Sunday, November 25, 2012


Alan and I did some morning birding today in hopes for a Gadwall or Evening Grosbeak with the 1st stop being Orlando's to check out what was in the water and wishful thinking from both of us for a Greater White-fronted Goose!  We'd strike on that the goose of course except for the Canada's as well as many Mallards.

So we'd go to the other side where most of the gulls were as the farmer has just fed them a nice hearty breakfast of English Muffins!

Which the MANY Mallards seemed to enjoy as well.  We'd spend some time looking at the ducks hoping for something different but wouldn't see much but it was still funny to listen to the Mallards squabble among one another with that quack call they do when agitated.  I'm guessing the stress of the holidays is getting to them some.

We'd make other stops here and there looking for Evening Grosbeaks but for the most part passerine activity was light with the brisk winds so we went to Lake Lashaway to enjoy the cold, brisk air a little more!  I've forgotten how unforgiving wind can be at times as we looked out at the water in hopes for the Gadwall.  I'd look at all the summer cottages along the shore which are all now abandoned and resign myself to the fact that the nice weather is now officially over with so it's time to toughen up if one wants to bird, but I do have to admit I avoid cold winds at all costs, but one does what one needs to when a Gadwall is involved and no we never did see it.

So we'd head back toward Worcester and stop at Notre Dame and All Faith's Cemetery where there would be plenty of Mallards and Hooded Mergansers but not much else and also strike out on the Eastern Screech-owl nearby so we'd make one last stop to look at the gulls at the parking lot at Price Chopper (that's when you know birding is slow!).  There'd be scores of Ring-billed Gulls everywhere including quite a few freshly tagged Woot!!).  Alan wrote down all of the tags so if there's anything of interest on any of them I'll share it with all of you.

And while I haven't been birding as much as earlier now that migration is done with, I've managed to remain active with my new obsession of canning cranberries as you can see above.  Do you think I'll have enough to last me the year. ;-)

And for that matter, will I have the space to store them??  ;-)

Most likely yes as I'm already eating a lot of it including putting it on top of sugar poached fruit and will bring some to my mothers house at Christmas time as I made some pickled cranberries that are to die for and taste fantastic on a turkey sandwich!

Which I also have plenty of as I bought another one being a sucker for sales and all!  I've also been doing a lot of baking and freezing which goes hand in hand with the time of the year where I want to hang out in my fleece in my warm kitchen while watching the birds at my feeders while baking sugary yumminess waves through the air.

And the birds have been more than enough company with the Downy Woodpecker now being a regular as well as the goldfinches who are now inhaling the thistle so lesson learned to not buy some the year prior and think they'll eat it the next season.  One last note is I just saw the Cooper's Hawk across the street from me flying by so thinking it will be stopping in my yard sometime which can't come soon enough as my Mourning Dove numbers have really picked up and that's their favorite food from what I can tell.

Take care all

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Lazy Sunday

I'd decide to do absolutely nothing today except relax in my PJ's and do all my birding via the kitchen window considering I don't do it that often with a full time job and considering I spend  money and time feeding the birds, it only seems right to see the fruits of my labor occasionally!  I'd even sleep late and be awakened just as the sun rose by the very noisy Blue Jay's announcing their morning arrival and hoping I had peanuts.

Which of course I did as well as cracked corn and striped sunflower seeds as I spoil these birds and they reward me with nice views as they no longer flee when they see me considering I'm their source. ;-)

I'd have all of the regulars including my House Finch's with quite a few males who still have a lot of color to them like the male above.  Side Note:  No White-crowned Sparrow today and I thought that may be the case.  I actually thought of that handsome little bird just before I fell asleep last night and I'd wish it a safe migration wherever it was going and felt good knowing the bird was well fed for it's journey as I made sure of it!

But just because I was lounging didn't mean I'd be couch bound as I had things to do with the main goal of canning my cranberry sauce to last me the year.  I don't eat a lot of it, but like a few jars throughout the year whenever I cook a turkey or roast a chicken and it's so much better and healthier than the store bought brands (who use corn syrup) so it's worth the labor in the end.

And it would yield me all of this which isn't too shabby for an $9 investment!  I didn't do anything too fancy with it and kept it simple but did add lemon zest and ginger which gave it a nice balance without being over powering.

Next would be roasting a turkey to go along with the home made stuffing I made the night prior from the leftovers of the two loaves of bread I baked last week and would have plenty of company including 10 Mourning Doves all feeding on the ground (I'm guessing the cracked corn).

As well as the many American Goldfinch's who are now eating the thistle since I dumped the stuff  they weren't eating (thinking it was too stale) and refilled it with seed I bought Thursday which they seemed to prefer (and to be honest with you I tried both the stale and the fresh and can't say that I blame them!).

And soon enough the turkey would be roasted so now came the fun part of carving, storing and eating of course!  I'd have plenty left over so now came phase two which was to use every bit of both turkey and sides including a casserole I make every year as well as some soup.

