Saturday, May 29, 2010

Late Day Birding at Bolton Flats

I would do very little birding today, due to the fact that I made myself promise that I would spend the entire day spring cleaning because it needed to be done due to the consistent neglect I've been giving the house since Mid April due to bird migration so decided to tackle it sooner rather than later as it was getting on my nerves. The promise would soon be broken when Alan sent me an email last night letting me know Tom had reported a Common Moorhen at Bolton Flats and he was considering going and wanted to know if I wanted to tag along and who was I to refuse such an offer!!!

As soon as we arrived the rain would start which was a blow to the stomach as it was nice out the entire day while I was slaving over the floors so wouldn't you know the rain would wait until I got outside to release its wrath.

We played the tape a few times over the course of about 20 minutes or so and wouldn't hear anything in return. While we never got to see the Moorhen, we both SAW AND HEARD the American Bittern which was such the treat. The bird was pumping rather closely and after a while would fly off to another part of the marshes which allowed us a really good look at it and it was awesome. We would be scanning the mud flats for shorebirds where we saw both a Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs as well as one Least Sandpiper when suddenly we would both hear "Cowcat"coming somewhere in the area of the flats which would be none other than a Ring-necked Pheasant LIFER!! :-p. HA, Alan and I have had a joke going around regarding me getting the pheasant as many people question whether or not these birds are considered countable considering many are raised and released for hunting but it's still countable on eBird and I am trying to get well above my record of 171 last year in total so I will take what I can get at this point. So funny to finally get it though because it's been one bird I haven't wanted to get passionately because you know I will have it on eBird as my last bird saw due to the fact that the FOY birds have been tougher to get now that migration is almost over with and I already have most of the breeding birds out there.

Anyhow, the picture above is one of three Virgina Rails we would see as we were walking back to the car. They would be in the path as well, but just a little further away from us so I just had to take out my camera for an attempted picture, despite the rain that was falling fairly heavily at the time.

Not sure how much birding I will due tomorrow due to more work I need to do around the house, but will get out there bright and early tomorrow with Alan for our first day of Operation Black Vulture. What is Operation Black Vulture you ask???? Well allow me to tell you!!!!

You see, I was at my computer this afternoon, feeling really good about myself as my windows sparkled and my house smelled of Lysol when suddenly I would get an email from Alan and all it would say was Black Vulture in a huge font and nothing else. I would sit there for a moment staring at the heading and afraid to click it, due to the fact that I didn't go to the Forbush Field Trip today because I REALLY needed to get this housework done as it couldn't wait any longer. I would stare at the email and picture opening it with Alan's breathless email on how all members of the club who attended the trip had this gorgeous Black Vulture teed up in a tree and how everyone got killer looks at it and even some cool photos which he would include of course, just to torture me more. "Mom, my kids suddenly cried in protest, are you going to get off of that computer and help us in the kitchen". "Just a minute, I replied back as I clicked my reply to Alan which would consist of "What, Where????. The smell on Lysol that once smelled so appealing to me suddenly made me nauseous as I kicked myself for deciding to spend one day being a domestic goddess vs. bush whacking the woods covered in Off looking for birds. After a long torturous wait, Alan would finally email me back saying that Bart saw a Black Vulture at the Millbury Bike Path before Alan would get there so he would be looking for it tomorrow morning of course as it appeared to have lifted off with the Turkey Vultures in the morning who roost somewhat close to my house.

What is funny about this is I was just telling Alan about a month ago that I had a gut feeling we would see a Black Vulture this year in Central Massachusetts and we would get one in Millbury no less, but it was more like wishful thinking in a way as we do that often while driving when we are thinking of what the next bird will be that we will get to get our lists higher (yes we are that dorky). So with that said, Alan and I are going to be camping out around the bike path every morning when the vultures all lift off, hoping to see that Black Vulture Bart was fortunate enough to see. And while we are on the subject of Bart, does anyone notice he gets all of the good birds. A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher while watching for hawks, a Black Tern at Gate 40 and now a Black Vulture at the bike path after Alan and I have spent months scanning the skies in this town for one! Not fair I tell ya, totally not fair!!! ;-).

