Monday, December 16, 2013

Quincy Christmas Bird Count - 12/14/2013

The Quincy CBC was held on Saturday (12/14) in less than ideal conditions.  Snow squalls along the coast made visibility impossible and thus some things were missed which under normal conditions would not be, such as Black Scoter and Northern Gannet.  The quiet before the storm was almost deafening; Hingham could only muster 5 chickadees!  No surprises (no small yellow birds this year!) and we were well below the most recent 15 year average of 95 with 86 species. 

Brant 39 (lowest since 1973; only regular since 1968) 
Canada Goose 2561 (annual only since 1968) 
Mute Swan 25 
American Black Duck 596 
Mallard 686 
Mallard X Black Duck 2 
Green-winged Teal 1 
Ring-necked Duck 108 (surprisingly the second highest count; not annual) 
Greater Scaup 23 (birds short-stopping in the Great Lakes feeding on invasive Zebra Mussels) 
Lesser Scaup 27 (NEW HIGH) 
scaup, sp 7 
Common Eider 876 
HARLEQUIN DUCK 2 (maybe every 10 years) 
Surf Scoter 100 
White-winged Scoter 49 (lowest since 1955!) 
Long-tailed Duck 86 
Bufflehead 341 
Common Goldeneye 106 (what's happening?  Downward trend over the last 7 years) 
BARROW's GOLDENEYE 2 (less than annual, although regular in numbers during the 80's) 
Hooded Merganser 151 
Common Merganser 34 
Red-breasted Merganser 122 (lowest since 1965) 
Ruddy Duck 13 
Wild Turkey 11 
Red-throated Loon 2 
Common Loon 25 
Horned Grebe 19 
*Red-necked Grebe missed for the first time since 1989 
Double-crested Cormorant 2 
Great Cormorant 58 
Great Blue Heron 7 
Northern Harrier 1 
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 
Cooper's Hawk 3 
Red-shouldered Hawk 1 
Red-tailed Hawk 21 
AMERICAN KESTREL 1 (was annual from 1946 until 1992 with counts as high as 22) 
American Coot 3 
Sanderling 8 
Dunlin 2 
AMERICAN WOODCOCK 1 (maybe one every 10 years) 
Ring-billed Gull 596 
Herring Gull 842 (LOWEST COUNT EVER, only count less than 1000 was 1946 with 875!!!!) 
ICELAND GULL 1 (1W) at the Quincy Reservoir 
Great Black-backed Gull 100 (lowest since 1954) 
Rock Pigeon 441 
Mourning Dove 76 
Eastern Screech-Owl 16 
SNOWY OWL 2 (first on count day since 1996) 
Belted Kingfisher 2 
Red-bellied Woodpecker 20 
Downy Woodpecker 64 
Hairy Woodpecker 10 
Northern Flicker 10 (lowest since 2004) 
Blue Jay 136 
American Crow 85 (lowest since 1968) 
Fish Crow 1 
Horned Lark 42 (highest since 1981) 
Black-capped Chickadee 196 
Tufted Titmouse 111 
White-breasted Nuthatch 54 
Brown Creeper 6 
Carolina Wren 42 
Winter Wren 2 
Golden-crowned Kinglet 35 
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2 
Hermit Thrush 4 
American Robin 1532 
Gray Catbird 2 
Northern Mockingbird 19 (lowest since 1972) 
European Starling 926 (lowest since 1947) 
Cedar Waxwing 114 
Yellow-rumped Warbler 4 (lowest since 1966) 
Eastern Towhee 1 
American Tree Sparrow 62 
Field Sparrow 1 
Savannah Sparrow first miss since 1992 
Song Sparrow 189 
Swamp Sparrow 3 (lowest since 1986) 
White-throated Sparrow 196 
Dark-eyed Junco 538 (NEW HIGH) 
Northern Cardinal 133 
Red-winged Blackbird 2 
Brown-headed Cowbird 1 
House Finch 81 
COMMON REDPOLL 15 (flock flying over in Hull) 
American Goldfinch 75 (lowest since 1991) 
House Sparrow 556 

Glenn d'Entremont

Monday, December 9, 2013

Marion & Mattapoisett - 12/08/2013

We covered the south coast towns of Marion and Mattapoisett, mostly in the coastal/bay sections south of Route 6. This area comprises many small bays and pockets of coastal thickets among the many estates that dot the landscape. The waters here in early December already have the full array of "bay ducks", many of which will spend the winter months. The thickets regularly host "semi-hardy" birds, like Catbirds, Towhees, Hermit Thrush, etc. These species are mostly gone in the more northerly and inland sections of the state at this date.

