Saturday, December 19, 2009

Worcester Christmas Bird Count-Saturday

Another Christmas Bird Count today and this time it was the Worcester area. Alan, Paul and I headed out this morning expecting to get a lot of the same old, same old with perhaps a few surprises mixed in like this beautiful Red-shouldered Hawk above. We were driving in a busy part of West Boyalston when suddenly Paul sees a hawk of interest and asks Alan to cross the intersection to get a better look at it. The car stops and the two of them have their bins on the bird and I hear Paul contemplate Red-shouldered which instantly causes my heart to jump and ears perk up. I am in the back of the truck and can't see much except for a buteo shaped bird from the breast down so assume it's a Red-tailed because why the heck would a Red-shouldered hang out at such a place.
Finally both agree on it being a Red-shouldered and I can't take being cooped up in the back not being able to see it so Paul lets me out and I almost trip out of the truck to get my own glimpse of such a fantastic bird perched in West Boyalston of all places!
I ask Alan to get his scope out in an attempt to get some digiscoped pictures and the only ones that came out half way decent were the face shots which I love anyhow as it really shows the eyes of a bird and hence it's soul (corny but true in my own eyes!). Look at those beautiful brown eyes and sweet little face!
Finally it flies off and I attempt to get a couple of flight shots and am thrilled to finally get a flight shot of a Red-shouldered Hawk that is identifiable.
Here it is going away to our dismay. Highlight Worcester County bird for the month of December for me and I just want to say Paul, you rock for seeing it!! :0)
But that's not all folks, check out what else that was spotted. This very handsome Eastern Towhee was hanging out with a Northern Mockingbird and some White-throated Sparrow. I seriously miss this bird and is one of the things I yearn to hear most whenever venturing power lines so this was indeed a sight for sore eyes.
Another highlight was seeing a flock of Wild Turkeys over near Wachusett Reservoir.
We also had a Sharp-shinned Hawk there as well. The picture came out lousy but it was a quick fly by so this was the best I could get. We also got a Belted Kingfisher and Pileated Woodpecker around this area.
And then of course there were the regular CBC birds like the Black-capped Chickadee above.
And the many Downy Woodpeckers we saw in many of the places we went.
We also saw a lot of American Robins whose red breast really pop now with the bare trees and gray skies.
And the familiar Tufted Titmouse like the one giving me the eye above.
A Black-capped Chickadee checking out the recording device of its call. It is common practice to have a device such as this for CBC's with the most popular recordings being the Eastern Screech-Owl, the Red-bellied Woodpecker and of course the Black-capped Chickadee. This device is a life saver during bird counts as it brings the birds into your area for counting which is needed as time doesn't allow you to travel a piece of land inch by inch.
We also had one American-tree Sparrow at an empty feeder shown above. Hope they fill those feeders up tomorrow before the big storm!
More backyard birds.
And what I thought was a cool Tufted Titmouse shot.
We also had our fair share of Mourning Doves like the group above.
A picture of our hearty CBC leader Paul going to check out some Scaup we had seen earlier who was making sure nothing else had flown over. We in the meantime, were in the cozy warm truck!
A very large flock of Cedar Waxwings participating in some very bizarre behavior. The flock of them were fixated on the leaves of oak trees and you could hear their call and the rustling of leaves in the area where the trees were. At first we though perhaps they were feeding on something in there (like insects), but then saw some of them looking like they were getting ready to settle in for the night so perhaps they think of this as a good overnight roosting spot?
Finally we went to go check on the gull roost where we met up with Marion and Scott so we decided to join forces for the count. There were hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls but the highlight was the Iceland Gull mixed in with the others!
I would be remiss if I didn't include other non-bird related photos like the one above which was a path we hiked along. The weather today wasn't half as bad as expected so we did a lot of hiking which was awesome! I had forgotten how much I missed getting outdoors and doing some serious walking in the winter so this was a real treat and can't wait to get out there some more, especially with my new snowshoes I will be getting!
Really neat ice pictures like the one above. How cool is that!
And check out this rock
And finally a shot of the rocks under still unfrozen water at Wachusett Reservoir. The water is so crystal clear, you can see all of the details and colors in the rock.

Take care everyone!


Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Sounds like fun.The bird pictures are great ,but the others are awesome.I like the ice formations,and that walking trail,Fantastic.

madcobug said...

Sounds like you had a great birding day and got in some great shots. All those pictures are beautiful, Love that trail in the woods. Helen

Hilke Breder said...

Kim, great post. It sounds like you hit the jackpot with the Red-shouldered Hawk (awesome photos too!) and the Eastern Towhee! Nice shots too of the ice and water. Happy Holidays!

Chris Petrak said...

Congrats on the CBC & the unusual birds - our CBC got most of what we would expect, but the lingering species did not linger - guess Mass isn't quite as "real winter" as SE VT! Happy holidays.

Rich said...

Your close ups are amazing!


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