And with phase two meal planning I'd also get phase two birds which were European Starlings who have finally found the bittersweet in my yard much to the American Robin's annoyance.

And it also wouldn't take them long to find my suet and then all hell broke loose as they fought for their share of the stash.  In the past this would annoy the hell out of me and ruin my yard birding so taking a different approach this year and letting them eat it as I make my own suet normally and was planning on making a batch next weekend so will just make more.  Besides I miss my Cooper's Hawk and between the starlings and Mourning Doves I have a feeling I'll have a visitor soon!  Speaking of visitors I hadn't seen the local Red-tailed Hawk near my yard in close to month and one would do a fly by late morning and was hoping it would come back to take out a squirrel in my yard (their's 4 of them now!) but not this time.  You may notice the fencing around my feeders and that is chicken wire I put up every year to keep neighbors house cats out of the feeding station and it really works as I've never seen one jump the fence or had any evidence of a bird or squirrel casualty.  I don't get many house cats in the yard in winter but like to have it just for extra insurance for the birds and am wondering if that's why the Red-tailed hasn't come in for a kill yet?  Was really hoping for luck here as the squirrel numbers continue to climb.

But not all would be lost with the starlings noisy arrival as I'd finally have a bird who appeared to be interested in my freeze dried meal worms I bought which aren't going over too well I'm afraid.  Of course the b*stard would taste it and spit it out so it looks as if I'm out six bucks and have a bunch of meal worms that will never be eaten unless I find a way to get creative with them.......Hmmmmmm.......  ;-)

You would think all the commotion would cause the other birds to flee but I've added a few new feeders and expanded the feeding station so there's room for all and it gives the Northern Cardinals something to watch while eating.  Also check out the House Sparrow watching the chaos.  This year I'm also embracing the House Sparrow's because with them came both my Fox Sparrow and White-crowned for some odd reason so thinking of them as good luck this year.  Hoping for American Tree Sparrow next!

And soon the casserole would be done.  While it may not look all that appealing, looks can be deceiving in this instance as it's a layered casserole that gives you a taste of Thanksgiving in each bite.  My base layer is caramelized onions followed by turkey, then the leftover stuffing, a can of corn (out of tradition) and then mashed potatoes on top.  I bake it until the potatoes form a crust and it's a great way to use up your leftovers instead of keeping them all in separate containers.

The finished product with some of the cranberry sauce I made earlier as well as some of my bread and butter pickles I canned just because.

And then the remainder of the turkey as well as all veggie scraps would go into the stock pot for soup.

The sun would set and the birds would leave so I sat down with a cup of tea and some soup still in my PJ's sad that the weekend was almost over, but was happy none the less.  Now that the weather is getting colder and migration winding down the only thing that will get me outdoors for sure are winter finches, new ducks, owls, vagrants and snow for snow shoeing of course, but can wait on snow until December easily.

Take care all.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday Birding and a New Yard Bird!

Alan and I did a little Saturday morning birding with the first stop being Gate 36 of the Wachusett Reservoir in hopes for my FOY Snow Bunting as well a a check of the rocks for a Great Cormorant of course!  The first bird we'd see would be the Horned Grebe above who was very close to shore as well as two fishermen nearby.

After a nice, short walk in the sunshine, we'd finally spot one lone Snow Bunting who'd be fairly close by and eating very calmly which made us wonder if the bird was ill..

But it wouldn't take long for us to see the bird move around some letting us know it was fine and probably just trying to warm up and get some early breakfast.  We'd see no cormorants of any kind so headed to Sterling Peat  in hopes for the Common Redpolls Tom had yesterday.  We'd see Mark, Sheila and Peter already there with a scope on a bird who'd turn out to be a sandpiper behaving very odd and not at all active which made for an immediate ID challenging.

The sandpiper would turn out to be a White-rumped Sandpiper so we were wondering if it was the same one from Bolton Flats which is where we were headed next.

But not before checking for the Common Redpolls as they would be FOY's for both Alan and I and it wouldn't take long to see them.

None of the redpolls were that colorful except one, but it was nice none the less as the only time I've ever had one was at my feeders so it was nice to see them eating the way nature intended.

The one colorful redpoll flying away just as I was getting ready to get an "in focus" shot!

Our last stop would be Bolton Flats as I was on a mission to get the Wilson's Snipe considering I had it written off for the year.  We'd see quite a few shorebirds far out in the fields including the lousy shot of the Killdeer above.  It would also be nice to hear their call one last time before winter takes hold.

As well as the Wilson's Snipe I wanted so badly for the year which made for an added bonus!  I had some time to watch these birds feed and they reminded me very much like dowichers with their sewing machine like mechanisms which was nice to see as it was a first as normally I get these birds only by flushing them.  The Pectoral Sandpiper and White-rumped Sandpiper would still be around so not sure if this is the one from Sterling Peat or not as it could have gotten their quicker than we did once it fled from Sterling Peat so who knows.  All I can say is it does make for some interesting birding!