The weather was mostly cloudy with a light north wind and temps ranging from 25-35F. Nine people joined in the fun as we made several quick stops to scan the bays and "work" the thickets. The bays in these towns regularly have modest numbers of Greater Scaup and Long-tailed Ducks. Nice looks were had of both species. Noteworthy thicket birds included a few Gray Catbirds and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and couple Hermit Thrush and Fox Sparrows too. Birders always hope for a Yellow-breasted Chat mixed in, but no luck in that department.
A real highlight of the trip was at the waste water treatment plant on Benson Brook Rd. in Marion. Dabbling ducks were here in good numbers, and among the many Mallards and Bufflehead were 85 American Wigeon, 18 Gadwall, 3 Green-winged teal, and 4 Northern Shovelers.
Noticeably absent during our time out were Brant geese. A few hundred Canada Geese were instead foraging along the bay shore in the Brant's absence.
For the few folks that stuck it out until the bitter end, we were treated to a pair of duetting Great Horned Owls, a nice way to "wrap up" the day!

Canada Goose 340
Mute Swan 5
Gadwall 18
American Black Duck 125
American Wigeon 85
Mallard 70
Mallard/Am. Black Duck Hybrid 2
Northern Shoveler 4
Greater Scaup 590
Common Eider (Atlantic) 400
Surf Scoter 9
White-winged Scoter 70
Black Scoter 65
Long-tailed Duck 110
Bufflehead 350
Common Goldeneye 22
Hooded Merganser 28
Red-breasted Merganser 65
Common Loon 8
Horned Grebe 47
Red-necked Grebe 1
Great Cormorant 4  Rocks near Ram Island
Great Blue Heron 3
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 3
Ring-billed Gull 119
Herring Gull (American) 175
Great Black-backed Gull 9
Great Horned Owl 2 Duetting at dusk. Mattapoisett Neck area
Mourning Dove 3
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 3
Downy Woodpecker 11
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 4
Blue Jay 14
American Crow 8
Black-capped Chickadee 30
Tufted Titmouse 23
Red-breasted Nuthatch 4
White-breasted Nuthatch 12
Brown Creeper 1
Carolina Wren 13
Golden-crowned Kinglet 8
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3
Hermit Thrush 2
American Robin 300 Estimate. At every stop. Many were feeding on red cedar berries
Gray Catbird 4
Northern Mockingbird 4
European Starling 48
Cedar Waxwing 58
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 10
American Tree Sparrow 10
Field Sparrow 3 Pine Island Road
Fox Sparrow (red) 2
Song Sparrow 44
Swamp Sparrow 5
White-throated Sparrow 35
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 109
Northern Cardinal  19
House Finch 8
American Goldfinch 25
House Sparrow 45

(63 species)

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Vin Zollo

Monday, December 2, 2013

Wrentham & Norfolk - 11/24/2013

Brutal wind!
3 hardy people joined me for a fun trip exploring Wrentham and Norfolk. The weather was not in our favor - temp 22F degrees when we began and 26F when we finished, along with cold, gusty winds. With the wind chill it was probably about 0F degrees. However, our goal was to see good birds despite the weather and we did. We managed to squeak out 47 species of birds including 9 species of ducks and 6 species of sparrows. Our favorite bird was a Sharp-shinned Hawk that perched in a small tree in front of our car. From the warmth of the vehicle we were able to appreciate it's field marks and marvel at how much of birding is being in the right place at the right time. Other favorites included a Bald Eagle who flew over us at Lake Pearl, a Fox Sparrow around the feeders at Stony Brook, and a bright yellow Pine Warbler at Shear St. Surprising misses included Great Blue Heron, Mourning Dove and Northern Mockingbird.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

I'll end with a summary haiku -

Bitter cold. Cruel wind.
Cheerfully looking for birds
We found them. Good day.

Nancy Swirka

Checklists included in this summary:
(2): William Rice Athletic Fields, Wrentham
Date: Nov 24, 2013, 8:07 AM
(3): Compost area, Wrentham
Date: Nov 24, 2013, 8:26 AM
(4): Model Airplane Fields (Norfolk/Wrentham)
Date: Nov 24, 2013, 8:59 AM
(5): US-MA-Wrentham-50-98 Shear's St (across from model airplane field)
Date: Nov 24, 2013, 9:35 AM
(6): Lake Pearl
Date: Nov 24, 2013, 10:14 AM
(7)  Wrentham Industrial Pk (off rt140)
Date:  Nov 24, 2013, 12:15PM
(8)  Stonybrook Wildlife Sanctuary, Norfolk
Date:  Nov 24, 2013,  1:20PM
(9)  Old Norfolk Airport & environs
Date:  Nov 24, 2013, 2:15PM

