Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Snowbirds in Colchester, CT

1. Mom's feeders-kab Birds at the feeder 2-24-12

On the morning of February 24th I awoke to an unexpected snowfall. While the forecast from the previous night predicted rain and sleet, Mother Nature had her own ideas and decided to paint the town white! We have had very little snow in Andover, MA this winter, but on the 24th I happened to be in Colchester, CT visiting my mother. I intended to leave this morning, but had to delay my exit for a couple of hours to give the roads time to be cleared and the temperature to rise. In the meantime, I enjoyed myself watching bird of course! The funny thing was, there was not a speck of snow on the ground once I got north of Plainfield, CT! So, once again, no snow in Andover! I’m not complaining however! Please enjoy the birds and the snowy winter scenes!

2. snow-kab 

3. ground feeders-kab White-throated sparrows, dark-eyed juncos and a mourning dove.

4. huddles-kab Juncos and sparrows in the bushes 2-24-12

5. rooftop-kab 

6. treetops-kab 

7. grackles-kabThese are the first Common Grackles I have seen this year 2-24-12

8. more grackles-kab More Common Grackles in the trees overlooking Mom’s yard 2-24-12

Back here in Andover the birds have been few and far between since the Cooper’s Hawk went hunting in my yard. I had not seen any House sparrows for the past 2 days until I found one huddled on my windowsill this afternoon. I have not seen any gray squirrels until yesterday when I saw one in the afternoon. Shortly after it appeared so did the Red-tailed Hawk and the gray squirrel quickly made itself scarce again. However, there were two back out there this morning. Over the weekend we had high gusty winds and on Saturday we lost power twice. While the wind has abated since then, it continued for the next two days. Now it looks like we could be in for our own winter storm starting tonight. Happy Bird Watching!

Update: At approximately 1:30 PM the snow started falling in fine, wet granules. So far it is not collecting on the ground or the roads but it won’t be long until we are covered in a fine, white quilt. I think the hawk is still around somewhere for there are still very few birds at the feeders. Before the storm arrived I took a walk down to the bog to count birds. On my way there I saw my first grackles of the year here in Massachusetts. Once I arrived at the bog I also saw Red-winged Blackbirds. While there were only a couple of Canada Geese there today I was pleasantly surprised to find a pair of Hooded Mergansers and an American Black Duck paddling around with the mallards!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Willimantic Birding

1. Willimatic Park-kab Willimantic Historic District Park 2-9-12

I’ve been taking trips to Connecticut every other week recently while my Mom battles Breast Cancer. Her treatment requires trips to the nearby town of Willimantic for chemo-therapy. Once she is settled into her chair and hooked up to her drip I usually go out to get something to eat and watch a few birds. Until recently I just counted the birds in the parking lot of the hospital and at the nearby shopping center where there are a couple of fast food restaurants, but on this particular day in early February, I decided to drive around town a bit to see what I could see. I was never more than a mile or two away from the hospital in case I was needed, but it was nice to give my brain and my emotions a break. I found a little park down in the center of town in what is known at the Historic District. I pulled into an abandoned parking lot across the street from a school and a church and amused myself counting birds.

2. calm gulls-kab I saw mostly Ring-billed Gulls, but there were a few Herring Gulls in the mix.


3. placid gulls-kab All was peaceful and serene…

4. dinner arrives-kab until dinner showed up!

5. swamped-kab I think he has fed these birds more than once!

6. feeding frenzy-kab Feeding frenzy!

7. a crow figures it out-kab While the gulls are busy eating across the park, a crow tries to finish off an apple.

8. gobble-kab He manages to pick it up…

9. mouthful-kab but then drops it again to get a better grip!

Meanwhile, the Turkey Vultures take to the sky!

10. vultures-kab I have seen Turkey vultures in Willimantic on every trip I have made here.

11. TUVU-kab Flying in closer…

12. t vulture-kab and closer still!

13. goodbye-kab Good-bye!

Thank you for visiting and please visit

Our World Tuesday and

World Bird Wednesday!

On a Personal Note: Mom is doing relatively well with her chemo treatments. While she has had a mild allergic reaction to the drug that last 2 times, she only has one more chemo treatment to go and then she is done with it! However, if her White Blood Cell count is too low, she will not be able to get her chemo on schedule and it will have to be postponed, so please pray that her WBC comes up! Then, she will get a month off before radiation begins. Mom is strong and her spirits are bright. The good news is that the doctor told us that if she was not this strong she never would have recommended this treatment for a woman her age, so we are encouraged by this.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sunset at Lake Cochichewick SWF

2-23-12 Lake Cochicewick-kab

Sunset at Lake Cochichewick in North Andover 2-17-12

Skywatch Friday!

6. coot-kabA coot swimming in the glinting light of sunset.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cooper’s Hawk-A Hunter is Born

1. in the woods-kab The Hunter in the Woods 2-18-12

On day 2 of the Great Backyard Bird Count this immature Cooper’s Hawk appeared in my yard. For the next 3 days it hunted my feeders without success.


2. staring-kab Watching 2-18-12



3. brush pile-kab Sitting on the brush pile where the sparrows like to hide 2-19-12


4. hunting-kab 

5. where are they-kab 


6. day 3-kab Cooper’s Hawk after it flew up into the tree 2-20-12

On Monday afternoon just as the small birds were starting to return to my feeders, so did the Cooper’s Hawk! I saw it perched on the logs of my woodpile as I was taking the laundry downstairs. I dropped the laundry and ran for my camera but when I tried to stealthily open the backdoor and stick the lens out the bird bolted for the trees.

