Friday, December 31, 2010

Plum Island, MA.

My brother and I decided to check out Plum Island on Wednesday so he could play with his fancy new zoom lens and I could look for new birds... It was another chilly but sunny day.  At the Joppa Flats visitor center we talked to several people about where to go.  My bro was psyched to hear of the possibility of Snowy Owls so we headed to the farthest east part of the "island."  Unfortunately we found this sign several miles before the area we wanted to visit:


This did not deter us... We spent hours trekking down the road through varying depths of snow and managed to see lots of things, though no owls. 

At the Hellcat Wildlife Observation Area:


Gorgeous views but not a lot of birds... A few American Tree Sparrows were all we saw:


I was psyched because they were new to me... There were more at the next bird blind too.



I looked up and caught a Rough-legged Hawk sailing slowly just above our heads. 



There were lots of paths off from the main road that led to views of the beach. 




At one point I saw a bird hopping around in a bush.  I stopped to watch and eventually he popped out onto a branch and I saw it was a White-throated Sparrow...


Up the road we saw a bird picking at berries in a bush.  When he took off with a berry I saw this wing pattern:


I had thought it was a shrike at the time, but later we found this bird:



A Northern Mockingbird!  I learned that their wing pattern is very similar to that of a shrike.  Still, a new bird for me!  We ended up seeing another one just before we turned around to head back..


All puffed up and nowhere to go... Well, until it flew straight at us!


Eek!  It was a long walk back to the car but we made it before it was completely dark out.  Wish we had more time to explore the rest of the area... hopefully I'll be back soon!

That was it for my trip bird-wise... 10 new birds- not bad for not expecting much!  Happy new year!

Cape Cod, MA (part deux).

My second day on the cape my parents made the mistake of asking me if there was anywhere I wanted to go while I was there.  I am not sure if they expected me to say Trader Joe's or what, but I scanned the Mass Birding website and found some beaches nearby with birds I had never seen before... My parents agreed to the adventure despite the thermometer looking like this:


Oh and the wind was NOT helping.  But it was sunny!

The first beach we pulled up at was Dowses Beach in Osterville.  A handful of American Black Ducks greeted us...


A new one for me!  Out in what I believe is Nantucket Sound were a couple dozen Brant...


Yum...seaweed....


I climbed up some rocks and found my first Common Eiders!!



Such cool birds!  They had some Common Goldeneye pals.


And I better not forget the ladies...


After thoroughly freezing my parents we got back in the car and headed to Long Beach in Dennis I think.  It was cold there too.


But there were Mute Swans!


Sweet!


My dad made a new friend.



And in case you were doubting the wind... This Ring-billed wants to show you how it felt:


We left this beach and went to another beach.  I don't recall where it was or what it was called.  My brain was too frozen to retain information at this point.

I finally found a Great Black-backed Gull:


He was great indeed.  Here's another one:



By the water were quite a few little shorebirds... Sanderlings mostly...



There were a few other shorebirds mixed in... Like this guy:


I'm guessing Dunlin because of the bill but I'm not sure.



Woohoo, four new birds!  Plus my parents actually seemed to enjoy themselves despite the weather.  Good times!

Cape Cod, MA.

I got back last night from a week with the family in Massachusetts... My time was split between my parents' house on Cape Cod and my brother's house in Somerville.  I had asked my parents ahead of time if they wouldn't mind filling their feeders before I arrived- and fill them they did!  I saw tons of birds including many new ones...

The first bird I remember seeing my first morning there was a Red-bellied Woodpecker..  Woohoo!


He would poke around in this big tree or come down to the feeders for a snack...


The Northern Cardinals were pretty tolerant of my camera this year...



And on the feeder with one of my new favorite birds:


The Carolina Wren!




One bird I've missed since moving to the west coast is the Tufted Titmouse... They were plentiful in my parents' yard...





It wasn't until this trip that I realized the feisty-ness of the Red-breasted Nuthatch..


Feeding in the snow below the feeder were sparrows, juncos, jays, and squirrels... Finally got to see some White-throated Sparrows!



Um, yeah, just ignore that giant extension cord in front of its face...

Another yard visitor was a yellow-shafted Northern Flicker:



Downy Woodpeckers visited the trees and feeders frequently...


Dark-eyed Juncos were always around...


The Blue Jays caught wind of the food sources by my second day there and swarmed the yard.



Lastly was this thrush in a bush:


I am guessing it is a Hermit Thrush but my pictures were not good enough to be certain.  Yay I added a handful of new birds just in my parents' yard!  More birds to come from the Cape Cod coastline and Plum Island....

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hoyt Arboretum.

I was in a terrible mood this afternoon, after driving all the way to Fernhill Wetlands only to find out that as of two weeks ago, dogs are no longer welcome.  I drove back to Portland and figured I needed a good walk in the trees and where better to do that than an arboretum? 

Most of the walk was peaceful and beautiful and totally put me in better spirits... We crossed from the Wildwood Trail to the Hemlock Trail to the Creek Trail and on and on, pausing in a small field.  I noticed some movement nearby and discovered a handful of thrushes!


There were two Varied Thrushes and one Hermit Thrush.  They permitted me to take a bunch of photos until some screaming children ran by (this is no exaggeration- they were obviously hopped up on chocolate santas and gingerbread men). 



Now it's time for some Ebenezer Ale and some packing for Boston!  Happy holidays!