Sunday, July 29, 2012
Barre Landfill and Sterling Peat
I'd come home and decide to lay down for a bit and would wake up at 1 and realize I slept for close to two hours which I probably needed as I've been dealing with some awful insomnia all summer that has gotten worse the past couple of weeks. Between the birding and hiking I never nap anymore which is unfortunate because when I woke up I felt great so headed out to Sterling Peat to check on the water levels and shorebirds of course!
There'd be other birds out including the Great Blue Heron above.
And some Canada Geese who annoyed me as they flew in close which drove all the shorebirds away of course.
Another picture to show the low water levels.
There'd be pockets of water that were like little rivers that a Least Sandpiper really seemed to enjoy. ETA: I was just reading my Dunne guide and came across a tidbit I thought interesting and true which is Least Sandpipers usually tend to stay to the side of mud flats as they don't like to get their feet wet which makes this picture even more interesting.
A picture of me I believe in the pond!! I guess the word Muddy Pond is quite fitting now. Word of advise, bring boots for sure. This is a good sign indeed as it reminded me a lot of the year we had all of those fabulous shorebirds and many were seen very well without a scope so let's cross our fingers we have the same luck this year!
And now for my Sunday doozy which will be the 2nd Sunday in a row that I have one. I'd be oohing and aahing over the plovers when suddenly I could hear some Killdeer sqaabble and hide and the plovers would flee too so I looked around to see what was causing the ruckus. I'd see a fairly good sized bird land on a tall weed and the first thing I think of before even getting the bins on it is a juvenile Merlin. Out comes the bins and I could see what I believe was a banded tail. Realizing its too early in the year for one, I put my camera on for a lousy record shot and this is what I'd get.
I'd get home and do some research and based on what I saw, observed and have read it's a juvenile Merlin that's earlier than normal according to eBird (there have been no reports in MA except the coast this season that I can see either). Now my notes, observations, etc.
1. Medium sized raptor about the size of a Rock Pigeon
2. All brown back and cap with a white throat and chest (chest appears to have some streaking if you blow up the picture)
3. I saw what appeared to be some banding in the tail but the photo doesn't do a good job demonstrating this.
4. Long, pointed wings-and the wing tips do NOT reach the tail tip
5. Pale, buffy undertail coverts
Now for behavioral observations in the quick seconds (literally), that I saw it. I will be using the Peter Dunne Field Guide Companion to support what I saw which you will see in the photo.
1. "A perch-hunting raptor that commonly takes a sturdy (often low) perch looking out on a large, open area". Yes we have a low, (not sturdy) perch looking out on a large, open area.
2. "Particularly fond of flocking species, like shorebirds and Horned Larks". Shorebirds for sure, but no Horned Larks that I could see ;-).
3."Merlin is less timid than American Kestrel and often allows close approach". May be a coincidence but the bird landed right over the mud bank from me and I'm guessing saw me while it was flying in so it didn't appear that shy. The only other bird I had on my possibility list was a Cooper's Hawk but it looks nothing like one that I saw and my experience with accipiters is they are very weary of humans and with good reason because many back yard bird watchers and farmers don't like them!
So there you have it. Another mystery bird that I'm fairly confident of the ID, but hesitant to post it on eBird just yet hoping for comments. In the past it's these types of birding encounters that get me frustrated and then I cut back on my birding but refuse to let that happen this year so taking a new approach and putting myself on the line and will no longer beat myself up when I ask for feedback. I've found it's made birding so much more enjoyable and makes me really learn about birds which is my number one bird goal this year. Feel free to post or email if you have any feedback. Thanks
Take care all.