WORDS ON BIRDS
Discovering New Areas to Find Birds
October 07, 2017
by Steve Grinley
the birding can be "slow" on Plum Island, when few migrants find
their way to this popular birding destination. I recall some years
ago when such was the case on a Saturday in October and few birds
were found. We then decided to try some other spots around the area
on Sunday. I wrote about the interesting discoveries that we made
and will share them again with you here:
On Sunday we decided to try some different places. We first went to
the Spencer-Peirce Little Farm off High Road in Newbury. The
agricultural fields there are often good in the fall for attracting
seed-eating passerines including sparrows, buntings, and bobolinks
and an occasional blue grosbeak or dickcissel. If there are any
recently plowed fields, pipits, golden plover or buff-breasted
sandpipers sometimes make an appearance.
As we headed through the fields, all seemed very quiet. The wind was
fairly brisk, which was probably keeping birds down. But we saw very
little activity except for a couple of darting sparrows and a lone
double-crested cormorant swimming in the irrigation pond.
We decided to head to the northeast corner of the field where we
have had luck in the past. It was a little more sheltered from the
days northeast breeze and there were a few puddles along the edge
there to attract some birds. Sure enough, as we approached, we could
see plenty of bird activity flying from the that end of the fields
to the shrubbery along the edge.
set up our scopes and began to examine every bird as it flew up to a
bush and perched momentarily. The majority of birds were Savannah
sparrows. These finely streaked birds with a dash of yellow in the
face looked as crisp as the autumn air around us. We watched several
bathe in the puddle along the edge and then perch in a nearby shrub
and preen themselves.
As we watched
the sparrows go back and forth we were slowly able to pick out some
different species. There were several song sparrows, about half a
dozen white-throated sparrows and we did manage to see one
white-crowned. My scope got on a Lincolnís sparrow, which proved to
be too quick for Margo to see. She, in turn, saw a field sparrow
that I missed. She also spotted an indigo bunting which, as it
turned out, had a couple of friends with him, all in their soft-tan
winter/female type plumage. One was a first year bird with slight
streaks on its creamy breast.
in the mix were several swamp sparrows and an orange-crowned
warbler. While we watched these birds, mostly through the scopes, we
were entertained by other sights and sound around us. Several
flickers were frequenting the taller trees in the back and we could
hear both a red-bellied and a downy woodpecker calling from the
woods. At one point we heard the "chink" call note of a
rose-breasted grosbeak, but we never saw it. A lone female
red-winged blackbird visited some nearby phragmites for a brief
while and then took off. A red-tailed hawk was being harassed by
some crows and sixteen American pipits flew overhead.
After spending about three hours there, we headed off the fields. En
route we encountered a rusty blackbird that flew out of the field
and perched in a tree for good scope looks. Then two fall bobolinks
flew out from the fields and afforded us only binocular flight views
as they made their distinctive flight calls.
We then decided to walk the Salisburyís Eastern Marsh Rail Trail,
which I havenít been on since it was still gravel. Now it is nicely
paved and a pleasant walk through varying habitats including oak
woods and marsh estuaries. As we entered the trail from the southern
end off Friedenfels Street, we saw, and heard, three night herons
fly up from some trees around a small pond. They may have been
roosting there for the day and decided to get an early start to
their evening hunt for food.
the trail we encountered another white-crowned sparrow, some
chickadees and golden-crowned kinglets, and one ruby-crowned
kinglet. A kingfisher was calling form the marsh beyond and we later
saw him perched in a tree not far off the trail.
We heard yellowlegs overhead, and when we got to the bridge over the
estuary, we saw lots of them feeding on the disappearing mud flats
along the edge of the marsh. The tide was rushing in and it wasnít
long before the congregation of shorebirds was forced to leave.
Before they did, I was able to count 67 yellowlegs, of which about
15 were lesser yellowlegs, the rest were greater. Among them were
nine short-billed dowitchers and two dunlin.
As we made our way back down the trail, the sun was lowering in the
western sky producing some spectacular colors through the scattered
clouds. It was a fitting end to a colorful afternoon of birding.
Bird Watcher's Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
years of service to the birding community!
Like us on Facebook!
Index of Recent