Plan B would be the other part of the Mid State Trail which is very rugged, isolated and beautiful. I was at about mile three in the woods and decided to hike up a hill because I am trying to be a little gentler with my runs lately due to nagging pains that won't go away and as I got to the top I could hear the call of what I though was a raptor so I stopped and listened. I was there for more than 15 seconds listening intently when suddenly a Northern Goshawk flies within view to me gliding past the trees. It wasn't a fast glide, but a graceful one and it glanced my way briefly before fading out of view. I stand there with my jaw open and suddenly I forget all about my running/hiking attempt as I backtrack on tip toe hoping to get another glimpse of this magnificent bird. I am now bush whacking in the area where I saw it last and then the voice of reason (that doesn't seem to come out as much as it should), decides to intervene as I realize I am getting a little further from the path than I should and decide to head back to the Mid-state hoping I will see it again which I never did sadly. Seriously, a memory I will have forever as what are the chances of that ever happening again!!
As I made my way back to Barre Falls for some hawkwatching, I heard the familiar call of the Brown-headed Cowbird so decided to get its picture as its a first of the year bird for me. Who'd of thunk I would ever be happy seeing a cowbird!! ;-)
The weather was warm as binoculars were on the skies hoping to get some raptors, but one of the highlights of the morning was when Peter M would spot a Tree Swallow coming our way. I put my bins on it to get a look at it for ID and then out came the camera for a photo (lousy, but what else is new!). Out came the bins again as I still had yet to see that brilliant blue I have missed so much and then finally I could see it. Another first of the year bird for me and a sweet one at that!
While we did have an okay amount of migrating raptors, we had more than our fair share of the regulars like the local Turkey Vultures, Red-tailed Hawks and a Northern Goshawk that would suddenly appear and confuse me. So funny to be hawk watching again as now we only count them if they are going in the opposite direction so it takes some getting used to. Also need to sharpen my binocular skills and get re-acquainted with the land marks we refer to to ID a bird of interest as I had forgotten them all in just a few short months!
And then another bird I wanted to see badly today which was the Bald Eagle. I had seen this a couple of months ago with Alan, but it was out of Worcester County and really wanted one here, so it was nice to see after Bart had pointed it out as it was headed in our direction. While we didn't get a ton of migrating birds today, the ones we did get were pretty special to me so I left very happy and didn't want to go directly home so made another stop.
To Sterling Peat in hopes of getting a first of the year Bufflehead which is another bird I have been striking out on. I find my way to a spot where I can scan the waters and the first thing that strikes me is the fact that there are a lot of water birds out there!!! Now normally I have more experienced birders with me, like Alan to make counting a little easier but today I was on my own with no scope no less.
I start scanning left to right and the most pre-dominant duck would be the Ring-necked, but then another kind of duck would come appear to mess up my count, including the much needed Bufflehead that stops me dead in my tracks. I whip out my camera for a record shot and put it on full zoom which makes everything blurry and take a picture and then blow it up on my screen viewer to get a look at it and what do I see?? Why a Common Goldeneye of course. I stare at it confused for a moment wondering how I could confuse the two.....Out come the bins again and both ducks have disappeared so I start scanning left to right again and I see a male Hooded Merganser which knocks my confidence down another notch as I try and figure out what it was I saw exactly. I start the painful process yet again and figure I will take it by species and start counting only the Ring-necked Ducks. I do my count and am happy the easy part is over with and now its time to figure out exactly what it is I have here. I would finally get 2 Common Goldeneye and one Hooded Merganser and figured I must have messed up the ID somehow, when suddenly out pops the little bugger Bufflehead from the water. HA!!! He just wanted to test my skills of course, that's all. ;-).
Take care all!