Monday, May 27, 2013

Weekend Birding-Can Someone Tell Mother Nature It's Spring!

I'd wake up Saturday morning and decide to do a little birding before the heavy rain so made a couple stops here and there including Martha Deering were I'd pick up my 1st Brown Creeper and Red-breasted Nuthatch for the month as well as the local Barred Owl who'd look miserable and wet as he got dive bombed by an American Robin.

Lousy picture of it going away as it had enough of the mobbing but wanted to share it because it's a good example of how I distinguish between a flushed Hawk or Barred Owl when it tail on, going away.  Notice how the owl almost looks hunched back with the wings looking so heavy it weighs him down.  I've never seen this from a hawk as their body always looks strong and balanced enough to support its wings.  Other highlight here would be a couple of singing Pine Warblers and a very vocal Great Crested Flycatcher.  I'd proceed to go home and start on my much neglected cleaning when I'd see a post by Justin on the Facebook Central Mass Birders Page of 8 Short-billed Dowitcher's at Bolton Flats so Alan and I would take off after lunch to try and get them.

The rain would be light but steady at that point with temperatures dropping causing all of the swallows to feed low near the water which allowed us some great looks at them including the best look I've ever gotten of a Bank Swallow before but do have to admit, I felt bad for them as this weather can be lethal for swallows and swifts.  I was worried all weekend about the Chimney Swifts and while I can't confirm they are nesting in my chimney this year, the heat wouldn't go on the entire cold snap so spent most of my time home bundled up in fleece and reading a book with the lowest temp in my house going to 56 degrees this morning.  Brrrrrrrrr..

Anyhow, back to topic.  Alan and I would get there and it wouldn't take long to find the Dowitcher's but we'd be dismayed to see them far out in the back which allowed good scope views- but not for as long as we wanted as they flew off and be hidden by the tall grass that's starting to grow at Bolton.  We'd meet up with Bart who'd be in full rain gear and he'd tell us he was there for almost and hour and didn't see them until we flushed them so that tells you how tough they were to see and the weather certainly didn't help.  Notice the goofy drake Green-winged Teal mixed in with them!

Alan and I would attend the Forbush Bird Club's Upton trip Sunday which would be led by Nick.  We'd all meet up in the parking lot and many would be dressed in full winter gear including hats and gloves and there's just something so wrong with that on Memorial Day Weekend!  Between the wind and cold temps birds were not visible but Nick made the best of things showing us where many of the birds are normally seen during migration and breeding including some Northern Waterthrushes.  While we never did see them, we heard them which was nice as one can never tire of their song.

We'd make our way to the birdiest section of the trip that day and get good views of a couple birds brave enough to show their face including the Great Crested Flycatcher above.  It would be here that the Yellow-billed Cuckoo others spotted would be found and visible.  That is to everyone but me as I couldn't find the bird despite good descriptions from all and the bird being "naked eye".  I'd get on it just as it flew off but what else is new!!  Did hear it to it's Coo   Coo call as it was its Ka Ka Ka Ka KOW which was nice as it's one of my favorite sounds of all.  The other highlight here would be a Virginia Rail doing its "three stooges call" nearby.

Next would be some powerlines nearby where we'd pick up some of our warblers (mostly by ear with the awful wind!) including Yellow, Blue-winged and the many Prairie.  Highlight here would be seeing a Field Sparrow with that appeared to be a green caterpillar in its bill which was so cute!  We'd all still be mighty cold at this point but it was still a nice trip despite the March like conditions.  I'd head home and go straight to the covers the rest of the day and night as my house was cold and couldn't get the chill out of my bones with no heat.  It did give me time just to relax and read though to get ready for more birding Monday.

Which would be showing Matt from Growing with Plants some local spots nearby for decent birding with the South Main powerlines being our first stop.  Matt was really into birding in years past but life and other hobbies put a lot of it on hold but now he's back so off we went to see what we could get.  I'd remember the first time Alan took me here and how in awe I was over the bird variety and I was hoping I could do the same with Matt but have to admit I was a tad nervous after yesterday as I wanted to make sure he got decent looks of many of our colorful breeding birds.  The bird Gods would be me in my favor as the first bird we'd see would be a very strange but still beautiful Indigo Bunting.  I'd see it naked eye and knew it was an Indigo but looked so different to me I'd second guess myself until I got my bins on it as the bird was almost a light blue with some gray in it which is something I'd never seen before.

