Sunday, January 27, 2013

Redhead. For Real This Time

OK. So I think that yesterday I succumbed to the dreaded "see what you're told will be there syndrome." I think what I actually saw at Jamaica Pond yesterday was a female Mallard with some plumage variation from the typical. Note the lack of white bars and blue. Hmm...perhaps a female Pintail?? See photo below:

The deceased bird Travis later ID'd as a Redhead may remain a mystery.
Here is another photo of that bird. Note the bill:

Thanks to Karsten Hartel for posting the Redhead sighting at Leverett Pond. I went down this morning and got a clear look at the Redhead along with the immature male Northern Shoveler:

A shot of the Redhead and a Northern Pintail both females:

Another shot of the Pintail

Saturday, January 26, 2013

1/26 Summary -UPDATED

Today I did a little whirl-wind birding expedition. I started at Jamaica Pond to see the Redhead and the Northern Shoveler. Saw the Shoveler but missed the Redhead On my way to Deer Island I stopped in the Fenway area to see the Red-headed Woodpecker. What a great bird and unbelievably easy to find(as described by everyone). He was caching acorns in the oaks around the MFA.

Deer Island was quiet on land but the sea was busy. The highlight was the Barrows Goldeneye on the north side near the yellow hydrochloric acid tanks.

I drove up Revere Beach on the way home to look for the Ruddy Turnstone and Purple Sandpiper that had been reported. No luck with those but I was surprised to find three Sanderlings. Strange to see them here in January, no?

Checklist Here
Redhead Pintail- Jamaica Pond

End of the Redhead - CORRECTION

Thanks to Paul Peterson for reviewing these photos. He pointed out that this was likely not the Redhead in question as it was seen at Leverett Pond a short distance away. I guess this is a great example of "seeing what you expect to see." Looking again at my photos I think it was a female Pintail.

Thanks for all the feedback folks!

I was lucky enough to see the Redhead this morning around 7:00 at Jamaica Pond. It was alive and well in a mixed flock of Mallards, Ruddys, Hooded Mergansers, and a lone Northern Shoveler.

Travis Mazerall called to report that he arrived at Jamaica Pond around 10:00 and that the Redhead was dead on the ice. Apparently she had been killed by this Bald Eagle. He killed and ate a Ruddy Duck and then returned for the carcass of the Redhead.

Insert cliche circle of life comment here.

Bald Eagle Feeding (Photo Courtesy of Travis Mazerall)
Redhead Carcass (Photo Courtesy of Travis Mazerall)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Target Birds 1/26/13

Headed to the North Shore Saturday morning to checklist some of the winter sea-birds I've yet to see this year. I'm still struggling with gulls and hoping to be able to pick out something other than the usual cast to characters(RBG, Herrings, GBBG, etc.)

Here's a list of my target birds for Saturday 1/25/13 in the Nahant/Lynn area:

Common Eider
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Long-tailed duck
Common Goldeneye
Red-breasted Merganser
Common Loon
Horned Grebe
Mew Gull - **Lifer
Snow Bunting

I also plan to swing by Jamaica Pond to check the Redheads for 2013 and am hoping to see the Red-headed Woodpecker ** at Fenway.

Anyone who'll be in these areas please feel free to email me and we can join forces.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Life Bird 252: Bullock's Oriole; Ellington, CT

Thanks to the help of Debbie I was able to locate the Bullock's Oriole today in Ellington, CT. I was on my way from NY back to Boston and the Bullock's has been seen not far off an exit on I-84. Its been frequenting a feeder at Debbie's house and she says he prefers the meal worms.

He's a first year male so he wasn't very brilliant but any flash of yellow this time of year catches your eye. Glad to mark this one as a "rare" and "lifer."

Checklist here
Bullock's Oriole (1st Year Male)

Bullock's Oriole Range

Friday, January 18, 2013

An Interesting Influx

As of late we Mass-Birders have seen an influx of Scaups and Canvasbacks. Seems like there are Canvasbacks showing up everyday on the Rare Bird Alert. I've heard this is due to southern winds. It doesn't seem to me like we're having a mild winter although we sure haven't had a lot of snow.

