about the most cheerful birds I know.Oh,and those cookies,well all I need is a good cup of coffee to go with them.

WR said...

Great pictures. I remain a loyal member of the Chickadee fan club!

Andrew said...

Do you ship those cookies? :)

Chris Petrak said...

Kim, I did not realize how far behind I have gotten on blog reading. You've had some great posts. Every week I think I will finally get free for Plum Island and the coast, but it doesn't happen - soon maybe. Saw the snowy & merlin at Salisbury last year, but we always want another look. And the Canvasback - you're right - a handsome bird!

Hilke Breder said...

Nice collection of birds, Kim. I hope I'll be as lucky on my CBC this Saturday! I love your photos of the Chickadee, the Blue Bird and the Carolina Wren!

Rich said...

Kim, Great Pictures and story!

Cruel and unusual punishment for putting the cookies in though.

Susan W. said...

Excellent Chickadee photos! Great detail, color, and composition.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Kim, Love your Chickadee pictures. They are GREAT. I have trouble catching those little boogers since they move around so quickly. You did GREAT.

Looks like you all had good luck counting birds.... You have most of the same ones we have down here. I think our Robins are gone though ---or at least, they aren't around our yard now.


Erica Houskeeper said...

Looks like you had a wonderful day in Sturbridge. My in-laws spend the summers in nearby Monson, and it's such a pretty area. Anyway, these are great shots. I really love the chickadee photo with the blue background. He looks like he's walking a tightrope!


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