Sunday, January 14, 2018

1.14.18  Private Walk - Bass River - Dennis Salt Marsh
South Yarmouth & West Dennis, MA

When you get to do what you love, it doesn't mean you can't get into a funk sometimes.  It can be frustrating to find the time to enjoy the things that make you happy.  I thought in order to get outside in the freezing cold (21F, but 6F with the wind chill...)  and to be able to fit a bird walk in, I wanted to bring along another bird nerd.  I have had Andrew's photos and artwork featured on my blog here in the past and we were due for another time outside.  He promised to bundle up and he brought his binoculars and his camera, and we were off.  

Winter birdwatching is REALLY AWESOME on Cape Cod!  Why?  We have harbors and bays and estuaries and the ocean shore in general.  Some of the birds that we get to appreciate this time of year are migrant waterfowl.  Most of these migrants spend the "cold" months here, because they breed in the summer in northern Canada, some even close to the arctic circle.  So the temperatures we have in New England this time of year provide them with enough food to survive the winter.  

Some of these photos are mine and some are Andrew's.  I didn't let him know about the grand finale bird I was after and hoping to see while we were out... we saw her... a Snowy Owl.  Foolish me.  I didn't have a camera on Andrew's happy face when he spotted a wild Snowy Owl for the first time in his life.  I hope he remembers the moment as long as I will.

Our List:
Canada Goose
Great Black-backed Gull
American Black Duck
Common Eider
American Crow
American Robin
Herring Gull
Mute Swan
American Widgeon
Red-breasted Merganser
Hooded Merganser
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Checking out birds on Bass River from Wilbur Park

Andrew spotted the Song Sparrow, not easy even in this photo due to camouflage

There was so much activity there, we didn't want to leave. 
We WERE freezing though and needed to warm up in the car in between locations.

Mute Swan family
Mute Swan - Photo Credit: ANDREW
Mute Swan Family - Photo Credit: ANDREW

American Black Ducks & Great Black-backed Gull

Red-breasted Merganser - female

Ring-billed Gull

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

Andrew checking out a Mute Swan family

Bird Nerd!
Herring Gull - juvenile Photo Credit: ANDREW

Hooded Merganser pair in flight - Photo Credit: ANDREW

Common Eider flock in the distance - Photo Credit: ANDREW

The white blob next to the blue box on the marsh is indeed
a Snowy Owl!!!

Snowy Owl in the distance and happy young Bird Nerd!
Don't be daunted by the cold if you want to see beautiful birds that you only get to see on Cape Cod in the winter.  Bundle up, bring your binoculars and you're in for a birdy treat for a nerd!  Thanks for doing just THAT Andrew!  
Happy Birding!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


When we have the kind of crazy weather we've had for the past couple of weeks, it's treacherous enough to walk your dog on ice-covered streets and even yards.  I really don't like cancelling a bird walk, but I'm afraid I have to for today.  What I can report on is that wherever you see open water, watch for the waterfowl.  They are there.  They are beautiful and they are really fun to watch.  Bundle up!

Red-breasted Merganser -female & Great Black-backed Gull
seen on Bass River yesterday...

Next Opportunity for Tuesday Tweets: 1.23.18
Happy Birding!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

12.17.17  Bird Nerd Moment - Wild Birds Unlimited
South Yarmouth, MA

I'm not a shopper, I'm a buyer.  When I visit such wonderful shops as this though, I need to stay focused, because I want essentially want everything in the place.  I visited Wild Birds Unlimited this morning to get a birthday gift for a talented young bird lover.  While I was inside, I overheard someone mention that, "That hawk is back."  ("WHAT?!" Went off in my head as I was trying to stay focused...) 

Nope.  I had to find out what they were talking about.  Sure enough, right on the edge of the parking lot, on the ground was a Cooper's Hawk, who had just finished hunting.  We all were able to get SO CLOSE to this bird, who was "doing his job" (tending to varmints) as mentioned by Tom the owner of the shop. There was a mouse or a vole in his left talon.  Sunday Brunch.  I know... sorry rodent, I have respect for you as well.  The circle of life certainly can be violent, but it's real.  This hawk was pretty chill with our presence, though I did want to give him time to eat, but not before I snapped this photo with my phone.  
(double click photo to enlarge)

Cooper's Hawk
Thank You Tom for cross-posting my blog & Happy Holidays!
Happy Birding!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

12.5.17  Tuesday Tweets - John Wing Trail - Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
Brewster, MA 

When you're in search of birds and the weather is cold, a great place to take a peek is near any open body of water.  I often mention the diversity of the John Wing Trail because it is unique.  The main geographical feature that's missing is a large body of fresh water.  There is an occasional mud puddle/vernal pool in between the meadow stretch of the trail and the dunes, but depending on the year and the season... sometimes we have luck there, sometimes it's plain old quiet.  It is unusual to be able to hike through upland woods, onto a saltmarsh, back into the woods, past a meadow, around a vernal pool, over dunes and end up on the ocean's edge by a saltwater creek.  

Tuesday Tweets began again with an almost immediate and simultaneous Red-tailed Hawk and Great Blue Heron sighting as we crossed the marsh.  I enjoy lingering on the boardwalk, even though I typically start to stress about the water level as we cross. I've chosen Tuesday Tweet dates specifically to not be affected by the tides.  I don't usually check supermoon tides though!  They are CRAZY high!  

