Saturday, September 15, 2012

My Official Kickoff to Fall Migration!

Today would be my official start of fall migration which means I try and get out to bird as often as possible and other things go on the back burner like cooking, household chores, etc as birding takes priority so my house is stocked with sandwich meat, bagels etc and I told my youngest not to expect a home cooked meal from me until the end of October if he's lucky. ;-).  Anyhow, Alan and I started off at Gate 35 of Wachusett Reservoir in hopes for the American Pipit's and sure enough they wouldn't disappoint as you can see in the photo above.

Tanking some time to preen!

The wind blown look which I can appreciate with my unruly hair, especially under windy conditions!

Nice shot as it shows off how slender this bird is as well as its long, shapely legs!

After that it was off to Bolton Flats to do what I still think is the most difficult form of birding for me which is fall warbler birding (at least that's what we hoped for).  We'd hear chip notes coming from all direction and stop to do some pishing but the birds were being their hyper warbler selves and wouldn't sit still for long and when they did they'd be back lit so it was hard to keep up with it all.  We did get fabulous looks of a Magnolia Warbler which is still a stunning bird even in faded plumage.  There'd also be scores of Swamp Sparrows, a couple of Song Sparrows and a bird that sounded an awful lot like a Philadelphia Vireo to me but wouldn't you know we'd never find if for confirmation which would drive me crazy the rest of our time there!

We'd continue along our way and it wouldn't take long to hear a Virginia Rail and see MANY American Pipits.  One thing we'd notice is that passerine activity had quieted down some and it wouldn't take long to see why.

As we'd first see this American Kestrel and shortly after that a Cooper's Hawk and both appeared to be in hunting mode.

Taking a break for a bit while a Northern Flicker harassed it.

It also appears as if they plowed all the corn as you can see in the photo above which is probably why the Pipit's are everywhere!

After that it was off to Bolton Orchards for  "pit stop" and to grab a bite to eat for lunch.  The whole store smelled like freshly baked donuts which is one of my biggest weaknesses but I resisted temptation considering I have many other temptations and have been over indulging a tad lately so trying to keep it under control whenever possible.   We'd make one other stop at a place Bart says he's had a close by Sora before (didn't get one), but we decided to venture a little further out and see the canoe launch to get you into Bolton Flats (think kayak next year people!!).

We'd then head out to Barre Falls to spend the rest of the day hawk watching with Donna, Bart, Dave and all of the others.

Bart in his usual place discussing recent bird finds with Alan (wouldn't you know he got both a Lincoln's Sparrow and Palm Warbler at Sterling Peat today, and both birds I need this year!).  Grrrrrrrrr.......  ;-)

The Barre Falls Hawk Watching Posse!

But soon enough things would start to pick up and get a fairly close American Kestrel, a lone Osprey and a few Broad-winged Hawks here and there with a couple of Sharpies thrown in for good measure.

After lunch Bill would find a kettle of Broad-winged Hawks and Bart would find another and it wouldn't take long for them to join forces much to our delight.  The only problem was the kettle was in an all blue sky!  I tried my hardest to get a picture of it and by the time I did, I'd lose the birds in the blue sky so after re finding it with the help of Don, this is all I could muster.

Yes those black specs you see in the photo are actual Broad-winged Hawks and I had to play with the color a little just so you could see them!  Despite the all blue sky it was still a treat to see and we'd have other kettles such as this through out the day.

So all in all a great way to spend the first day of my official fall migration kickoff.  It was great to see the Pipit's and do some hawk watching and see people I don't see much often.  I'm really hoping the cold temps we get tonight gets the birds moving as I'm still thinking of that Philadelphia Vireo of course!

Take care all.

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