Friday, November 28, 2014

Pair of trips: Webb State Park - Weymouth & Great Pond - Randolph/Braintree & vicinity 11/22&23/2014

   Seven birders (led by Kathy Rawdon) gathered at Webb State Park in Weymouth on an unseasonably cold and brisk Saturday morning. The temperature to start was 24F, but the sun was shining and visibility was good. This park is a small peninsular of open space that juts out into Hingham Bay. The habitat is mostly early successional with areas of dense thickets. Bird numbers and diversity were low (especially land birds), although bay ducks, namely Common Eider and Buffleheads  showed well in good light. We were able to hear the males in a small flock of Common Eider doing their courtship calls, sounding something like a low-pitched "wa-oooo".

Webb State Park
   This walk turned out to be one of those times when one bird made the trip. In amongst a distant flock of Common Eiders we noticed one that had more black on it's back. After zooming in we realized that this was a King Eider! Everyone seemed to have more "spring" in their step for the rest of the walk.
   The trip extended to nearby Stodder's Neck to follow up on a recent report of an "Audubon's" Warbler. This is a sub-species of the Yellow-rumped Warbler found normally in western North America. Stodder's Neck is a well known dog walker's park and not often frequented by birders. Despite large numbers of dogs there happened to be some quality birds! Once again, land birds were in short supply, but we finally came upon a flock of Dark-eyed Juncos and mixed in with them was a Lark Sparrow! This was quite unexpected and the bird was very cooperative, giving all of us wonderful views. On our way out, having successfully placed our feet in all the right places, we encountered a small mixed flock of birds and had brief views of the "Audubon's" Warbler.
   The group was rewarded in the end, despite the challenging weather conditions and will be fondly remembered.

32 Canada Goose
22 American Black Duck
7 Mallard
1 King Eider - male
120 Common Eider (Atlantic)
10 Surf Scoter
1 White-winged Scoter - low
4 Long-tailed Duck
65 Bufflehead
2 Common Goldeneye - low
1 Hooded Merganser
45 Red-breasted Merganser
2 Red-throated Loon
1 Common Loon
1 Horned Grebe - low
4 Double-crested Cormorant
1 Red-tailed Hawk
8 Ring-billed Gull
35 Herring Gull (American)
3 Great Black-backed Gull
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Blue Jay
7 American Crow
14 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Carolina Wren
5 American Robin
4 Northern Mockingbird
37 European Starling
20 Cedar Waxwing
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) - Stodder's Neck
3 American Tree Sparrow
1 Lark Sparrow - Stodder's Neck
10 Song Sparrow
3 White-throated Sparrow
10 Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)
6 Northern Cardinal
3 House Finch
3 American Goldfinch
2 House Sparrow

   My annual mid-November waterfowl trip to inland bodies of water starts at Great Pond which is located on the Randolph/Braintree border. Four of us spent a few hours this Sunday morning trekking around this large body of water. Species diversity was about normal, but numbers were below average. Highlights included approx. 30 Green-winged Teal and 2 Bald Eagles (one near adult, one juvenile). We felt fortunate to observe the adult Bald Eagle grab a fish. The ducks seemed to be quite skittish and we wondered out loud if the eagles presence could be the cause.

Great Pond
   The four of us stopped at Reservoir Pond in Canton seeing 200+ Ruddy Ducks and 24 Lesser Scaup. We rounded out the day at Ricchardi Reservoir in Randolph with a nice flock of about 70 Ring-necked Ducks.

200 Canada Goose
1 Mute Swan
4 American Black Duck
76 Mallard
30 Green-winged Teal
71 Ring-necked Duck
4 Greater Scaup
24 Lesser Scaup
13 Bufflehead
19 Common Goldeneye
9 Hooded Merganser
6 Common Merganser
225 Ruddy Duck
1 Common Loon
6 Double-crested Cormorant
2 Bald Eagle
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
3 Red-tailed Hawk
15 American Coot
49 Ring-billed Gull
7 Herring Gull (American)
1 Great Black-backed Gull
20 Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
3 Mourning Dove
1 Belted Kingfisher
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
7 Downy Woodpecker
7 Blue Jay
52 American Crow
19 Black-capped Chickadee
9 Tufted Titmouse
7 White-breasted Nuthatch
10 Carolina Wren
2 Golden-crowned Kinglet
4 American Robin
2 Northern Mockingbird
29 European Starling
6 Song Sparrow
19 Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)
6 Northern Cardinal
1 House Finch
6 American Goldfinch
24 House Sparrow

