Monday, January 28, 2013

Plum Island & vicinity - 01/27/2013

Today's trip was a challenge for the group of five hearty souls who endured low temperatures, with a windchill in the teens to start and most likely dropping into the single digits the early afternoon. As a result, the trip was cut short, forgoing a journey up the Merrimack River.
The trip, as always, started on Plum Island with our first goal of see the ongoing Western Grebe. Despite receiving a negative report, we scanned the ocean from the parking lot #1 overlook. After several passes, up and down the beach, we concluded the bird was not present.
We made the slow journey down the island, scanning the marsh for ducks, hawks, owls and eagles. Did I say it was slow? Aside from a few American Black Ducks, the winter doldrums had set in.
When we got to the Wardens, we finally had some activity, with a few Horned Lark.

Photo by Steven Whitebread

From here, the activity picked up. We had two Rough-legged Hawks, one light and one dark phase and an immature Bald Eagle from the Bill Forward Bird Blind.
We made our way to the end of the island, picking up a few birds here and there.                                     On the way back up the island, we stopped at parking lot #3 for another look at the ocean, in hopes of finding the Western Grebe; still no grebe.
However we did watch several feeding frenzies, first started by Herring Gulls, who were joined by a few Bonaparte's Gulls, Black-legged Kittiwakes and soon there after by groups of Razorbills.
Upon returning to Parking Lot #1, we decided to give the ocean another look for the Western Grebe.
While scanning the ocean, we watched as a couple passed us on the deck, walk down the beach, disrobed down to their bathing suits and walk, then dive into the ocean. And I thought birdwatchers were crazy!!!!
Upon their return to the deck, I gave then an clapping ovation. They said they do it every week.
Meanwhile, Glenn d'Entremont asked me to take a look at bird in his scope. This bird was quit a ways down the beach, probably somewhere between parking lots 2 and 3, with nothing nearby for comparison. We debated and just continued to watch. Slowly, the bird moved closer to our position and finally Glenn was able to positively identify the bird as the Western Grebe. Success!!!
With that we headed, to Salisbury, stopping for some warmth and lunch. When we reached the Salisbury recreation area, we parked and started walking the camping sites. It started out quiet, not even a red-breasted Nuthatch, which has been in abundance this winter. After about 10-15 minutes, we found the flock, Red and White-winged Crossbills, Common Redpolls
and the RB Nuthatches. A couple of times, we were strafed as the flock flew from tree to tree. At one point, we watched, as a couple of crossbills and Common Redpolls were on the ground eating snow.

Photo by Steven Whitebread

Photo by Steven Whitebread

By this time, the wind picked up. After a quick look at the harbor and mouth of the river, it was time to call it a day. 

Here is a summary of the day's tally, numbers recorded by Glenn d'Entremont:

S-Salisbury, rest at Plum Island unless noted.

Common Loon 7
Red-throated Loon 2
Red-necked Grebe 5
Horned Grebe 7
Mute Swan 2
Canada Goose 30
Mallard 10-S
Black Duck 245 (20-S)
Gadwall 7-S
Lesser Scaup 2-S
Common Goldeneye 6 (2-S)
Bufflehead 32
Long-tailed Duck 2
Common Eider 160 (150-S)
White-winged Scoter 7 (2-S)
Black Scoter 8
Red-breasted Merganser 9 (4-S)
Cooper's Hawk 1-Newburyport
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Rough-legged Hawk 2 (1 dk, 1 lt)
BALD EAGLE 2 imm (2 or 3 yr)
Northern Harrier 3
Sanderling 28 (6-S)
Great Black-backed Gull ***
Herring Gull ***
Ring-billed Gull ***
Bonaparte's Gull 5
Black-legged Kittiwake 4
Razorbill 77 (2-S)
Rock Pigeon *** -Newburyport
Horned Lark 11
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 6 (2-S)
Black-capped Chickadee 4-S
Red-breasted Nuthatch 5-S
Northern Mockingbird 6 (2-S)
American Robin 9
Starling ***
Savannah Sparrow 1 (this was at lot 1, just as the group was meeting.  It was what I was chasing just before we went to the boardwalk).
American Tree Sparrow 3
Song Sparrow 3
White-throated Sparrow 3
Dark-eyed Junco 3-S
Northern Cardinal 2
Common Redpoll 10-S
House Sparrow ***

50 species
Mike Emmons 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hull, Hingham, & Cohasset - 1/13/2013