I will let you know how we all do.

Take care all.

Friday, May 28, 2010

First Pictures of the Peregrine Falcon Chicks

Photo by Emily Eaton

Emily was kind enough to send me an email today letting me know she saw all THREE Peregrine Falcon chicks on the ledge yesterday. I would see two of them out there today and the third would remain hidden in the nest box. Anyhow, here are some pictures Emily shared with me of two of the chicks this afternoon.
Photo by Emily Eaton

Photo by Emily Eaton
Take care everyone and enjoy your long weekend

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What else in the hot weather but the More Peregrine Falcon photos!

What were you expecting today in temps as hot as these, Warblers? HA! I wish, but alas, I am back to work but manage to sneak in a bit of time everyday to take advantage of the Peregrine Falcons whose favorite spot this summer appears to be the top of our building. I figured I would share the photos with you as it appears to be feast or famine with these two as far as appearances so we might as well take advantage of the bounty while we can. Besides, I was going to save today as a book review on a book I just finished on crows and you all know my fondness for crows so fear not, that will be soon coming. ;-)

Anyhow, my son had an interview downtown today so he decided to stop by my office so I just had to show him the Peregrine Falcons up close and personal as he knows how much I love them. Tim would be kind enough to bring us up and we were thrilled to see the female in the same spot as yesterday which is nice and shady and probably very appreciated with the hot weather today.
She would have her bill open very frequently I am assuming to cool off so it was the first time I would ever get a look at her tongue which was rather nifty!
She would make eye contact with us and I was very happy to see my oldest take an immediate liking to her. Now I don't think my kids will ever be "birders" per say, but I would like to think my life style will at least rub off in them some way and they will at least have a general respect and fondness of birds and especially the falcons.
You will notice the blood that remains on her plumage near her bill. She has been busy feeding those hungry chicks and I am guessing she comes up to the ledge to get away from them and chill out under the shade as it must get awfully toasty in that metal nest box with three begging chicks no less. i would look at her knowing exactly how she felt! ;-)
And speaking of chicks there appears to be another brave one this year who seemed to be playing a game of chicken of sorts with the ledge as it would keep getting closer to it whenever I would take a look in the afternoon. It will only be a matter of time before they all venture off to the other part that has more of a shelf which will mean a lesser chance of them falling and it can't come soon enough for me.

And I just wanted to add, that I finally got the Worm-eating Warbler with Alan last night which means no more walks through those woods!

Take care all

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Peregrine Falcon Update: Three Chicks Confirmed!

I was able to confirm THREE Peregrine Falcon chicks this morning as I would see them all being fed by the female at the nest box.
After feeding the female would take to the skies and do her usual territorial flyover. She would venture off near Pleasant Street where 2 Chimney Swifts were flying and suddenly that two would turn into 5 as they flew around her for a wile but never attempted to dive bomb
She would turn around and head my way and I was glad I was at the right place at the right time with the perfect lighting for a change!
Another shot as she makes her way up to the 446 Main Street Building.
And who would be up there waiting? Why her faithful mate that's who!
I would go up there with Tim and this time the sun would be more favorable for some half way decent pictures.
She would look around and continue to give us the same occasional stare as yesterday, but didn't seem too bothered by us, just cautious.
As you can see the male would not pay us much attention as he would doze off here and there. I am guessing the shade and the cool breeze from being so high was rather welcome given the hot weather today and he just couldn't help himself.
While the Mrs would look at him with blood near her bill after feeding the chicks again today. As you can see she is still doing most of the feeling this year and hence, most of the hard work while he is supposed to be guarding the domain but much prefers to sleep instead!
But finally she couldn't help herself either so she would shut here eyes and he would know it was his turn to keep watch.
Another picture of the male. I was told last year that he is missing a talon and I was able to get a shot showing that as you can see on his right foot.
And one last look at the two of them.