7. coha-kab 

8. open mouth-kab 

9. looking-kab 

After watching it awhile I went back to doing what I was doing, which was sitting by the fireplace reading a book. When I went back for the laundry later I looked out the back window again. By now the sun had set and the light was dim and gray. I scanned the trees and the brush pile but saw nothing, and then, something moved beneath a branch!

10. window-kab I grabbed my camera once again, and this time I went into the spare room and shot through the double-pane window. I did not want to scare the hawk off its prey. I know how hard it is for them to be successful, and this young bird finally was. But…what was it eating? I tried so hard to see through my lens and with my bins, but in the dim light I could not tell.

11. feeding-kab 

12. dinner-kab 

13. tearing-kab 

14. wary-kab I left the bird to its dinner and I went back to my laundry,

15. warmth-kab my cozy fire, and my book.

In the morning I went investigating.

16. investigating-kabThe young hawk was perched on these logs when I first saw it out the backdoor. If you scroll back up and look at some of the close-ups from last night of the hawk on the branch you will see a bit of red dangling from its beak. I started to suspect that it may have already killed it’s prey and was eating it here but I did not notice it then.

17. evidence-kab Sure enough, I found feathers on the ground!


18. feathers-kab And more feathers in the leaf litter in the woods where the final pictures were taken.

19. feathers-kab 

20. feathers-kab It definitely ate a bird. I am hoping it was a house sparrow.

Though I searched and searched I never found any bones, legs, or a beak.

21. a hunter is born-kab I do not think it will be long for this young hawk to become an expert hunter…

leaving only feathers behind.

22. feathers remain-kab  A Feather Remains

(Note: I do not think this is from the same bird that was killed last night. This feather was with a few others underneath the feeders on the side of my house and I think it may be from a mourning dove.)

World Bird Wednesday

I wore myself out this weekend doing the Great Backyard Bird Count. If you click on the link and go to the home page you can see some of the results. If you want to see how your state ranked, just click on the “Explore the Results” Button to see State Tallies and the Top Ten Lists. I always have fun doing the GBBC. This year I submitted 21 checklists and added 2 new bird species to my yard list when a mallard and a rock pigeon flew overhead. Happy Birding Everyone! Now I’m going to take a break…if I can! See you soon!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Birding for the GBBC (OWT)

1. bog-kab Stirling Street Bog 2-18-12

All weekend I have been counting birds around Massachusetts for the Great Backyard Bird Count. The Great Backyard Bird Count is run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is done every year for the 4 days over President’s Day weekend. It is a citizen science project that helps get people involved with nature and helps track bird populations during the winter time. The GBBC, as it is fondly called, was my springboard to becoming a birder, instead of just a bird watcher. So, besides counting birds in my own backyard, I walked down to the Stirling Street bog every day so far and counted birds.

2. kingfisher-kab Male Belted Kingfisher 2-18-12

On Saturday I saw this First Of The Year (FOTY) male Belted Kingfisher at the bog.

3. revere beach-kab Revere Beach 2-18-12

Later in the day Gus and I drove down to Revere Beach and…

4. sidewalk-kab while Gus walked the sidewalk…


5. ocean-kab I headed for the water’s edge…


6. sand-kab where I saw patterns in the sand,


7. gulls-kab Herring Gull at Revere Beach 2-18-12

and gulls,

8. gulls-kab gulls,


9. more gulls-kab and more gulls!



10. birdge-kab On Sunday I decided to see if I could find any birds at West Parish Cemetery.


11. west parish cemetery-kab West Parish Cemetery in Andover 2-19-12

While the cemetery seemed like it would be a perfect place to count birds I did not see  or hear a single one, even though I was there for a half an hour. It was such a beautiful day and so peaceful that I did not mind. I entered a bird count of zero for this location, because the scientists need to know where the birds aren’t as well as where they are.

Baker’s Meadow 

11. ring-necked ducks-kab Ring-necked Ducks 2-19-12

From West Parish Cemetery I headed for Baker’s Meadow, an AVIS property, where I found Mallards, Hooded Mergansers and Ring-necked Ducks.

12. mute swan-kab Mute Swan at Baker’s Meadow 2-19-12

I also found a pair of of Mute Swans.

Sacred Heart Park in Andover

13. robins-kab American Robins at the park 2-19-12

My final stop for the day was a Sacred Heart Park in Andover where robins ruled as I counted over 50 of them in the woodland eating bittersweet berries. I walked down along the river where I counted a few Canada Geese and a couple of mallards. As I headed back to my car the shadows were growing longer and the robins had landed in the soccer field dotting the lawn with their bright red breasts.

13. COHA-kab Cooper’s Hawk in my backyard 2-19-12

Back Home again the Cooper’s Hawk was still hanging around the backyard keeping all my small birds away. It was here yesterday and has been here all afternoon. Earlier it was perched in a tree, but now it was down on the brush pile where all the sparrows like to hang out. None of them dared show its face, but a little red squirrel came out and scolded the hawk, then darted back into the brush. Today is the last day of the GBBC. I wonder what birds I will see today!

Our World Tuesday!

15. sundog-kab

Sundog seen at Revere Beach on Saturday