58 Canada Goose -- (6) (8), (9)
11 Mute Swan -- (6), (8), (9)
2 Wood Duck -- (6)
2 American Wigeon -- (6)
5 American Black Duck -- (6), (8)
61 Mallard -- (6), (8), (9)
10 Lesser Scaup -- (6)
22 Bufflehead -- (6)
11 Common Goldeneye -- (6)
20 Hooded Merganser -- (6), (8), (9)
3 Ruddy Duck -- (6)
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk (7)
1 Pied-billed Grebe -- (6)
1 Cooper's Hawk -- (5)
1 Bald Eagle -- (6)
7  Red-tailed Hawk -- (3),(6), (7), (8)
25 Ring-billed Gull -- (5),(6)
50 Herring Gull (American) -- (4), (9)
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker -- (6)
7 Downy Woodpecker -- (4),(5),(6), (8)
2 Hairy Woodpecker -- (4), (9)
3 Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) -- (4),(6), (9)
14 Blue Jay -- (4),(6), (8)
1 American Crow - (8)
1 Common Raven -- (6)
41 Black-capped Chickadee -- (3),(4),(5),(6)
17 Tufted Titmouse -- (4),(6),(8)
11 White-breasted Nuthatch -- (4),(6), (8)
1 Brown Creeper -- (6)
4 Carolina Wren -- (5),(6)
10 Golden-crowned Kinglet -- (4),(6),(7)
62 American Robin -- (3),(4),(5), (8), (9)
31 European Starling -- (5), (7)
5 Cedar Waxwing -- (4)
1 Pine Warbler -- (5)
1 American Tree Sparrow -- (5)
2 Field Sparrow -- (5), (7)
1 Savannah Sparrow - (9)
1 Fox Sparrow - (8)
6 Song Sparrow -- (3),(5), (9)
9 White-throated Sparrow -- (4),(5), (8)
69 Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) -- (3),(4),(5),(6), (7), (8), (9)
14 Northern Cardinal -- (2),(4),(5), (7(
1 Brown-headed Cowbird -- (3)
12 House Finch -- (2),(4), (8)
2 American Goldfinch -- (4),(6)
18 House Sparrow -- (4), (8)

This trip summary was created using the BirdLog app for iPhone and iPad.
See BirdLog for more information.

Monday, November 25, 2013

2013 Waterfowl Survey for Plymouth County Nov 16

 The 4th annual duck count for Plymouth County received the gift of fine weather for the day. 26 birders turned out to comb the freshwater lakes and ponds to see what ducks we have at the peak of fall migration. It was a bounty year, with waterfowl (excluding Canada Geese) 40% higher than last year, and several species setting record highs.

Mallards were again the most numerous species of duck, and were as expected widespread over many ponds. Ruddy Ducks were again #2, with a record 762 birds.
New highs were also set by Hooded Mergansers (+75% over previous high), Ring-necked Ducks, Gadwall, and American Wigeon. Greater Scaup also set a high, but almost all the birds were in a single location.

For the first time in the 4 years of the survey, two pairs of lingering Blue-winged Teal were seen, in Duxbury.

4 Year Average
Mute Swan
Ruddy Duck
Ring-necked Duck
Hooded Merganser
American Black Duck
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
American Coot
Common Goldeneye
American Wigeon

Total ex Canada Geese

Some of the most exciting sightings were in Other Notable Birds that were seen along the way. Highlights included two Yellow-headed Blackbirds (W. Bridgewater), a Rusty Blackbird, an Iceland Gull, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Elder's Pond, Lakeville), a Common Raven, a Fox Sparrow, a late Chipping Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Winter Wren and both types of Kinglets.
There were five species of shorebirds – Greater Yellowlegs, Snipe, Pectoral Sandpipers, Killdeer, and dowitchers. Add in three Bald Eagles and ten Belted Kingfishers.
The nearby fields turned up large flocks of 2500 Canada Geese, 3000 Red-winged blackbirds and 1500 Brown-headed Cowbirds.
One of the most intersting sightings of the day was a melanistic gray squirrel.

The Duck Count concluded with a tally at Finna's Tavern, where good food, good beer and good friends all contributed to celebrate the day's outing.

Joe Scott

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Plum Island & vicinity - 11/09/2013

A group of eight individuals were present for our annual fall Plum Island Trip.
Also, one of the first cold blasts of the season was present. A 10-15 mph wind was almost constantly present, which brought down the wind chill. If you could get out of the wind, it was not so bad.

Sharing hats and gloves, the group set out to find the focus of this trip, ducks, loons and alike. For the most part, we were not disappointed. Eighteen species of ducks were found.

However, the best bird was not a duck, but an American Avocet. It had been seen off and on for a week prior to the trip. So I was hoping it was still around. And it was. Originally found at the far end of the Pannes, the bird then flew in closer and merged with a raft of ducks. But all the up ended bottom feeding and associated paddling and splashing by the ducks, coaxed the Avocet to move on; luckily closer to our vantage point.