Take care all.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Peregrine Falcon Update-Chick Banding Next Tuesday

After being on vacation most of last week, I decided to head to work extra early today to take care of backed up work and of course, manage a little time to check on the Peregrine Falcons as I was anxious to see how the chicks were doing. I would see one of them this morning, but sure enough later in the day I would see two.
The adult Peregrines would spend most of their day circling around the nest box and landing back there to keep a watchful eye on the skies.
I was able to capture some of the flight after I went to get a coffee as one of them flew right past me.
While this shot isn't the best, I love it in that it shows its wings in a position I am not accustomed to seeing with a falcon which is bowed. How cool is that!!!
I would decide to go up to the 24th floor to see if I could get a better view of the nest box from there when the female would land on the ledge. I would move to another area of the floor where the sun was a little more favorable (but the shadows couldn't be avoided unfortunately). As I did this her watchful eye would follow my every move.
As cars drove by and people walked the streets of a very busy downtown Worcester.
I also wanted to let you all know that the chicks will be banded next Tuesday, June 1st at the Unum Building lobby for those of you who are interested. The Dept of Fish and Wildlife will arrive at around 1PM or so but I am guessing banding will not take place until 1:15 at the earliest so stop on by if you are around!

Take care all

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Birding Uxbridge and Prison Camp Road, Rutland

Alan and I did one more day of birding before I head back to work tomorrow and decided ONCE AGAIN to try for the elusive Worm-eating Warbler as we are now both determined to find this little bugger after spending so much time lost in the woods looking for it. Fran had told us to try Lookout Rock in the same general area as he has had success with them there in the past so off we went as we crossed our fingers because we seriously didn't want to have to enter those windy and confusing woods again.

