Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pine Grosbeaks

The sun came out again!!  I have been wanting to stop at Speedway Plaza in Westborough and attempt to find the Pine Grosbeaks that Gary K. had reported in "recent bird sightings" on the Forbush Bird Club web site.  And these birds just have to be photographed in sunshine!

I saw my first and only Pine Grosbeak, a female, in West Boylston, MA earlier this month, so you can imagine how happy  I was to find a male (albeit a juvenile) among the birds at this Westborough location.  There were five females (from what I could tell) and one young male eating in the same tree or just below it.

According to allaboutbirds, immature males are usually indistinguishable from immature or adult females until the second year when they molt and grow new reddish feathers.  Some young males have some red or orange feathers in the body plumage, which females do not.  I think they are stunning looking birds!  Based on this info, I'd say that this male was in his second year.

(Note:  Alan tells me that he wouldn't have the confidence to ID the one I called a male.  That is his very kind way of saying that it's probably a female!  So.....I will wait to see a male Pine Grosbeak another day!)

I wonder how many shoppers at this plaza realized that these gorgeous birds were so close and stopped to take a look!?  Note:  these birds were in the front corner of the parking lot (actually on the side of the inner roadway) of Speedway Plaza, just behind a car dealership. It's a good idea to focus on the birds and try to filter out the litter, dirty ditchwater and noise of Route 9 traffic!

Thanks, Gary and thanks, Alan!



the possible male, but no way to confirm, so I will call it "female type"

I'm including this one for the rear view.  The orange coloring blended so perfectly with the berries!

another female

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Eastern Bluebirds at Mass Audubon Broadmoor

I stopped briefly at Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary this morning.  The field next to the parking lot was busy with Eastern Bluebirds.  It was very foggy since temps are warming up, and all the snow is melting.

Also seen:
Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Birding at Great Meadows NWR

Today was still cold.  The thermometer read 31 degrees when I headed out at 1:30pm to walk at Great Meadows.  I figured the wind would be bad on the causeway, and it was, but once I made it across, it wasn't too bad.  Wind chill was about 0 degrees according to the radio, but it didn't feel like it.  There were quite a few walkers, joggers and photographers there, too, so it was not as lonely as yesterday's walks.

This was the first time the impoundments had a turquoise tinge to them, which I thought was really pretty.

Not too much in the way of birds, though, but here are the highlights:

Canada geese on the river

Eastern Bluebird

Song Sparrow

Downy Woodpecker

Black-Capped Chickadee

These were the same types of birds I have seen the last few times I have gone to Great Meadows.  If you go to the same place enough, there is usually a nice surprise.  I'm hoping the next time I visit, that will happen!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Birding at Dorchester Harbor Walk II

On the way home I stopped at the JFK Library to see what was in the waters along the Dorchester Harbor Walk.

No new species, but a lot of varieties in spite of the cold!  Glad I stopped!

American Black Ducks

Common Eider (female)

Red-Breasted Merganser (male)

Red-Breasted Merganser (female)

Common Goldeneye (male)

Common Goldeneye (female)

Horned Grebe

Canada geese

Bufflehead (male)

Bufflehead (female)

closeup of Brants

Downy Woodpecker

The Harborwalk - pretty desolate on a cold day

Northern Mockingbird

Birding at icy Duxbury Beach

It was 21 degrees with significant wind chill today.  I wanted to walk at Duxbury Beach again, but George would have nothing to do with it!  So I was on my own!  I spent a good two hours down there, and let me just say, it looked a little like an arctic tundra.  There were not half as many birds around as there had been during the last visit.  All the water under the bridge had frozen almost solid.   I had salty tears frozen down my cheeks on the return trip (heading into the wind), but really, it was a beautiful day and another nice outing.

Powder Point Bridge

The first birds I saw were decoys (I hope!) caught in the frozen water near the bridge.   Another couple walking on the bridge asked me if I knew what type of ducks they were, and I told them I thought they were decoys.  I'm sure they're worrying more than a few people!

I crossed over to the beach 4 different times, but never saw any shorebirds.

View to the south

American Crow (finally!)


There were so few birds to photograph that I attempted to catch anything flying by!

Merganser species

the road

Song Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow (Ipswich form)

I saw this species for the first time on my last visit to Duxbury Beach, but I was very happy to have a second look at it!  What a pretty bird.  It really camouflages well in the snowy beach habitat.

view from the bridge - looks like the tundra!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Common Redpolls

I drove over to Hopkinton State Park this morning to watch the sun rise and to see what birds may or may not be around.  It was a balmy 8 degrees.   The sunrise was not spectacular; but, as you can see from this photo, the cold temperatures are icing the lake up.  

I heard a strange noise when I was taking this photo, and thought it was the ice moving on the lake.  Later, I discovered it was an ice fisherman pounding stakes through the ice.  He was about 15 feet off the shore by the first parking lot.

I noticed three Common Redpolls in a tree just behind the ice fisherman's pickup truck, so I stopped there, too.  I walked around the piles of kayaks to get closer to the birds as they fed on the catkins of the birch trees.  I wonder why there are so few today.....where have the others gone?