New Years birding in MA

 To finish off 2023 and kick off 2024 Jacob and I spent some time visiting my family and birding in Massachusetts. My brother kindly greeted us in the pre-dawn hours with coffee, french toast, and quality dog time, followed by a long dog walk through the woods. Then we headed out on our own to the coast for birds. 

Red Rock Park, Lynn, MA

We recently upgraded our cameras/lenses: Jacob got the Canon R5, I got the R7, and we both got the Canon 100-500 lens. Previously I was using the 90d/100-400 and had started to get frustrated with image quality. Luckily we were both able to sell B&H our old gear for decent prices! 

Purple Sandpiper

Red Rock Park was an excellent first stop with Jacob's lifer Purple Sandpipers and Razorbill, along with more Black Scoters than I've ever seen, lots of Long-tailed Ducks, Common Eiders, and American Black Ducks. 

We made our way up the coast birding several more hotspots before hitting Devereaux Beach in Marblehead at sunset. Snow Buntings flushed from the rocky shore and a couple Razorbills swam in close. 


Devereaux Beach, Marblehead, MA

We went into Salem that evening for a nice family dinner before retiring to the Hotel Marblehead, a cool historic hotel built in the 1800's that didn't seem haunted unfortunately. 

The next day was New Year's Eve, which we started with a trip to The Muffin Shop in Marblehead for breakfast. 

The Muffin Shop, Marblehead, MA

We spent the day birding around Gloucester and Rockport, collecting a few last year birds.

Eastern Point Wildlife Sanctuary

Black Guillemot, Eastern Point

After dipping on one at Eastern Point we were able to track down a King Eider at Gully Point Cove.

King Eider, lifer for Jacob

In the afternoon we found Red Squirrels and a red Eastern Screech-Owl in Beverly. The owl was tucked away near a playground filled with kids and parents so we hesitated to approach with binoculars and cameras. Luckily it turned out they all knew about the owl so things weren't as awkward as they could have been.

Red Squirrels

My first visual of an Eastern Screech-Owl

New Years Eve was spent with my brother's family until we bailed a bit early to head back to Marblehead. The next morning (the next year!) we birded our way to Cape Cod where we spent the rest of our trip.

Our cute rental cottage in Chatham, MA

Bonaparte's Gull, Chatham, MA


We visited with my parents every day and also did lots of birding, including two visits to Fort Hill in Eastham.

Merlin, Fort Hill

I tried pishing out a red Fox Sparrow that was hidden in the bramble but instead a Yellow-breasted Chat popped up! Before this trip I had no idea they spent the winter here. 

Yellow-breasted Chat, Fort Hill

 Fort Hill gave us lots of other good birds including Winter Wrens, Eastern Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings, more robins that I wanted to count, and our only Purple Finch of the trip. 

We made two stops at the Cape Cod National Seashore Salt Ponds Visitor Center for two state birds I had not expected on this visit. 

Lark Sparrow

Western Kingbird

We also had great views of Eastern Bluebirds while there. 

Eastern Bluebird

One morning we went up to Race Point to hopefully see Dovekies. The wind and temperature was brutal though, and I lost interest pretty quickly. Jacob was successful though. On the way there we stopped at MacMillan Wharf because it seemed like a good spot for photos. This was accurate. 

Provincetown, MA

Red-breasted Merganser

Long-tailed Duck
Common Eider (male)

Common Eider (female)

The last spot we birded in MA was Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary where things were pretty quiet. A pair of Red-shouldered Hawks was pretty cute and a state bird for me. 

Red-shouldered Hawks, Ashumet, MA

We saw 102 species on our 6-day trip, 15 of which were state birds for me, 5 of which were lifers for Jacob. We were able to spend lots of time with my family too! Good times!

New Years Day, Chatham, MA