Another lousy shot as I just wasn't into pictures today but you can vaguely see the gray I'm talking about.  According to my Sibley Guide this is a male Indigo Bunting that appears to still be in transitional plumage so it was nice to learn something new.  We'd just finish looking at a Common Yellowthroat when a new bird appeared and I'd get my bins on it to see it was a 1st year Orchard Oriole!

Which would have me thrilled considering it would be cool bird number two and confirmed why my ears were telling me the oriole I was hearing in the midst of all the bird song sounded different to me.  Such a treat and tells me again the Orchard Oriole numbers are up vs. last year as well as the Cuckoos.  I'd also be happy to show Matt his first ever Prairie Warbler as I remember the "wow" factor that bird had with me when Alan showed me it for the first time as well as a first ever Blue-winged Warbler which made for a very productive stop!

Stop number two would be Brierly Conservation to show Matt some wood warblers as well as others that call this land home.  We'd be happy the Chestnut-sided Warblers were nearby and visible but their usual hyper selves so were satisfied with the brief look we had when one stood still for a quick moment!  I'd be happy to hear the Veery in it's usual location being as visible as ever as it allowed both of us nice, long looks for a much needed break from all of the others.

We'd meet up with Alan, Bob and Diane who'd tell us about a Solitary Sandpiper over near the beaver pond and would see it flying away which wasn't the best look obviously but it was nice just the same to get that bird on my Brierly list as it would be another first.  The other highlight would be a Red-shouldered Hawk somewhat high in the sky and going away so hoping it's the one Alan and I have seen in weeks past as he's gone into hiding and both of us would like it if he set up territory there of course!  We'd make our way to where the Black-and-white Warblers are and one would show us some mercy and land close enough for half way decent looks before flying off .

On our way back to the parking lot, we'd veer off to a side path which can be very birdy so wanted to show it to Matt and it wouldn't take long to get our first active pocket of birds here!

There'd be a very vocal Red-eyed Vireo leading the chorus as well as the nearby Veery, Ovenbird (darn thing wouldn't come close for looks), Scarlet Tanager, American Redstart and after much searching the bird I wanted here most (besides the Canada who wasn't around), which was the Magnolia Warbler.  I'd get on it quick enough to ID and shout to Matt I had a maggie and by the time I explained where it was, off he flew.  I'd really want Matt to see this bird as I remembered how striking it was the first time I saw it at Quabbin Park with Alan but it dove out of view and my ears were telling me away from the path.  After some searching I thought I'd hear it close by again but then the darn American Redstart would sing as well making for much confusion on the ears as they both sang in unison.

We'd finally see it and I even managed some awful photos.  One note is when I had my bins on it I noticed it didn't look as bright yellow underneath than what I'm used to seeing and was thinking it was the lighting but noticed the lack of streaking the bird above appears to have so wondering if what I have above is a female.  Probably wishful thinking on my part as the one I got a real good look at face on was a definite male so if there are two of them than maybe they'll breed here as this is the same general location Dan stopped one for us on the Millbury Forbush Field Trip.

So despite the cold weather, birding was still nice and hoping this is the last of the cold weather.  In looking at the long range forecast I see 90 degree temps for us next weekend and you so know I'll be complaining about that too!

Take care all.


Anne Higgins said...

Wonderful, very interesting and enjoyable post. Thank you!


Joe Giumentaro said...

If you don't mind sharing...just where are these South Main power lines that you mention?

Joe G.

Kim said...

Joe, it is located on South Main Street in Millbury, MA. You have to go up a long way up the hill and it will be on your right if your'e comging from the center of town. There's a small parking lot there that says "No Parking" but I've never been bothered before.

Kim said...

Here is the general location I belive including coordinates.,-71.7510653&ll=42.1820097,-71.7510653

Joe Giumentaro said...

Thank you, Kim.

Joe G.


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