10 enthusiastic people joined me to poke around Hull and a small part of Cohasset on Sunday, Jan 13, 2013. The day started quickly with great looks at 57 Horned Larks and 4 Snow Buntings that were feeding on a seemingly barren piece of land at the beginning of Nantasket Beach. The larks have been at this spot all winter. The ocean off Nantasket Beach produced great looks at all 3 Scoters and Red-throated Loons. Other highlights included close encounters with a Glaucous and an  Iceland Gull (Kumlien's), a flock of about 50 Sanderlings on the beach, and beautiful looks at Long-tailed Ducks from Hull Gut. We also heard vocalizations from the Long-tails as well as from the Common Eider. The sounds were loud and somewhat mournful. Our one stop in Cohasset at Lily Pond added some land birds, notably Hairy Woodpecker and Red-breasted Nuthatch. The weather was great! A little damp and chilly in the AM and balmy as the day wore on. This was in stark contrast to last year's trip, when it was so cold and windy, it was hard to breathe. We saw 49 species of birds in about 5 hours of birding today. Everyone was observant and made contributions to our total. A great day! Thanks to Steven Whitebread for the photos and Vin Zollo for keeping the bird list.

Red-throated Loon
16 Brant (Atlantic)
64 Canada Goose
3 Mute Swan
20 American Black Duck
36 Mallard
162 Common Eider (Atlantic)
195 Surf Scoter
95 White-winged Scoter
5 Black Scoter
200 scoter sp.
65 Long-tailed Duck
78 Bufflehead
23 Common Goldeneye
27 Red-breasted Merganser
6 Red-throated Loon
13 Common Loon
24 Horned Grebe
5 Red-necked Grebe
12 Great Cormorant
1 Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

1 Red-tailed Hawk
45 Sanderling
48 Ring-billed Gull
104 Herring Gull (American)
1 Iceland Gull (Kumlien's)
1 Glaucous Gull
54 Great Black-backed Gull
58 Rock Pigeon
2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
2 Downy Woodpecker
1 Hairy Woodpecker
6 Blue Jay
6 American Crow
57 Horned Lark
6 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Tufted Titmouse
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
2 American Robin
2 Northern Mockingbird
120 European Starling
6 Snow Bunting
1 Song Sparrow
6 White-throated Sparrow
1 Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)
4 Northern Cardinal
4 House Finch
2 American Goldfinch
102 House Sparrow

Nancy Swirka

Monday, January 14, 2013

Members Night, Potluck Supper & Annual Meeting - 1/19/2013

Members Night, Potluck Supper & Annual Meeting 

*Note the change in venue 
 Saturday, January 19, 2013, 6:00 p. m. St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 16 Highland Avenue, Cohasset.  Please bring your favorite main dish, salad or desert. Let Sally Avery or Betty Petersen know what you are bringing so we can coordinate. If you have never attended, this evening is quite entertaining. Think about bringing a guest!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Nantucket - 1/1/2013

A core group of three of us were present for the whole trip with at times 2 more, 3 more, and 7 more depending on boat times, times of day, and personal schedules. This was by far my personal best day of winter birding on Nantucket. The gull show is surpassed by none and based on Vern Laux's more recent post the numbers are growing daily. This trip was advertised as potentially observing 10 gull and 25 waterfowl species; this trip had 10 and 28 respectively. The just completed CBC had 136 or 137 plus count week birds bringing the total to 142/3 or 144. We found a couple of other species over the next two days so the total is 146/7. WOW.

The day began at 6:00 a.m. standing in the dark staring at a Barn Owl box. This is where the only two were found. At 6:15ish a lone bird arrived silently from the west and landed on the box facing us. It then turned and looked into the box momentarily before walking in. The first official bird of the Brookline Bird Club's 100th year celebration is a classy one. A quick stop at Folger's Marsh gets Virginia Rail and Marsh Wren. Oh, goody! It's only 6:30. A quick breakfast stop and it's off to Hummock Pond Road where the 2 rarest birds are-NORTHERN LAPWINGs. We stop at the appropriate spot (corner of Millbrook) and look across at the plowed area. A freeze has set in and we wonder how long these birds will be in residence. After a few minutes two of us spot the first one simultaneously. The second one comes into view. We hug; what a start this year (better than losing one's tripod in Nantucket harbor like last year).

