With a temperature in the low 30's and an in your face wind of 30 mph, the low to mid teen wind chill made conditions for birding difficult. Being prepared, I wore a face mask, which typically does not work too well for me. I can't hear what others are saying, my eyes water and my optics fog up. I consider this one of the worst ways to bird.
We continued down the island, stopping and scanning the marsh for non existent birds of prey and owls. (We were later told of a Rough-legged Hawk, but we never caught up to it). The frozen panes, were long since abandoned. The Warden's produced just two Song Sparrows. Typically, it is a place to get something of interest during the winter. Not this non-finch year. Onward and southward, we next stopped at Hellcat, to walk the wind exposed dike.
We met with two birders coming off the dike. They reported see a variety of ducks in the sound. But our goal here was to see the previously reported Lapland Longspurs. The other birders did not report seeing any. I subconsciously didn't think we would see anything and had left my scope in the car. So I scanned the sound with my binocs and found little in waterfowl. Even with the wind to our backs, it was somewhat uncomfortable, standing exposed, just past the watchtower. Returning to our intended goal, I looked northward and found a flock of nine birds in the dike path just before the do not enter fence. Getting Christine Whitebread's scope on the birds, we determined we had found our goal. Eight Longspurs and a song sparrow. Steven Whitebread, with camera in hand, crept closer to get a few pictures.
|Lapland Longspur, photo by Steven Whitebread|
Having achieved our goal, we continued down the island again scanning for any signs of life. We found flocks of Black Ducks, with a few Northern Pintails mixed in and a group of Mallards a Stage Island. At this point, the decision was to turn around and get away from the coast.
We headed a half hour inland to Haverhill's Kenoza Lake, where a variety of birds had been reported over the past several weeks. Our goal here was Tufted Duck, which up to recently had been moving from pond to pond as each was frozen out. What we found was AMAZING!!
With the exception of a tiny corner of the lake, the remainder of the lake was frozen. But in this tiny space were hundreds of ducks, coot, geese and swans. It was like birding ducks in a barrel.
|Assorted waterfowl, photo by Steven Whitebread|
|Tufted Duck, photo by Steven Whitebread|
There was 15 species of waterfowl, one of which, Eurasian Wigeon, was identified after the fact from photos taken.
|Eurasian Wigeon, photo by Steven Whitebread|
Below is a summary of the birds seen during the trip.The first number is for Plum Island the second is for Kenoza Lake.
Canada Goose 150 110
Mute Swan 12
Eurasian Wigeon 1 (Found later via photo above.)
American Wigeon 5
American Black Duck 300 2
Mallard 50 100
Northern Pintail 4
Tufted Duck 1
Ring-necked Duck 150
Greater Scaup 2
Scoter Sp. Black?? 1
Bufflehead 8 6
Hooded Merganser 7
Common Merganser 2
Ruddy Duck 25
Common Loon 2
Red-tailed Hawk 1 going to Kenoza Lake
American Coot 20
Herring Gull X 26
Great Black-backed Gull X
Rock Pigeon 12
American Crow 12 6
American Robin 10
European Starlings 300
Cedar Waxwings 15
Lapland Longspurs 8
American Tree Sparrow 5
Song Sparrow 8
Dark-eyed Junco 3
Northern Cardinal 2