Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mill Street Barries

Barrow's Goldeneye, Charles River, Mill St, Dover, MA

It always pays to drive down Mill St in Dover on an icy cold day like today. Barrow's goldeneye are not super rare, but you don't get to see them that often. My last sighting was last year around this time. One male, five females.

I got pretty good looks at the females (someone else will have to tell me if any of them are common goldeneye--I'm suspicious of the two on the left in the photo below). But the male wasn't very cooperative when it came to photos.

They were quite active, doing a lot of diving, and seemed to be enjoying the weather (painfully sub-zero facing the wind).

[UPDATE: Today (Sunday) I only saw these two, moving with the current downstream]

[UPDATE: Monday, Feb 1. YES at 9 am (far downstream of mallards); NO at 11 am.]
[UPDATE: Tuesday, Feb 2. NO at 9, NO at 3.]
[UPDATE: Friday, Feb 5. YES at 9 am]

Then there was this oddity. The head of a male hooded merganser (though very dull) and the body of the female. This looks to be a first year male.

Just for comparison's sake, a nearby male and female.

Friday, January 29, 2010


The downies have found the suet feeder. In fact sometimes they just sit there, using it as a perch. Here's a short video of the female (with a special guest).

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lily's List

Birthday girl got a little pair of Bushnells (thanks, Nana & Papa!). We walked down to Haines Park and looked for ducks.

Lily's List of Ducks Seen Today
American Wigeon
Black Duck

Canada Goose
Mute Swan

Hooded Merganser

Lesser Scaup
(OK, Lily didn't see them and I'm just guessing. See the great blue heron in the top right?)

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Direct Address to the Birds of Millennium Park

OK, tree sparrows. You've got to stop pretending to be snow buntings, all light colored and flighty and all. And then tormenting me with your darling twitters....
That goes for you too, goldfinches.

And snow buntings, how about showing up once in a while?

Actually, how could I stay mad at this tree sparrow?

Hey you, black duck. You do know you are a black duck, don't you?

Oh, large group of gulls. Would it kill you to assemble a little closer to shore? Don't you know I need to check your wing tips gull by gull?

And red-tailed hawk, you don't need to fly off as soon as you see me. I'm just trying to take some photos. (I think I got you here, though)

But northern harrier, you just keep on being magnificently awesome.

And that goes for you too, hooded merganser.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Salisbury Beach

Salisbury Beach State Reservation, Salisbury, MA

Up to Salisbury Beach State Reservation this morning. Lots of excitement over a Sage Thrasher that's been seen over the last week or so. Not this morning, unfortunately. Below is what birding is like these days. See anything?

Here's the shot of the day. Common eiders in flight, great black-backed gulls, and not one but two harbor seals (I didn't even notice the one on the left until I had uploaded the photos).

Why were the eiders all stirred up? Coast Guard boat.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

East Providence

Sabin Point, East Providence, RI

A visit with my folks in RI, a gorgeous sunny day, a variety of nice waterfowl photo opportunities.

First stop, Sabin Point with good views of upper Narragansett Bay. Lots of good things out in the middle of the bay--loons, goldeneyes, scaup, but a little too far out for good photos. (Take this red-throated loon--or is that the lochness monster?--below).

A reliable spot for large congregations of gulls.

Second stop, Bullock Cove. The mute swans are out of control.

And the water was studded with little ducks. Too far out to ID.

Closer-up views off the bike trail. Below: a sample of the multitude of hooded mergansers on display.

And a lone female goldeneye. Same as last year.

Nice view of a great blue heron, dwarfed by the phragmites.

An the ubiquitous black ducks.

Last stop, Turner Reservoir. Only one open spot and everyone was there.

On the opposite side of the road, a great blue heron walking slowly (sometimes sliding) across the ice.

Looked for a while, unsuccessfully, and then joined everyone else on the other side.

The huge assemblage presents a challenge. At first you dismiss it as a homogeneous group of Canada geese. Then you start seeing hooded mergansers. And then a few odd balls stand out.
Hey there's a common merganser in the back there!

And that sleeping duck with the interesting pattern? Ring-necked.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Allens Pond

View from Reuben's Point, Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, Westport

Met my folks (thanks, Mom and Dad) for a walk through the Beach Loop at Allens Pond. Ocean side first.

Immediately saw a young male eider.

And then, amidst a small group of goldeneyes, this interesting duck. A female eider, it turns out. Cormorant island in the background.

Unexpected sight along the beach loop (and the only passerines there, except for a lone tree sparrow and a flicker)--yellow-rumped warblers. I couldn't place them at first (January?) but it was soon clear what they were.

I took the Quonsett Trail myself, though the woods and along the coast.

Over 100 black ducks hunkered down in the pond. Not happy about seeing me.

The woods were full of golden crowned kinglets. Which one's better, the full blurry view?

Or the in-focus obscured view? (Oh kinglet, why do I even bother)

Oddest find in the woods--a pair of brown thrashers.
(Here's the whole ebird list for the trip)
Location: Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary
Observation date: 1/14/10
Number of species: 30

American Black Duck 100
Mallard 5
Common Eider 5
Bufflehead 12
Common Goldeneye 5
Common Loon 5
Great Blue Heron 1
Northern Harrier 1
Ring-billed Gull X
Herring Gull (American) X
Great Black-backed Gull 10
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 1
Blue Jay 2
American Crow 3
Black-capped Chickadee 16
Tufted Titmouse 4
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Carolina Wren 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 6
American Robin 15
Gray Catbird 6
Northern Mockingbird 1
Brown Thrasher 2
European Starling 3
Yellow-rumped Warbler 8
American Tree Sparrow 1
White-throated Sparrow 6
Northern Cardinal 2