Saturday, September 14, 2013

Plymouth Beach - 9/14/2013

    Eight people made the long trek down to the tip of Plymouth Beach and back again. Skies were partly sunny with a medium NW wind and temperatures in the 60sF, making the nearly 6 mile round-trip comfortable, but tiring. A cold front moved through the area on the night before, but this did not seem to translate into more migrants. If anything, some the birds that may have been around probably cleared out of the area under these favorable conditions.

    A couple of Common Loons were seen on the ocean side of the beach and a Belted Kingfisher was making it's rattling call on the bay side along the Eel River as the group assembled. A Wilson's Snipe put in a brief appearance as it flew over as we started down the beach.
    Shorebird diversity is past it's peak in mid-September, but there were still hundreds of Sanderlings and Black-bellied Plovers along the outer half the beach on a falling tide. A Peregrine Falcon was moving hard and fast down the beach and spooked all of the shorebirds and many of the gulls. Somewhat surprising was the lack of any terns among the large flocks of gulls scattered along the beach. Terns generally disperse to staging areas along Cape Cod during this time period, but their complete absence was noteworthy.
    As we rounded our way around the tip of the beach, we scoped a couple of Ruddy Turnstones out on the rocks near the lighthouse. The return trip down the bay side of the beach was quiet, but that all changed as one of our sharp-eyed observers picked out another Peregrine Falcon perched along the wrack line. We had fantastic views of this young bird, a real "show stopper"!

Peregrine Falcon

    As the Peregrine took flight and headed down the beach we could see the carcass of a marine mammal the had washed up on the rocks. Upon closer inspection, it appeared to be some species of dolphin. I would be interested to hear people's thoughts as to what specie this is.

The remainder of the walk back to the parking area was uneventful as the tide had gone out and dispersed the shorebirds. Sometimes the last leg of the journey can seem especially long!

41 species

Mute Swan  2
American Black Duck  6
Mallard  2
Common Loon  2
Double-crested Cormorant  200
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  8
Osprey  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Black-bellied Plover  300
Semipalmated Plover  85
Greater Yellowlegs  20
Willet  2    
Ruddy Turnstone  2
Sanderling  500
Semipalmated Sandpiper  30
Semipalmated Sandpipers
Short-billed Dowitcher  5
Wilson's Snipe  1    Flyover
Laughing Gull  35
Ring-billed Gull  100
Herring Gull (American)  300    
Great Black-backed Gull  75
Mourning Dove  6
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Belted Kingfisher  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
Peregrine Falcon  2
Blue Jay  1
American Crow  11
Black-capped Chickadee  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Carolina Wren  1
Gray Catbird  4
Northern Mockingbird  4
European Starling  25
Song Sparrow  12
Northern Cardinal  1
Common Grackle  1
House Finch  5
American Goldfinch  6
House Sparrow  9

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Vin Zollo

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Fairhaven - 8/25/2013

Green Heron

On August 25th I was joined by ten South Shore Bird Club members on a spectacular late summer day of birding at Sconticut Neck and West Island in the town of Fairhaven.  Our day started off with a surprise group of three Green Herons flying over the meeting spot in the parking lot of a local supermarket.  These would not be our last Green Herons of the day!

    The first stop on our trip was a walk out to the flats that are exposed at low tide on the east side of West Island.  We were not dissapointed by the shorebird diversity in this area.  Our group was entertained by a frenetic gang of seven Greater Yellowlegs actively pursuing minnows in the shallow water remaining in this area.  There were also many Semipalmated Plovers, some Semipalmated Sandpipers, a few Ruddy Turnstones, and a single Spotted Sandpiper at this location.  We were treated to a variety of shorebird vocalizations as we watched the birds actively feeding.  Subsequently, we walked the beach and observed a number of Least Sandpipers picking at insect prey in the wrack line.  At times, these diminutive shorebirds allowed for close approach.  This species can be incredibly confiding and the birds we encountered today were no exception.

Greater Yellowleg

    After walking the beach and enjoying close looks at many of the shorebirds, we decided to walk the saltmarsh side of the dunes back to the parking lot.  On our way to the saltmarsh, we stopped briefly at the flats that were rapidly disappearing with the rising tide.  We were fortunate to see two Green Herons standing at the edge of the water at this location.  The saltmarsh usually produces Saltmarsh Sparrows throughout the summer.  We were all pleased to observe three birds as they teed up for unobstructed views in great light.

    Our next stop was Edgewater St. on Sconticut Neck.  As soon as we got out of the vehicles, two Snowy Egrets flew over our group, a lone Green Heron was perched like a sentinel in a cluster of cedars in the middle of the saltmarsh, and Barn Swallows swooped low over the Spartina grass.

    After enjoying the birds at Edgewater St., we travelled to Egypt Lane in Fairhaven.  Our group carefully negotiated the rocky dike that leads to the freshwater pond nearby.  Instantly, we were rewarded with views of several Black-crowned Night-Herons.  There were several immature birds present and at least one first summer bird.  We also observed a rattling Belted Kingfisher as it alighted on a post in the middle of the pond.  On a fence just feet away from our group, we observed begging young being placated by a pair of parent Barn Swallows.  Four Great Blue Herons gracefully stalked their prey in the saltmarsh on the south side of the dike.  Ospreys soared above us and gave their distinctive chip calls.  

