Sunday, June 12, 2011

Plymouth Whale Watch and Sea Birds

Wow....what a great birding weekend.  I started birding Friday and I finished today at 4PM.  I think I was dreaming about birds at night too.  Thinking about the adventures of the day.  I'd been planning today's trip for months.  It was a pelagic trip with several local clubs.  I was particularly nervous because typically I get dreadful sea sickness so I've been watching the maritime reports for weeks.  Hoping when today rolled around the seas would be less than 2 feet.  Unfortunately the weekend arrived with reports of rain and waves building to 7 feet.  I got a seasickness patch beforehand so I was determined to go. 

I awoke this morning to poring rain.  AUGH!  I packed my bags and headed to Plymouth still leery of meeting Ralph off the back of the boat.  We departed for the outer Cape Cod area at 8AM.   The trip started off great, but as soon as we exited the harbor the waves started increasing.  By 1030 there were 8 to 10 foot swells.  The wave action was crazy so were the birds and the whales.  We got great action on both accounts.  I was fortunate.  I didn't even get queasy.  I was one of the few people that didn't.   People were turning green everywhere. 

Here are a couple of the better pics for the day.  I can't believe they even came out.  The boat was bouncing with the waves.  I'm glad there were so many and they got close enough to photograph.

We saw 25 humpbacks, 20 minkies, and one fin back.  Numerous birds species too. Here are a few pics from the day.

Greater Shearwater

Northern Gannet (Immature bird-maybe 2 years)

Sooty Shearwater

South Polar Skua
(rare bird for New England waters.  They are around, but its a treat to see one. 
Lifer for me.  Wayne Peterson  of Mass Audubon made the captain chase this bird down so everyone could see it.  The boat did a 360 and was riding the waves fast). 

Humpback fluke

Humpback consuming food
I'm going on another one of these trips in September.  Great trip.....just hope the wave action is much less.

More later in the week from my Friday and Saturday trip to Burage Pond in Hanson, MA and Touisett WMA in Warren, RI.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ninigret NWR and Trustom Pond NWR, Charlestown, RI and Freetown State Forest, Freetown, MA

2011 migration is basically over for southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  Birding was kind of slow over the weekend.  I went out both days and although there are plenty of birds, they are the usual birds that call the area home.  Several of these birds still give me the wow factor even if I see them on a regular basis.  On Saturday cat birds, yellow warblers and eastern towhee ruled the day.  There were so many cat birds I didn't even take a picture.  The weather was perfect though.  Blue sky, but not real hot.  Temps were perfect for birding.  Saturday I went out alone to Rhode Island.  I'd never visited Ninigret.  It is an old WWII Navy air strip located along the cost of RI.  Great place for birds that like scrub brush.   I did add a Willow Flycatcher to my life list.  Not a great photo, but still a good bird.

I tried to hit Charlestown Breachway on my way to Trustom, but it was high tide and I wasn't prepared to brave the frigid Atlantic temps to get to the sandbars.

So I drove to Trustom Pond.  It was pretty birdy, but more quiet then normal.  The usual suspects.  Alot of people there to check out the Osprey hatchlings.

Cedar waxwing 
 I could see these birds everyday and I'd never get sick of them.
Social almost darn right jovial in their interaction.

Cedar Waxwing 
These two birds were playing a game with a berry.  They would pass the berry and then jump and face in the opposite direction.  They did it for probably 10 minutes before the bird on the left got bored and flew to another branch.  Can birds have ADD?

Eastern Towhee

Mute Swan
I know you all are probably going to say Awww how cute, but the trouble with Mute Swans are they are terribly aggressive and are kicking alot of the native species out of the habitates.  This swan had 15 young.  That's just not right.  I wonder if nature will be enough to control this species.  I have to admit that it is majestic.   

Willow Flycatcher (lifer)  Not a great photo, but still enough to ID the species.  Flycatchers are a huge challenge to ID.  The only way I could ID this particular species was by call.... Fritz bew. 

Yellow Warbler
Another great call.  Sweet...Sweet.....I'm so sweet. 

On Sunday morning I went on a trip with the South Shore Bird Club to Freetown State Forest. Its amazing that such a large track of land is preserved in Southeastern Massachusetts.  5000 acres of multi-use recreational land.  A bit too many off-road vehicles for me, but each to their own.  Most of the trip we saw very few vehicles, but you could definitely see signs of damage. 

It isn't often that you find old homesteads preserved in eastern Massachusetts, but we came across several in the woods.  No buildings, just old foundations.  Cool stuff.  There were so many habitats in the forest that you can pretty much find any species that calls Massachusetts home (beside marsh and salt water species).  Trip wasn't great for photograph.  Most of the trip was spent in mature forest habitat.  

Pine Warbler 
Yum Worm!

By far the coolest call of any bird goin!!!