Thursday, November 15, 2012

Great Pond, Randolph/Braintree - 11/11/2012

Five birders gathered together at Great Pond in Randolph/Braintree early Sunday morning. The skies were overcast to begin and then slowly started to clear out. A steady south wind with temps in the 40sF made for chilly viewing conditions on the exposed dike that bisects the upper and lower portion of the pond.

Great Pond is the public water supply for the towns of Randolph, Braintree and Holbrook. This reservoir and surrounding upland encompasses an area nearly 400 acres in size. The main access points are from Pond Street ( just south of the water treatment plant) and at the end of Norroway Road, both of which are on the Randolph side. Both of these starting points eventually lead to the dike that bisects the upper and lower sections of the pond. The dike is where viewing is best, not only for scanning the water, it also provides a commanding view of the sky (think raptors!). A small flock of American Pipits were "working" the dike as we made our way out there.
Overall waterfowl numbers were down a bit, but diversity was high. Today, most of the waterfowl were quite distant. 2 Black Scoters were seen well in the lower portion of the pond. All 3 species of Scoter can be seen here in November (peak of migration), but they do not linger for long, as they much prefer the coast.

Purple Sandpiper

The real highlight of the walk turned out to be a shorebird that was sitting on an exposed rock near the dike on the lower portion of the pond; PURPLE SANDPIPER! These short-legged, plump sandpipers are almost exclusively found in coastal locations; totally unexpected at this inland body of freshwater!

45 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose  2    
Mute Swan  2
Mallard  2
Ring-necked Duck  41 low *(there is often a flock of 300+ here at this time of year)
Greater Scaup  6
Lesser Scaup  7
Greater/Lesser Scaup  10
Black Scoter  2    Females
Bufflehead  25
Common Goldeneye  12
Hooded Merganser  29
Common Merganser  6    
Ruddy Duck  59
Common Loon  1
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Double-crested Cormorant  5
Great Cormorant  2
Great Blue Heron  1
Cooper's Hawk  1
American Coot  13
PURPLE SANDPIPER  1    Total surprise!! Lower section of pond on one of the rocks close to the dike. Unexpected away from the immediate coast.
Ring-billed Gull  10
Herring Gull (American)  45
Great Black-backed Gull  7
Mourning Dove  5
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  2
Hairy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  1
Blue Jay  6
American Crow  46
Black-capped Chickadee  5
Tufted Titmouse  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Brown Creeper  1
Golden-crowned Kinglet  4
American Robin  5
European Starling  3
American Pipit  11    Along dike. One flock of 9 and 2 others seen well.
Cedar Waxwing  1
American Tree Sparrow  3
Savannah Sparrow  1    heard only
Song Sparrow  4
Northern Cardinal  1
Pine Siskin  1    Flyover; calling
American Goldfinch  1

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

American Pipit

The trip continued on over to Reservoir Pond in Canton. This is a great location for Ruddy Ducks and we counted 120 (300+ is not uncommon).  Like Great Pond today, most of the ducks were distant, but we were able to pick out some Common Mergansers. These large diving ducks are one of the later migrants in our area. 
On our way back to the cars a flock of approx. 40 White-winged Crossbills were on the wing and briefly alighted on a conifer! There seems to be a great "winter finch" flight underway.

29 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose  10
Mute Swan  6
Mallard  9
Greater Scaup  2
Lesser Scaup  11
Greater/Lesser Scaup  19
Bufflehead  10
Hooded Merganser  6
Common Merganser  5
Ruddy Duck  120     Typically up to 300 at this time of year here.
Common Loon  2
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Double-crested Cormorant  2
Great Blue Heron  1
Red-tailed Hawk  3
Ring-billed Gull  4
Herring Gull (American)  2
Belted Kingfisher  1
Blue Jay  3
Tufted Titmouse  2
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Carolina Wren  1
American Robin  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  2
Northern Cardinal  1
House Finch  1
White-winged Crossbill  40  
Pine Siskin  1
American Goldfinch  4

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (
Vin Zollo

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