As we approached the wooded trail on the other side of the marsh, a lone Blue Jay perched and was not daunted by our hiking by.  I know.  Blue Jays are essentially everywhere and it does take some pretty special folks to appreciate their beauty.  Lucky both for me, and the Blue Jay, we were surrounded by such folks.  As we walked along, there seemed to be American Robins just about everywhere.  They were flocking on each side of the trail, and at closer glance, we spotted a couple of Cedar Waxwings perched in the tree tops.  

Along the beach, which got increasingly breezy and chilly, there was a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers diving in the middle of Quivett Creek, though they were fairly far off.  Once they took off I wanted to try our luck along the shore... why not?  Sometimes instinct pays off and if we had to give out some "CUTE!" awards, the Sanderlings we saw scurrying along the shore were the true blue ribbon winners.  They got SO very close to us as they foraged along the calm waves as they washed up along the beach's edge.  Don't miss Rick's (as usual) spectacular photos.  Our feet survived our hike, as we returned to the museum with an hour and a half to spare before high tide hit.  Relief! (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List: 
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
American Robin
Northern Cardinal
American Crow
Red-tailed Hawk
Great Blue Heron
Blue Jay
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Goldfinch
Canada Goose
Common Eider
Red-breasted Merganser
European Starling
Thank you for the found fallen nest Joan!

The bad vs. the good salt marsh reeds...

Red-tailed Hawk   PHOTO CREDIT: RICK

Red-tailed Hawk   PHOTO CREDIT: RICK

Great Blue Heron   PHOTO CREDIT: RICK


Blue Jay silhouette

Cedar Waxwings   PHOTO CREDIT: RICK

Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-rumped Warbler & American Robin
coexisting, at least for a few minute, quite nicely

Bird Nerds checking out the Cedar Waxwings

American Robin
American Crows were playing in the treetops on the meadow

American Crows   PHOTO CREDIT: RICK

Red-breasted Merganser - female   PHOTO CREDIT: RICK

Red-breasted Mergansers in flight   PHOTO CREDIT: RICK

Bird Nerds!

The subtle art of the wrack line along the sandy shore
Sanderling.  Cute cute CUTE!!!   PHOTO CREDIT: RICK

Next opportunity for Tuesday Tweets: 1.9.18 at 9am $4Members/$6Non-members
Happy Birding!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

11.21.17  Tuesday Tweets - John Wing Trail - Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
Brewster, MA 

We never really know what, sometimes who, we'll encounter on Tuesday Tweets.  As we set off, we were welcomed onto the marsh by a small family of White-tailed Deer.  (see photos below) We all agreed that from the behavior, which was about 150 feet away, that this group included three (BIG) babies and a momma.  Momma was leading the youngsters across the marsh, and they bounded over the salt pannes that make the lines through the salty grasses.  I have to admit... yes, we were on a bird walk, but it is HARD to beat seeing deer!  Mammals tend to upstage the birds, and what a gift it was for our sunshine-filled walk!

As we approached the trail on the other side of the marsh, we could hear a faint high-pitched bird sound, that was familiar, but I couldn't place it.  One of the great challenges of bird calls and songs is that when you live or visit a place where migrant birds thrive, you get to work on a new long list of sounds for your brain to absorb as the seasons change.  I initially struggle when I haven't heard a bird call for months, and I wait for my memory to catch up.  It doesn't always though.  Sure enough, some of the bird nerds spotted three Cedar Waxwings taking in their Vitamin D on some higher branches over the thicket.  
Those birds didn't seem to mind us for too long and we were able to admire them for quite a while.  What they didn't seem to appreciate, was the Yellow-rumped Warbler, who popped up and joined in on the sun appreciation.  The waxwings had had enough and they eventually took off.  Thanks to both David & Ron, I have some pretty photos to share of the waxwings!

Cape Cod Bay was calm and there were so many gulls on the sandbar of Quivett Creek, we didn't stop to count them.  There were shorebirds flying in the distance just over the top of the water, and others were foraging through the sands.  What a lovely spot to spy on these feathery critters for a few minutes.  Even the lack of wind was appreciated on this beautiful morning.  As the months tend to get colder, we have really lucked out recently with seemingly perfect bird walk weather lately!  (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Ring-billed Gull
Northern Cardinal
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Red-tailed Hawk
Black-bellied Plover
White-tailed Deer family on the marsh

Cedar Waxwings - PHOTO CREDIT: DAVID
Cedar Waxwings - PHOTO CREDIT: RON
Yellow-rumped Warbler - PHOTO CREDIT: RON

Enjoying the Cedar Waxwing view

I love how this trail looks year round

Damage to pitch pine bark from beetles, beetle larvae and probably some plant life as well

American Crow in the distance

Black-bellied Plover

Gulls on the sandbar

Tracks in the sand are a great way to figure out who they are coming from 

We compared Oak leaf size to the size of the Oak trees

Very short Oak tree... with very large leaves

Trail heading south back to the salt marsh

I know Phragmites are bad because they just take over,
but they look oh so pretty in the sunshine.
Next opportunity for Tuesday Tweets: 12.5.17 9am  $4Members/$6Non-members
Happy Birding!