Saturday, April 17, 2010

Birding at Bolton Flats & Other Places

Another gloomy day, you know, the kind of day where one tends to sleep in late to wake up and enjoy a leisurely breakfast and a hot cup of coffee while reading the morning paper. That is unless you're a birder during the month of April when new things appear just about daily lately, and the only way you can keep up is to get out there rain or shine so that's exactly what Alan and I did this morning. Since it was rather gloomy outside, we didn't hold out much hope for passerines but instead chose to go to Bolton Flats to look for ducks with the Northern Shoveler being at the top of the preferred list.

We made our way carefully and quietly to the north side, to only have a huge flock of ducks (mostly Green-winged Teal), take the the air in panic as we had been discovered yet again! We would take out our scopes and scan the waters which was challenging in itself with the fog and drizzle which is unforgiving to the optics as many of you are aware. Finally, Alan would spot a bird of interest and try and zoom in on it, only to have a set of two fly on over to the south side of the flats. We packed up our scopes and were making our way to the south side, when Alan hears a Blue-gray Gnatcather high up in a tree so we are both looking above trying to locate it. As we are looking up I am convinced I hear the call of a Virginia Rail but then it doesn't call again so we assume it must have been a Red-winged Blackbird or something as we walk back to the car as the gnatcatcher appeared to have taken off as well.

We go onto the South side to see nothing (the Snow Goose is still there though), so decide to hit the north side at a different angle and again nothing, so off we go toward the general store for some coffee and what do we see on the South side away from the parking lot, but the darn Northern Shovelers and in really good view from the car in the middle of the very busy road!! We back up into a parking place and make our way past the guard rail on foot and in the mud, as route 117 can be rather dangerous and as we make our way closer, off they go again onto the north side! So what do we do? Why we get back in the car and follow them again of course!

The only thing is, they are not there..... We scan the waters for a couple of minutes and start making our way back when suddenly we both hear the call of the Virginia Rail this time. We can tell by the call that it's fairly close so Alan takes out his IPod and plays the call for a few seconds and it doesn't take long for the bird to respond.
And as you can see by its facial expressions it is not at all happy with a new guy coming onto his turf and is going to make everyone at Bolton Flats very aware of it!
We stop the IPod after a few seconds to not tick him off anymore and he decides to stick around for a while which gave us a really good look at him. We would also see another one in some thick vegetation that peeked its head out long enough for us to count it. We would also finally see the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Ruby-crowned Kinglet in this same location so it's just as well that the shovelers led us on this wild goose chase!
Our hands would be raw at this point so we went off to the general store for one of their nifty coffees and while we were drinking them, we would see a flock of 5 Cedar Waxwings directly above us in a crab apple tree eating last years leftovers. Soon enough some House Sparrows decided to join in too and then another visitor.
Which would be the Northern Mockingbird above. So there you have it all, and this is how a birder spends their time on a rainy Saturday-stalking a pair of ducks as if an episode of Dragnet and staring at birds in a tree outside of a general store while drinking a cup of Joe. We birders are a unique group of people that's for sure, but I wouldn't have it any other way ;-).
After that it was time to head home but the skies appeared to have lifted some so I decided to venture off on my own after lunch and went to the Assebet Conservation area for some light birding and just some hiking in the woods as I sometimes find it very relaxing to walk in the woods in the rain. As soon as I got out of my car, I would hear the familiar one note call of the White-throated Sparrows and would be treated to a gorgeous male who would be at eye level to me and was kind enough to remain that way while I got a couple of photos like the one above.
There would also be a few warblers like theYell0w-rumped above who decided to engage me in a game of peek-a-boo for a few minutes as it went along the tree path and I followed, only to have it tease me on occasion with a peek here and there.
The Palm Warbler on the other hand continues to be a regular ham for the camera.
And would even be so bold to allow me a couple of photos while it preened and tried to shake off some of the rain.
The warblers would be part of a flock of woodland birds that were all following each other and in this flock would be a couple of Downy Woodpeckers just like always.
I would finally leave the flock to head off on my own where I would see a Blue Jay who was as quiet as a mouse on a tree adding material to a nest. I take out my camera to get a photo and get spotted and off it flies into some bushes. I back up for a moment to give it its space and hoping it will come back so I can get a photo of it, but it was onto my game and wanted no part of it.

On another note, I decided to do my morning run in Grafton this morning right before sunrise in an area where Great Horned Owls are known to be so I was hoping I would hear them. No sooner would I get to a slow jog, would I hear one on one side of the road doing it's "Who's awake, me too......Immediately after that would be another Great Horned across the street responding with a two hoot call. I stopped running at this point and just kept walking toward the sound of the owl as daylight was just starting to appear so I was hoping I could get a look at it. I make my way on top of a hill as one flies above my head and over to the other side of the street to be with its mate. This is most likely the pair that just experienced a recent nest failure so find it rather interesting that they are doing their territorial hooting and not sure if this is normal after a nest failure or not.

Take care all.


Rich said...

Great Stuff Kim!!!

Kay said...

Nice birding trip! I especially like the really beautiful White-throated sparrow.


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