Saturday, September 29, 2012

Birding Westborough

Alan and I decided to spend the morning birding Westborough in hopes for some early puddle ducks and sparrows and warblers of course!  Signs of fall would not only be in the air, but the foliage as well.  We'd set up shop and see a few Wood Ducks and then some bobbing ducks nearby who turned out to be Mallards as usual.  I'd do some scanning with my binoculars while Alan had his scope and then I'd see a bird of interest near the Mallards again and all I could see was the shape of its head and I thought it was a very odd looking Merganser.  I would then see it's body which looked Mallard like and was all confused.  Alan would get his scope on it and this is what we'd see.

A drake Mallard with wet feathers that formed a peek giving him the merganser vibe at first blush.  It did add some excitement to an otherwise slow spot though!  We'd make another stop in Northborough that's been known for good dabbling ducks but would see nothing of interest there either so after a Dunkin's stop we decided to hit the model airplane field in Westborough for passerines as it was obvious ducks were no where around.

Bird activity and sound seemed rather slow at first but it wouldn't take long to hear a ticked off Northern Mockingbird doing it's alarm call which would be followed by 3 other mockingbirds as the whole place erupted in bird chatter, flight and some downright nasty bar room brawls.  We'd have Savannah Sparrows fighting Savannah Sparrows, Song Sparrows fighting Song Sparrows and other birds that were so quick chasing after one another we'd never manage to get an ID.  No sitting bird was safe as a Savannah dive bombed one of the Mockingbirds and another an Eastern Phoebe perched on a tree minding its own business.  I've seen aggressive warblers before and am used to fiesty Chipping Sparrows who squabble more than they eat, but seeing the Savannah Sparrows behaving as they did would be a first for me.  I do have to admit it was funny seeing the Mockingbird attack though and would realize why they were all sounding the alarm!

One of the culprits looking oh so coy!  Sparrows would be everywhere and I'd be thrilled to get my FOY juvenile White-crowned Sparrow as well as a good look at a Lincoln's, but not good enough for a photo.  I'd also get a FOS White-throated Sparrow which is always nice.  Warbler activity wouldn't be bad either and we'd see Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-rumped Warblers as well as a Palm.  This spot has now replaced Kristoff as my favorite place for sparrows as it's all located on a small amount of land which makes it easier to keep track of them all so was glad we stopped there!!

Our next stop would be Little Chauncy in hopes for my much needed Sora.  As soon as we got out of the car, we'd hear the squabble calls of Swamp Sparrows nearby with a couple of butterbutts thrown in for good measure.

And it would be then I'd be stricken with just how good looking this often over looked sparrow really is.  In fact, I'd realize that with the others as well and think it's because the sparrows have really started to click with me this year so instead of spending all my quick glances trying to ID them, I know what they are so can just appreciate them which makes birding so much easier and rewarding.  All that work last year after I mis ID's my Savannah certainly paid off as I studied these birds more than any other so it paid off in the end.  I should also note these sparrows too would be brawling amongst one another too and seemed to spend more time fighting than eating which kind of defeats the purpose of refueling don't ya think?

And another lousy photo I thought was funny as I was trying to focus on the Swamp Sparrow.  I'd blow up this picture and would see the Downy in better focus and I wouldn't even realize he was nearby until I saw this (we did hear and see it earlier though).

Our final stop would be All Faith's Cemetery in Worcester in hopes for the American Wigeon who've been coming here faithfully for well over over a decade now.  There'd be no Wigeon or any other duck for that matter except for a lone Mallard that almost appeared eerie in a way considering how appealing this is for ducks normally.  Alan and I are wondering if it's due to the weed control they are doing here and Alan would make a good point in that with the weeds gone, maybe food supply is down so all ducks are going elsewhere?  In looking at my records using Rick's Site the wigeon should be here by now so not sure what to make of it but hope they make an appearance soon as well as a Northern Pintail of course!

Since duck activity was non existent, we decided to head to the area that's a sparrow haven and wouldn't be disappointed as the place would be busy and this time with the Chipping Sparrows fighting.  It would be here that I'd once again see new beauty in my common sparrows as I'd notice the very white wing bars on this VERY handsome Chipping Sparrow who appears to still be in breeding plumage as well as an American Goldfinch nearby.  Another thing of interest would be a Blue Jay who seemed to be attracted to one branch with some berries in particular.  He'd fly at it straight on and put his body against it and appeared to be trying to gleam insects or something which was fascinating considering how large and clumsy these birds are so it failed miserably but neither Alan nor I had ever seen anything quite like it so it was notable.

I'll be interested to see any other reportings today of sparrow activity as we were overwhelmed with them at times so it appears as if migration is in full swing!!

As a side note, I've been using some of Rick's data to do some forecasting similar to what one can do with eBird which has been a very enjoyable task as I'm going all the way back to 1998.  It's a learning experience to say the least and makes me realize just how green I still am in birding when I see familiar faces posting bird finds in 1999 and they still are today.

So with that I figured I'd share some of it with you as well and do a  little "this day in history if you will".

It would be on 09.29.02 (10 years ago today) that would be a good day for Snow Goose Migration as not only would one birder spot it, but three to be exact with Fran reporting 95 at the Wachusett Reservoir, Peter reporting 67 at Bolton Flats and Tom trumping them both with an impressive 153 at Wompanoag MAS in Gardner.  Alan and I were sure to keep both our ears and eyes open today hoping for an anniversary repeat but alas, all that would be around were the Canada's.  That's not to say all is lost though as they'll be migrating through all of October as evidenced by Bart's sighting of them at Barre Falls on October 28th, 2002 where he had 160 for the record!

Take care all.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails