Thursday, June 22, 2017

Southern Plymouth County Breeders, 17th June 17

On June 17th, seven intrepid birders drove through the pouring rain to meet in Mattapoisett at 6AM. At the meetup, the rain dwindled down to a drizzle and it was unanimously decided upon to risk getting rained on, and as such the trip began.

Our first stop was the Schoolman Preserve in Rochester. This is a medium-sized trail within mixed forest, which has two offshoots that end and different locations along the Mattapoisett River. Typically, this forest holds many American Redstart and Veery and we were not disappointed to have great looks as well as several calling and singing birds of both species. Of note was when we heard a Redstart and Yellow Warbler singing at the same time, offering a great study of the two somewhat similar songs. We spent some time admiring the large Holly trees near one of the side trails, one of which appeared to be a fallen branch which rooted and continued growing, and were pleased to be accompanied by Jewelwings for the entirety of our trip. We also took some time to appreciate some Orange-patched Smoky Moths before the trail looped back to the parking lot.
Orange-patched Smoky Moth, photo by Kim Wylie

Schoolman Preserve, Plymouth, Massachusetts, US
Jun 17, 2017 6:15 AM - 8:05 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
Comments:     SSBC trip
32 species

Mourning Dove  2
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  1
Black-billed Cuckoo  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  2
Eastern Wood-Pewee  3
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Eastern Kingbird  1
American Crow  2
Barn Swallow  2
Black-capped Chickadee  8
Tufted Titmouse  6
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Brown Creeper  1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
Veery  12
American Robin  4
Gray Catbird  6
Ovenbird  13
Black-and-white Warbler  1
Common Yellowthroat  3
American Redstart  12
Yellow Warbler  7
Pine Warbler  6
Chipping Sparrow  8
Song Sparrow  2
Eastern Towhee  10
Northern Cardinal  3
Red-winged Blackbird  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  4
Baltimore Oriole  4
American Goldfinch  1

In an attempt to evade forecasted heavier rainfall, we then went to grab some coffee and a quick breakfast to wait it out. To our pleasant surprise, the rain stopped and fog lifted. We then made our way to Nasketucket Bay State Reservation, a series of trails which go through several different habitats; open meadow, mixed forest, thickets, and several trails which lead to Nasketucket Bay. We started by walking the main trail, which holds several Blue-winged Warblers because of all the secondary growth bordering the forest along the sides of the trail. Essentially as soon as we got on to the trail we found a Blue-winged Warbler which was singing low, and all had great looks at the bird. 

Blue-winged Warbler, Photo by Steven Whitebread
We continued down Meadow Trail, and were treated to singing Wood Thrush as we worked our way down, eventually taking Saltmarsh Trail to Nasketucket Bay. The group spent some time looking at the bay and abutting saltmarshes, and got great looks at Willet, Common Tern, a distant American Oystercatcher, and to my personal surprise we found another location along Buzzard’s Bay which appears to have a healthy population of (likely breeding) Saltmarsh Sparrows. These sparrows were being incredibly showy for this species, posting up on bare branches and singing occasionally. We also spent a decent amount of time trying to identify what appeared to be a small heron in the back of the marsh, which ended up being an extremely heron-like piece of vegetation. From here we worked our way back to the parking lot taking Holly Trail, the time of year showing its colors in the noticeable decrease in bird activity as the morning grew later.

Mystery egg on wrack, photo by Steven Whitebread
The crew, photo by Christine Whitebread
Nasketucket Bay State Reservation, Plymouth, Massachusetts, US
Jun 17, 2017 8:45 AM - 10:44 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
Comments:     SSBC trip
43 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose  1
Double-crested Cormorant  4
Snowy Egret  2
Osprey  2
American Oystercatcher  1
Willet  5
Herring Gull  3
Great Black-backed Gull  2
Common Tern  4
Mourning Dove  3
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  1
Yellow-billed/Black-billed Cuckoo  1
Downy Woodpecker  2
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  2
Great Crested Flycatcher  3
Red-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  3
American Crow  3
Tree Swallow  2
Barn Swallow  2
Black-capped Chickadee  3
Tufted Titmouse  4
Wood Thrush  4
American Robin  6
Gray Catbird  8
European Starling  20
Cedar Waxwing  4
Ovenbird  10
Blue-winged Warbler  3
Common Yellowthroat  5
Yellow Warbler  8
Pine Warbler  4
Saltmarsh Sparrow  3
Song Sparrow  3
Eastern Towhee  10
Northern Cardinal  3
Bobolink  1
Red-winged Blackbird  4
Common Grackle  7
Brown-headed Cowbird  5
Baltimore Oriole  2
House Finch  1
American Goldfinch  1

