Monday, January 16, 2023

Plum Island & Vicinity - Janury 14 2023

 Five hardy soles made the trek to Plum Island under somewhat poor conditions to participate in the January Plum Island trip. Temps were in the mid 30's with on and off COLD drizzle. Winds were on and off 5-20 mph. Seas were rough.

As a result, best viewing were of the limited puddle ducks in the various pannes along the refuge road. A couple scans of the ocean found very few birds either in flight or on the seas. Multiple scans of the marsh area failed to turned up any Snowy Owls.

As noted in the numbers below, American Black Duck was the most common bird of the day. Many being force to take cover in the pannes as hunters across the river put them up several times with gun fire. Likely, one of the reasons for not seeing any Snowys. Despite not seeing a snowy owl, we did get to see a close to the road Barred Owl being mobbed by a click(?) of photographers. Several in the group got their share of photos. Best I could do was a rather poor but artistic cell phone shot.

Along the way, a couple of the participants manage to get their first far off sightings of Dunlin and Horne Grebe. A quick look up river failed to find any Bald Eagles, just missing one per photograhers at Deer Island in Amesbury. With that we called it a day.

Below are the numbers for the day.


Total Records: 28
NAME                     COUNT
Canada Goose             110        
Gadwall                  10         
Mallard                  15         
American Black Duck      300        
Northern Pintail         20         
Common Eider             6          
White-winged Scoter      8          
Long-tailed Duck         14         
Bufflehead               6          
Common Goldeneye         5         
Common Merganser         2          
Red-breasted Merganser   1          
Horned Grebe             1          
Rock Pigeon              25         
Sanderling               20         
Ring-billed Gull         10         
Herring Gull             15         
Great Black-backed Gull  3          
Red-throated Loon        5          
Common Loon              2          
Cooper's Hawk            1          
Barred Owl               1          
American Crow            1          
Black-capped Chickadee   1          
Northern Mockingbird     1          
American Robin           30         
American Tree Sparrow    1          
Song Sparrow             2    

Thursday, July 14, 2022

SSBC Goes to Lake Umbagog! June 3-7 2022

Below is a writeup from Dana Duxbury-Fox on two double-header three-day trips out to lake Umbagog she and Bob led.

Group 1 SSBC Trip to the Umbagog Region 3-5 June 2022

Day 1, Friday June 3, 2022, After a long drive with good weather, everyone reached Gorham NH and began birding the 38-mile Gorham – Errol Road (Route 16). There were the boom piers in the Androscoggin River, the huge ski jump, a bridge with nesting Cliff and Barn Swallows, and the photogenic osprey nest. At Pontuck Resevoir many of the group met our co-leaders (SSBC members who moved north) Charlie Nims and Joe Scott. Here there were some Ring-necked ducks, a wonderful marsh.

Soon everyone reached Errol, turned right, and found the Errol Motel just past the church. At 5 p.m. there was a Happy Hour in Room 10, then we all walked to the church for a wonderful turkey dinner prepared by a team of ladies from the church.  After ordering our bag-lunch for next day, everyone went upstairs for a talk by Dana Duxbury-Fox. Dana has become an expert on the area’s most famous birder, William Brewster, and she talked about his adventures a century ago.

Day 2, Saturday, June 4, 2022, began at 6:15 a.m. with an early cold breakfast at the church so we could early reach the high areas on the Dixville Turbine Road by 8 a.m. for the best birding. The elevation is only about 2,700 feet, but its location favors more spruce-loving northern breeding species. Charlie led the five-car caravan first to the road’s end while birds were in song, then we birded back down the road making several stops for special birds. Some of the birds seen and photographed at the top included Bicknell’s Thrush, Blackpoll Warbler,Canada Jay, Boreal Chickadee, and Nate heard a distant Fox Sparrow. Attention also turned to sundews, ferns, Nodding Trillium. We paused beyond the port-ta-pot- ties for Lincoln’s  Sparrow and Mourning Warbler.

Magnolia Warbler, photo by Carol Molander

We ate our picnic lunch back at the motel picnic tables. The afternoon birding trip started by going north for 5 miles on Route 16 to a good boreal bog. Then we went further north to the Dartmouth Second College Grant property and our interests expanded with Nate catching dragonflies and butterflies, and others checking out plants and ferns as well as seeing a new group of birds. 

