Today I went back over Alan Marbles house to try for the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker again. I got a text while I was on my way to bring my son to school. I stopped over. I had just missed the bird again. Then after about 20 min I could hear one calling. Right after that a male came climbing down the tree. The female would not show herself. I was also able to photorgraph a Hairy Woodpecker. 2 species out of the way before work....Mr. Bournet I see those Redpolls are back ;)
This morning I went over to one of my mentors houses (Alan Marble) to stakeout his feeders. He had some Pine Siskins, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and various other birds that I needed to photograph. When I went to his house almost immediately we had 4 Northern Flickers in view at one time. A pair were courting as well. I stayed for about an hour and a half and tallied 20 species. Was able to photography a handful of new birds. Unfortunately I missed the Sapsuckers. It was a four woodpecker day. But it very well could have been a 6 woodpecker day with more time! It was nice to get Brown Creeper out of the way early!
So in the middle of writing this blog I was asked to go to the grocery store. Naturally this always involves a quick birding detour. A local spot along the Blackstone River on the Millbury/Sutton line produced an adult Bald Eagle perched in a tree. Although not new on my year it was the first one I was able to photograph it!
Today I had the holiday off work. I got up early and headed to Forest Hills Cemetery. My goal was to get better photos of the Black-backed Woodpecker. When I had arrived the gates were all still locked. I called the Cemetery and the voice-mail stated that gates would be open a 700 or 730am (cant remember the exact time) but the office would be closed. A few birders decided to jump the gates. I was not going to do this although I was upset that I drove all this way for the gates to be closed. I headed over behind the MassBio building to try my luck at the wintering Grasshopper Sparrow. No luck, but I didn't put that much effort in. I did get a handful of Fish Crows calling like crazy and I was able to photograph them. I wish I encountered these more in Worcester County. Back to the cemetery and the gates were open. No luck on the Woodpecker for me. I stayed about an hour. The highlight for me was FOY Golden-crowned Kinglets and a Great Horned Owl that all the birds found for me. I was able to snap a photo of him. Too bad he isn't in Worcester County!
I came home for a few hours to hang with my boys. My mother then took them out to lunch and to Zoinks, My wife and I decided to take a drive down to Blackstone for Black and Turkey Vultures. For people that are new to birding or might not know about this location its a great spot for wintering vultures. I myself always go to the ball-fields behind the fire station. There is a Dike there with the Blackstone River on the other side. Owen got his lifer Orchard Oriole there last year. Today I came across a Black Vulture sitting on the dike! Usually I see them on the light poles there or soaring over so this was a treat! On the river were some Hooded Mergansers, Mallards and a wintering Wood Duck. A handful of Turkey Vultures were also soaring overhead. Another new species photographed for the year. Today I was able to photograph 3 new species in the county. I bypassed some Rock Pigeons though. Ill get them ;)
Yesterday I went out for about an hour. I wanted to check some birch tree areas to look for common redpolls. I did get a nice group on American Goldfinches and the last bird flew just before I could get on it. In flight it appeared to be lighter. I couldn't make the call on it but I was hopeful! I was able to photograph a few more species today. I had a Great Black-backed Gull flyover me pretty low. But, before I fullly realized what it was I couldn't snap a photo. I then went to Uxbridge Community Garden's in hope for a Shrike or Northern Harrier. I did get a FOY (first of year) Common Raven (heard only but they breed down the street from me so they shouldn't be a problem to photograph) and a Carolina Wren. When I got home I had a new yard bird. American Tree Sparrow. Last night my mother and I met up with Tim Spahr and we did some owling at Stirrup Brook in Northboro. Was hoping for Northern Saw-whet Owls but the only thing we could entice to make noise was an Eastern Screech-Owl and a Northern Cardinal. Still a good time getting out at night!
Remember I mentioned the Black-backed Woodpecker in Boston the other day by Paul Peterson? Well it was rediscovered yesterday and viewed by Matt Garvey, Marshal Illif, Jeremiah Trimble, and Ryan Schain, I left my house at 9:15am in the middle of a snow storm. I needed to be at work in Worcester by 1245pm. I got to Boston in just over an hour despite driving 45-55 on the Masspike. It took a lot from me to not speed to get this bird. But, I took my time. As soon as I got there David Bernstein guided me to the location and I was on the bird instantly. I had roughly 3 min with the bird and it was gone. that was at 1045am. I got a record shot of it. This was a lifer for me and I had went up to Wenlock WMA in Vermont 2x over the past couple years for Boreal Species and missed this one both times. That is now Gray Jay (Worcester county) and now a Black-backed Woodpecker in the same calendar year. Maybe Boreal Chickadee is next? I made it to work....45 min early. I couldn't believe it. The bird ended up coming back by 3:15 and then disappearing again. I got lucky!