Our third stop was what I (and possibly only me) refer to as Antassawamock. This is a property that is at the end of Mattapoisett Neck Rd. in Mattapoisett which has been recently acquired by Mattapoisett Land Trust and given the less exciting name the “Munn Preserve”. This is a trail which is a little over a half-mile, leading to a narrow strip of beach along Brant Island Cove.  Following suit with the end of our walk at Nasketucket the woods were mostly quiet, but we were lucky to hear a singing White-eyed Vireo before the end of the trail. This species is a probable breeder here, with a pair being present in-season last year. We approached the song and tried to find the bird, and a few of us were able to get brief looks at it before it hopped into the dense vegetation never to be seen again, a quality of which this species is known for notoriously. After the forest opened up to the beach we worked our way up the peninsula to get scope views of Ram Island. On several instances we got great looks at Saltmarsh Sparrows moving throughout the marshes and walking along the wrack line. Once we got to a good vantage spot we spent some time scoping Ram Island, studying the hundreds of Common and Roseate Terns that breed there. While we were scoping, four American Oystercatcher flew over our heads and into the marsh, and a strange duck flew past toward Ram Island, looking overall brownish with white secondaries. Further examination of this duck once it landed revealed that it was a female Gadwall, and while scoping it as it landed and swam close to shore near Ram Island a male also revealed itself. This is a species that was completely unexpected as we were not aware that this species was a possible breeder at this location.

Munn Preserve, Plymouth, Massachusetts, US
Jun 17, 2017 11:15 AM - 12:20 PM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
Comments:     SSBC trip
45 species

Gadwall  2     Out by Ram Island, female seen in flight. Relatively long-necked ducks with white patches near rump, all color was essentially washed out given the distance and cloudy conditions.
Mallard  2
Common Eider  6
Common Loon  3
Double-crested Cormorant  6
Snowy Egret  1
Osprey  6
American Oystercatcher  4
Willet  6
Herring Gull  2
Great Black-backed Gull  2
Roseate Tern  15
Common Tern  300
Mourning Dove  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
Willow Flycatcher  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  2
White-eyed Vireo  1
Red-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  2
American Crow  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Tree Swallow  3
Barn Swallow  6
Black-capped Chickadee  2
Tufted Titmouse  2
American Robin  2
Gray Catbird  4
European Starling  3
Ovenbird  2
Common Yellowthroat  3
Yellow Warbler  3
Pine Warbler  1
Saltmarsh Sparrow  8     Breeding location, excellent looks at several individuals.
Song Sparrow  2
Eastern Towhee  3
Northern Cardinal  2
Red-winged Blackbird  2
Common Grackle  4
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
Baltimore Oriole  1
House Finch  2
American Goldfinch  1
House Sparrow  4

After a quick lunch, we decided to end the trip at Egypt Lane in Fairhaven. Some of the members on the trip were able to hear one of the Clapper Rails that have been present in the breeding season since last year. We spent a fair amount of time watching the pond and left on a high note, getting spectacular looks at the adult Pied-billed Grebe with young.

Pied-billed Grebes, Photo by Steven Whitebread
Egypt Lane Ponds, Fairhaven, Bristol, Massachusetts, US
Jun 17, 2017 1:25 PM - 2:10 PM
Protocol: Traveling
0.25 mile(s)
38 species

Mute Swan  7
Wood Duck  2
Mallard  8
Pied-billed Grebe  4     Breeding birds with young
Double-crested Cormorant  1
Great Egret  1
Green Heron  2
Turkey Vulture  2
Osprey  2
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1     Small accipiter, wrists projected about the same amount as the head. Going after a TUVU
Cooper's Hawk  1
Clapper Rail  1     Heard calling toward Hacker St area of marsh
Willet  1
Herring Gull  3
Great Black-backed Gull  1
Common Tern  3
Mourning Dove  4
Chimney Swift  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Willow Flycatcher  1
Warbling Vireo  1
American Crow  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Tree Swallow  1
Barn Swallow  4
Tufted Titmouse  1
American Robin  3
Gray Catbird  2
European Starling  5
Cedar Waxwing  2
Yellow Warbler  3
Song Sparrow  3
Red-winged Blackbird  10
Common Grackle  5
American Goldfinch  2
House Sparrow  4

-Nate Marchessault

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