Sunday, October 7, 2012

Forbush Bird Club-New Braintree

Alan and I headed to New Braintree on Sunday for the Forbush Bird Club Trip led by Rodney where we'd meet at Winnimussett WMA under sunny but chilly conditions.  We'd be waiting for any potential stragglers and scanning for birds when Nickilas would spot a flock of geese coming in from above and fairly low.

And we'd be thrilled to discover they weren't the usual Canada Geese but rather 30 Brant gracing us with their presence as they migrated by.

Notice the half assed "U" (coming from a lazy V) which Brant will attempt to form when in larger flocks like the one above sometimes.

And away they go!!  We'd take this as a good sign of course as we hadn't even left the parking lot yet so it was a very sweet and unexpected FOY and a Worcester county bird for me to boot!!

But do want to point out not that unexpected when you look at the Central Mass data for the first week of October so was happy we could contribute to the records and trends with 7 6 and 7 being the lucky numbers!

But the excitement wouldn't end there because next would come a juvenile Cooper's Hawk who wanted to "eat crow" and figured they'd make for some easy pickins!

And clearly this juve doesn't yet appreciate or understand the intelligence of corvids with crows in particular. The lousy picture shows the young Coop's trying to size up an American Crow who seems more amused than intimidated by the brazen hawk.   The hawk would try and jump up with talons down and land on the crow and the crow would fly away somewhat but wasn't at all afraid.  I'm guessing this young Coop's will wisen up some over the months and chose easier pickins but it was fascinating and entertaining to watch.

Soon enough we'd decide to explore for sparrows and warblers and wouldn't be disappointed as we'd see scores of Savannah and Song Sparrows popping out from nowhere.  We'd also be pleased to get an adult White-crowned Sparrow which would be my best scope look ever of this adult bird so was very happy.  We'd also see a couple Lincoln's Sparrows but sadly enough not the looks I got at Kristoff and am now resigning myself to the fact I just got lucky that day and will probably not have the same fate this year, but the adult White-crowned somewhat made up for it.

And what would Rodney's New Braintree trip be without a hot air balloon which we always seem to see and if I'm not mistaken it's the same color and shape as last time!  ;-)

Warbler activity would be good too with plenty of Yellow-rumps, a couple of Common Yellowthroats and some very handsome Yellow Palm Warblers like the one above.

There'd also be many still singing blackbirds but all of them would be Red-winged and not the Rusty's which I still need for the year but after the Brant I'm not complaining much.  It would also be here I'd get my FOY Herring Gull (there'd be 2 flying overhead in total) so it would be nice to get both my gulls in one weekend to wrap up the highly probable's for the year (but will still hold out hope for the others of course!).  It would also be here we'd see one lone little Ruddy Duck in an area with some Canada Geese and nearby Wood Ducks which struck as all as somewhat odd but it would be another FOY for me.

Woodpeckers would be abundant as we'd get Pileated, Downy, Hairy, Northern Flicker, Red-bellied and this very handsome Yellow-bellied Sapsucker which I believe is my best photo of the day!

Rodney leading us back to the cars for the 2nd stop of the day.

Which would be one of my favorite snow shoeing spots and where Alan and I had the Northern Shrike and Rough-legged Hawk a few years ago.  We wouldn't hold out much hope here considering there was a guy running his dog for hunting but soon enough we'd be mistaken as we'd see the regular sparrows with the Savannah's being the most numerous yet again.

Stopping along the way to get better looks at Black-capped Chickadee's, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and a stray Blue-headed Vireo.

Our final stop would be the blueberry farm and the first bird we'd see would be the hawk above!  We'd make our way around and one of the first things we'd notice was the fact there weren't dozens of Chipping Sparrows flying around like they usually are.

But we'd get more raptors including an American Kestrel and this Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawk shown above.  LOVE this photo as it shows the size and composition difference.

And another spec photo but you all know my fondness of specs!

We'd continue along the paths and not see as many sparrows as we normally do in this spot but the hawk's would still be visible including one of the many perched conspicuously through out the farm.  I'm not really sure what this one is but on the bottom it says "Made in China" so I'm guessing an Asian Vagrant of some kind!

I'm guessing the farm owners imported these hawk in an effort to guard the field against birds but it doesn't seem to be sparrow proof (see Savannah to the far left), but hell what do you expect from something Made in China!

And a wasp taken along the way.  Someone had said the name and can't remember it and google isn't helping but I do still have birds on the brain so please forgive me!

Passerine activity would start to pick up again with many gorgeous Yellow Palm Warblers, another Lincoln's and scores of other birds but then it wouldn't take long to come across a kettle of birds directly above us in the sky..

And based on the picture above can anyone guess what they are (especially with it being October and all)

Why they'd be Broad-winged Hawks of course!!  This exciting moment would call for attempted video of course considering this was one of the lowest kettles of these birds I'd ever seen so figured live action from the trip would go over real well on my blog but wouldn't you know, my camera isn't smart enough to stay focused on the birds so they'd fade in and out much to my frustration, but I'll post it anyways so you can see what it was like, especially with other raptors flying in.

Like I said, please pardon the lousy video quality and the groaning you will hear on occasion.  Not sure if that was me or someone else but it may have been me due to my frustration in trying to stay on the birds and keep them in focus (I now wonder if I do that often while birding and just realized it now :-p).  You'll also notice my lack of focus when I spot a cute little bird land on a branch above and take my camera off of the live action in the sky to try and video tape the bird that landed which I believe may be a Yellow-rumped but will never know for certain.......................

So all in all a great trip.  Funny though because we didn't get the sparrow numbers we normally do but did get some unexpected birds like the Brant and Broad-winged Hawks.

After the trip, Alan and I would head out to Wachusett Reservoir in hopes for some early sea ducks or grebes so make a stop at Gate 36.

Where we'd see quite a few Common Loon's but not much else.  We'd decide to head to the dam next but quickly change our mind as the place was packed as you can see below.

Have no idea what was going on, but whatever it was Alan and I wanted no part of it so off we went to Mile Hill Road instead.

This too would be fairly quiet until we came to a small tight, raft of birds that would turn out to be Mallards of all things!

And of course we'd check for Cormorants as I was smitten with the fact we got Brant on the day most sightings were seen in the past so was thinking my whacky data analysis may be more valuable than first thought so thought it would be fate that we'd get a Great Cormorant, but alas they'd all be Double-crested.

So we'd head to Scar Hill where you can get the best views of the reservoir but not before stopping to look at the tomb stone with the bird that appears to be a White-crowned Sparrows.

It would be here that we'd see other Common Loons as well as a small flock of Greater Scaup which would be another FOY for me so would be happy despite not getting any sea ducks or grebes.

All in all a great day of birding with not only a lot of birds, but a diverse variety of birds which can be so much fun sometimes, especially migration.

Take care all.

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