This past Saturday we decided to take a trip to Plymouth, partly to look for some of the recent rarities (Western Kingbird and Chats) and partly to just spend an enjoyable day birding before the onslaught of the Christmas bird counts.
After thoroughly checking the pond we moved up 3A towards Manomet. This is a road we've rarely taken, especially south of Manomet, so it was interesting to stop at new areas. Right near the entrance to Ellisville Harbor State Park we found these 3 strange-looking goats. And of course Mark made me stop and take pictures. He would like nothing more than to live somewhere where he could have a goat!
However, our major reason for stopping in Manomet was to look for landbirds. We didn't see much at the point, so we decided to head back along the road after checking Mass Bird for the location where the kingbird had been seem. We pulled into a little dirt pulloff near the entrance to Holmes Farm and checked the thickets near the car. We had lots of White-throated Sparrows, Cardinals and Yellow-rumped Warblers. And there were two Caroline Wren singing across the field. But no sign of Chat or the kingbird.
After about 15 minutes Erik spotted the bird flying back in on the far side of the hill to the east. So for the next 20 minutes or so, Erik and I inched closer to the bird to try to get some close photographs. I was at a far greater disadvantage than Erik, since he was using a small camera to digiscope the bird. Other than having to lugged the scope around, this is the first time I was really intrigued with digiscope photography.
We made all our usual stops, including near Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower, but things seemed a bit quiet....at least as far as ducks were concerned.
In the parking lot near the breakwater (where the Ivory Gull had been seen a few years back) we had this nice 2nd winter Iceland Gull. He posed quite nicely for my camera, until someone pulled up in a car and began feeding the gulls. I'm actually quite surprised at the number of people who enjoy throwing bread out for the gulls. This was the second person we saw in about 15 minutes -- these most be some of the best-fed gulls in the area.
We did have a nice flock of Brant, including at least two birds wearing silver bands on both legs. I'm trying to see if I can match the bands to anything I can find regarding recent branding of Atlantic Brant.
After spending time scouring the area for any unusual ducks, and scoping out the tip of Plymouth Beach for Snowy Owl, we decided to run up 3A and check Spooner Pond where we had Redhead a few years ago.
Again, with so much open water things weren't concentrated in any one spot, so we had no real rarities in the pond. We did have this beautiful male Hooded Merganser rather close, and a handful of Coot, including one who kept chasing all the others. Of course, there were almost 30 Mallards close by and a few Gadwall way in the back.
A family of Mute Swans came right over to be fed and I was able to get really close shots (looking down) on the adult swans. It isn't until you get a close-up of the face pattern that you realize what strange-looking things these guys are.
We had a few Hooded Mergs, the usual Mallards and joke ducks. But we also had several Gadwall at the wilder end of the pond, including this female who came quite close.
All in all it was a beautiful trip to the area, as it can be at this time of the year, so we headed back to Worcester grateful for another wonderful day birding in Massachusetts.