Land birds are around, Red Crossbills fly over, a rare (or very uncommon) for the island Hairy Woodpecker calls from the evergreens and gives us a glimpse. We cruise Bartlett Farm getting Killdeer, a male (second winter) Harrier, a SNOW GOOSE (not common at all), and three Horned Lark. We go to our "secret" spot to look out over Hummock Pond, the south section, where the ducks have been in numbers both individually and species. REDHEAD, CANVASBACK, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, American Wigeon, Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, American Coot. Our spot is not so secret; others arrive.

We get a call from Edie Ray; a WESTERN TANAGER has been seen at Hooper Farm Road. We race over and arrive just a bit late. The bird has flown and after 1/2 hour of searching the immediate area with lots of others no one can relocate it. Edie has a treat for us, though. We had known there was a selasphorus hummingbird on the island, but the location has been withheld as it is at a private residence. Edie will take us to this location under penalty of death if we let the address known. We are duly sworn in and off we go. Almost immediately the HUMMINGBIRD arrives. White-breasted Nuthatch (another uncommon bird to the island), Brown Creeper, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-winged Blackbird.

It's onto Miacomet Pond and Edie's feeder. Several landbirds and more ducks. We find a pair of NORTHERN SHOVELERS which were known in the area and discover a female NORTHERN PINTAIL which is new for the count period. Still no sign of one of the 9 Eurasian Wigeon seen on the island. However, two Gray Catbirds fly close in front of our vehicle. It is about noon and we decide it is time for 'Sconset and Low Beach.

This was a show. 20000 each of White-winged Scoter and Common Eider, small gulls in both directions as far as we can see, DOVEKIE sitting in front of us with RAZORBILLs for comparison, all plumages of LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLs (the day before I estimated 125, the count had 146 from that location, 175 for the island). Iceland (Kumlien) Gulls. Two BLACK-HEADED and one LITTLE gulls stand up to be counted. We were able to pick them out of 4000 Bonaparte's. Truly a spectacle. One of us spots a Palm Warbler as we head for Sanktaty.

We find a first winter GLAUCOUS GULL, 17 Harlequin Ducks and Black Guillemots. Still no Surf Scoter.

Next a stop at Sesachacha Pond for our fifth aythia-1200 Greater Scaup. The numbers have increased since the 600ish found on the count. No Eurasian Wigeon. It's 2:30ish and we have to pack the car since we will not be at this section of island again. A quick scope off the bluff gets BRANT. We have time to revisit areas.

We head directly to Hummock Pond. A quick stop at Pat's Puddle turns up two Dunlin! Back to our spot; the wind has finally died down enough and we locate the elusive EURASIAN WIGEON.

Now it is 3:30 and we are losing light. We stop at Jetty's Beach for some last light birding and locate Surf Scoter, Ruddy Turnstone and Purple Sandpiper. Total is 94 species (miscounted on the original posting).

Full list below:

Canada Goose 390
Brant 5
Mute Swan 26
Gadwall 6
American Wigeon 79
Black Duck 20
Mallard 158
Green-winged Teal 2
Ring-necked Duck 16
Greater Scaup 1200
Lesser Scaup 32
Common Eider 20000
Harlequin Duck 17
Surf Scoter 4
White-winged Scoter 20000
Black Scoter 200
Long-tailed Duck 100
Bufflehead 150
Common Goldeneye 75
Hooded Merganser 20
Red-breasted Merganser 25
Ruddy Duck 150
Red-throated Loon 5
Common Loon 10
Pied-billed Grebe 16
Horned Grebe 3
Red-necked Grebe 1
Northern Gannet 150
Great Cormorant 3
Great Blue Heron 3
Turkey Vulture 2
Northern Harrier 2 (1 second winter male)
Cooper's Hawk 3
Red-tailed Hawk 2
American Coot 245
Killdeer 8
Ruddy Turnstone 20
Purple Sandpiper 5
Dunlin 2
BLACK-HEADED GULL 2 (1 ad, 1 1W)
Bonaparte's Gull 4000
Ring-billed Gull 2 (uncommon here)
Herring Gull ***
Iceland Gull 10
Great Black-backed Gull ***
Black-legged Kittiwake 3
Razorbill 10
Black Guillemot 1
Rock Pigeon ***
Mourning Dove 24
selasphorus HUMMINGBIRD 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 5
Blue Jay 3
American Crow 33
Horned Lark 3
Black-capped Chickadee 18
no titmouses on the island
Red-breasted Nuthatch 12
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Brown Creeper 1
Carolina Wren 5
Marsh Wren 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1
American Robin 64
Gray Catbird 2
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling ***
Yellow-rumped Warbler 34
Palm Warbler 1
Song Sparrow 21
White-throated Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 18
Red-winged Blackbird 2
American Goldfinch 11
House Sparrow ***