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

Vin Zollo

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

West Island and Fairhaven - 11/8/2014

Autumn Birding at West Island, Fairhaven

   West Island is a beautiful part of Fairhaven located just east of the southern tip of Sconticut Neck. While the area is well know to local birders, it does not receive much in the way of coverage from birders beyond southern Bristol County.
On November 8th, I was joined by fifteen birders – some from as far away as Walpole, Quincy, and Pembroke – for a day of mid autumn coastal birding with excellent weather.

"Ipswich" Savannah Sparrow

   We started the morning a the southern tip of West Island and immediately noticed the tern-like Bonaparte’s Gulls flying just offshore. In the same area, we flushed an “Ipswich” Savannah Sparrow. This large and pale subspecies of Savannah Sparrow winters on the Massachusetts coast and prefers dune habitat and sandy areas close to shore. The bird resembles a nominate Savannah Sparrow, but appears as though it has been stuffed with a golf ball and dipped in bleach for twenty seconds. The bird’s overall frosty appearance and larger size are perhaps the most diagnostic field marks. As we walked north along the beach we were also treated to scope views of Surf and White-winged scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, Red-throated and Common loons, and Horned Grebes.
   While walking on the beach, one member of the group noticed a large dark raptor perched at the top of a tree at the eastern end of the island. As the group scrambled to get their scopes on the bird, another participant yelled out “Golden Eagle!” Our group watched in amazement as a juvenile Golden Eagle – with its broad white tail band and golden nape – sat unfazed while being mobbed by a group of unhappy American Crows. We watched and photographed the bird and agreed that this species was a great surprise for everyone in the group since this species is rare in the southeastern portion of Massachusetts. Although it is of annual occurance at traditional hawk watching sites in Massachusetts (usually in early November), it is much rarer on the coastal plain of the eastern part of the commonwealth.

Golden Eagle

   After viewing the Golden Eagle in beautiful morning light, we continued to the eastern point of West Island. In this area our group encountered fifteen Dunlin and five Ruddy Turnstones on the large rocks near the beach. We also observed an immature Red-shouldered Hawk lazily soaring overhead as scads of Yellow-rumped Warblers jumped from the sand to nearby Bayberry bushes and back. The air was still and the sun was warm, so the warblers were flycatching frequently. One particularly determined Yellow-rump pursued a flying insect high above the shore. Some participants witnessed the bird deftly seize its prey before sailing back down to the protective cover of the Bayberry thickets nearby.
   On our return trip along the beach, we observed a flock of nine Snow Buntings in flight. The Golden Eagle had moved on while we on the opposite side of the eastern point of the island, so we decided to walk the edge of the saltmarsh to see what might be tucked away in the dense Spartina grass. In a small shrub at the edge of the marsh, we had a brief look at another “Ipswich” Savannah Sparrow (one of three for the day at this location). While squeaking at the edge of the marsh, some participants had brief but clear views of a Nelson’s Sparrow as it perched near the top of the grass.
   Our next stop was at the small ponds at Egypt Lane in Fairhaven. Our group hoped to see the continuing immature Common Gallinule that has been present here for several weeks. We observed the bird as it paddled about in the dense vegetation. In addition to the Common Gallinule, there was nice variety of ducks at the ponds including Gadwalls, American Wigeons, Green-winged Teal, and Hooded Mergansers. Nine American Coot entertained us with their odd chuckling vocalizations and awkward movements.
   A subsequent visit to Shaw Road yielded a nice mix of birds of open field and thicket habitats. One thicket between fields produced a Golden-crowned Kinglet, nine White-throated Sparrows, a single Swamp Sparrow, and a Palm Warbler (western). A nearby field hosted thirty five Horned Larks and a flock of fifteen American Pipits. An adult Cooper’s Hawk flew into the area and stirred up the birds for a few minutes giving everyone in the group an opportunity to observe the larks and pipits in flight.
Our last stop of the day was Little Bay Conservation Area. This area is loaded with thickets and contains Red Oak/White Pine forest habitat. We observed typical late lingering thicket species like Gray Catbird and Hermit Thrush as we birded on the bike path. Furthermore, our group sighted two Greater Yellowlegs at the edge of Little Bay. By this time, it was late in the afternoon and the sun was getting low on the horizon. It was still warm and pleasant and everyone was still riding the adrenaline rush of the Golden Eagle sighting earlier in the day. Everyone agreed that it was a great day to be out in the field with great birds and great company at a great location.

