Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Extra Extra Read all About it: There are no Winter Finches in Royalston!

That's right folks and you heard it here first. There are officially no winter finches this year in the town of Royalston. We hadn't heard anything on MassBird or other sources so Alan and I decided to be proactive and head out there ourselves as a public service to all of you other birders who may have been anxiously awaiting news of a possible Redpoll, Pine Grosbeak or even a measly Pine Siskin at this point.

We took the task of investigation very seriously as we headed outside with a wind chill that literally took your breath away, but being a hearty New Englander, I figured I could handle it by dressing in many layers as you can see above. It actually took me 10 minutes to get dressed today but all in all, I was pretty toasty except for my face.
The first thing that struck me when I first got out of the car (besides how cold it was of course), was the lack of bird song coming from any direction, as well as the New England charm that oozed from every corner of this quaint New England town. The photo above will give you a glimpse of it but do apologize for getting the sun in the shot (a photographer no-no,), but there was no way I was going to turn around for another view as that's the direction the wind was blowing.
This super quaint street lamp that were all around the center of town. The only place where we would see street lamps and the side streets must be eerily dark at night.
All of the buildings in the center of town are white which made everything so pretty being contrasted against the snow and blue skies. Despite the cold, one couldn't help but drink in the overall beauty that surrounded you.
A sign that caught my eye. If they had one for Florida I would have headed there in a heart beat!
Anyhoo, back on topic. We got out of our car and walked the streets keeping both our eyes and ears open in hopes of hearing any birds of interest. It didn't take long to realize the birds had other things on their mind besides entertaining us and the only thing we did see was a flock of over 50 Blue Jays which was very interesting as they were all traveling together.

We did hear one finch call that caught our interest so Alan played his Redpoll tape and while it resembled it somewhat, it may have been one of the bizarre calls of a Goldfinch. We scanned tree tops and feeders to see if we could get a visual on the bird in question, but that would prove to be a "no go".
We also saw Rock Pigeons on the top of the steeple that you can see above. Who'd of thunk Rock Pigeons would live in Royalston. You learn something new every day!
And a flock of Wild Turkeys eating seed from the ground. The highlight birds of the visit and that says a lot.
We decided to hit Saw Mill Pond in Fitchburg on our way back from Royalston and I was happy to see that some water had opened up since the last time we were there and the place was filled with gulls. The wind was fierce at this point, but I jumped out of the car for a look hoping we could see a couple of Iceland Gulls mixed in as I really want a good picture of one.
As you can see, the gulls were facing the wing which meant we could never get a good look at their tails which would have helped tremendously in ID'ing these birds. As far as we could tell the only gulls that were there were the usual Herring, Ring-billed and Great Black-backed Gulls.
And a digiscope shot to show you just how miserable it was outside, just look at that face. Not a happy camper that' for sure. The highlight was seeing a lone Great Black-backed Gull by itself on the ice. It finally couldn't take it anymore and had to join the others for body heat. You could tell it didn't want to, but resigned itself to the fact that it was just too chilly to be going solo today. There were also a couple of gulls who would often slip on the ice and almost land on their butts which was amusing to see. Yes, winter birding at its best!!

We made another stop at New Braintree to see if you could get the Northern Shrike and Rough-legged Hawk again from yesterday (see post below this one), but both were a no show.

Will be headed to Gloucester tomorrow with Alan and will be doing some birding with another New England blogger (guess who!!), so stay tuned as I am sure I will have tons of photos.

Take care and stay warm all!

10 comments:

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

You may not have seen the birds you wanted to but I sure enjoyed the post.The picture of that pretty white church is perfect.Better luck tomorrow.
Blessings,Ruth

madcobug said...

No wonder not many birds around. No food to eat I don't suppose with all that white stuff around. That church was beautiful with the snow and blue sky. Helen

Andy said...

It's freezing out there!

A New England Life said...

What a wonderful little New England town! I honestly can't say I've heard of Royalston before but I like it!

It's always good to see a Turkey. Such characters they are. How the birds can stay warm in weather like that I don't know.

Good luck today! I think it's supposed to be much warmer ... like 20. LOL! Dress warm and I'll be looking forward to pictures! At least you won't have the wind like you did yesterday. That was awful!

A New England Life said...

Btw, I meant to tell you, I was on someones blog last night from upper NY and she just had her first Siskin yesterday. Only 1. She said last year she had at least a hundred and is wondering where they all are this year. Me too!

Steve Borichevsky said...

I haven't seen one of those old school street lamps since the 60's! Yes, it is butt cold out there. Yesterday we had bitter winds coming from the west.

Steve Borichevsky said...

Oh, there are no rules in photography except to point your camera in the general direction of the subject!

Chris Petrak said...

The winter finches just are not around this year - almost complete zilch of VT reports. Guess I'm glad that others aren't seeing them, because that means I haven't missed them by holing up inside. Nice report.

Renee said...

There are some reports of Pine Siskins filtering down from the North and East of my area, it won't be long and the finches will start coming out of the woodwork.

Poor gulls - they look so cold!

Kim said...

Thanks for the comments all. Yes the church was one of my favorite photos to take as it was so pretty.

Glad to hear the finches are starting to trickle in somewhat. Have a feeling they will not be even close to the numbers from last year, but right now, I'll take anything!

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