94 species

Glenn d'Entremont

Taunton/Middleboro Christmas Bird Count - 12/30/2012

As compiler for this count, I have access to all of the high counts for all of the species that have been recorded on the CBC over the past 42 years. I have included some species and high counts from the past that I thought you would all find interesting. Given the recent publication of “The State of the Birds” by MassAudubon, I think it is interesting to see evidence of the species numbers from years ago. I think the numbers for certain grassland birds are particularly sobering. However, it is not all bad news. There are species that have dramatically increased in numbers and species that have been turning up on the count with regularity over the past 10 years or so. The species high count information will appear at the end of this year’s species list and totals.
*The center of this 15 mile wide count circle is 1 mile south of E. Taunton.

Snow Goose (1)
Canada Goose (1,467)
Mute Swan (73) High Count
American Wigeon (9)
American Black Duck (267)
Mallard (427)
Green-winged Teal (2)
Ring-necked Duck (6)
Greater Scaup (84)
Lesser Scaup (50)
Scaup sp. (81)
Bufflehead (125)
Common Goldeneye (36)
Hooded Merganser (97)
Common Merganser (57)
Red-breasted Merganser (21)
Ruddy Duck (40)
Wild Turkey (5)
Pied-billed Grebe (3)
Horned Grebe (4)
Great Cormorant (2)
Great Blue Heron (6)
Bald Eagle (3)
Northern Harrier (14) High Count
Sharp-shinned Hawk (3)
Cooper’s Hawk (3)
Red-shouldered Hawk (3)
Red-tailed Hawk (35)
Rough-legged Hawk (1)
American Kestrel (1)
Peregrine Falcon (1)
Virginia Rail (2)
American Coot (4)
NORTHERN LAPWING (1) Continuing bird at Summer St.
in Bridgewater
Killdeer (3)
Ring-billed Gull (464)
Herring Gull (510)
Great Black-backed Gull (115)
Rock Pigeon (175)
Mourning Dove (141)
Eastern Screech-Owl (8)
Great Horned Owl (1)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (1)
Belted Kingfisher (4)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (26)
Downy Woodpecker (50)
Hairy Woodpecker (8)
Northern Flicker (18)
Blue Jay (125)
American Crow (64)
Horned Lark (22)
Black-capped Chickadee (154) Low Count
Tufted Titmouse (75) Low Count
Red-breasted Nuthatch (17)
White-breasted Nuthatch (54)
Brown Creeper (4)
Carolina Wren (44)
Winter Wren (3)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (18)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (1)
Eastern Bluebird (26)
Hermit Thrush (2)
American Robin (417)
Gray Catbird (1)
Northern Mockingbird (25)
European Starling (967)
American Pipit (79) High Count
Cedar Waxwing (28)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (1)
Pine Warbler (10)
Palm Warbler (2)
American Tree Sparrow (118)
Field Sparrow (4)
Savannah Sparrow (97) High Count
Fox Sparrow (1)
Song Sparrow (153)
Swamp Sparrow (14)
White-throated Sparrow (136)
Dark-eyed Junco (787)
Snow Bunting (4)
Northern Cardinal (112)
Red-winged Blackbird (601) High Count
Eastern Meadowlark (27)
Rusty Blackbird (23)
Common Grackle (2)
Brown-headed Cowbird (4)
Purple Finch (1)
House Finch (106)
Common Redpoll (30)
Pine Siskin (6)
American Goldfinch (51) Low Count
House Sparrow (216)

Total: 94 species


Ring-necked Pheasant – 30 in 1972
Northern Bobwhite - 260 in 1971
American Kestrel – 26 in 1973

American Crow – 1,512 in 1989
Greater Scaup – 4,300 in 1971
Evening Grosbeak – 878 in 1972 (now that’s an irruption!)

Happy New Year!

Jim Sweeney

Quincy Christmas Bird Count - 12/15/2012

   The center of this 15 mile wide count circle is the Back River in Weymouth. It extends north to the tip of Squantum Point Park and Long Island, south including all of Cohasset.
This was the best count in the 67 counts (first was 1946) with 118 on count day and two more count period birds! So many new highs on count number 67. Thanks to Liam Waters for providing these nice pictures.

