Saturday, December 12, 2009

Local Birding and another (REAL) Lifer to add to my List!

Alan and I did some local birding today with our main focus being gulls and perhaps a new bird to add to our year end lists. We started off at Flint Pond where gull numbers were rather low, but did manage to see a couple of Herring Gulls mixed in with the regular Ring-billed Gulls. There were tons of Canada Geese as well as quite a few Common Mergansers and Hooded Mergansers. Didn't see many songbirds, but got a pretty decent shot of a Mourning Dove that I wanted to share.

Next it was onto Saw Mill Pond in Fitchburg to see if the frozen waters brought in any gulls and the place was barren which we guessed was due to the time of day as we got there rather early so headed to Whalom Lake to check on the numbers there where there were dozens of Ring-billed Gulls as well as some Herring Gulls mixed in, but nowhere near the numbers we had hoped for.
So we decided to head to Coachlace to check on ducks and the number of Scaup. The pond is still rather open but can't say the same for the "Pond that Never Freezes" because that pond was indeed frozen as you can see above!

NOTE: Just got word from Bart that the photo above is not the "Pond that Never Freezes", but rather the pond right next to the "Pond that Never Freezes", which of course is directly across from the pond that always freezes where the ducks and scaup hang out until that pond freezes causing them to venture over to the "Pond that Never Freezes" (my words, not Bart's, he just sent me an email to tell me I got my ponds wrong, I had to fill you all in though on the ponds of course). Sorry all, those many ponds confused me some!

We did see quite a lot of Greater Scaup (68) as well as an impressive amount of Common Mergansers (40) with a few Hooded Mergs thrown in as well. One of the highlights was hearing a Belted Kingfisher chattering around the pond. Wanted a picture of this bird real bad but the darn thing didn't want to cooperate with me!
On our way back, we decided to stop at Indian Lake where we were overwhelmed with the number of European Starlings that were flocking on the ground feeding as well as quite a few in trees.
Gulls were concentrated in one area due to icing and was able to get a picture of the tagged gull above. Guessing it was tagged this year due to it being in the 300 series.
On our way to Lake Singletary in Millbury, we stopped by a crab apple tree that Alan tells me gets inundated with Cedar Waxwings in the winter and sure enough there were approximately four of them there. Picture is lousy due to sun and the fact that I got the picture from the car window but decided to share it anyways.
When we arrived at Singletary we could see the open waters filled with gulls sitting on ice. We got our scopes out to scan and count when suddenly dozens of them took to the sky before landing in a location closer to us which always helps.
Mixed in were two Great Black-backed Gulls (one in photo above) which was very cool as I haven't seen a Great Black-backed since late last spring in Millbury.
There were also a few Herring Gulls mixed in too (6) so overall it was the best gull count on this lake thus far for the season! Seriously one of my favorite things to do this season is to count gulls so hoping the numbers continue to build!
Note one of three tagged gulls we saw (too far away for an ID) as well as the Herring Gull to the right of the photo.
After that we headed to St Philips Cemetery to see if we could spot the Great Horned Owl that has been reported there during past winters. We never did see neither the owl nor many other birds as the place was kind of bare as you can see in the picture above.
What we did see though was a Red-tailed Hawk. Photo above is lousy but wanted to include it because of how cool its wings looked coming at us in a head on, going away direction. Almost plank like with a slight upturn toward the hands. Very cool!
One thing I have noticed about taking photos of Red-tailed Hawks in the winter is just how vivid their colors are when you get them in the sky. They are colorful any month of the year, but winter they just pop to me. I guess it's because of there is not as much color in the winter so I pick up on it more during the colder months.
And of course I saved the best for last!!! Alan and I went to Fort Meadows in Marlbough to search for a Canvasback. The sun was already starting to fade as we looked for a place to park alongside there which was impossible due to guard rails and the heavy traffic. We finally find a place to park and can see tons of Ruddy Ducks all congregated in one area of the pond. We never did see a Canvasback but did see the gorgeous Drake Redhead above who was mixed in with a Greater Scaup and three Bufflehead. LIFER!! Seriously one of the most handsome ducks I have ever seen and my new favorite bird for the month of December!!!
Here he is talking to the Scaup to the left of him! HA. Probably complaining about the weather just as we all are! So cute and a perfect way to end the day as I had a big smile on my face the entire time I watched him.
And lastly a small portion of the Ruddy Ducks we saw as the sun was starting to set. Off to the coast tomorrow for more birds and will report in what I see!

Take care all!


Steve Borichevsky said...

I used to see hundreds of Redheads in Colorado. They are very beautiful ducks, indeed.

madcobug said...

We have a good many of the Mourning doves here and do see the Cedar Waxwing in the late winter and early spring. That red headed duck is beautiful. Great pictures. Helen

Hilke Breder said...

Congrats, Kim. That's a nice shot of the Redhead. What a treat! I have never seen one.

Larry said...

Congratulations on your lifer! I too have noticed how nicely Red-tailed hawks stand out against the pure blue winter sky.I've been writing down the numbers of tagged gulls and plan to report them.They'll probably end up being gulls that were tagged right down the road from me.

Larry said...

You will have to make it down to south Texas in winter sometime and see the multitudes of Redheads that winter there. It is incredible. Such a neat looking duck.


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