I did some morning birding with Alan this AM with the 1st stop being Lake Quaboag in hopes for another FOY scoter and anything else of interest especially a Red-breasted Merganser and neither Alan nor I have that this year. We'd get to the parking lot and see quite a few Ring-billed Gulls like the ones above who were being very tame and dare I say cute!
Another photo of all adults with the one to the right being most interesting with that charcoal smudged looking plumage it has going on. A nice comparison shot with two of them going into non breeding plumage and the one in the middle not even starting yet.
Loafing (based on all the gull sh*t I'm guessing this is prime real estate in the gull community!)
And eating. Of course we didn't come all this way just to look at RBG's as we could do that closer to home, so we'd be very happy to see a group of Ruddy Ducks, 2 Pied-billed Grebes and one lone female Black Scoter (FOY) which was nice as we weren't holing out much hope at Wachusett Reservoir but still went there anyway.
We'd start out at Scar hill (where we'd see SCORES of Dark-eyed Junco's) but not much else in terms of water birds so went the Mile Hill Road where we'd have the same fate.
So then it was off to South Bay in hopes the White-winged Crossbill's Kevin had Thursday would still be around. Passerine activity would be heavy in areas with at least 6 Red-breasted Nuthatches (YAY) and many Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice (is that a word), and Golden-crowned Kinglets, but wouldn't you know, no WWC's!
But the 2nd year Glaucous Gull we had at Sunday's Forbush Field Trip would be. This would be the best look I'd gotten of this bird and would also be the first time I'd realize the bird had some color on it instead of the ghost white I'd seen Sunday where the view wasn't the best.
Digiscoped photo Alan took. You'll notice that barrel chest, bubble gum pink bill with the dark tip and that pale iris which are all things to look for when looking at a 2nd year gull like this to make sure your'e not dealing with a leucistic (which I learned all about this week!). Sigh, such a fabulous bird and hoping it's healthy and likes the area so much it sticks around until January for an easy FOY. I had forgotten how much I love gulls until this find and its resparked my fascination with them all over again. For such predictable birds, they sure are hard to figure out from an identity and age perspective sometimes!
We'd also get three Horned Grebe's fairly close including another digiscoped photo Alan took and I really like this photo as it shows just how short this birds bill is.
I'd head home for lunch and then off I'd go to Big Chauncey in Westborough for my much wanted Rusty Blackbird. Every year there are birds I realize I'm not going to get for the year and I can come to terms with most of them, but a rusty is out of the question so off I went and told myself I wasn't leaving until I had one as it would drive me crazy the rest of the year.
I'd be making my way toward the corn fields when I stopped to scrape dog crap off my shoe (#*@&) when suddenly I'd hear something headed my way and that something would be some guy on a mountain bike which would remind me I haven't been on mine since Coldbrook Road. He'd be going rather fast and it would be then I'd see about 40 blackbirds getting flushed from the cornfields and after thanking him off I went to follow! The little buggers would be hidden by trees and in some scrubby brush but about 12 of them would be in view and I'd get my bins on one and be shocked to see it was indeed my Rusty Blackbird. A picture wouldn't even cross my mind until it was too late and off they flew as they were once again nervous (wondering if it's the hunting that's making them like that). I'd then spend my time looking again as I really wanted a photo and I'd relocate them by ear this time and they'd be in some distant fields which I wouldn't even try to get to considering I heard gunshots here and there so made sure to stay on the main path at all times. The Rusty would do me the honors though of doing its "Candy" call so I was happy with both my view and the call.
I'd be kind of bummed I got it less than 10 minutes I arrived considering I was planning on spending the day there so continued to bird and would see a lot of the regulars including a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, many Swamp and Song Sparrows and a couple of Purple Finches which is always nice.
Lake Chauncey would be devoid of ducks due to the boats with the exception of one lone drake Mallard above.
And the biggest highlight (besides the Rusty), would be seeing a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow who'd never do me the honors of posing out of the brush for a better photo. Sigh, what a fabulous bird and the place I'm going to go next fall in early migration as it's a true gem and also see myself getting in some hiking and snow shoeing here this winter as the area is large and birdy.