We would get to the rock which offered some spectacular views from below as the sound of Ovenbirds, Baltimore Orioles, Black-capped Chickadees and a lone Wood Thrush could be heard which was a great way to greet the morning despite the gray skies. We stood there and drank it all in as we listened carefully for any sign of the warbler and its trill like call. I would finally hear a trill from rather far away and ask Alan to play the Worm-eating Warblers song again so I could distinguish it from the Chipping Sparrow as they sound very familiar.
Suddenly a tiny bird would appear and land on a small snag and stare at us as if to try and make out the situation as the song sounded an awful lot like his, but not quite right. We would take this is a good sign that the song was being heard and perhaps the warbler was not far behind.
A few minutes later, another bird would fly near us and give us the same curious stare as the Chipping Sparrow and who else would it be, but another triller the always adorable Pine Warbler. I had to laugh when I saw him as he couldn't hide the look of confusion he had on his face. Neither he nor the Chippy would sing back at us because it could never quite make out the sound it seemed so instead of getting into a singing match with a potential competitor, they just stood there and stared. We would turn off the IPod and sit there for a while hoping for the warbler but it would soon be apparent, this bird didn't feel like wishing us a good morning so off we went to the other place in the same woods hoping for luck there now that we had better directions on how to get there.
So once again we entered the "woods from hell", as I fondly refer to them as due to the fact that Alan and I have spent a lot of time in here lately wondering aimlessly through windy trail and no recognizable landmarks to make navigation easier. I would forget my navigation device at home but we didn't think much of it because surely we couldn't get lost again as heck, we should know these woods like the back of our hands by now.
The place we were looking for is an area within the Blackstone National Heritage Corridor called Lover's Leap and is a rock within the woods which according to legend, a tortured woman committed Suicide due to a romance gone bad. Now Alan and I would search these woods last week and always be on the lookout for a large rock with a dramatic drop where the woman would take her final breath, but the problem was we would never find a rock that dramatic but rather rocks where once could stub a toe or at worst, break and ankle if they leaped from them.
Bart told us yesterday that the rock is kind of hidden by trees and leaves and the dramatic drop we were looking for is hidden from view from the path, so we went there today looking at any kind of rock formation that might fit that bill. We would find plenty of rocks with that potential, but never find the drop so once again, we gave up and headed back down the path again because we didn't want to get lost like last week.
We would go down the windy paths and as the bird sang, including the Scarlett Tanager above, but it wouldn't take us long to realize we were lost again. I would be kicking myself for forgetting my navigation device as we swatted away mosquitoes and were taunted by chipping chipmunks with their chip and trill like call, almost taunting us in a way as they dashed about to escape our footsteps. We would finally come to a path leading to a street and decided to find our way back to the car through roads vs. woods as we just couldn't take being in there one more minute.
We would finally make our way to the junction where the car was and would come across the garage above which was rather fitting considering the situation we were in!
I think this would be the 1st time in a year where I was thrilled to see cars and people speeding by and welcomed the usual neighborhood birds like the Blue Jays, Gray Catbirds, Carolina Wrens and even a very helpful American Robin who was kind enough to give us directions to the car as you can see in the photo above! ;-)
We would also see quite a few other interesting birds along the way like the cute little owl above. So needless to say, we either have to settle for the fact that the warbler may not be in our cards this year or we will have to kidnap Bart on his way to the market one morning and not release him until be brings us to the exact location even if we don't get the warbler because at this point we just want to know where the dam rock is!! Just kidding of course..........Well......Kind of.... :-p
And speaking of owls, we decided to head to Prison Camp Road in Rutland after our trauma in Uxbridge as we found out from Dan and Deb, that this is a known breeding location for them and are known to respond to calls during the day so off we went as this would be yet another life bird for me. I would have had my coffee by now, so my eyes were sharper than before and I was thrilled to see this Broad-winged hawk perched on a tree as we made our way along the road.
And my caffeine induced eyes would also spot a tiny little hummingbird teed up on a tree and looking at the world which is one of my favorite ways to see hummingbirds as they always look so tiny and rather odd when I see them this way.

We would find our way to the gate we were referred to and knew right away that this was definitely Saw-whet Owl territory based on the habitat which is perfect for them to breed in.

As we made our way along the path, we would see and hear quite a few really good birds including the always photogenic Cedar Waxwing above. We would play the call a few times and patiently await a return call, but that call would never come. We would hear a very noisy Alder Flycatcher from across the water which is always welcome to the ears, but would have preferred the owl even more. They are definitely in there, but we will just have to find out when the best time to get there would be as it is obviously not mid morning.
As we left, we would see this very handsome and vocal Red-eyed Vireo above so I just had to take its picture. All in all, another great day of birding despite not getting our two target birds for the day because after all, birding is great when you get some lifers and FOY's but seeing the regulars can be just as rewarding as all birds are wonderful if you just take the time to notice and study them

Take care all.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Forbush Bird Club-Oxbow and a Recurring Nightmare

I attended the Forbush Bird Club trip today which was led by Alan at the Oxbow WMA. We would arrive a little early to scout the area for birds before the others arrived and one of the first things we would see was this impressive flock of Cedar Waxwings all teed up on the branches as we drove down the street.
One of the first stops we made as a group was the bridge at the beginning of the entrance where we would see/hear quite a few birds including this pair of Canada Geese with goslings in tow
There are so many other things to look for at Oxbow like the various wild flowers so I stopped and took a picture of this Lady Slipper.
As well as quite a few frogs which I never tire of!!! I was very happy to see this Green Frog trying to hide from us but as you can see he wasn't successful!
We would walk along the path and Alan was great in getting us some birds, but the one we would not be successful with was the Red-headed Woodpecker which Alan had discovered in the first place. Not sure if it has moved on or in hiding but no one would either hear or see it. We would leave Oxbow after a great morning of birding and make a quick stop on the street to see if the Willow Flycatcher was around as that is usually a guarantee, and while we wouldn't get the Willow, we were thrilled to get an Alder instead. There would also be the usual Northern Mockingbird in its usual place.
There would also be some Bobolinks in one of the fields as well as Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles and Tree Swallows. All in all, a great trip with 61 birds in total and that is not including the Wild Turkey a hunter brought it who had seen its final day.
I would go home after that and was a little tired so figured I would lie down for a while because quite frankly, all of this birding lately has made me exhausted!! I would wake up 1/2 an hour later by a somewhat recurring nightmare that I have that is of course bird related so figured I would share it with you all because perhaps this action will cause the end of this once and for all which would be welcome indeed!

