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

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