Found 3 Canvasbacks, 1 Great Scaup, and 5 Lesser Scaups at Fresh Pond IBA this afternoon.
Checklist here

Lesser Scaup (Female)

Greater Scaup (Male)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Upstate New York Summary

Travis and I spent the morning of Saturday 1/12 at Montezuma NWR. The highlight were a group of Tundra Swans. We first ID'ed them as Trumpeters, neither of us have seen either. After much deliberation we changed our ID to Tundra based on lores and a juvenile we saw in the group. Funny enough the next day someone sighted 800 Tundras making our 12 seem weak.  The weather was warm for January but the wind was blowing. We walked about 3 miles and saw very little. A disappointing day but glad we stopped anyway.

On a side note; on our way to Syracuse we stopped to try to track down the Gyrfalcon seen in Hadley, MA to no avail. A Gyr was seen on Sunday 1/13 at Montezuma. Damn! That's what keeps us coming back I guess.  Anyway, we missed the Gyrfalcon but did spot a Vesper Sparrow (Lifer for both), Horned Larks, a Bald Eagle, and a load of Savannah Sparrows.

We drove through the Clifton Park area along the Mohawk River on Sunday 1/13 trying to track down the previously mentioned Sandhill Cranes. We started at bridge along Towpath Road and worked our way along the river, crossed south onto Crescent Rd. We gave up on the Sandhills somewhere around the dam and started hunting gulls. In addition to our poor gulling abilities it seemed like we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nothing but Herrings, Great Black-backed, and Ringbills.

At Canal Lock 4 we had better luck. Travis had heard this was a good place for Gulls. We stopped on Clark Ave near Peebles Island. As we pulled down the road Travis pointed and laughed at what looked like a plastic white goose on a front lawn. To our surprise it turned its head. A lone snow goose! Not a rare bird here by any means but still surprising to see at such a close distance. We didn't log anything else of note but that was worth the stop.

The "Plastic Goose"

Snow Goose (Photo: Devin Hefferon)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Birding Montezuma

Travis and I are birding at Montezuma NWR this morning. The wind is whipping but thankfully the temperature is above freezing. Everything is iced over so highlight so far is two bald eagles and 12 Trumpeter Tundra Swans(lifers for both).

Friday, January 11, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sandhills in Saratoga

Two Sandhill Cranes have been frequenting the area of Clamsteam Road in Clifton Park, NY. Notification came courtesy of Larry Main.

Travis and I are headed to Syracuse this weekend and will try to stop in to see these birds. This would be a life bird for me so keep your fingers crossed!
Sandhill Crane (Photo Courtesy of Larry Main)

Sandhill Crane (Photo Courtesy of Larry Main)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fresh Pond

A few highlights from today at Fresh Pond, Cambridge:

Lesser Scaup -1 Female
Canvasback - 1 Male(with Scaup)
Red-throated Loon - 1
Coopers Hawk-1
Eastern Screech Owl- 1

Checklist Here
Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Warbler Winter

It was an interesting morning at Great Meadows NWR in Concord. Travis and I arrived around 8 and were greeted by a flock of 30+ Common Redpolls feeding on the dike trail.

Later, along the river near the boat launch, we ran into a palm warbler who was hanging out with a pine. Shortly after, Travis located a common yellowthroat on the north side of the eastern pond.

Strange to see all the warblers right now but I like the little reminders of Spring and warmer weather.

Checklist here:

PS. Everything is frozen except the river so don't count on many waterfowl  unless the weather warms up.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Summary

2012 was the year of the bird for me. After a long hiatus from birding I came back in full force (well almost).  I submitted my first eBird Bird Log on April 15th and since then submitted 172 more. Thats about one checklist every other day. While I fell short of the Massachusetts Top 100 birders of 2012, I have confidence I'll get there(perhaps not next year with a baby on the way). It was a great year. I really enjoyed getting back to a hobby I loved and returning to the outdoors. I got to spend some quality time with my best friends and see some new places I might never have visited.

Below is a summary of my 2012 birding:

Here's to next year. May it be a "Big Year."