Friday, January 22, 2010

Thrush at Quabbin April 2009

I have occasionally run across some interesting birds over the past several years and have managed to get photos of a few of them. I thought it would be interesting to post some photos and see what other people think of them.

The first bird I will look at will be a catharus type thrush. All of the photos have been cropped but otherwise unchanged. This bird was found early in the morning of April 30, 2009 moving through the woods in the central part of Quabbin. I was with a very experienced local birder at the time working on the Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas. I saw the bird initially and first thought of Swainson's Thrush but it did not have the look of a typical Swainsons. The other birder with me immediately thought the bird seemed very interesting and worthy of further study. The bird never allowed an approach closer than 25-30 feet. The bird was all by itself and remained silent throughout our several minutes of viewing. The photos may not truly give the actually view we had in the field so I will supplement them with some additional observations and thoughts. The bird appeared to be similar in size and proportions to a Hermit Thrush. The bird lacked the typical buffy, yellowish face and bold spectacles of a Swainson's Thrush. This leaves us with Gray-cheeked or perhaps Bicknell's. In my mind at the time the face didn't have the plain, grayish face I have seen in Gray-cheeked. The face was basically a similar brown to the rest of the body and a slight grayish type eye ring, not as bold as a Hermit Thrush. Overall the coloration of the bird was a dull brownish with little variation noted at the time. The spotting on the breast was actually darker than what is shown in the photos but otherwise the photos are a fair representation of what was seen in the field. Following our viewing and with much discussion we determined the bird to be a Gray cheeked/Bicknells type. Given the early date of late April, either bird species would be quite unexpected. However this sighting corresponds with a large number of species arriving early due primarily to sustained southerly winds during this time in April. The latest edition of North American Birds goes into some detail concerning the early influx of migrants in the northeast in April of 2009. I still do not know for certain exactly what species the bird is and would love to hear some other opinions of ID of this bird. I have seen many examples of all the expected thrushes in the area (except Bicknells) and none of these species fit this bird exactly. I have additional photos and additional notes on the bird if anyone thinks it will help with an ID. Hope to hear some feedback on this bird.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Quabbin Gate 8

I made a trip up to Gate 8 at dawn and walked down to the water. It was a beautiful, calm day. I had some really nice birds along the way beginning with a hooting Great Horned Owl. I then added a Hermit Thrush, Northern Shrike, Northern Flicker, a dozen Golden crowned Kinglets, eight Red Breasted Nuthatches, seven Common Mergansers, 130+ Junco's (one group of 72), 137 American Robins most of which were leaving out of a small roost at dawn and a group of 43 Blue Jays moving around together. In addition I had some very fresh moose tracks among the other tracks in the snow.
Once back home I heard the Winter Wren that has been around all fall and winter.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Winsor Dam and Quabbin Gate 5

I made it over to Winsor Dam again to get a more accurate number of robins roosting in the area. The real movement started at 6:55 and largely ended by 7:15. My total amounted to 4600+ American Robins. Most were moving south or southeast. I also had a handful of Hooded Mergansers, a few Bald Eagles and a Common Loon at gate 5. In addition to these birds I had a Winter Wren singing a half song several times mid morning at home. It appears the temp's in the mid 40's inspired a bit of song on his part.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Robins at Quabbin

I made a trip over to Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park near dawn. I arrived at 7am with the temperature a cold 5 degrees. I immediately noticed American Robins moving east-southeast in large numbers. My conservative estimate over the next 20 minutes totalled 2460. I missed many as I concentrated on the birds within naked eye view primarily but when I did scan with binoculars there were birds moving along a broad front. I would love to trace the birds back to their roost and get more accurate numbers and perhaps find something odd in among the robins.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

More from my trip to Florida in December

I will continue a review of my trip to Florida in December with the addition of a few images. All of these were taken in or near Three Lakes WMA or along Joe Overstreet Road, all south of Orlando. Other interesting sightings from this area included Red Cockaded Woodpecker and a pair of adult Whooping Cranes way out in a farm field.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Feeder activity...and robins

Spent a relaxing day away from work and at home. Beyond a short walk around the nearby woods I spent most of the day inside watching the comings and goings at the feeders. Nothing out of the ordinary for the day. There was a nice passage of American Robins both in the morning and evening as they moved back and forth between their roost and feeding areas. Well over 150+ in the evening in the course of about 20 minutes.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Fox Sparrow at feeder

During our weekend long snowstorm I had quite a few visitors to the feeders with the highlight being a Fox Sparrow. In addition I had a couple American Tree Sparrows, a Song Sparrow, eight White Throated Sparrow and 40+ Junco's. I apologize for the photo quality but it was taken through a window from quite a distance during an especially snowing time period.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years birding

I made a trip to a couple of spots this New Years morning to see what I could find. I intended on spending some time at Quabbin Park but it was closed for the holiday so I had to be content with just the area around Winsor Dam. This actually turned out to be quite productive with three Bald Eagle chasing each other, a couple Ravens, five Snow Buntings, a Red Winged Blackbird, a Song Sparrow and numerous other birds. I then went to Covey WMA and had a few more Snow Buntings, one each of Red Winged Blackbird and Raven, a couple more Bald Eagles (including my first adult of the year), four Hooded Mergansers and lots of Robins, White throats and Juncos. A very productive morning. At home I added some nice additional birds for the day including Ruffed Grouse and Winter Wren. I have had the Winter Wren around since fall.