Monday, April 9, 2012

March 17, 2012: Interior South Shore Localities led by Wayne Petersen

A most congenial group of 12 bird club members enjoyed a full day seeking early spring migrants and enjoying other signs of spring at several popular interior South Shore localities.  Despite overcast and cool starting temperatures in the mid-40s, by noon skies cleared and the thermometer soared to 65 degrees.  By day’s end the weather was once again very cool.  Despite the varying temperatures, birding conditions were generally good.
Our day began with a lengthy walk starting at the northern Elm Street entrance of the Burrage Pond Wildlife Management Area in Hanson.  With the exception of 150 Ring-necked Ducks, waterfowl numbers at Burrage were quite modest, no doubt due to last week’s warm and dry weather, however the group was pleased to see a high-flying American Kestrel, encounter the first Eastern Phoebes and Tree Swallows of the year for many of us, and hear a singing Brown Creeper.  In addition to nearly getting duped by a crow hunter’s decoy broadcast vocalizations, we enjoyed looking at a variety of colorful lichens, several of which were thoughtfully identified by trip participant Deb Cato.
Following a coffee stop on Rt. 27 in Hanson we headed for Pembroke to check several nearby ponds for waterfowl.  On the way, we spotted a Great Egret on a flooded cranberry bog on Rt. 14, quickly followed by a Great Cormorant in breeding plumage on Oldham Pond, an impressive spring total of 110 Ruddy Ducks on Furnace Pond (probably overwintering birds), and nearly 50 handsome Common Mergansers on Great Sandy Bottom Pond.  The leader can remember when a Great Cormorant on a freshwater pond might have been the bird of the day!
From the Pembroke ponds we made our way to the West Meadows Wildlife Management Area in West Bridgewater.  West Meadows was full of waterfowl, including over 300 Ring-necked Ducks along with an assortment of odds and ends such as Gadwall, American Wigeon, and Green-winged Teal.  While we were birding at West Meadows a noisy group of nearly 500 migrating Canada Geese arrived in small flocks from the south and settled on the most distant part of the West Meadows pond.  They may be common, but seeing Canada Geese like this is very different than watching them on a soccer field. 
As we were leaving West Meadows, our attention was drawn to two low-circling Turkey Vultures near the large water tower on Spring Street.  Before we knew it, the vultures actually landed on the top of the tower and immediately began to copulate!  Pictures were taken, but just a little too late to catch the ardent lovers in the act; however, this was a sure sign that breeding is anticipated nearby.  Subsequent observations by club member Kevin Ryan suggest a possible nesting locality with a half mile of the Spring Street tower.  To be continued….
After a sandwich stop in Bridgewater for lunch we made our way to Lakeville.  After some diligent looking Lynn Abbey picked off an incubating Bald Eagle on a new nest this year on the shore of Lake Assawompsett.  Though distant, all were pleased with the sight.  This is one of two known nests this year on this lake, the largest natural freshwater body in Massachusetts.  Besides the eagle nest we had saw a number of Buffleheads, Common Goldeneyes, and Common Mergansers on the lakes.
Certainly one of the most unexpected birds of the day was a drake White-winged Scoter on the pond in front of the Ocean Spray Cranberry headquarters on the Middleborough/Lakeville town line.  Always an interesting species on freshwater in Massachusetts, the seasonality and the nature of this pond made the observation all the more startling.
Our day ended late in the afternoon at Cumberland Farms in Middleborough where we watched no fewer than 500+ Mallards and American Black Ducks nervously circling, landing, and then circling some more at the southern end of the cornfields below Rt. 105.  Mixed in were small numbers of Green-winged Teal, 4 Wilson’s Snipes, and several large mixed flocks of blackbirds.  We also worked the field edges near the old manure pit area and successfully pushed out a Vesper Sparrow along with a dozen Savannah Sparrows.
The several hardcore diehards in the group that remained until deep dusk were able to hear and watch 3 American Woodcocks and 2 Great Horned Owls as the sun set over the fields.  All and all, a most enjoyable day spent with friends in the field.

The complete list for the day included:
Canada Goose – 500+ 
Mute Swan – 30 
Gadwall – 1
American Wigeon – 3
American Black Duck/Mallard – 500+
Green-winged Teal – 16 
Ring-necked Duck – 450
Lesser Scaup – 8 
White-winged Scoter – 1
Bufflehead – 40+
Common Goldeneye – 50+
Hooded Merganser – 3
Common Merganser – 70
Ruddy Duck – 110
Common Loon – 2
Great Cormorant – 1
Great Blue Heron – 12
Great Egret – 1
Turkey Vulture – 2
Bald Eagle – 1
Northern Harrier – 2
Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 5
American Kestrel – 1
American Coot – 12
Killdeer – 10
Wilson’s Snipe – 4
American Woodcock – 3
Ring-billed Gull – 40
Herring Gull – 12+
Great Black-backed Gull – 12
Rock Pigeon – X
Mourning Dove – 25 
Great Horned Owl – 2
Belted Kingfisher – 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 2
Downy Woodpecker – 2
Hairy Woodpecker – 1
Northern Flicker – 3
Eastern Phoebe – 3
Blue Jay – 1
American Crow – X
Fish Crow – 10
Horned Lark – 100+
Tree Swallow – 30
Black-capped Chickadee – X
Tufted Titmouse – X
White-breasted Nuthatch – 3
Brown Creeper – 1
Carolina Wren – 2
Eastern Bluebird – 3
American Robin – X
Northern Mockingbird – 1 
European Starling – X
Vesper Sparrow – 1
Savannah Sparrow – 12+
Song Sparrow – 12
White-throated Sparrow – 3
Dark-eyed Junco – 3
Northern Cardinal – X
Red-winged Blackbird – X+
Common Grackle – X+
Brown-headed Cowbird – X
House Finch – 3
American Goldfinch – X
House Sparrow – X 

Total = 69 species
Wayne Petersen

No comments:

Post a Comment