Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lark Sparrow in Devens... again? 12/15 - 01/26

On December 15th, over a month ago, I stepped outside of the building where I work in Devens, to a bunch of weird chip notes I didn't recognize. I spotted the bird making the racket; a large sparrow with a black dot in the center of its unstreaked breast. I immediately thought American Tree Sparrow, but it seemed off. Then the bird flew to a nearby tree and I got a flash of white on the edges of its tail. Lark Sparrow! I walked up to the tree for a closer look at the face only to watch the bird take off North West. Completely Gone. My coworker, Ray, was with me at the time and agreed it was a Lark Sparrow, but I decided not to do anything with the sighting. There just wasn't enough evidence to confirm the sighting and I never got a look at the facial pattern since I was looking up at it. Although I had the very cooperative Lark Sparrow at the Berard's feeder in 2008, it was still a big disappointment. They call me the big dipper.

Today (01/26) while checking feeders around Devens, I spotted a definite Lark Sparrow feeding on the ground with juncos! This is about 1.4 miles away from the original sighting (this is a Worcester County Bird). Could it be the same bird? Luckily, I had my camera this time:

I first took some quick photos just in case it decided to take off.
I walked closer for some great looks.
Hopefully I'll get to speak to the landowner soon and they'll allow their address to be available to other birders.

Common Redpoll in Devens (1/25)

That's right. ONE Common Redpoll. Finally! I've been watching these birch trees at my work for a while... waiting for a redpoll to show up. (Not the best photos, but whatever):

Royalston, Wachusett Res, Worcester Airport, and Sterling (1/09 - 1/22)

I changed the name of the blog. It was way too close to a certain commentator's new book. I'll pass on that. It's now called "Bourinot's Birding Blog" because well, that's what it is.

Two weekends ago I tried to catch up with the pair of Barrow's Goldeneye at the reservoir. Mark Lynch and Sheila Carroll first spotted this species in South Bay on the Worcester Christmas bird count (see my earlier post). The ice was rapidly expanding around the reservoir and I knew they wouldn't be around much longer. Although I didn't get them, I did get looks at a few Bald Eagles on the ice. The group of Scaup were also present, but acting very skittish. Now, waterfowl are few and far between.

Last weekend I decided to check out the winter finches that have been reported around the town of Royalston. It was very slow birding and the recent snowfall made the roads extremely difficult to pull off. I spent about three hours driving around looking at feeders. I eventually caught up with a large flock of common redpolls on Fitzwilliam Road. I estimated over 40 redpolls in that group. Only a few stuck around in the treetops for distant looks. Then, I had the only Evening Grosbeaks of the day; 2 fly-overs. In that same area 4 Common Ravens flew by, which was a nice addition. While looking at a feeder, suddenly there was a commotion among the feeder birds. Everything was in alarm and flushing. A Northern Shrike arrived in a tree by the feeders. Unfortunately, it took off when it noticed me. On my way home I was driving down route 68 and noticed a small bird in the middle of the road. As I got closer I realized the bird was a female-type White-winged Crossbill which was picking up seeds off the road. I've been hoping to run into one of these as there's been a bit of an irruption in recent weeks. Overall, I had a great variety of Northern species, but it was very tough hunting them down.

On Sunday, I made another trip to Worcester Airport to check out the buntings and larks. I was not disappointed. The numbers have picked up to well over 100. I know I already posted on these birds, but they're worth a re-post.

Lately, I've been searching for a Red-headed Woodpecker that Dan Berard spotted in Sterling last week. No luck yet. Landon and I will be searching for it this week before daycare. While searching we did get these sexy Eastern Bluebirds.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Worcester Airport, Westport, Wachusett Reservoir - 01/03/2010

I wanted to check out the Snow Buntings and Horned Larks that have been recently reported at Worcester Airport (terminal side). When I arrived they were on the runway, but after about 15 minutes they started to fly around the general area and eventually a large portion of the flock landed in the parking lot close to the car. There were tons of Snow Buntings! 

And a good number of Horned Larks

After that extravaganza of grassland birds I made one of my signature last minute, rash, pinheaded decisions to drive down to one of my favorite birding locations, Gooseberry Neck in Westport. I guess it wasn't that crazy since at least I checked the weather channel app before leaving the airport. It was going to be cold and windy on the coast. Whatever. The land birds would probably be scarce. Whatever. Gooseberry Neck can be amazing for migrating land birds since many birds end up over the ocean during migration. Many times Gooseberry Neck is the first land they'll see, which means good birding. Anything can show up here. However, I wasn't expecting much since it's not exactly migration, but still.

Gooseberry Neck from GoogleMaps

When I arrived 1.5 hours later it was cold and very windy.
Oh and I forgot to bring a heavy jacket. Or gloves.
It was not looking good for my day off.
I wasn't going to let a little cold and wind stop me from walking to the end of the point. Oh hells no! And I was determined to spish up at least one land bird. That's all I wanted. Do you know what I mean? Give me a house sparrow or something. I came upon the World War II defense towers and began to realize that I could be in a much worse situation; like when the Nazis fought to take Westport in 1944. I was going to the point.
I saw some water birds along the way.
Common Loon

White-winged Scoters.
If you've never seen a scoter you're a pinhead and need to look closer. They're cool birds. You'll like them.
Surf Scoters
White-winged Scoter (female) and Common Eider (female)
Common Goldeneye (female) and Horned Grebe
Common Eider (male)
Bufflehead (male)
Finally, after a grueling 15 minutes of walking I found my first land bird on the point. Song Sparrow. Then a Black-capped Chickadee. Then a Downy Woodpecker (which raised an eBird flag the first time I entered one back in 2008, BTW).
American Tree Sparrow

Then, I started hearing Yellow-rumped Warbler chip note. I was pretty excited about that. They are pretty scarce this time of year although much more present along the coast. I hadn't seen one in awhile. I ended up having 8 Yellow-rumps on my walk.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Check out the rump on this.
Then, I stumbled on this "Ipswich" Savannah Sparrow. Again, it's been a few months since my last Savannah so I was excited. The Ipswich sparrow was formerly considered a distinct species. They breed almost exclusively on Sable Island.
There was a connection we both felt since both of our ancestors bred on Nova Scotia.

That was it for Gooseberry. On the way towards Allen's Pond Audubon sanctuary, I spotted some shorebirds on a rock. They ended up being Dunlin with one Sanderling in the group.

When I got home I decided to check out a Red-breasted Merganser that Alan Marble spotted on Wachusett Reservoir. This is not a common bird inland. They're common on the coast. I just realized that I spent the day on the coast and had no RB Mergs!

There was also a Hooded Merganser nearby. Here she is in flight. Check out that wing pattern.
Finally, on my way home I got some turkeys. I dipped on turkeys on every one of my christmas counts!
Good day afield, aye?