Monday, December 24, 2012

More bird counting

Keeping count. Ridge Hill Reservation, Needham, MA
This time I took Lily with me, on a splendid morning bird count at Ridge Hill Reservation. If anyone is curious, here was our count.

Red-tailed Hawk  1
Downy Woodpecker  2
Blue Jay  2
American Crow  3
Black-capped Chickadee  13
Tufted Titmouse  2
Red-breasted Nuthatch  13
White-breasted Nuthatch  4
Golden-crowned Kinglet  2
American Robin  1
Dark-eyed Junco  2

The bird of the day was the red-breasted nuthatch, seemingly everywhere and making a lot of noise. 13 is an undercount, for sure.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Time for White-winged Crossbills

White-winged Crossbill, Salisbury Beach State Reservation
Grading done, Christmas shopping done, time to finally make the drive up to Salisbury to hang with the white-winged crossbills. They've been in the campground pine trees for weeks now. Right now it's a male crossbill show though there a still a few females about.
White-winged Crossbills, Salisbury Beach State Reservation
The campground is large so I first drove around trying to find them. When I finally parked and got out of the car I realized that was a mistake. Their twittering can be heard from quite far away and the flock is large and easy to spot (and hear) in flight.
They are very cool birds, with their distinctive customized beak and acrobatic poses. But I wasn't prepared for how pretty they were.
Perfect Christmas tree ornaments.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bird-Lore-style Christmas Bird Count 2012

As I've done for the past few years, I took a walk (Cutler this time), counted some birds, and formatted the count in the way Bird-Lore used to do it.

Needham, Mass.--Dec 16; 7:30 to 9:00 A.M. Cloudy; ground bare; temp., 30°. Canada Goose, 76; Mallard,14; Great Blue Heron, 3; Ring-billed Gull,1; Rock Pigeon, 2; Mourning Dove, 7; Downy Woodpecker, 3; Blue Jay, 7; American Crow, 1; Black-capped Chickadee, 15; Tufted Titmouse, 3; White-breasted Nuthatch, 1; Carolina Wren, 3; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 2; American Robin, 11; American Tree Sparrow, 12; Song Sparrow, 2; Dark-eyed Junco, 1; American Goldfinch, 7. Total, 19 species, 161 individuals. 

Of particular interest this year: Great Blue Herons, no White-Throated Sparrows. Did not count a flock of eight twittering birds in tight flight formation, probably snow buntings but too far to tell. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bullock's Cove, RI. Early December ducks.

Bullock's Cove, Riverside, RI
Down in Rhode Island for a spell, I took my regular walk down to Bullock's Cove. This is reliable duck country in the winter and I was not disappointed today.
Start with old friend, the hooded merganser. There were about a dozen, male and female, diving near the bike trail. Also a large group of very active red-breasted mergansers (not pictured).
And lots and lots of wigeons. They like to rest in the inlet near Hains Park, peeping and whistling.
Along with black ducks, often asleep. Also seen during my walk: a stalking great blue heron and a rattling belted kingfisher. Hope they last the winter. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Charles River Peninsula Early December

Willow St Bridge from Charles River Peninsula
I am pleased to report that the bridge connecting South Street in Needham with Willow Street in Dover has been opened on schedule. This will make winter drives down Mill Street in search of ducks easier to integrate with visits to the Charles River Peninsula. No telling when they will move the construction trailer from the Cochrane Dam area.
Charles River Peninsula
Another gorgeously sunny day in the 50s. (I keep forgetting that exposure to direct sunlight is actually contraindicated for my anti-Lyme medication. I didn't predict this would be a problem in December...)
The fields at the Charles River Peninsula are now in their mown condition.
I couldn't help remembering that there was something important missing. At the top of this hill.
The shag-bark hickory. Now a stump. As I stood on the stump I watched a flock of bluebirds fly across the field, turning momentarily in the direction of the old tree, and then continuing on. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

December Day at Great Meadows

Great Meadows NWR, Concord, MA
A most beautiful December day, a good day to spend some time at Great Meadows. Not much in the way of aquatic bird diversity. Today it was mostly Canada geese and coots. But who could care on such a glorious day.
Canada goose sentry
The geese were feeding in large numbers all over the refuge. I am fond of the sentries. So alert.
Eastern Bluebird, Great Meadows NWR, Concord, MA
The biggest surprise: bluebirds. I don't remember seeing them in large numbers at Great Meadows before. But there they were, a half dozen at least, perching on cat-tails and singing on the wing.
American Robin, Great Meadows NWR, Concord, MA
And here's a bonus robin. I know they like baths but I never took them for aquatic birds.

Note: Photos hosted by a new service: Fotki. Testing them out.