I'd then head home and hope the yard bird I had early in the morning would still be around and it wouldn't take me long to re find it.

And that bird would turn out to be the very handsome adult White-crowned Sparrow above!
Love this picture as it has a White-throated in it too for a nice comparison shot.

Swoon!  This would be a new yard bird for me and re-enforces why I don't weed my herbs, flowers or even weeds come fall as I've lucked out with sparrows this year.  I have some blackberry brambles right near the feeding station he feels most comfortable near as he's rather shy so it seems as if my lax landscaping has paid off! ;-).

And lastly lousy video of the bird which I wanted on record considering it's not that often I have the fortune of seeing this bird forage   The video was lousy to begin with but for some reason even worse once I put it on YouTube go figure.  It actually reminds me of the Fox Sparrow feeding wise somewhat and even flushes like the Fox Sparrow in that it hops to cover instead of flying like the others.  Loving my yard birds this year and looking forward to spending the rest of the weekend close to home to do some cooking, canning and birding from the kitchen window.  Hoping for Evening Grosbeaks tomorrow of course.  ;-)

Take care all.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Massachusetts Owl Forecast Part Two-LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!

I'm still goofing off with the data I got from eBird for Massachusetts for the years 2001 to 2011 and wanted to expand a little more on the Massachusetts Owl Forecast I did last week and analyzed it from a location level with the first rollup being the entire state of Massachusetts and the locations with the highest reports of owls overall.  I won't go into too much detail as the data speaks for itself, but once again the months of May and April are the largest months and you will see the detail behind it in some of the tables below.

Now be year which is misleading due to the increase of eBird users every year so obviously the numbers are really low in the beginning of 2001 as no one was using it back then.

Next would be looking at total owls by locality and as you can see Mount Auburn is number one reporting wise, but with most of them being Great Horned Owl reportings followed by Eastern Screech-owl.  Parker River ranks second but has a greater owl diversity as well as Daniel Webster and Cumberland Farms to name a couple others.

Now by average which is average count of numbers per checklist.

And last highest count per checklist with Cumberland Farms ranking number one with those Short-eared Owls.  I can't even imagine being that lucky in one day seriously!

Total by lunar cycle which doesn't tell you much but it's a pretty nifty way to look at it!

And last but by no means the least, time of day with 6-9 AM and 3-6PM yielding the most reports.

Look out for Worcester County location detail next week.  It was pure luck I got the screech this past Monday so will be on the lookout for my Northern Saw-whet that I really want this year.

Take care all.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Winter-Bird Wise That is!

I figured it was that time again considering it's been a couple of weeks now since looking at some of the past data from Recent Central Mass Bird Sightings and as you can see, a lot has changed bird wise since!  Most interesting to me above are the following birds;  Bonaprate's Gull's, Common Goldeneye, both Evening and Pine Grosbeak, Fox Sparrow (I've really lucked out with them this year), Gadwall, Lapland Longspur and the always elusive Northern Shrike!  All of these numbers increase the 15th to 30th with a peek the 15th to the 23rd.  NOTE:  All of this data is from 1998 to 2011 and totals only (no averages)

I'd then look at it vice versa with the birds peeking the 24th to the 30th with Common Redpoll being most impressive followed by a Great Cormorant who I really want on my Worcester County list this year if possible as it would be a county bird!

Next would be drilling into more data on a few chosen birds to see where most of the reports have been this time of the year which I've summarized above for the Common Redpoll.

Followed by Evening Grosbeak.  Nothing surprising here with Royalson having the highest reports and will be interesting to see what this year brings us winter finch wise considering we've been getting plenty of them already which is earlier than normal so the data above isn't a good representation of what we can expect this winter, but it will show you places to look for them!

And the last of our winter finches, the Pine Grosbeak.

Now for my selfish birds which are birds I still need for the year (need all of the finches above but guessing so do most others), but these are birds many probably already have except for me with my slacking the first couple months of last year.  The Gadwall is one of those examples.

Followed by Wilson's Snipe and I was happy to see a report of them at Bolton Flats today through my eBird alerts so there's still hope.  A total PITA though with it being hunting season I should add.

And last Northern Shrike.  That high number of 7 at Barre Falls is mostly in previous years as from what I understand they no longer see it at the hawk watch site (FYI).

And last a little more data on other birds of interest and yes the number of 37 for Bonaparte's Gull is correct!

So I'll leave you with this data for the time being but be on the lookout for Part Two of my Massachusetts Owl Forecast that I'll be sharing with you all tomorrow.  NOTE:  This will be for the entire state as I haven't gotten to the Worcester County location detail yet, but will do so next week.

Take care all.


Related Posts with Thumbnails