Beaverpond Baskettail, photo by Leslie Flint

The Umbagog region is located between two plant/animal areas called biomes, so it is only a short distance between species we might expect in southern NH and those of the great northern forests.

Just south of the Dartmouth College grant road found us checking a field with bird houses everywhere where we saw an Eastern Bluebird and Tree Swallow, making a scenic stop at the park headquarters and reaching the motel for Happy Hour and a wonderful lasagna dinner. Bob Quinn, who has led many trips to the area, gave a short talk about Umbagog.

At dusk some checked out woodcocks that had been spotted the night before in the fields beside our motel. Charlie, Joe, and Bob Fox drove back west  on Rt. 26 and had woodcocks and a Whip-poor-will; they returned about 10 p.m.

Day 3, Sunday, June 5, 2022, began again at 6:15 (early coffee in room 10) with a drive to Lakeside Road. Here were a different group of birds, interesting plants, and a gravel pit. While we could have stayed here longer, we rushed back for a hot breakfast at 7:50 a.m. We spent a few minutes checking out and packing cars for our trip home.

At 8:30 we left for a pontoon boat-trip that went from Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters down the Magalloway River to the northwest corner of Lake Umbagog to Leonard Marsh then along the Androscoggin River to Harper’s and Sweat Meadow and back up the Magalloway reaching the Headquarters about 3 p.m. Yes, we had a rest-stop and our picnic lunches near Harper’s Meadow. During the whole trip, the park senior biologist explained what we were seeing and answered questions. And it was his day-off!

The crew, photo by Charlie Nims

A Pileated Woodpecker started the trip. Along the way we saw Loons, Bald Eagles, Wilson’s Snipe and the twitching ears of a moose.

The eBird Trip Report details for June 3-5

Group 1 Google Photos 


Group 2

Members of the South Shore Bird Club birded the Umbagog Region on June 5-8, 2022

Day 1 Sunday June 5, 2022. Three members of Group 1 stayed on and took part in Group 2 as well. Others after a long drive with good weather, reached Gorham NH and began birding the 38-mile Gorham – Errol Road (Route 16). There were the boom piers in the Androscoggin River, the huge ski jump, a bridge with nesting Cliff and Barn Swallows, and the photogenic osprey nest. The Pontuck Resevoir, a large lake-like body of water with great marshes was a must stop. 

Soon they reached Errol, turned right, and found the Errol Motel just past the church. At 5 p.m. there was a Happy Hour around Room 10 where we met our guides, Phil Brown and Katrina Fenton. Levi Burford and Bob Quinn also joined us. We walked to the church for a wonderful pulled pork dinner prepared by a team of ladies from the church. After ordering our bag-lunches for the next day, everyone went upstairs where Dana explained the trip schedule. She gave an illustrated talk on William Brewster the area’s most famous birder, a subject she has researched in depth. Bob Quinn, a tour leader in the area for many years, added some comments on Brewster and Umbagog.

Day 2, Monday, June 6, 2022.  The day began with a 6:15 am cold breakfast at the church so that we could reach our birding destination while birds were still in full song. We drove on Route 26 some 8 miles towards Dixville Notch, before turning left onto the Dixville Turbine Road. It was a rough dirt road, and we went another 15+ miles to just beneath several turbines and a closed gate. The end of the road was full of birdsong, the day perfectly clear, and the temperature cool but pleasant. We had Boreal Chickadees, Canada Jays, Bicknell’s Thrush, male and female Blackpoll Warblers and Phil spotted a Black-backed Woodpecker. We walked up the hill beyond the gate and down a steep dirt path. We spent several hours on the wide dirt the road enjoying and photographing boreal species. As we drove down, Phil had some special stops for a “restroom” and a singing Philadelphia Vireo. Unexpectedly, there was a Ruffed Grouse standing in the road, and then a Snowshoe Hare.

Boreal Chickadee, photo by Soheil Zendeh

Back on Rt. 26, we headed west for Dixville Notch but paused at the Dixville Notch State Park to eat our picnic lunch. Our next stop was at the west end of the Notch where Bob gave a brief talk expanding on his paper on the geology of the Notch that participants had received before the trip. 