Trying to fit in...

My better side

Time to move on

Other highlights included a flock of Snow Buntings that flew right over us as we scanned the ocean from the reconstructed platform at parking lot #1. This was followed up by a smaller flock of Horned Lark. Neither of which were seen again.
We had hoped to find one of the Eurasian Wigeons reported recently, but most of the Wigeons seen this day were far beyond the Pannes. Even with scopes, the distance, wind and heat haze was too much to call one for certain.

Here is my list for the trip. Numbers I am sure are on the conservative side.

Canada Goose 6
Plum Island
Mute Swan 2
Plum Island
American Wigeon 18
Plum Island
American Black Duck 75
Plum Island
Mallard 12
Plum Island
Northern Shoveler 6
Plum Island
Northern Pintail 3
Plum Island
Green-winged Teal 1
Plum Island
Ring-necked Duck 13
Cherry Hill Res.
Common Eider 5
Plum Island
Surf Scoter 5
Plum Island
White-winged Scoter 500
Plum Island
Black Scoter 12
Plum Island
Long-tailed Duck 25
Plum Island
Bufflehead 5
Plum Island
Bufflehead 6
Cherry Hill Res.
Hooded Merganser 2
Cherry Hill Res.
Common Merganser 1
Plum Island
Common Merganser 4
Cherry Hill Res.
Red-breasted Merganser 2
Plum Island
Ruddy Duck 50
Cherry Hill Res.
Ruddy Duck 3
Plum Island
Red-throated Loon 16
Plum Island
Common Loon 5
Plum Island
Horned Grebe 4
Plum Island
Northern Gannet 2
Plum Island
Double-crested Cormorant 7
Plum Island
Great Cormorant 1
Plum Island
Great Blue Heron 3
Plum Island
Turkey Vulture 5
West Newbury

Northern Harrier 1
Plum Island
Red-tailed Hawk 3
Plum Island
American Coot 13
Cherry Hill Res.
American Avocet 1
Plum Island
Greater Yellowlegs 8
Plum Island
Sanderling 2
Plum Island
Purple Sandpiper 1
Plum Island
Dunlin 6
Plum Island
Ring-billed Gull X
Plum Island
Herring Gull X
Plum Island
Great Black-backed Gull 5
Plum Island
Mourning Dove 6
Plum Island
Blue Jay 2
Cherry Hill Res.
Horned Lark 8
Plum Island
Eastern Bluebird 1
Cherry Hill Res.
American Robin 1
Plum Island
Northern Mockingbird 2
Plum Island
European Starling 1
Plum Island
Snow Bunting 120
Plum Island
Chipping Sparrow 1
Plum Island
Song Sparrow 8
Plum Island
Dark-eyed Junco 3
Plum Island

49 Species

Mike Emmons

 51 Species

Mike Emmons

Great Pond, Randolph/Braintree - 11/10/2013

November is "prime time" for waterfowl diversity and this was our focus at Great Pond. The weather was a bit suspect; partly cloudy with a few showers and temps in the 40sF. Three people joined me as we trekked out onto the dike where hundreds of ducks were in view. Nothing rare, but a nice mix of the expected waterfowl were present. Ruddy and Ring-necked Ducks numbered in the hundreds and American Coots were also well represented. The first Common Goldeneyes and Common Mergansers of the season were here in smaller numbers. The highlight of the trip however was a flock of Dunlin. Approximately 20 were in a tight flock that were nervously alighting on rocks in the lower portion of the pond. The flock flushed off the rocks several times and eventually disappeared. Dunlin are rarely seen away from the immediate coast, but the timing makes sense because at least some must be migrating inland at this time and occasionally put down in places like this.

45 species (+1 other taxa)
Canada Goose 15
Mute Swan 7
American Black Duck 3
Mallard 13
Green-winged Teal (American) 1
Ring-necked Duck 405
Greater Scaup 40
Lesser Scaup 5
Bufflehead 8
Common Goldeneye 4
Hooded Merganser 20
Common Merganser 9
Ruddy Duck 335
Pied-billed Grebe 3
Double-crested Cormorant 4
Great Blue Heron 1
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 2
American Coot 50

Dunlin 20
Ring-billed Gull 20
Herring Gull (American) 35
Great Black-backed Gull 3
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 16
Belted Kingfisher 2
Downy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 1
Blue Jay 3
American Crow 18
Fish Crow 1
Black-capped Chickadee 8
Tufted Titmouse 3
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Brown Creeper 1
Carolina Wren 3
Golden-crowned Kinglet 4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
American Robin 40
European Starling 130
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 1
American Tree Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 8
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 9
Northern Cardinal 1
American Goldfinch 4
House Sparrow 1

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Vin Zollo