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?

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