    By late morning, we felt the need to see some forest birds and decided to check out the Little Bay Conservation Area on the northeast side of Sconticut Neck.  Shortly after entering the woods, we saw and heard a Northern Flicker, an Eastern Phoebe, a Red-eyed Vireo, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker (among other species).  Another interesting sighting in this area, albeit non-avian, was a Swamp Darner buzzing about the road and zipping in and out of patches of shade.  This is one of the largest dragonfly species in Massachusetts.  I was lucky to catch (and then release) this monster of an ode and our group was able to see the intricate ringed pattern on its abdomen.  Later, as we walked the bike path, we observed several more Swamp Darners flying overhead.  This migratory species appeared to be on the move today.

Swamp Darner

   As we approached early afternoon, the bird activity waned with the rising temperatures.  However, we decided to make a stop at the north end of the island before calling it a day.  Several Ruby-throated Hummingbirds flew past us while engaged in their metallic chatter.  It appeared that they had been visiting a feeder at a nearby house.  These birds were two of seven that had been observed in other locations earlier in the day.  Clearly, a number of these birds were migrating today.  Out on the saltmarsh, a number of Snowy Egrets crouched in the grass, their upper bodies distorted by the heat shimmer. A single fly over Least Sandpiper called out "breeep" before disappearing on the horizon.  The day was as beautiful as when it started, but it was now augmented by memories of all things avian at West Island and Sconticut Neck.

7 Canada Goose
5 Mute Swan
20 Mallard
1 Common Eider
1 Common Loon
33 Double-crested Cormorant
9 Great Blue Heron
7 Great Egret
8 Snowy Egret
4 Green Heron
5 Black-crowned Night-Heron
5 Osprey
3 Cooper's Hawk
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
1 Red-tailed Hawk
2 Black-bellied Plover
79 Semipalmated Plover
27 Killdeer
2 Spotted Sandpiper
7 Greater Yellowlegs
1 Willet
3 Ruddy Turnstone
1 Sanderling
35 Semipalmated Sandpiper
19 Least Sandpiper
3 Short-billed Dowitcher
4 Laughing Gull
7 Ring-billed Gull
49 Herring Gull
4 Great Black-backed Gull
11 Rock Pigeon
12 Mourning Dove
7 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
1 Belted Kingfisher
2 Chimney Swift
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
3 Downy Woodpecker
3 Northern Flicker
1 Eastern Phoebe
1 Red-eyed Vireo
6 Blue Jay
10 American Crow
35 Tree Swallow
4 Bank Swallow
22 Barn Swallow
4 Black-capped Chickadee
4 Tufted Titmouse
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
5 Carolina Wren
1 Marsh Wren
8 American Robin
9 Gray Catbird
1 Northern Mockingbird
23 European Starling
4 Cedar Waxwing
2 Common Yellowthroat
4 Yellow Warbler
3 Saltmarsh Sparrow
14 Song Sparrow
9 Northern Cardinal
20 Red-winged Blackbird
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
2 Common Grackle
9 House Finch
15 American Goldfinch
24 House Sparrow

Jim Sweeney

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary, Marshfield - 8/31/2013

Lark Sparrow & Dickcissel at Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield

Ok, the Lark Sparrow was not at the sanctuary, but at the cemetery just before (Winslow Cemetery?) feeding in the grass.  I saw this bird at 6:40ish just before people were arriving for the 7:00 start.  Brought them back and the Marshfield park dept arrives and begins sanitizing the area.  Fortunately the sparrow cooperated and flushed up into a tree and sat there for everyone to get scope views with chain saws and wood chippers ringing in their ears.

The Dickcissel kept calling it's distinctive call note from the thicket beyond the fence at the parking lot.  It would not show itself and we did not see it at the feeder.  Both birds could be at the feeder eventually.  There were probably two Dickcissels, one may have flown over before I took the group back for the sparrow.  There was a call heard twice which sounded like it was moving south around 7:00.

Both these birds can be added to the BBC Big Year list which is on its way to become the best in its 100 year history.  Do come to the 100th banquet being held on Sept 28th.  See the website for details.  It promises to be a fun evening!

58 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose  41
Mute Swan  1
Wood Duck  12
Mallard  18
Green-winged Teal (American)  3
Double-crested Cormorant  10
Great Egret  1
Green Heron  2
Osprey  2
Northern Harrier  1
Cooper's Hawk  3
Red-shouldered Hawk  4     4 to 5
Greater Yellowlegs  6
Lesser Yellowlegs  1
Semipalmated Sandpiper  3
Least Sandpiper  11
Short-billed Dowitcher (Atlantic)  1
Mourning Dove  135
Eastern Screech-Owl  1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  4
Red-bellied Woodpecker  4
Downy Woodpecker  2
Hairy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  4
Alder/Willow Flycatcher (Traill's Flycatcher)  1     Probable Willow, no eye-ring and brown plumage
Eastern Phoebe  9
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Blue Jay  5
American Crow  43
Tree Swallow  25
Bank Swallow  1
Barn Swallow  10
Black-capped Chickadee  5
Tufted Titmouse  3
White-breasted Nuthatch  4
House Wren  1
Carolina Wren  4
Eastern Bluebird  1
Veery  1
American Robin  30
Gray Catbird  28
Northern Mockingbird  1
European Starling  X
Cedar Waxwing  12
Common Yellowthroat  5
Chipping Sparrow  8
Lark Sparrow  1     Not seeing any streaking on sides, this bird is likely an adult in faded plumage.  Well defined head markings, but brownish with little chestnut.  Whitish below with center spot, tail with white corners and coming up the outer feather(s).
Song Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  9
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1
Dickcissel  1     Probably 2, only heard.  One flew over at 7:00, the other at the thicket at the parking area a little later
Bobolink  40
Red-winged Blackbird  2
Common Grackle  3
Brown-headed Cowbird  20
Baltimore Oriole  2
House Finch  5
American Goldfinch  8
House Sparrow  X

Glenn d'Entremont