Monday, February 25, 2013

Upcoming Club Field Trip - Owl Prowl, March 2nd

In case the bulletin for the Spring/Summer has not yet arrived in the mail, I wanted to get the word out about the next bird club trip:

Owl Prowl
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Leaders: Vin Zollo, and Jim Sweeney
Limited participation. Contact leaders for meeting time and place.

*This trip generally covers areas of Halifax and Middleboro and starts in late afternoon/dusk until a few hours after dark. Eastern Screech Owls are around and we also hope to locate Great Horned and Barred Owls. We'll give Short-eared and Northern Saw-whet Owls a try too.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Gloucester and Rockport

First, my apologies to the club and anyone who may have made the trip up to Gloucester.
I was under the impression the trip started at 8 a.m., when in fact, it was published as starting at 8:30.
I waited until 8:15, and given the weather forecast, I assumed that no one was coming.
(It would not have been the first time.)

Overall, the weather was marked with on again, off again snow showers, making ocean watching, less than ideal.
Wind was only a factor at the breakwater.

Stops included Jodrey Fish Pier, Eastern, Andrews and Halibut Points and several stops in between.

No major movements were observed. A first in a long time, for this time of year, NO white-winged gulls were observed.
There were good looks at Black Guillemot, Razorbill and Harlequin Duck.
Also, after scanning the ocean and distant island for King Eider, it was found almost under my nose,
swimming close by and getting out of the water a couple of times, until being washed back into the water by the incoming tide.

Below is a summary of the birds seen:

Brant 7
Canada Goose 3
Mute Swan 4
Gadwall 1
American Black Duck 60
Mallard 1
King Eider 1
Common Eider 80
Harlequin Duck 50
Surf Scoter 7
White-winged Scoter 15
Long-tailed Duck 8
Bufflehead 29
Common Goldeneye 10
Red-breasted Merganser 50
Ruddy Duck 40
Wild Turkey 6
Common Loon 4
Horned Grebe 4
Great Cormorant 20
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Purple Sandpiper 20
Ring-billed Gull 1
Herring Gull 1
Great Black-backed Gull 35
Razorbill 2
Black Guillemot 1
Rock Pigeon 3
Peregrine Falcon 1
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 7
Black-capped Chickadee 3
Tufted Titmouse 3
Carolina Wren 3
American Robin 16
Northern Mockingbird 2
European Starling 35
Song Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 4
House Sparrow 2

Mike Emmons

Monday, February 11, 2013

Outer Cape Cod - 1/5/2013

About 20 people attended Wayne Petersen's annual Outer Cape Cod "Death March" on a fair, but windy day with temps in the 30s and low 40sF. The group met at the Sagamore Rest Stop and carpooled directly to Provincetown. While gathering and discussing our "game plan", a Merlin and a Cooper's Hawk made brief appearances. In recent years, this has been a reliable winter spot for Fish Crows, no doubt attracted to food scraps from the fast food resturants. No sign of them today however.

Race Point - Provincetown

Upon arrival at Race Point Beach parking lot, we embarked on the "Death March"! This has been a traditional walk out to Race Point, which is approx. 1.5 miles from the parking lot. A walk down the beach side followed by a hike back through the dunes makes it about a 3 mile trek through soft sand. Highlights on the beach side included a modest number of Alcids, including Razorbills, 2 Dovekies, 1 Common Murre, and 1 Black Guillemot. Sea ducks were in short supply, but we had a nice variety of Gulls, notably 1 Glaucous, 4 Iceland, 1 Bonaparte's, and several Black-legged Kittiwakes. About half way down the beach, we happened upon a decomposing marine mammal. Several gulls were feeding on it, including the Glaucous Gull. The consensus of the group was that this was the remains of a Pilot Whale.
Decomposing Pilot Whale - Race Point Provincetown

Glaucous Gull - Race Point, Provincetown

There are mudflats (Hatches Harbor) past Race Point where we cut through to head back along the dunes. There were a high number of shorebirds working the flats here, mostly dominated by Dunlin and Sanderling, with 8 Black-bellied Plovers mixed in. The group had great looks at a Peregrine Falcon on the wing here and it was later seen being harassed by a Merlin.
Our walk back through the dunes to the parking lot was mostly quiet, but we had nice, close looks at a small flock of Horned Larks. The group arrived back at the parking lot at about 2PM and just as we were loading up, a flock of Common Redpolls were moving down the beach and ever so briefly alighted on the dunes in front of our vehicles.
McMillan Wharf, Provincetown

Next stop was at McMillan Wharf in the bustling center of Provincetown, where we hoped to get closer looks at Alcids. Often times these smallish black and white seabirds can be right off the wharf at point blank range. We had wonderful looks at Long-tailed Ducks and spotted a few Ruddy Turnstones on the breakwater, but no alcids in close. We picked up a Harlequin Duck and another distant Black Guillemot from different vantage point in Provincetown Harbor.
Later in the afternoon we headed down to Coast Guard Beach in Eastham to look at Nauset Marsh. There were 1,000+ Dunlin on the mudflats and a few more Black-bellied Plovers among them. A couple Gadwall were spotted among the Mallards and Am. Black Ducks.
Nauset Marsh, Eastham

We made a late run down to Nauset Beach in Orleans for Harlequin Ducks and Scoters, but it was getting too dark, so we focused our attention on the dunes to the south towards Pochet Island in the hopes of seeing Short-eared Owl, which is possible at this spot. A few people in the group had distant, unsatisfying scope views of one in the waning light.
Traditionally, this trip has gone out to a resturant, and part of the group did just that, followed by some owling at Nickerson State Park in Brewster. Eastern Screech and Great Horned Owl rounded out the trip on a high note.
*Thanks to Steven Whitebread, Mary & Ashley Keleher, and Jude Griffin for providing these wonderful pictures.

