The Virtual South Shore Bird Club Social Distancing "walk," October 3, 2020
The Virtual South Shore Bird Club “walk” began Saturday, October 3, under an azure sky with hardly a breath of wind in most places. Duck hunters hate that weather because ducks tend to relax rather than fly about, volunteering to be shot at. In fact, they actually call it, derisively, “bluebird weather.” It was bluebird weather, in that Glenn D’entremont found Eastern bluebirds on the Cape on a Brookline Bird Club trip. Glenn finds so many birds that I suspect it is the birds who watch him, because he also reported Pine siskins, a Purple finch, a Northern parula, a Redstart, Indigo bunting, Eastern pewee, four different woodpeckers, etc., etc. Sheesh.
Brian Vigorito was up early (unless he was listening from his bed) and reported an Eastern screech owl at Ferry Hill Thicket in Marshfield. He also found four Black-crowned and six Yellow-crowned night herons at Damon’s Point, jutting into the North River. His real crown was the adult Bald eagle, plus photo, in a nearby tree. He also provided a neat photo of a Carolina wren.
We tend to think birds should be found at special places, and often they are, yet Christine and Steven Whitebread, and Mary Jo Foti and Karen Fiske, remind us that often birds present themselves when we’re doing other things. The Whitebreads report Fish crows, Double-crested cormorants, and Canada geese at the Hazardous Waste Dropoff in Quincy, while Mary Jo and Karen report (including photo) a Blue-headed vireo at the Falmouth Composting Facility. The fortunate Whitebreads also saw (seconded by Pat) Black skimmers and a Black-headed gull at Wollaston Beach, Quincy.
As usual, there were non-avian sightings, including asters and a remarkable photo by Kathy Rawdon of a sadly deceased Mola mola in Fire Road Lagoon in Provincetown. Kathy also visited the Eastham stump dump. There were flowers, too. David and Julianne Mehegan provided photos of Field bindweed, Beech drops, and Stiff aster. Pete Jacobson and Christine photographed and discussed other asters. Several birders must have “attended” Wayne Petersen’s remarkable illustrated Goldenrod lecture last week, because Christine, Carol, and Nate Marchessault all uploaded dazzling Goldenrod photos. Nate, who visited Pochet Island in East Orleans, also shared a lovely shot of a RB nuthatch probably wondering, “Why is the world upside down?”
North of Boston, Moe and Carol Molander reported an American avocet at Plum Island (if this were chess, you’d include a !! for a great move), a Sora, and provided an excellent photo of three plastic penguins of uncertain parentage on a log in the Merrimack River. (This reminded me of an exotic duck I saw idling passively last spring near the far bank of a pond at the Burrage Wildlife Management Area. In a state of great excitement, I hastened around the pond, but when I drew close and fixed the object in my binoculars, it turned out to be a species not found in nature, only in the duck-hunting department at Bass Pro Shops.)
Almost as odd -- but very much alive -- was Beth’s photograph of a snow-white Wild turkey, fraternizing with brown cousins in a Barnstable yard. She reported they are one in 100,000. Was one of these fellows the ancestor of the hapless billions of white ones headed for the Thanksgiving platters? Beth also reported Great blue herons, among others, and a Red-headed (or Red-bellied?) woodpecker at Crows Pasture.
Down Bristol County way (does anyone use that name any more?), Pamela Coravos and Kim Wylie found a Marsh wren, Sora, Common gallinule, Hudsonian Godwit, Northern shovelers, and American coot at Richmond Pond, Acoaxet (part of Westport). Kim also snapped a picture of a Marbled godwit (right, Kim? or was that the Hudsonian?). Kim judged Acoaxet to be “hard to beat today,” and who could disagree?
Thoreau wrote in Walden, “I have traveled a good deal in Concord,” and David and Julianne did the same in Hingham, checking out Turkey Hill, Triphammer Pond, and McKenna Marsh, where they saw usual suspects: RB wood, CA wren, Eastern phoebe, Belted kingfisher, Common yellowthroat, Catbirds and Eastern towhees. Their most abundant sighting at Turkey Hill (where they did see turkeys) was Canis familiaris, mostly unleashed. Around the old runways of the former South Weymouth Naval Air station, they saw a Flicker, Red-shouldered hawk, Field and Song sparrows, and several Killdeer. For salt air and seabirds, they also went to Humarock Beach, Scituate, and saw large flocks of White-winged scoters and a few Surf scoters. In the nearby tidal South River, there were Greater yellowlegs and Great Egrets in the marsh or mud, one Tree swallow, and six or eight Cedar waxwings flew over. After dark, from their back deck adjacent to wetland woods in Norwell, they heard the hooting of a Great horned owl. So the day began and ended, fittingly enough, with Strigidae.
Nonbirders sometimes say, when they encounter birders, “Seen any good birds?” Today the answer was, as always, “They’re all good.” Even the plastic ones.
-- David Mehegan