Thursday, December 30, 2010

In Memoriam

I've been keeping track of bird deaths at work. The construction of this colossal building was completed about a year and a half ago, and since that time many of us have been seeing a huge number of window strikes around the buildings and starvation deaths in the parking garage stairwell. Devens has some great habitat including tracts of early succession forest, ponds and large fields. The Nashua river runs nearby and much of the land surrounding the building is actually in Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge as well as the Nashua River Watershed IBA (Important Bird Area). All I can do is document the photos I've taken. There are at least 3 birds that don't currently have photographic documentation; 2 European Starlings (1 window, 1 garage starvation) and 1 Eastern Bluebird (window).
Yellow Warbler #1 (spring migration) - Garage
 Chipping Sparrow #1 - Garage
 Tufted Titmouse #1 - Window Strike
 Brown-headed Cowbird (immature) #1 - Window Strike
 Blackpoll Warbler #1 - Window Strike (this bird eventually flew off to continue its grueling fall migration) 
 Chipping Sparrow #2 - Window Strike
 White-breasted Nuthatch #1 - Window Strike
 Chipping Sparrow #3- Window Strike
Tufted Titmouse #2 - Garage Starvation

Barn Swallow - Window Strike

Gray Catbird - Garage strike
Baltimore Oriole - Window Strike (survived)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Central Mass Barrow's Goldeneye Identification

We found 3 female BARROW'S GOLDENEYE on Lake Quinsigamond during the Worcester Christmas Bird Count on December 18th. Two of these birds were classic Barrow's, but one looked a little off. It's bill was overall orange with some small dark blotches. Its bill was much duller than the others and seemed a bit larger. Its head shape seemed consistent with Barrow's as compared to the many Common Goldeneye that were present. I "phone-scoped" a bunch of photos of these birds (phone-scoping is taking photos with a cell phone through a spotting scope).


Questionable Female BARROW'S GOLDENEYE

On the same day Mark Lynch and Sheila Carroll had an adult male Barrow's at South Bay of Wachusett Reservoir. This makes an astounding 4 Barrow's in Worcester county. They checked again a few days later and found a female had joined the male. I checked these birds out last Thursday and found that it was a classic female Barrow's. This morning, December 26, I checked out the extreme Northern end of Wachusett reservoir (gate 40) in Clinton and found a group of Common Goldeneye. This was a different group than the one in South Bay. In this group was a female with an orange, but dull bill with some black blotching. It looks a lot like the questionable bird on December 18th at lake Quinsigamond. I haven't checked Quinsigamond since the count, but those birds may be moving to Wachusett as the lake freezes over. A poor quality, phone-scoped photo is below.

The Wachusett Bird seen today

Here's an example of 2 female COMMON GOLDENEYEs taken last February at Wachusett for comparison.

David Sibley's blog (updated 02Mar10) has a great entry on distinguishing between female Barrow's and Common goldeneyes. Check it out here: David Sibley's Blog on Common Vs. Barrow's Goldeneye Identification


Old Photo Policy

I'll sporadically post old photos from my archives. Here's a Garter Snake at Oxbow NWR on 10/2/2010.

Reasons for this Blog

I decided to start a blog to share my birding adventures. I normally post my photos and rants on facebook and, but there are so many great birding blogs out there I thought I'd give it a try. The problem with this idea is I'm not the most consistent person when it comes keeping journals. Most likely I'll post entries for about a month and then it will taper off to once a year. I'll try my best to stick to it.