Monday, March 30, 2015

Beyond Massachusetts and Back!

So yesterday my regional birding gears kicked back in. I had to go and chase the mega-rare Surfbird that had been present for a week as of yesterday. I started planning the trip out on Wednesday. I asked my buddy Ryan if he wanted to do a real bird chase.  He obliged. The whole family was coming for this one. When we arrived to Biddeford Pool, Maine we immediately were greeted by a very white (as opposed to the darker birds we are used to do down here) Snowy Owl on a roof. After letting Ryan and myself snap a picture or two we continued down to the mega area.  While approaching Hatties Restaurant we could see about 20 birders out in the marsh with scopes out. The best sign one could hope for while chasing a lone rarity. We hustled through the wet marsh (tide just receded) towards the birders now waving their hands frantically for us to hurry and look through their scopes before it flies. Great people. Then, there it was. A bit distant but, great through the scope. I probably got my worst record shot ever of it. Lifer! Sometimes a bird is too easy and sometimes a bird is impossible. After leaving there we decided to head down to Wells, Maine for a Gyrfalcon. My grandparents and my parents all own condos there so I'm very familiar with the area. We arrived and within minutes I called out Peregrine Falcon. Then all the other birders screamed Gyrfalcon. My photos ended up proving Peregrine Falcon. Bird just seemed small from the jump as it chased some pigeons.  We weren't gonna invest much time waiting for the bird. But now a few of us birding were questioning how many people thought they saw a Gyrfalcon over the weeks when it was a Peregrine Falcon. After our sighting yesterday the listservs started saying Gyrfalcon YES. Another reason I am pro camera! Last week Liam Waters was able to get photos of the bird. So it's still around!  Lunch was our next stop. Then I saw a crow on a wire. I thought it's gotta be a Fish Crow. Those still flag as rare there. Sure enough it started calling! Another state bird! For whatever reason I have a minimum goal to try and see at least 100 species in each state. I needed 5 for Maine and 3 for New Hampshire as of yesterday. Next we headed down to Adam's Point WMA in Durham to try for the Red-headed Woodpecker. Rook about 5 minutes for him to pop up. On to the next! Headed west to Manchester, New Hampshire for Bohemian Waxwings and Barrow's Goldeneye. The Waxwings were easy to add to the state list. The Barrow's on the Merrimack River took some work I was able to see a female. 

Of course since I left the county birds had to show up. Osprey, Snow Geese, Tree Swallows and an Iceland Gull (near my house although I already have) showed up. Today I will try for a couple things after work. 

So after work I got a call from Kim that there was a Snowy Owl at Worcester Airport. It ended up being a male Northern Harrier. Still a bird that was needed for the county!

New County Year Bird

Northern Harrier-Worcester #75

County Upgrade

Common Merganser

Yesterday's Out-of-state Chase

Surfbird...I promise!! lol

Peregrine Falcon

Red-headed Woodpecker

Bohemian Waxwings

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Town Bird and Year Bird

I didn't plan on doing any birding today before work at 2pm. I was maybe thinking of checking out Lake Quinsigamond again and possible Institute Park (good spot for Northern Shovelor). I received a text from Alan Marble that he had found some Common Redpolls in Central Cemetery in some birch trees along the Blackstone River. I arrived within 10 min or so....gone. Now these aren't needed this year however Alan had made me very conscious of Millbury birding (and got me started on county birding as opposed to birding everywhere and anywhere else in the region). I left Alan at the original location and I drove around the cemetery looking at other birch trees. Took about 10 min and I found them on the other side. They posed for about 12 seconds and we never relocated them. We chatted for a bit and I headed home. Then I had an inkling to check another spot along the Blackstone. I was rewarded with a pair of Green-winged Teal that I was able to photograph for the year!

Green-winged Teal- Sutton #74

New Town Bird- Common Redpoll

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Birding

This morning I headed back to a few spots from yesterday. This time I had my best bud Ryan in tow. He isn't a birder but he manned up and decided to play along. I continue to check Lake Quinsigamond in hopes of Grebes and/or a Canvasback. I also wanted to check on the Gull situation. I arrived and immediately spotted a Pied-billed Grebe for a new bird for the year photographed. No rare gulls present during my time but I saw after Ed Kittredge had them and the Grebe. I checked on the Redpoll situation and that was a negative.

Tonight Owen and I went for American Woodcocks at Riverbend Farm in Uxbridge. My yearly date for them is March 11. A little late this year. The ground was completely snow-covered and I was worried....but as soon as the light faded we had 4. I was able to get possibly the worst photo ever of a documentation shot. Maybe second only to a lifer Summer Tanager that I failed miserably at. C'mon spring!!

Pied-billed Grebe-Shrewsbury #72

American Woodcock- Uxbridge #73 (I will redeem this photo this year!)