While at work since I was early I did search for a Peregrine Falcon downtown to try and snap a picture but, none were to be found. I am missing some pretty common birds so far on my my year. I haven't seen a Bald Eagle, Cooper's Hawk or a Sharp-shinned Hawk yet. I wouldn't of thought I would have Black-backed Woodpecker before a Northern Flicker either...oh birding.
Not Worcester County but a great rarity! I wish I had better conditions and more time with the bird to get some decent shots. Just had to get a documentation shot while I had the chance! Check out Ryan Schain's and David Bernstein's flickr for for much better photos!
My feeders were decently active today. I did miss photographing a Blue Jay and a White-breasted Nuthatch in the yard. Not to worried about those as I will have plenty of chances for them. I did upgrade some earlier photos of a Downy Woodpecker and Northern Cardinal.
I keep forgetting to snap photos of the common birds just to get them out of the way! Right now I am just trying to get an identifiable photo to get the blog rolling. I will like I said in my first post go back as the year goes on and replace the crappy photos with better photos. (Once it warms up, my newborn gets a little bit older, and I can spend some decent time outside. Today I ran an errand with my sister in Springfield Mass. I figured I would stop by and get the continuing Barnacle Geese that had been seen on Longmeadow Flats on the Connecticut River. It was brutally cold but I managed to digiscope one of them. The county birds that I photographed are from today and yesterday!
The start of the new year in Worcester County has been pretty productive so far. Lots of decent ducks around! Bring on a Canvasback like last year! As you can see really common species I have yet to photograph but I have seen. Currently in Worcester County I am at 51 species! I have to remember to take photos of the common birds! The Screech Owl is a huge bonus!
American Wigeon- Millbury #1
Eastern Screech-Owl- Millbury #2
Great Black-backed Gull and Common Mergansers-Northbridge-#3 and #4
Northern Pintails and Mallards-Clinton-#5 and #6
Belted Kingfisher-Auburn #7
American Tree Sparrow- Bolton #8
Iceland Gull and Ring-billed Gull-Westborough #9 and #10
American Coot- Westborough #11
Great Blue Heron- Millbury #12
Northern Shrike-Bolton #13
Redhead and Ring-necked Ducks- Sudbury #14 and #15
Common Loon- West Boylston #16
American Black Duck- Millbury #18
Hooded Merganser and Canada Goose #19 and #20
European Starling-Millbury #21
Downy Woodpecker-Millbury #22
Paul Peterson found a BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER in Boston tonight. That is a lifer for me and so tomorrow I am off to chase that bird!
I also went to NYC on Jan 2nd and was able to photograph a Cassin's Kingbird and a Couch's Kingbird!
In my eyes I feel Worcester County is very under-birded. I have tried motivating people in many ways in the county. On thing I did was create a Central Mass Birders (clickable link) Facebook page where local birders can submit sightings and have discussions. I love birding in my county and local areas. This year I will try and stay within the county more and to uncover new locations to bird. I wanted to try and light a fire under the local birding community and start some type of Big Year County movement! A few birders always take on the challenge and it makes it more fun! It's believed that Mark Lynch and Shelia Carroll hold the Worcester County Big Year record at 234 in 1999 (Thanks Tom Pirro). This would only be possible if winter finches decide to bless us! 200 birds in the county is considered a very good year. I will strive to photograph 180 birds. I don't think anyone has attempted to do a Worcester County Photographic Big Year so I want to set a baseline for people to try and beat. For all of my bird outings I use eBird.org to log my species and trips. As always I will do a normal Big Year for Worcester County.
So what does a Worcester County Photographic Big Year consist of? All photos need to obviously be taken inside Worcester County. The photos do not have to be professional quality. Photos can be digiscoped through a scope. I will always try for the best photos I can. Some photos might be very tough to make out but they will be taken anyway as the birds will be identified in the field prior to the photo. Clicking the Top Photos of Each Species tab will bring you to the best photos throughout the year of all the birds I encounter.
I will occasionally post photos from outside the county of cool or interesting birds! Please forgive me for any typing or grammatical errors! I am no author and want the pictures to do most of the talking!