Complete list:

3 Brant (Atlantic)
110 Canada Goose
2 Gadwall
405 American Black Duck
7 Mallard
175 Common Eider (Atlantic)
1 Harlequin Duck
1 Surf Scoter
3 White-winged Scoter
40 Black Scoter
12 Long-tailed Duck
67 Bufflehead
10 Common Goldeneye
100 Red-breasted Mergansers
Red-breasted Merganser
6 Red-throated Loon
16 Common Loon
9 Red-necked Grebe
31 Northern Gannet
1 Great Cormorant (very low)
3 Great Blue Heron
1 Cooper's Hawk
2 Red-tailed Hawk
11 Black-bellied Plover
3 Ruddy Turnstone
119 Sanderling
1300 Dunlin
13 Black-legged Kittiwake
1 Bonaparte's Gull
105 Ring-billed Gull
133 Herring Gull (American)
4 Iceland Gull (Kumlien's)
1 Glaucous Gull
58 Great Black-backed Gull
2 Dovekie
1 Common Murre
27 Razorbill
3 large alcid sp.
2 Black Guillemot
80 Rock Pigeon
1 Eastern Screech Owl
1 Great Horned Owl
1 Short-eared Owl
2 Merlin
1 Peregrine Falcon
10 American Crow
15 Horned Lark
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Northern Cardinal
5 American Tree Sparrows
22 Common Redpoll
10 House Sparrow

Race Point, Provincetown

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

Vin Zollo

Saturday, February 2, 2013

North Quabbin - 1/27/2013

Nine individuals from the South Shore and Brookline Bird Clubs joined Ernie LeBlanc for a trip to the Royalston/Athol area to look for winter finches, and then on to the Honey Pot area of Hadley to pursue some of the recent sightings such as the Clay-colored Sparrow and Gyrfalcon. The North Quabbin area in the winter can be very rewarding, or rather bleak, depending on the numbers of northern visitors. In December and early January, good numbers of Evening and Pine Grosbeaks were sighted along with Redpolls and Pine Siskins. Royalston center usually is a focal point for the winter visitors. Although the center was rather quiet today, Vin Zollo was able to spot one female Evening Grosbeak at a hidden feeder, the only grosbeak of the day. Fruit in the area is rather scarce and no Pine Grosbeaks or waxwings were found. At Ernie’s house a sizable flock of Common Redpolls contained at least one individual that demonstrated all the characteristics of an immature/female Hoary Redpoll. All who got good looks at the bird seemed in agreement with the identification.

Common Redpolls 
While in Royalston, the group received a report of a sighting of the Gyrfalcon in Hadley so after visiting the Orange airport and finding several Horned Larks and little else, the group proceded to Hadley. A sweep of the Honey Pot area netted the group several Bald Eagles, a Kestrel and a couple of Pileated Woodpeckers. The Clay-colored Sparrow as viewed by all, and it was on to look for the Gyrfalcon. A thorough search of much of the area failed to locate the Gyr. Exploring the East Meadows area of Northampton produced another flock of Common Redpolls and a sizable flock of Snow Buntings. At that point, the group called it a day, but Vin and Ernie sighted a Northern Harrier while leaving the fields, and while crossing the Connecticut River back into Hadley, sighted a large group of birds on the ice of the river. A swing onto Aqua Vitae Road brought them near the river and the large flock turned out to be approximately 900 Canadian Geese.

East Meadows - Northampton
By day’s end the trip had netted 37 species, not to bad for a cold day in January in the central part of the state. Complete list:

900 Canada Goose

1 Hooded Merganser

20 Common Merganser

1 Northern Harrier

3 Bald Eagle

15 Red-tailed Hawk

72 Ring-billed Gull

68 Rock Pigeon

14 Mourning Dove

1 Red-bellied Woodpecker

4 Downy Woodpecker

1 Hairy Woodpecker

2 Pileated Woodpecker

2 American Kestrel

23 Blue Jay

45 American Crow

1 Common Raven

136 Horned Lark

26 Black-capped Chickadee

6 Tufted Titmouse

6 White-breasted Nuthatch

3 Eastern Bluebird

14 American Robin

320 European Starling

75 Snow Bunting

46 American Tree Sparrow


2 Song Sparrow

1 White-throated Sparrow

22 Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)

18 Northern Cardinal

7 House Finch

100 Common Redpoll
Common Redpolls


38 House Sparrow

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

See BirdLog for more information.

Ernie LeBlanc