We continued west from the Notch and turned right on Diamond Road entering the wonderful grasslands, the largest such habitat in NH. Katrina Fenton briefed us on the history and future of this area. There were rolling fields with scattered woodlands, and some once prosperous farms now in disrepair. We saw the special birds of this area – Bobolinks, Savannah Sparrows, Cliff Swallows nesting on the one working farm, a distant Harrier and three Kestrels before heading back to Errol. One quick stop just before the notch let us see the “pillow lava” outcrop mentioned earlier by Bob. 

Grasslands and farmland by Dixville, photo by Leslie Flint

Happy hour and dinner. Phil went north on Rt. 16 and saw moose.

Day 3, Tuesday, June 7, 2022, began at 6:15 a.m. with a prebreakfast trip to a boreal bog spot about five miles north on Rt. 16 where we had a singing Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Palm Warblers. Back to the church we had a fine breakfast and then drove east to Mollidgewock Road off Route 26 about 5 miles from the motel. We birded this dirt road to a gravel pit where there was a kingfisher nesting and Palm Warblers and plants as well. We returned to the motel and had our picnic lunch under the trees.

Screaming Olive-sided Flycatcher, photo by Carol Molander

eBird Trip Group 2 Summary

Google Photo Group 2

Sunday, July 10, 2022

SSBC's Mill Brook Bogs WMA Breeding Bird Survey

The SSBC Mill Brook Bogs breeding bird survey was held July 3rd, 2022. Initially scheduled for Saturday, the forecast called for rain and thunderstorms in the morning, and as such it was decided to be shifted. This proved to be the right move, as the gloomy, rainy morning with stiff winds Saturday contrasted with beautiful sunny weather and calm conditions Sunday. 

Young House Wrens by Lisa Schibley

All in all there was a nice turnout with 14 total participants that split into 3 teams to each survey distinct areas in this deceptively large Wildlife Management Area. The three groups surveyed for a combined 16 hours 40 minutes, and traveled 18.64 miles. We found a total of 1508 individuals of 72 species, notable observations have been highlighted in bold.


Mute Swan
Wild Turkey
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Spotted Sandpiper
Herring Gull
Great Blue Heron
Barred Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
House Wren
Carolina Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Cedar Waxwing
House Sparrow
House Finch
Red Crossbill
American Goldfinch
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Common Grackle
Northern Waterthrush
Black-and-white Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow Warbler
Pine Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Whale and Seabird Watch Plymouth to Stellwagon NMS July 9, 2022

The club held its annual Whale and Seabird Watch on Saturday, July 9th aboard the Captain John boat out of Plymouth. Approxiamtey 16 members and friends were present. I have not been active in the club in recent years, so it was good to reconnect with old friends and meet some of the newer members of the club.

Leaving the harbor, it was once again sad to see the lack of any sign of a tern colony. A very few shorebirds were seen as listed below. Seas were relatively calm, always a good thing in my book, and winds were light. Just past the Gurnet we saw our first (Great) shearwater. This area is typically reserved for a few Storm-Petrels, but not today. We also saw a whale close in also, but at that point the boat was moving so fast, we did not have time to alert the crew.

As we made our way to Stellwagon Bank, we encountered a few Greats and Cory's Shearwaters. As we got closer to the Bank, the action really picked up with several groups of whales feeding, which in turn brought in the birds. The four usual Shearwaters were found in the area, with Great Shearwater being the most numerous. Followed by Cory's, Sooty and Manx. Storm-Petrels were nearly none existent as only 4 were seen. Three or four small raft of birds 6-10 were seen, mostly Greats. In general, a majority of the birds were on the wing following the whales.

A few of us did get a very quick look at a jaeger which came screaming through the area and disappeared very shortly there after. I do not believe anyone got a photo.

Here are a couple of my bad photos.

