Monday, April 8, 2013

Interior South Shore Localities (Hanson, Pembroke, W. Bridgewater, Bridgewater, Middleboro, and Lakeville) - 3/23/2013

A sunny, breezy, and chilly day greeted the enthusiastic group that came together for the Club's annual early spring outing to some some of the more interesting spring destinations in the heartland of the South Shore.  After meeting in Hanson, our first stop was at Wompatuck Pond where we enjoyed a handsome flock of Common Mergansers gleaming in the morning sun.  These regal, but usually wary, fish-eating waterfowl are always a treat to see.  It won't be much longer before most of them will begin to drift north for the summer.  Though small numbers nest in central and western Massachusetts, overall the species is a decidedly uncommon as a breeder in the Bay State.

Tantalized by our views of Common Mergansers, the group next checked several of the Pembroke "Indian Ponds" - Oldham, Furnace, and Great Sandy Bottom - to see what other waterfowl we could find.  Other than small numbers of the expected diving ducks, the most notable sighting was a rather reticent group of 25 or so Green-winged Teal resting along the edge of a bog pond behind Great Sandy Bottom Pond.

Burrage Pond W.M.A. in Hanson was particularly windy because of its open expanse, but 2 Ospreys squabbling over a fish, as well as a Northern Harrier being buffeted by the wind, made the stop worthwhile nonetheless.  A brief discussion on the mating strategies used by waterfowl during spring migration punctuated our visit to Burrage Pond.

Following a warm up stop for coffee we next made our way to West Meadows W.M.A. in West Bridgewater.  Despite the continued wind, West Meadows produced a 200+ Ring-necked Ducks, including mainly drakes, only underscoring some of our discussion points made at Burrage Pond.  The flooded banks of the Town River along Scotland Street in W. Bridgewater offered some of the best birding of the day, highlighted by a group of 6 Northern Shovelers (always a choice find on the South Shore), a drake "Eurasian" Green-winged Teal among a large flock of nearly 300 Green-winged Teal, and a Common Raven soaring over the nearby Hockomock Swamp.  Club members were reminded that the "Eurasian" Green-wing is a form that has already been "split" in Europe and is likely to someday be split from the Green-winged Teal in North America.  It is suspected that most of the "Eurasian" Green-wings found in the eastern U.S. emanate from breeding grounds in Iceland, not unlike most of our Eurasian Wigeons and Tufted Ducks.  The raven was likely a bird from one of the South Shore cell towers currently hosting nesting ravens these days.

A check of the Cumberland Farms fields in Middleboro provided distant views of a Rough-legged Hawk - another species that will likely soon be departing for parts north. Notable was an apparent dearth of the usually ubiquitous blackbird flocks in these fields.

Our final stop of the day was at the Lakevile ponds where we were treated to exciting views of 4 adult Bald Eagles that included one pair at their nest along the shore of Assawompsett Pond.  How cool is it to have these big boys back on the landscape as nesting birds?  Arthur Cleveland Bent would be proud.  And if you don't know who A.C.Bent is, by all means Google him!

Today actually represented a rare double-header for the S.S.B.C. because in the evening a robust group of club members (and others?) convened at the South Shore Natural Science Center in Norwell to share member's slides and enjoy homemade cookies.  Thanks to everyone who participated in this fine day!

Canada Goose  400
Mute Swan  30
Wood Duck 2
American Wigeon 1
American Black Duck 84
Mallard 140
Northern Pintail 8
Green-winged Teal 300
"Eurasian" Green-winged Teal 1
Ring-necked Duck 300
Greater Scaup 70
Lesser Scaup  8
Bufflehead 38
Common Goldeneye 25
Hooded Merganser 17
Common Merganser 75
Red-breasted Merganser 1 (uncommon inland in spring)
Great Blue Heron 6
Osprey 2
Bald Eagle 4 (includes a pair at nest)
Northern Harrier 4
Cooper's Hawk 3
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 11
Rough-legged Hawk 1 (light morph)
Killdeer 10
Wilson's Snipe 12
Ring-billed Gull X
Herring Gull X
Great Black-backed Gull 1
Rock Pigeon X
Mourning Dove 30
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Downy Woodpecker 6
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 5
American Crow 5
Fish Crow 2
Common Raven 1 (becoming increasing frequent on the South Shore)
Horned Lark 30 (What subspecies, I wonder?)
Black-capped Chickadee 10
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Carolina Wren 3
American Robin 250+
European Starling X
American Tree Sparrow 5
Savannah Sparrow 6
Song Sparrow 10
Dark-eyed Junco 30
Northern Cardinal 4
Red-winged Blackbird 3000+
Common Grackle 1000+
Brown-headed Cowbird 5
American Goldfince 10
House Sparrow X

Admiring a Bald Eagle nest from afar. Courtesy of Christine Whitebread.

Wayne R. Petersen
Hanson, MA

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