Great Pond, Randolph/Braintree

Brant 73
Canada Goose 2303 second highest
Mute Swan 17
Black Duck 403 Dropping like a stone, lowest since 1948! when effort was much less
Mallard 430
Green-winged Teal 14 high
Ring-necked Duck 64
Greater Scaup 374
Lesser Scaup 13
Common Eider 2412
Surf Scoter 1247 NEW HIGH
White-winged Scoter 890
Black Scoter 134 second highest
scoter, species 308
Long-tailed Duck 609 NEW HIGH, 330 in 2011
Bufflehead 723
Common Goldeneye 143
BARROW'S GOLDENEYE 1 Drake(Squantum-this bird moves between UMass and Squantum)
Hooded Merganser 158 NEW HIGH, the first bird was in 1965
Common Merganser 62
Red-breasted Merganser 395
Ruddy Duck 52
Wild Turkey 56 TIED HIGH COUNT, first seen 1995
Red-throated Loon 70 NEW HIGH
Common Loon 69 NEW HIGH
Pied-billed Grebe 3
Horned Grebe 228 NEW HIGH
Red-necked Grebe 5 low
Northern Gannet 3
Double-crested Cormorant 13
Great Cormorant 300
Great Blue Heron 29
BALD EAGLE 1 only third time on day, first was 2005(fifth year-still dark feather in tail) Great Pond, Randolph
Northern Harrier 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk 5
Cooper's Hawk 12 NEW HIGH, first double digit count
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 46 NEW HIGH
American Kestrel  CW (Squantum)
Merlin 1
Peregrine Falcon 2
KILLDEER 3 Squantum
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Ruddy Turnstone 33
Sanderling 18
Purple Sandpiper 66
Dunlin 17
Wilson's Snipe 1
LAUGHING GULL 1 Cohasset only about the fifth time
BLACK-HEADED GULL 1 Cohasset, "with" the Laughing. This bird was regular on this count in the late 60's and through the 70's with high count of 26 in 1972.
Bonaparte's Gull 7
Ring-billed Gull 1108
Herring Gull 1356
Iceland Gull 2
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL 1 Hingham third time
Great Black-backed Gull 239
THICK-BILLED MURRE 1 Hingham third time
Razorbill 24 NEW HIGH (20 in Quincy, probably off of Long Island)
Black Guillemot 14 high, 11 in Hull
Rock Pigeon 719
Mourning Dove 172
Eastern Screech-Owl 19 High
Great Horned Owl 5
Barred Owl 1
Belted Kingfisher 7
Red-bellied Woodpecker 50 NEW HIGH, first showed in 1991
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1
Downy Woodpecker 78
Hairy Woodpecker 9
Northern Flicker 45 NEW HIGH
Blue Jay 230
American Crow 269
Fish Crow 11
COMMON RAVEN 1 Hingham They nest inside the circle, but find one during the count!
Horned Lark 28
Black-capped Chickadee 335
Tufted Titmouse 197
Red-breasted Nuthatch 38
White-breasted Nuthatch 117

Brown Creeper 9 high
Carolina Wren 90 NEW HIGH
Winter Wren 4
MARSH WREN 1 Weymouth, this was reported as heard Sedge/Marsh, but in spot where Marsh was last two years
Golden-crowned Kinglet 22
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3
Eastern Bluebird 19
Hermit Thrush 7
American Robin 561
Gray Catbird 2
Northern Mockingbird 66
European Starling 3806 A far cry from the 100,000 which we used to count at the Fore River Bridge
Cedar Waxwing 56
Orange-crowned Warbler 2

Orange-crowned Warbler

YELLOW WARBLER 1 (you know the story) NEW TO COUNT

Yellow Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler 13

Yellow-breasted Chat CW
Eastern Towhee 2
American Tree Sparrow 83
Field Sparrow 1 extremely low
Savannah Sparrow 5
Fox Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 199
Swamp Sparrow 8
White-throated Sparrow 157
Dark-eyed Junco 493
Snow Bunting 3
Northern Cardinal 137
Red-winged Blackbird 41
EASTERN MEADOWLARK 1 Long Island first since 1997
House Finch 90
RED CROSSBILL 5 first since 1978
WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL 6 first since 1997
Common Redpoll 40
American Goldfinch 147
House Sparrow 1534 NEW HIGH, only two other counts with over 1000

Brown Creeper

Glenn d'Entremont