Cory's Shearwater

Great Shearwater
Great Shearwaters
Sooty Shearwater
Oh yes, whales

Here is the list of birds I came up with:
Mallard					5
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)		9 
Greater Yellowlegs			1
Willet					1
shorebird sp.				5
jaeger sp.				1
Laughing Gull				3
Herring Gull			       31 
Great Black-backed Gull			8
gull sp.	      		       50
Least Tern				2
Common Tern				3
Wilson's Storm-Petrel			4
Cory's Shearwater		       52
Great Shearwater	      	      270
Cory's/Great Shearwater	              100
Sooty Shearwater	       	       10
Manx Shearwater	            		2   
Double-crested Cormorant   	       16
Osprey					5
Tree Swallow				2
Barn Swallow				2
House Sparrow				1
Song Sparrow				1
Mike Emmons 

Friday, May 27, 2022

Wompatuck State Park, May 26, 2022

Adding a fifth week to our early morning Wompatuck romps proved to be a popular idea.  Thirteen people braved the early morning cold in search of any birds, migrant or not, and lots of camaraderie.  Our route today took us around Triphammer Pond.  Along the way we made a couple of detours in search of a Pileated Woodpecker that was both calling and drumming regularly.  Although it always seemed to be just beyond the next tree, we eventually got fleeting glimpses of one from the other side of the pond, where a second PIWO was calling.  Whether a mated pair or a rival in an adjacent territory, we could not be sure without seeing enough of the birds.  Also along the pond were Eastern Kingbirds, Chimney Swifts swooping over the pond and dipping in, singing Scarlet Tanagers, a couple Baltimore Orioles with nest, and a few resident warblers.  

After returning to the parking lot, half the group headed out to pursue their daily routines and the rest of us stood around unwilling to have the morning end.  While there, a succession of raptors flew by including Broad-winged, Cooper's, and Red-shouldered Hawks, and a Turkey Vulture.  A pair of phoebes entertained us near the Visitor's Center. 

Eastern Phoebe

We were still determined to keep birding, so we headed over to the new Gate 11 area (formerly Gate 9) to search for a Worm-eating Warbler. We entered the woods across the street at Gate 10 and soon began to hear the buzzing of the WEWA.  Altering our route to the lower side of the hill, we followed the trilling until David Ludlow found the bird high in an oak tree where most of us got tortured looks.  It turned out to be the variant with the all-cream-colored head (no striping) that has been seen for the last several years in that area.  

Alas, all good things must come to an end and we reluctantly headed our separate ways around 11 AM.  There seemed to be a real joy in gathering as a group to bird after a couple of years of isolation.  Even though migration was never a strong component of this year's walks, seeing some new faces of birds and people seemed to lift everyone's spirits!

Sally Avery

Wompatuck SP--Triphammer Pond, Plymouth, Massachusetts, US
May 26, 2022 6:26 AM - 9:22 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.7 mile(s)
42 species

Canada Goose  3
Mourning Dove  2
Chimney Swift  3     Skimming low over pond and dipping in for bugs or perhaps water.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Common Loon  1     Flyover
Great Egret  1
Turkey Vulture  1
Cooper's Hawk  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Broad-winged Hawk  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Pileated Woodpecker  2
Eastern Wood-Pewee  3
Eastern Phoebe  2
Great Crested Flycatcher  7
Eastern Kingbird  1
Red-eyed Vireo  8
Blue Jay  3
American Crow  4
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Tufted Titmouse  4
Barn Swallow  2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
House Wren  1
Gray Catbird  12
Veery  2
American Robin  6
Cedar Waxwing  3
American Goldfinch  4
Chipping Sparrow  6
Song Sparrow  1
Eastern Towhee  1
Baltimore Oriole  2
Red-winged Blackbird  3
Common Grackle  6
Ovenbird  7
Black-and-white Warbler  3
Common Yellowthroat  1
Yellow Warbler  7
Pine Warbler  5
Scarlet Tanager  5
Northern Cardinal  2

View this checklist online at

Wompatuck State Park - Gate 10, Plymouth, Massachusetts, US
May 26, 2022 9:58 AM - 11:11 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.039 mile(s)
Checklist Comments:     Sunny warming up to 60’s.
14 species

Red-tailed Hawk  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  2
Great Crested Flycatcher  3
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
American Goldfinch  4
Chipping Sparrow  2
Eastern Towhee  2
Ovenbird  2
Worm-eating Warbler  1     Nice look at singing male. No stripes on cream-colored head like a bird ( if not the same male) that has been seen in this area of Wompatuck for last five years.
Blue-winged Warbler  1
Black-and-white Warbler  2
Pine Warbler  1