It always starts off with a Pileated Woodpecker and I am always by myself when I spot it. Anyhow my first dream, I see a Pileated and ID it with my eyes. I then whip out my camera take a picture and go home where I proceed to post my findings on Rick's site and my blog. I proceed to upload my photos from my camera onto my computer and to my horror, it's not a Pileated Woodpecker per say, but rather a stuffed animal (one of those cheesy ones you get at the carnival) and it looks like a cross mix between a Pileated and Ivory-billed!!! I am mortified of course and wondering how I could have screwed up the ID on the bird. The endings are not always like this (one of them I am trying to chase the woodpecker up a tree as I climb up it to get it away from a cat and once I reach him, it's that dam stuffed animal again.) In todays dream, I somehow got stuck leading a Forbush Field Trip for a bunch of people from Japan and no other Forbush members around so I don't know how I got put into this situation. I am leading them along a path and am thrilled to see a Pileated Woodpecker because I am convinced the foreigners have never seen a bird like this before so they will be very impressed with my birding skills. I finally get all of their eyes on the beautiful woodpecker and low and behold, it's that frickin stuffed animal again!

Freud would have a field day with this for sure, but I think I can help him out some. You see, the first time I started posting on Rick's site and meeting many of the local birders in my area was when I had the Pileated Woodpeckers in Grafton and I remember being very nervous about posting because I was a complete newbie (heck I was calling a Bufflehead a Bafflehead only the month before so that should tell you something :-O). Anyhow, the Pileated Woodpecker is the symbol of the beginning of my birding and the beginning when I was trying to build up some credibility with my new birding network I have been blessed to meet. The mis-ID's I get in my dreams all stem from the deep insecurity I still have with my birding at times I am guessing which would be re-introduced again this week when Alan and I were on Coldbrook road and I excitedly told him I had a Wilson's as I saw its black crown and to my horror it turned out to be a Common Yellowthroat (little bugger!!). I would get frustrated over this as they look nothing alike but I wanted a Wilson's Warbler so bad that day that I would have probably done the same if it was a Blue Jay in that bush! Sometimes one sees what they want at a quick glance and that's why it's so important to make sure you get a really good look at a bird if you can't hear it song and the song is unmistakable.

So anyhow, to make a long story short, the dream I had this afternoon shook me up so bad that I went out and did what I always do when I'm in a funk which is bird. Some people hit the bottle or the fridge, but I much prefer the woods so decided to hike around my neighborhood and see what was around.
There would once again be all of the usuals (including that gorgeous Orchard Oriole) as well as this very handsome Baltimore Oriole above.
And more pretty wildflowers. The highlight would be a Field Sparrow and a Blue-winged Warbler as it seemed as if the hot sun made the birds hunker down low with no singing to escape the heat.
I would make my way out of the woods and onto the sidewalk and what would I see. Why a Gray Catbird of course! What does this angle remind you of??? Anyone want to guess???? A Wilson's Warbler with that black crown of his and at this angle to boot. HA!!!! I swear the little bugger was playing with my mind some out of complete boredom as being a bird sure must get dull at times.
I would go home with tired legs and a better spirit and can't wait to get out again tomorrow. I'm just hoping I don't run into any Pileated Woodpeckers that's all.

Take care.


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