After Work Birding

When I got home from work my goal was to grab the family and make a few stops. I wanted to try for Eastern Meadowlark at Tufts University. No luck. I did photograph finally a Red-tailed Hawk. This is the first time out of 65 Red-tailed Hawks this year that I actually was not at work, on a highway, and had my camera.  Just a record shot but none the less it counts. After leaving Tufts I wanted to try Westboro A-1 Site on Arch St for some ducks. This location is usually a mecca for Mute Swans. Today, there was 1 :).  I was able to update that species for the year.  There was still ice over 98 percent of the water. Only 6 Mallards were present with it. Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds were all over.  I was able to photograph a female Brown-headed Cowbird. A new species for the year! 4 species of Woodpeckers were also present and I was able to update my Hairy Woodpecker species picture. My next stop was going to be Lake Quinsigamond to check on the Iceland Gulls to try and get a late record date for my personal record for Worcester County. While driving I noticed a flock of small birds out of the corner of my eye and immediately it felt like finches. Then it clicked that there were all birch trees right there. I stopped and sure enough there were Common Redpolls EVERYWHERE. There were 103 birds in the trees and on the ground. The largest in the county this year and so close to home.

Red-tailed Hawk-Westborough  #70

Brown-headed Cowbird- Westborough #71


Mute Swan

Hairy Woodpecker

Common Redpoll Shots

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Day Off Round Up

   Today was a partial day off. I had to restrain from going to photograph the continuing Bohemian Waxwings. I really wish Gardner wasn't an hour drive from me. Yesterday I didn't have a scope on me when I stopped by Lake Quinsigamond in Shrewsbury to look for waterfowl and gulls. I saw a white-winged gull that I wanted so bad to be a Glaucous Gull. It was an Iceland Gull which I had already found/photographed in Westborough some months ago. So, the search continues or may go into next winter. So today I returned in hopes for a Glaucous Gull but, I found 2 more Iceland Gulls. I'll take it.  While scanning gulls I was able to digiscope a photo of a Mute Swan which somehow took me this long to get a picture of despite seeing them this year. I also upgraded my Great Black-backed Gull photo..however I wouldn't call it that much of an upgrade. While there Alan Marble showed up and as two Crows flew towards us I said "it would be awesome if these were Fish Crows"....not even after I finished that statement they called...and they were indeed Fish Crows. I thought that was going to be a tough bird to photograph this year.  In Sterling I did photograph horribly a Common Raven that chased off an American Kestrel but I'm not sure the photo shows any proof it's that its a Raven so I will hold off on the Ravens for now.

Mute Swan- Shrewsbury #68

Fish Crow- Shrewsbury #69


Iceland Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Another Falcon and Round 2 With Some Bohemian Waxwings

Today I had nothing to do. My sister wanted to hang out so what better way than to take her birding aka she sits in the car because it's always cold lol. We drove up to Gardner to try and photograph some more Bohemian Waxwings. As you recall I was able to see four of them last month. They were lifers at the time. I only had about five minutes with them as I had to rush to work. I wasn't satisfied with just five min. Earlier in the day on our Central Mass Birders Facebook Page Dawn had reported up to 40 birds. That sealed it. On the way up there it was raining pretty good....then the more north we got it turned to snow. Not ideal for photos but oh well I had committed already. The birds were not at the location given earlier, however it only took me 2 min to search the area and find fruit trees. Sure enough within another two minutes a huge flock descended down. The flock was all Bohemian I spent about two hours with the birds.  About an hour in a flock of about 20 Cedar Waxwings joined the party  I was able to get a better shot than last time and I updated the page on here with that photo. On the way home on Route 290 I could see a Peregrine Falcon perched on the Peoples United Bank building. I exited the highway and I was able to snag a record shot of it for a new year bird photographed. 

 Peregrine Falcon- Worcester #67

Bohemian Waxwing, Upgrade photo

Friday, March 13, 2015

Great Horned Owl

Today I went to see the Great Horned Owl that I had a hunch about and had my mom check on for me in Sturbridge. It was I'm the first tree I looked at. Next on to trying to find a daytime Barred Owl. Although I have Northern Saw-whet Owl on my County year list I wasn't able to get a photo. The year is young. 

Great Horned Owl - Sturbridge #66

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Unexpected Day

Today I wanted to just go photograph either the Gardner Screech-Owl or check up on some spot that I thought would be good for a Great Horned Owl nest so I could photograph one to get it out of the way. I decided I would go to Gardner despite having the Screech. I spent about 35 min with the bird. While driving home my baby needed to be fed so I exited the highway to selfishly feed him on the safe River Rd in West Boylston. I knew that I still needed Red-breasted Nuthatch. Upon approaching I could see open water and I got excited. I picked up a Common Goldeneye, which I somehow didn't photograph this winter and assumed next winter I'd have to play catch up. While taking photos of the goldeneye a Killdeer flew in and landed with some Wood bird! I then was able to photograph a Red-breasted Nuthatch. That is a bird I have never had much luck at photographing. On the way home I swung by St Phillips Cemetery where finally the resident Eastern Bluebirds showed themselves. I didn't plan or expect any new birds today but was able to add 4 and update 3 other species on the year!