View this checklist online at

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Wompatuck walk, April 28th, 2022

 Clad in full winter outerwear, I showed up at the Wompatuck Visitors  center with very low expectations. I had warned potential bird clubbers  that temperatures around 40 degrees, wind gusts up to 40 mph, and low  migration forecasts promised little in the way of bird sightings that  morning. Seven hardy members joined Dick and me anyway for the first  of the spring walks around the park. Thanks to new rules, the gate into  the park is now open 24/7 as are the restrooms greatly expanding our  opportunities for exploring its many great trails.  

Unbeknownst to me, the group saw a red shoulder fly over my head as I  was coming out of the visitor's center. I did see the American crow that  was chasing it, but it was only at the end of the morning that I learned  that the RSHA had been part of the chase.  

We began the walk at the end of the park for a quick jaunt to Picture  Pond in case there was a LOWA (there wasn't); from that parking area  we walked some back trails over to the "lollipop" path and South Park  where early warblers can often be found. We weren't disappointed.  Palms, yellow-rumps, Black and white, ovenbird, pines, and northern  waterthrushes were all singing and four species were seen. 

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Palm Warbler

At a wetland stop along the lollipop where many of our species were  found, Trevor Lloyd Evans told us about the black eyebrow found on a  male BGGN only during the breeding season, a fact new to the rest of 

the group. Since then, I have been looking and have found this field  mark which is often easier to see on photos. As it turns out, Clark  Johnson (who provided all of these photos) got a photo in which it is  somewhat visible.  

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Several winter wrens were singing but not seen along our 4-mile route; I  assured everyone that we were bound to see one along the lollipop stick  on the way back from Holly Pond toward the main road. And, as  predicted, one obliging wren sang lustily from an upended tree stump so  that Clark could get his life view of the bird as well as a photo. 

Winter Wren

My pessimistic outlook about the productiveness of the walk was  unfounded as we counted up our list at the end of the morning. The 40  species we saw under less than ideal conditions made for a very  satisfying morning indeed!  

Sally Avery  

Wompatuck State Park, Hingham US-MA 42.19685, -70.85005, Plymouth,  Massachusetts, US 

Apr 28, 2022 6:26 AM - 10:13 AM 

Protocol: Traveling 

6.766 mile(s) 

Checklist Comments: A SSBC walk. Mileage reflects driving from visitor  center to far end of park birding with windows open as well as a 4- mile walking  loop. Sunny but Below 40 degrees with with wind gusts well over 20mph.  BirdCast showed low migration but we still saw 40 species. 

40 species 

Canada Goose 1 

Wood Duck 1 Heard flying away from Holly pond 

Mallard 1

Wild Turkey 1 

Turkey Vulture 1 

Red-shouldered Hawk 1 

Broad-winged Hawk 1 

Red-tailed Hawk 1 

Red-bellied Woodpecker 6 

Downy Woodpecker 2 

Northern Flicker 1 

Eastern Phoebe 3 

Blue-headed Vireo 1 

Blue Jay 16 

American Crow 3 

Black-capped Chickadee 6 

Tufted Titmouse 7 

Barn Swallow 2 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 5 Lots of singing birds with only one seen well. Red-breasted Nuthatch 1 Vocalizing only 

White-breasted Nuthatch 2 

Brown Creeper 1 Vocalizing only 

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1 

Winter Wren 5 We saw 3 of these birds, two of which were actively singing  and the third was poking around probable nesting sites. Two others were heard  singing near streams along the four mile loop our group walked. Small dark  brown wren-shaped bird with short cocked tail. 

Carolina Wren 1 

Hermit Thrush 4 

American Robin 1 

American Goldfinch 4 

Chipping Sparrow 8 

White-throated Sparrow 1 

Eastern Towhee 1 Audio only 

Brown-headed Cowbird 1 Audio only 

Common Grackle 3 

Ovenbird 1 Audio only 

Northern Waterthrush 1 

Black-and-white Warbler 1 

Palm Warbler 3 

Pine Warbler 13 

Yellow-rumped Warbler 14 

Northern Cardinal 2