This Wednesday arrived right in the middle of May, and therefore expectations were high for plenty of neotropical migrants. But we have been expecting the warmth and glory of spring all season, while suffering cold and wet instead. This week was no exception (thank goodness Bird-a-thon day was – The Joppa team found 174 species!). It was in the 40s all morning, and the birds that were here seemed to be hiding, perhaps conserving energy until resources improved.
Dave Weaver and I agreed that the island would be more “dearthy” than inland areas, which might have a few warmer microclimates. So we began at Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary in Rowley, where indeed we were greeted by a robust Orchard Oriole. After enjoying his chipper performance, and hearing a few other species of passerines, we headed out to visit the nest platform that Bill Gette and friends placed several years ago. This year a pair of Great Horned Owls has nested there, and we were able to add the species to this year’s WMB list – but only because we could see what looked like dryer lint above the rim of the platform. It is more satisfying when the young look out at you. If you do go to see if you can get a good look at the nest residents, please help ensure the survival of the young owls by staying only a short while, and standing far back from the birds/platform. Excessive attention can attract predators, and result in loss of the chicks. The problem of photographers “camping out” at owl roosts and nests has become so bad that the “Birding Eastern Mass” Facebook page hosts have had to decree that no one may post photos of owls there, or they will be banned from the site for life. While waiting for the owlet to show at least a closed eyelid (not to happen), we enjoyed finding Great Crested Flycatchers and an Eastern Kingbird among other forest birds.
We went on to visit Martin Burns Wildlife Management Area in Byfield, via Newman Road in Newbury, where thankfully there was at least one Glossy Ibis, and some nice waders and shorebirds. Martin Burns adds real diversity of habitat to our region due to game management there. Again the birds were quiet, but we did manage to find a few warblers and a spectacular Rose-breasted Grosbeak. The Baltimore Orioles were especially cheery.
Our next stop was at Pikes Bridge Road in West Newbury, where the sound of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers greeted us as we got out of vehicles, as they often do at that spot. There was a very brief song of one Blue-winged Warbler, but even the Swamp Sparrows were silent. Only Canada Geese stood in the wet meadows along Scotland Road, so we returned to Joppa looking forward to what we hope will be a late-season bonanza next week!
Canada Goose (~ 12) – Scotland Road.
Wild Turkey (3) – Rowley.
Double-crested Cormorant (1) – Joppa Flats.
Great Blue Heron (1) – Newman Road, Newbury.
Great Egret (2) – Newman Road, Newbury.
Snowy Egret (8) – various, but mostly Newman Road, Newbury.
Glossy Ibis (1) – Newman Road, Newbury.
Turkey Vulture (4) – Rowley.
Cooper’s Hawk (1) – Martin Burns WMA, Newbury.
Yellowlegs sp. (~ 7) – Newman Road, Newbury.
Willet (5) – various.
Herring Gull (2) – Rowley.
Rock Pigeon – various.
Mourning Dove (2) – Rowley.
Great Horned Owl (1) – Rough Meadows, Rowley.
Red-bellied Woodpecker (1) – Rough Meadows, Rowley.
Eastern Phoebe (1) – Martin Burns WMA, Newbury.
Great Crested Flycatcher (2) – Rough Meadows, Rowley.
Eastern Kingbird (3) – Rough Meadows, Rowley.
Blue Jay (1) – Rough Meadows, Rowley.
Black-capped Chickadee (3) – Rough Meadows, Rowley.
Tufted Titmouse (2) – Rough Meadows, Rowley.
White-breasted Nuthatch (2) – Rough Meadows, Rowley.
House Wren (1) – FOY, Martin Burns WMA, Newbury.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (2) – Pikes Bridge Road, W. Newbury.
American Robin – common.
Gray Catbird (1) – Rowley.
Northern Mockingbird (2) – 1, Rowley; 1, Joppa Flats.
Ovenbird (4) – 2, Martin Burns WMA, Newbury; 2, Pikes Bridge Road, W.
Blue-winged Warbler (1) – Pikes Bridge Road, W. Newbury.
Black-and-white Warbler (2) – Pikes Bridge Road, W. Newbury.
Common Yellowthroat – common.
American Redstart (2) – 1, Martin Burns WMA, Newbury; 1, Pikes Bridge Road, W. Newbury.
Northern Parula (2) – 1, Rough Meadows, Rowley; 1, Martin Burns WMA, Newbury.
Yellow Warbler (2) – Pikes Bridge Road, W. Newbury.
Black-throated Blue Warbler (1) – Martin Burns WMA, Newbury.
Eastern Towhee (3) – Martin Burns WMA, Newbury.
Chipping Sparrow (2) – Rough Meadows, Rowley.
Northern Cardinal (2)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (1) – Martin Burns WMA, Newbury.
Brown-headed Cowbird (2) – 1, Rough Meadows, Rowley; 1, Martin Burns WMA, Newbury.
Orchard Oriole (2) – Rough Meadows, Rowley.
Baltimore Oriole (4) – 1, Rough Meadows, Rowley; 3, Martin Burns WMA, Rowley.