I had my mother check on my hunch about the Great Horned Owl and it paid of. Tomorrow morning I will snag that. I am off to a good start. Wish that I was able to get a Glaucous Gull this winter but hopefully next! Doesn't look good for Snowy Owl or Short-eared Owl either!

Common Goldeneye- West Boylston #62

Killdeer-West Boylston #63

Red-breasted Nuthatch #64

Eastern Bluebird- Grafton #65

Additional Updated Photos of Previous Birds

Eastern Screech-Owl-Gardner

Herring Gull- Fitchburg

Ring-billed Gull- Fitchburg

Monday, March 9, 2015

Horned Larks and Visual Signs of Spring

Teachers and non-birders had us leading to believe that Robins were a sign of spring. Now that I/we have been birding we know the true signs of spring are Blackbirds (for the most part) This morning while driving the bus I thought I had seen 2 in a tree behind the RT 146 Walmart in Worcester. But I for obvious reasons didn't stop to examine it any further. A note about that place....the river runs behind it and ducks can be found there. At the Fair Plaza on the Worcester/Millbury/Auburn line I was present at dawn during the American Crow roost exodus. I couldn't hear any Fish Crows!!! I was real confident...but was a negative. Then hours later while driving I had a Fish Crow on Vernon St. I hate not having a camera at work! I was able to photograph a Fish Crow last year at White City Plaza in Shrewsbury(my wife found it after leaving the gym....didn't believe her....sure enough I was wrong) but I fear it could be difficult as I don't run into too many in the county in a year. Downtown a Peregrine Falcon came screaming in front of my bus chasing a Rock Pigeon. Pretty cool. I have seen them a bunch of times this year but its always at work with no camera. The one day I went down there with my camera I didn't see one. After work I took Owen (Owen's Big Year Blog) to try again for the Horned Larks that have been seen on Town Farm Rd in Sutton. 4 passes down the road finally lead to a large flock (my largest flock since 2013 at the Worcester Airport) Also on that road there were 3 Red-winged Blackbirds and 1 Common yeah...spring isa coming! Funny note...I have seen 55 Red-tailed Hawks in Worcester County this year....I have photographed.....ZERO,

Common Grackle-Sutton #59

Red-winged Blackbird-Sutton #60

Horned Lark- Sutton #61

Sunday, March 8, 2015


Yesterday I went out before work to check the Blackstone River in Sutton and some farm fields also in Sutton. When I pulled up to the river I noticed the Hooded Merganser's had a different looking friend with them a 1st year Bufflehead. Pretty easy to get yearly. I had one back in the first week of January but this was much closer thus I was able to get a photo of it for my big year. After leaving the area I searched for Horned Larks. No luck. I also went out today and still had no luck. Easy species to get in a year. I wanted to get them out of the way now so I do not have to waste time next winter. On Town Farm Road they are often easier to photograph than the airport. I will try again tomorrow after work! I was also able to update my Hooded Merganser photo for the year.

Bufflehead-Sutton- #58

Friday, March 6, 2015

Interesting Experience and New Birds.

So on Tuesday while I was driving bus for the city of Worcester I saw a woman had a box in a plastic bag. She began talking about how she found a bird laying on the ground near the CVS near the Worcester Common. I told her she found the perfect person to help her. She opened the box and immediately seen it was a Cedar Waxwing. I showed her on my phone what they look like.  She was amazed that she actually found someone that could help her. I told her that I would care for it the rest of the day and night then bring it to Tufts on Wednesday. A few bus drivers and I fed it some raisins and water. The next day his wing looked better. I fed him some grape jelly which he loved. I sat him in the snow to see if he would fly. He attempted too but it just wouldn't work. Off to Tufts we went. On Lake Ripple in Grafton I was able to photograph two Herring Gulls.  After dropping off the Waxwing I noticed a bird at the top of a Pine tree. It was an American Kestrel. He was very active and flew to the road and from tree to tree constantly. Then he landed on the Wildlife Clinic building and appeared to be eating some sort of bug.

Today I went in search of some Horned Larks that were reported in the town of Sutton. With all the snow lately I just haven't been motivated to go out and look for them and Snow Buntings at the airport. So instead of waiting for next winter I headed out. No luck at all but I did manage to find some Wild Turkey's and Rock Pigeons. Both I have obviously seen almost daily this winter however just didn't have the opportunity to photograph them to any extent.

Injured Cedar Waxwing

Herring Gull-Grafton#54

American Kestrel-Grafton  #55

Rock Pigeon-Sutton #56

Wild Turkey-Sutton #57