Monday, January 20, 2014


Sorry for the obscenity. 
I was in the mood to walk a haunted place. The closest one: Cutler. Haunted for sure.
Along the train tracks
They found a body along the train tracks a few years ago.
Yellow Warbler nest
I sought out the ruins of old bird nests.
Yellow Warbler nest
Some haunted by snow eggs.
Some by large snail shells.

Note: This appears to be the platform of an unmade mockingbird or thrasher nest, (the amount of plastic suggests the former.) I suspect an obscure artistic purpose for the snail shell placement or a very lucky gull drop. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Again Cape Ann

Gulls of Jodrey Pier. What's that on the bottom?
Stopped for a bit at Jodrey Pier. What a beautiful sunny day. Quite a contrast to the day before.
Glaucous Gull, Jodrey Pier
Better to see the detail on Glaucous Gulls! Two this day, plus at least one Iceland.
Glaucous vs. Great Black-Backed.
Glaucous Gull
And then both Glaucous Gulls landed near each other. I pulled up the camera, clicked the shutter and...
Yes, startled gray seal, I was a bit disappointed.
Startled gray seal

Then it was the slow ride up the eastern coast to make my annual pilgrimage to Halibut Point. 
Quarry, Halibut Point State Park, Rockport, MA
Only one Harlequin Duck, diving by itself close to the shore. A few scoters close to shore (and a zillion studding the water farther out).
White-winged Scoter (female), Halibut Point
And a congenial Razorbill.
Razorbill, Halibut Point
Oh and a wintering Hermit Thrush, hanging near a berry supply.
Hermit Thrush, Halibut Point
School starts again tomorrow. It might be a while until I have a day like this again.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Again Jodrey Pier

Red-Breasted Mergansers, Jodrey Pier, Gloucester, MA
It's that time of year again. Time for meetings drawing me up to the North Shore but giving me enough time for a short jaunt up to Cape Ann. I did this last year around the same time; this year it was raining and there was no thick-billed murre (though someone had seen one--and a dovekie-- around recently). But there were gulls aplenty.
Find the Glaucous Gull
I was actually trying for an Iceland Gull, which are apparently rather common in these parts this time of year. But instead, like last year, my only white-wing was a very obliging Glaucous.
Glaucous Gull, Jodrey Pier, Gloucester, MA
It was bathing fairly close to the pier. Then it took off, affording even closer looks in flight.
Glaucous Gull coming right at ya!
Glaucous Gull, Jodrey Pier, Gloucester, MA
Also on the scene, a couple of gray seals, about to go into stealth mode as they approach the docks.

Gray Seals, Jodrey Pier, Gloucester, MA
I've got another meeting tomorrow. Perhaps another Cape Ann trip!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

January is Merganser time

This is a January of mergansers. Common mergansers have been more "common" than usual, or perhaps just more concentrated because of limited open water. Here's a short tour.

Let's start with Mill Street in Dover, where common mergansers can be seen in the morning resting on the icy edges.
Then up to Nahanton Park, where open water under the Kendrick St bridge attracted this group of common mergansers, plus a male hoodie.
Then to Hemlock Gorge. Nothing below the falls (the water is too fast and foamy) but above the falls, another nice group of commons, affording relatively close-up views.

[Flickr's new embed code is driving me nuts. Click on the above to see the full merganser]

And another male hoodie associating with a female common.
Are these hooded mergansers making merganser ID errors? Look at the size, Mr. Hoodie. The size. 

Friday, January 3, 2014


Seed-ball ornaments (a gift from my Mom). The first few rounds were stolen by squirrels but these have  survived to the delight to the myriad juncos inhabiting my backyard.

Some individuals are skilled enough to hang on and feed directly.

The typical pattern, though, is to knock a few seeds off, drop down and

pick the seeds up off the snow.

Meanwhile, our resident song sparrow owns the seed ornament more stably hung in the pine tree.

And in the front windowfeeder, some goldfinch-house sparrow tension. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year Goldeneyes

The stretch of the Charles River along Mill Street in Dover comes alive with wintering ducks in January. My traditional New Year slowdrive down the road revealed two large groups of goldeneye (the only visible drake was a common, not Barrows as in years past) and some common mergansers resting on the ice.

I parked in the lot at the base of the Cochrane Dam and walked up the road to see if I could get some photos. Oh the common merganser is a far-sighted wary bird and the common goldeneye is even more sensitive. On my approach they swiftly drifted downstream and out of good photo range.

Leaving me with the less sensitive icy bank mallard/black ducks.
And a tense interaction between mallard and female hooded merganser.

Additional New Year's sights and sounds of the area are youtube'd below.