Monday, November 12, 2012

City Birding

It would be another early start this morning as I'd head out with Alan to the local Price Chopper to get the Fish Crow Alan had a couple days prior.  We'd get there before the birds arrived while the city slept and all would be quiet except for local Route 20 traffic and the heavenly scent of freshly made donuts that seemed to be beckoning to me from the Price Chopper bakery, I may be mistaken but I believe I smelled a Chocolate-covered and pictured how great it would be with a cup of coffee to warm my fingers as there was that now familiar November chill in the air.

The sleepy city would soon come alive with commuters heading to work and the sounds of American Crows announcing their arrival -some would fly past, others landed in trees across the street and about a dozen or so would land in the Price Chopper Parking lot for a little carb intensive breakfast of white bread.  How it got there I have no idea really I don't!

It wouldn't take too long to spot the Fish Crow mixed in with the Ring-billed Gulls and American Crows as I'd hear its call shortly before hand and it would do us the honors of landing close by for my customary yearly photo and in the same general area no less!  The Fish Crow is the one in the center.

Not the best pictures obviously but it shows the size difference between the Fish Crow and the American's.

Also notice the purplish, blue glossy plumage the Fish Crows have.  American Crow's have it too but not as extensive and evident as the Fish Crow.  So happy this bird is fond of tradition as it makes for an easy FOY every year around this time and at the same exact place!

After that it would be off to Flint Pond in Shrewsbury hoping for some early Common Redpolls and this is a reliable place on good Redpoll years like the one we're having now.  Unfortunately it's still a tad too early so will continue to check periodically considering it's so close to home.

The next stop would be the Worcester Airport hoping the Snow Buntings had arrived.  We'd make our way up Airport Drive paying careful attention to the many crab apple trees for some Waxwings with Bohemian in particular but all would be quiet except for some American Robin's and European Starlings.

We'd see no Snow Buntings in the parking lot but did see this small flock of Horned Lark's who'd land periodically before heading to grass in areas we can't see which is probably where the Snow Bunting's are at this point as what incentive do they have to be in the parking lot yet with no snow!

Since we were in area we headed to Notre Dame Cemetery to see what was around for dabbling ducks.  Nothing new but the numbers of both American Black Ducks and Hooded Mergansers have increased since there last and the highlight of the stop would be this Osprey above.

The next stop would be All Faith's Cemetery and the only new ducks we'd pick up here were some American Wigeon and Green-winged Teal.  Of course we'd check the stump dump for sparrows as I still need a Worcester County American Tree Sparrow and I'd strike out again, but the Fox Sparrow above somewhat made up for it!  So funny to watch how it behaved in a tree vs. the ground and this would be a first for me.

We'd be driving back closer to home and do what we often do while driving and that is discuss birds of course.  It's now getting to that time of the year when one does a mental inventory of what birds one still needs for the year which would bring us to the topic of owls and how now was the time to get strategic in getting them considering I'm armed with my forecast! ;-)  We'd get to discussing Screech-owls and Alan would fondly remember the easy one he had reliably one year that wasn't too far away so we headed there so he could show me the exact location in case I ever wanted to try for it on my own.

When we arrived I was struck by how odd a Screech-owl would find a Wood Duck nest box  with it being smack dab in the middle of water.  We'd look at all of the next boxes and then I'd get to the final one where I'd see something inside of it that looked like a dirty, gray giant sock or some newspaper as clearly it couldn't be an Eastern Screech-owl out in the open like that in broad day light!

I'd get my bins on it and be thrilled that yes indeed it was an Eastern Screech-owl!  Alan would back his truck up some as the car was on a busy road and he'd also get his scope out too for better views of the owl.

He'd get some of his own photos and then I'd get a look and this is what would be staring at me.  The bird would be so cute my knees would buckle some so I'd compose myself and look again trying to suppress a giggle because the goofy owl would be sound asleep!

Swoon!  I should also note that while I've had this bird in Worcester County before it's always been by ear so wasn't prepared for my reaction once I saw the bird in broad daylight.  I just love owls!

Best picture of them all above is the one Alan took through his camera and scope.  Swoon!

I'd get home early promising myself I'd get some stuff done around the house before the work week starts but find that's easier said than done now that I have my feeders up and the usuals would be out in full force.  I don't know what it is about my yard birds, but I think it has to do with my appreciation for them as it is they who got me into birding in the first place, but the Chickadees always get my full attention compared to the brief glances out in the field (not as much this year as one could be a Boreal!)

The Carolina Wren would be out enjoying the day and some lunch.

My beloved Fox Sparrow hasn't left yet and whenever its around, I stop all chores and just watch in an attempt to forever imprint its behavior in my mind.

And the Downy Woodpecker has finally found the suet after I moved the cage closer to some trees for added security which would be another bonus.

All in all a perfect ending to the week and just chill after a very busy weekend!

Take care all.


Dawn Puliafico said...


I can't believe our reverse luck. You want an American Tree Sparrow. I saw it, but don't need it.

I want an American Wigeon, a Green-winged Teal, an Eastern Screech Owl, a Fox Sparrow, and a Horned Lark. How do you see so many awesome birds in one outing!!! Jealous! And inspired!


Dawn Puliafico said...

I never even heard of a horned lark until I read about it in your blog! So much to learn!


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