Thursday, March 21, 2013


With a little help from our fellow birders I was able to relocate the Fieldfare this morning on Maple Street in Carlisle. As reported it was associating with some Robins and feeding on Barberries on private property. A really cool bird to see!! Here a few of my poor photos:

After the Fieldfare hunt in Carlisle I stopped over at Great Meadows NWR. Finally got a good look at a Red-shouldered Hawk. Other highlights were Tree Swallows, Green-winged Teal, Bufflehead, Ring-necked Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Coot, Northern Shoveler, and Common Goldeneye. I was on the lookout for Eastern Phoebe and Rusty Blackbirds but I didn't see any.

Red-shouldered Hawk
Northern Shoveler
Common Goldeneye (M-right, F-left)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fieldfare and Birding BINGO

Today I tried to locate the Fieldfare that was seen in Carlisle, MA over the last couple of days. Unfortunately, I didn't have any luck. It was the first day of Spring but you wouldn't know it from the snow. Tons of people out there at the Greenough Land. I saw cars with plates from MA, CT, VT, WI, UT, and PA.  It really is a beautiful spot with all the freshly fallen snow.

Fieldfare Searchers in Action 

I did however have a few observations I wanted to share: Like with all "Mega Rare" sightings the Fieldfare stake-out location was filled with hopeful birders. This made it a prime spot for what I like to call "Birding BINGO." Now you're asking yourself, "What's birding BINGO?" Well my fellow ornithologists here is what you're looking for:

  1. "Bird of the Hour" - The bird we're all here for
  2. "Oh Look a Red Bird, Guy" - That guy or gal who is tagging along with their spouse or significant other, looks through the scope and says "Oh look a red bird."
  3. "You Should Have Been Here Yesterday, Guy"- This one speaks for itself and this guy needs a karate chop to the neck. 
  4. "That Bird is Long Gone, Guy" - The perpetual pessimist. Why are you even here buddy?
  5. "Hi I'm So and So, Guy" - I'm all for being friendly but this guy wants everyone to know who he is. Must be some kind of birding celebrity?
  6. "Check Out My Gear, Guy" - This guy wants to show off his gear. He's got the pack, the x1million lens on his $20K camera, two spotting scopes for different distances, and the most expensive bins money can buy. 
  7. "The Leader of the Group" - Self appointed leader who feels it necessary to speak loudly to the group explaining details of the bird, the location, and or etiquette(see below also)
  8. The "You Aren't Following the Rules, Guy" - Often the same guy as #7. I am all for following the rules, but this guy takes it too far. 
Today I would have had BINGO if that Fieldfare had decided to make an appearance.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

American Woodcock and Fatherhood

This bird is Life Bird #258 but its so much more than that. I can say unequivocally that it was my strangest and most memorable birding experiences. Since I've never seen one of these little guys I didn't quite know what I was looking for. I imagined a land-locked Wilson's Snipe that for some reason comes out at night.
I arrived at Rock Meadow in Belmont about 80 minutes too early. If I had just looked around the inter-nets a little more I would have found a very explicit set of instructions from Bob Stymeist from yesterday. I froze my butt off for 90 minutes and just as Bob had predicted I heard a one "peent" around 7:07pm. Then another. Then another. Within five minutes, lots of "peents." More than five, less than twenty. Coming from all around me. I soon found that I was practically standing on Woodcocks. Periodically they would burst, straight up into the almost dark sky. Their flight reminded me of those little flying toys we got as kids from the dollar store. You know the ones that look like a helicopter blade: You wind them up then push the button and the climb straight up into the air.  I stood in the middle of a field, with birds bursting into the air, twittering away. It was dark but still a sensory overload.

Today I saw my first American Woodcock. Tomorrow I become a father.

American Woodcock (I apologize to this guy for the flash. I didn't mean for it to be on)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Great Cormorants Abound

There were 35 Great Cormorants at Mystic Lakes in Medford today at 1:00pm. This seems strange  but I am fairly new to this birding thing. Anyone have thoughts???

Great Cormorants (1 group of 12)

The Birds Return

The birds are starting to return...

OK, not in full force yet, but they are coming. I went over to Mount Auburn Cemetery this weekend hoping to catch an early Yellow-Rump. No luck. Plenty of singing Song Sparrows, Cardinals, Juncos, RWBBs, and squawking Grackles though. I did happen upon a pair of Peregrine Falcon's that appear to be gearing up to nest on the Tufts Medical Building in Watertown. Lucky me, I may have a view of that nest from my living room window(with a scope of course).

Nothing else exciting to report. I tried for the Glaucous Gull that's been seen on Revere Beach with no success. I dropped by Fresh Pond this morning in hope of seeing the Lesser Black-backed Gull and/or the Iceland Gull spotted yesterday by J. Trimble. My streak with Gulls continues as neither were there.  There were four Canvasbacks (3M, 1F) on the east side near the Mobile station.

Canvasback (2M)
Canvasback (2M, 1F)

Common Merganser (F)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Great and Powerful Regional Data Reviewer

All of us have received the dreaded email titled "Question about your Eurasian Kookie Eyed Warbler observation in eBird." I am sure I'm not the only one who scrambles for their Sibley guide when this email rolls in. There aren't many things that are worse than cycling through your photos of that Warbler that you "knew" was a Kookie Eyed and realizing you do not have one single image that shows that little SOB at a decent angle and that isn't not blurry. Next one's mind starts running through possible scenarios:

1. Maybe the song I heard refracted off a beech tree and that made me think it was the Eurasian Kookie?!?!
2. I heard the Kookies were passing through this area maybe it was the American Kookie and not the Eurasian Kookie I saw and I just wanted it to be a Eurasian Kookie!?!
3. Did I just have the world biggest Ornithological brain fart and report I was sure I saw the worlds rarest bird foraging for peanuts at Fenway Park??!

Just when you are about to resign yourself to allowing the Reviewer to mark the dreaded "possible sighting" box(tantamount to kick in the cloaca), you remembered you snapped a photo with you iPhone. Then...GLORY!!! A clear photo of the Eurasian Kookie Eyed Warbler!!!

People "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." Submit your sighting with certainty!
Oh yeah. Take photos. No one will ever believe you without a photo.

PS: I kid of course. Much respect for those souls who take time to sift through the millions of bits of
data being compiled by we insane Birders. But one request, every once in a while, give us the benefit of the doubt.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Never Ending Hunt for the Cackling Goose

Yesterday I got word from Travis Mazerall that he had seen a Cackling Goose at Fresh Pond. Long atop my list of "target birds" I headed out this morning to try to track it down. I scoured through about 100 Canada Geese but didn't see any that looked like candidates for Cackling status. I returned around 2:30pm around the time Travis saw it yesterday, again my efforts were futile.

Highlights from my walk around Fresh Pond today were a Lesser Scaup and a host of Spring arrivals such as, Common Grackles, Ring-Neck Ducks, and Red-wing Blackbirds.

I had one interesting Gull. Which as it turns out, is a plain old Herring Gull.
So, I spent my day looking at Herring Gulls and Canada Geese. How exciting.