Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Squantum Point Fail (or not)

Squantum Point Park, Quincy, MA

It's been a while since I've dropped by Squantum Point Park. Today I was drawn by the prospect of a boreal chickadee, a rare vagrant to these parts. Ugh. Remind me not to chase any more rare vagrants.

You may recall my dismal failure at finding a boreal chickadee in a certified boreal zone, where they are common. I don't know what made me think I would be able to find a single individual in a large scrubby property on a cold, blustery day with merlins in the air. Not that there weren't plenty of eyeballs on the scene--lots of prominent birder types at every corner.

I thought I had it. I turned a corner where the chickadee had been reported, saw a small gray bird plunge into the brush. I waited and a few moments later heard a weird "chicka-dee-dee." That's it! But I was unable to see it again.

And it turns out that the weird "chicka-dee-dee" might very well have come from a fellow birder on the other side of the brush playing recorded chickadee sounds off of his iPhone. In fact, he wasn't the only one creating a virtual chickadee soundscape. Elsewhere a tape player hung from a tree branch simulating an angry chickadee mob. These attempts at drawing the boreal chickadee out from the brush (it was definitely there today) seemed to be in vain. They did succeed in driving me from the park, though. I am very much an ear-oriented birder; that kind of thing just drives me crazy.

Here's the consolation, though. I got the chance to explore Squantum Point more thoroughly than I've had in the past. One thing that stands out--an extraordinary density of bird nests, all low down on the stunted cherry trees. I was finding three and four nests on single trees.

And it's an interesting place to take photos--juxtapositions of urban concrete and scrubby bird habitat. Hello, mockingbird.

Also, a tree sparrow (first decent photo of the season)

And a nice yellow-chinned goldfinch.

And I got my life bird anyway--an American pipit that pipped loudly and flew off overhead. (Thanks, prominent birder types!)

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