Saturday, June 5, 2010

Breeding Bird Survey and Getting "Stuck in the Weeds"

Alan and I are participating in a project for DCR this June which is basically a breeding bird survey in key locations including areas in and around the Wachusett Reservoir with land that is owned by the state. We would head out bright and early with the windshield wipers going and resigning ourselves to the fact that we would probably not be able to do it today due to the weather but low and behold cloudy skies would soon disappear to reveal nothing but blue as we made our way through our first destination which is a really cool place off of Route 140 in Sterling (somewhat near Sterling Peat).

We made our way through and would see scores of birds including a pair of Indigo Buntings as well as a pair of Wood Ducks, but the highlight of the drive would be seeing a Bobcat dash across the path and into thick brush to get away from our incoming vehicle. This would be a first for me as I had never seen one before and was actually taken aback over how small it was as well as the stump it had for a tail.

Next, we would find the location we were supposed to go to and listen and watch for birds. We don't have the numbers rolled up in electronic format yet, but we did pretty well here with birds including Least Flycatchers, Willow Flycatchers, a Red-tailed Hawk and Scarlett Tanagers as well as all of the usuals.

Next it was onto another area off of Route 140 which is a very grassy habitat and perfect for many grassland birds. We would make our way to the path and find one lone young deer in the middle of the path. We would continue to get closer while anticipating it running off out of fear but the curious little deer would watch us for quite a while which allowed us to get pretty close before it ran off for cover.

Right behind that would be one lone Wild Turkey who gazed at us curiously and cautiously as well.
Red-winged Blackbirds and Bobolinks could be heard as we made our way to our spot to start the survey.
The sun shone bright and wild clover would be all over the place which contrasted rather nicely with the Bobolinks including the very handsome male above.
As well as the misses with food in her bill and most likely very busy feeding her young! We would once again have some very nice birds here including Eastern Bluebirds, Common Yellowthroats and others but the highlight would be when we heard a loud "Gobble, Gobble", followed by heavy, labored wing beats that sounded like a Wild Turkey ready to take flight. To our astonishment the turkey was chasing after something and that something would be a Broad-winged Hawk!!!! Most likely the hawk thought turkey eggs or nestlings would make a perfect breakfast and the parents were defending their young. Just so funny to see a hawk fly away in fear over a turkey because it was so unexpected.
The survey can only be done between 5AM and 9AM so after that we decided to go to Bolton Flats in hopes for the Common Moorhen or better yet the Least Bittern Bart reported earlier this week. The humidity would start to pick up at this point as we put on our hip waders with a sense of dread anticipating how hot it would be to trudge through swampy waters to get to where the bittern was last seen.
But alas, these are the sacrifices one must make to get a new bird on ones yearly list, especially when the last one is a Ring-necked Pheasant so off I went. Ahhhhhhh, nothing like wading through over knee high stagnant and repugnant swamp water in close to 90 degree weather to awaken the senses on a Saturday morning!!! Yes, it wasn't all that pleasant to say the least and I was hoping I would get to the small pond to see the Least Bittern in plain view so I could ooohh and ahhhh over it but the only thing we would see there would be one lone Double-crested Cormorant so we stood there in the swampy water as sweat rolled off our foreheads hoping the bittern would grace us with its presence which it never did.
We made our way back through the swampy waters and onto another area with swampy water hoping for the moorhen but even he had better things to do than to meet up with us. We did see this Willow Flycatcher above though. :-p
On our way back Alan would notice this one lone foot print of a bird and I thought it was worthy enough for a photo.
Our last stops would be in Princeton to see if the Northern Waterthrush's and Canada Warblers were still around and as soon as we got out of the car we could hear both sets which was nice after striking out at Bolton Flats. We would head up to the Wachusett Mountain area where we got a Black-billed Cuckoo last year as I was determined to get a new bird today and while we both think we heard one, we are not 100% convinced so hoping for one tomorrow with it raining out and all.

Take care all


grosbeak21117 said...

I certainly enjoyed your perfectly centered shot of this White Admiral butterfly!

The recent steamy weather has brought out DROVES of dragonflies at my favorite local haunts, including Ebony Jewelwing, Common Green Darner, Northern Bluets, and Common Baskettails. The highlight of recent days was a NORTHERN WALKINGSTICK in a dense oak grove!

Stay cool,
Chris Ellison

grammie g said...

Looks like you got yourself in a pickle!!! Your photo of the deer looks so mystical!!! The Bobolink in the red clover adds a nice touch!! Keep those wader handy!!!


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