This blog represents four different trips we took as part of Mark's birding class at Mass Audubon at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester. The class was focused on fall migration and, like many birding trips, sometimes you hit good days and sometimes not-so-good days. But it's always fun to be out birding and showing folks new places that they can go back to on their own. There were two inland trips and two to the coast (not the north shore though.....)
Our first trip was to Quabbin in late September, followed by doing a "Big Sit" at Gooseberry Neck on 10/9, then Wachusett Reservoir on 10/16 and finally a beautiful trip to the outer Cape on 10/22. So here are some of the highlights....and lowlights.
You know it's a slow day when you start taking pictures of interesting car decals...Cthulhu is a fictional character created by H. P. Lovecraft in the 1920's and has become a central figure in many of Lovecraft's stories. Of course, this is my first Cthulhu decal so it was rather unique.
Since things were very quiet at Quabbin we ended up taking people to the East Meadows in Northampton, hoping to find late Golden Plover or other shorebirds.
And this mockingbird was braving both the windy weather and.....
Two weeks later we took the class to Gooseberry Neck in Westport to do a "big sit". It was fantastic. The concepts is to set up a 17-foot diameter circle from which you count any specie of bird you see or hear during a 24-hour period. Now since this was a class trip we decided to limit out "sit" to morning only.
As everyone started to arrive and set up we outlined the perimeter of the circle and the rules we needed to follow to qualify as an official Big Sit.
And, of course, the Yellow-rumped Warblers were still putting through. And we had at least 1 Orange-crowned.
And Monarchs were definitely migrating. It was a little frustrating to be confined to the circle, since we usually walk out to the end, and that's where you often find some unusual birds in the more remote areas.
All in all, it was a fun day. There were 206 circles (196 in the US and 10 international) that participated in this year's Big Sit (organized by Bird Watcher's Digest http://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/bwdsite/connect/bigsit/index.php) and the results were really exciting. We tied for 8th place overall and tied for 7th in the US -- beating out the other Massachusetts teams with 80 species......not bad for a first try and only a half day at that!
Our next class trip was a local one to Wachusett Res....and we picked that since it was a cold, windy day and we figured there wouldn't be much migration taking place along the coast with gale-force winds.
Unfortunately, there wasn't much going on inland either.
Ducks on the reservoir were rather scare and when checking a side marsh on Rt. 62 we came across these two domestic ducks using a kid's swimming pool instead of the marsh....very sad state. Although I'm sure the folks who live there are delighted since they obviously put the pools out for the ducks.
We also checked the Waushacums. We had a few Ruddy Ducks, a handful of Mallards, and DC Cormorants and Common Mergs...but not much else. At The Quag near West Waushacum we had this late Solitary Sandpiper. We got excited thinking it might be a European sandpiper...but it was just a late juvi.
Our last class trip was to the Outer Cape and it was anything but quiet.
Not only were there more Gannets than you could count, we also had a good showing of Greater Shearwaters and even a Cory's. And the jaeger show wasn't bad either.
You could look in any direction out to sea and find Gannets moving in all directions.
Some dove right in front of us...and there was a good mixture of adult and immature birds as well.
Of course we had nice lines of White-winged, Black and Surf Scoters, along with Eider and Long-tailed Duck moving back and forth....so it was a great day to be at the coast.
We had both Common and Forster's terns and they were the ones being plagued by the Parasitic Jaegers.
We took the class up to High Head since that's often a good place (especially during the Christmas Count) to find some lingering birds.
At Herring Cove the Gannet show continued...but much farther out. We did have more terns and, therefore, more jaegers. Unfortunately I was never able to get any good shots close enough to include in this blog.
We did make a try for the Brown Booby at MacMillan Wharf, but the bird was present when we were there. And since it's still being reported I think we'll have to try again. Although we did have this Peregrine Falcon perched on the Provincetown Tower...and he never moved the entire time we were there.
We headed off the Cape and cheered ourselves up by remembering the awesome show at Head of the Meadow where we started and just what a beautiful, late fall day we had.