Hermit Thrush
*Thanks to Steven Whitebread for providing these fine photos.

160 Canada Goose
4 Mute Swan
2 Gadwall
2 American Wigeon
44 American Black Duck
12 Mallard
6 Green-winged Teal (American)
12 Greater/Lesser Scaup
1 Common Eider (Atlantic) - *Very low?
125 Surf Scoter
12 White-winged Scoter
125 Long-tailed Duck
55 Bufflehead
5 Common Goldeneye
2 Hooded Merganser
40 Red-breasted Merganser
5 Red-throated Loon
8 Common Loon
1 Pied-billed Grebe
6 Horned Grebe
12 Double-crested Cormorant
7 Great Cormorant
2 Great Blue Heron
1 Turkey Vulture
1 GOLDEN EAGLE - juvenile
1 Northern Harrier
1 Cooper's Hawk
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
4 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Common Gallinule - continuing immature at Egypt Lane Pond.
9 American Coot
2 Greater Yellowlegs
5 Ruddy Turnstone
3 Sanderling
15 Dunlin
30 Bonaparte's Gull
1 Laughing Gull
55 Ring-billed Gull
117 Herring Gull (American)
7 Great Black-backed Gull
3 Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
4 Mourning Dove
1 Eastern Screech-Owl
2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
9 Downy Woodpecker
1 Hairy Woodpecker
3 Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)
9 Blue Jay
16 American Crow
35 Horned Lark
21 Black-capped Chickadee
7 Tufted Titmouse
6 Carolina Wren
3 Golden-crowned Kinglet
2 Eastern Bluebird
2 Hermit Thrush
7 American Robin
2 Gray Catbird
1 Northern Mockingbird
200 European Starling
15 American Pipit
9 Snow Bunting
1 Palm Warbler (Western)
51 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Eastern Towhee
2 Savannah Sparrow
3 Savannah Sparrow (Ipswich) - West Island
1 Nelson's Sparrow (Atlantic Coast) - West Island
13 Song Sparrow
3 Swamp Sparrow
21 White-throated Sparrow
12 Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)
8 Northern Cardinal
1 Red-winged Blackbird
3 House Finch
7 American Goldfinch
15 House Sparrow

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

Jim Sweeney

Monday, November 17, 2014

Boston Victory Gardens, October 26th 2014

Three of us took the Red line from the Wollaston/North Quincy, stopped off for Coffee (and Restroom) before birding and got all this in in less than an hour before the meeting time, very civilized! We were joined by one more member and strolled the Victory Gardens for three hours on a gorgeous late fall morning. These allotments are always lovely to walk along and often good for a few surprise birds.
Our first surprise was a great look at a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, later we spotted a female Purple Finch, which puzzled us for a bit as it was totally unexpected there! We got many wonderfully close looks at  Hermit Thrushes, always a treat. The Juncos and White-throated Sparrows were also numerous, as were the Kinglets, those little guys are just so cute to watch.

In short a relaxing morning of leisurely and rewarding birding!

Boston: Fenway Victory Gardens, Suffolk, US-MA
Oct 26, 2014 8:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Comments:    SSBC trip, sunny, mid 50F
35 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose  44
Mallard  3
Great Blue Heron  2
Cooper's Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  3
hawk sp.  1
Herring Gull  2     flyover.
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  3
Mourning Dove  7
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Eastern Phoebe  5
Blue Jay  5
Black-capped Chickadee  3
Tufted Titmouse  2
Carolina Wren  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  7
Hermit Thrush  6
American Robin  21
Northern Mockingbird  4
Cedar Waxwing  2
Common Yellowthroat  1
Blackpoll Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  2
Chipping Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  9
Swamp Sparrow  4
White-throated Sparrow  12
Dark-eyed Junco  8
Northern Cardinal  3
Red-winged Blackbird  3
Common Grackle  9
House Finch  3
Purple Finch  1
American Goldfinch  3
House Sparrow  55

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (