Monday, February 8, 2010

MA Super Bowl of Birding 2010 - Grace Under Pressure...

Picking up from my last post on the MA Super Bowl of Birding. From Nahant, we moved on to our other locations in Gloucester. It took some maneuvering to get into the right spot to get the Peregrine Falcon whose location was well scouted by Chris. Another tick and we were on the move again, this time to a location knows for Gulls. We were hoping for White-winged Gulls and I was hoping that we could find something good to make up for the missed 5 pointers. Alas, we only picked up Ring-billed, Herring and Greater-black Backed Gulls. Chris and Corey at one point thought they had an Iceland Gull in flight, but we could not find it even after relocating to a spot that should have given us all a better look. We had to keep moving so, we headed to our next location where it was the coldest of the day; nothing like what I had already faced during the Southern Nassau and Captree Christmas Bird Count back in NY, but it reminded me of those days. Adding to the cold was a haze/shimmer that made it very difficult to make out what else might be hanging out with the Purple Sandpipers on the far rocks.

From there, we headed to Niles or Nyles Pond; this was the location that Corey and I had kept a close eye on, monitoring the reports out of MA with regards to the Slaty-backed and Thayers Gull. With the cold, we all knew it was a long shot if the pond was frozen over but we headed there anyway. As luck would have it and this is a big part of this competition, we got neither. There were a few Gulls around but nothing to add to the species list. This was a blow, but again we sucked it up and remained positive. Someone started talking about "Positive Thinking" and Oprah Winfrey was referenced.

We continued along our route picking up Wild Turkey, Black Scoter and a Cooper’s hawk that Mike and I both called as we drove right by it. A backup, forward, stop and pullover a few minutes later had us all on the bird. We continued on and made a stop near the ELK club where we looked for a King Eider that was known to be in the area. No King Eider, but we found several Black Guillemots. I counted a total of 5 in that location and for some team members the Guillemot was a lifer. A few minutes later, I picked up a flock of (11) shorebirds (9) that turned out to be Sanderlings and the other 2 were Rudy Turnstones, one stayed with the flock and we all got on it for a 4 pt. bird. At that same location Mike picked up a Murre way out despite the shimmer. Sea watching requires a lot of patience and concentration and it was an impressive feat - a very good find. The other team members all got looks and after some contemplation, it was agreed that it was a Thick-billed Murre. With the Thick-billed Murre, Corey and I had now swept the East Coast Alcids - not an easy accomplishment. At this same location were a number of Harlequin Ducks, which always get the Ooohs and Aaahs, but that day there was no time for that. It was all about focusing on finding birds and so off we went. Before we walked away, Nate called our attention to a Northern Flicker that was flying right above us – where it came from we could only speculate.

And so it was onward again; our time management had paid off, we were doing well within the time frame we had allotted ourselves to the stops. We made a quick stop at Harbor Beach and patience paid off when I stayed with a bird that I had seen flying into a shrub as we got out of the van. I lingered behind, as the group moved towards the beach and Corey who had stayed behind, got on the bird with me as it finally showed. A Yellow-rumped Warbler; we got enough of us on the bird to count it as a 3 pt bird.

Our next stop was Andrew’s Point where we learned a Dovekie was spotted. Again our patience paid off as we spent an extra few minutes looking for that bird and we got it – our first 5 pointer of the day. Unfortunately, only four of us got on it enough to make it count, but for 2 of my teammates, it was a lifer missed. To be continued...

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Kim said...

You got some great birds, especially that Dovekie. I have gone to Andrews Point a few times and froze and never saw that bird and that was the whole reason for me going there. Congratulations!


@Kim - Thank you. There was a lot of luck involved in seeing that Dovekie.