April 22, 2016

Colchester Pond 4/22/16

I went pike fishing at Colchester Pond at around 11AM today. I caught one nice pike, and observed a fair amount of bird life. When i first arrived, I saw what looked like a cooper's hawk with a short tail, but upon further observation through binoculars i could see that it was a kestrel. Another one soon joined the first, and they flew right past a larger raptor that was quite obviously an opsrey. The osprey circled the pond for a while, but caught a fish. Buffleheads were diving in the middle of the pond. They seem to be there diving every time I go, so the aquatic insect life is probably substantial. The song sparrows are very numerous and bold at colchester pond, and kept me entertained while i was waiting for a fish to bite. The swallows seemed very happy, the insect hatch has been continuous this year. The phoebes and red-winged blackbirds were loud, and i went to get a better look at the edge of the woods as I was leaving. Earth day provided some interesting observations!

Posted on April 22, 2016 19:32 by ntepper ntepper | 8 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 07, 2016

Oakledge Park, April 7, 2016

I went down to Oakledge Park for my Burlington birding expedition. It was raining pretty heavily today so I did not expect to see and hear as many birds as I did. The first birds i saw were ring-billed gulls which was a standard sighting. I walked out on the jeti and was surprised to hear a bird calling very loudly. I identified it as a kingfisher from the call, but it soon flew closer and was a wonderful sight. I have not seen a king since last summer, and always enjoy how close they fly to the water, as well as their color. I spooked a couple of mallards, and saw some geese as i was traversing the ledges. I circled back through the woods and encountered some chickadees, but walked towards the field to look for forest-edge birds. I heard male robins, male cardinals, male house finches, a male redwing blackbird, and another song i could not identify. Robins were feeding in the field, and i observed the way they listened for worms before striking and pulling their victims out of the ground. I cut the trip short because it started to downpour and i could no longer hear bird songs. It was a good afternoon.

Posted on April 07, 2016 22:25 by ntepper ntepper | 9 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 23, 2016

March 6, 2016

It was 60 degrees on the first Sunday of my spring break in Stow, MA. Accordingly, I threw my canoe on top of my car, grabbed a fly fishing rod and my binoculars, and drove to the Rt. 62 bridge to launch. Upriver by the bridge, the Assabet River is surrounded by thick woods. These woods contain sugar maples, red maples, red oak, swamp oak, scarlett oak, shagbark hickory, white willow, ash, white pine, and eastern hemlock. The swamp oaks have been in decline, likely due to pollution upriver. However, the giant, dead white oaks provide perfect habitat for grubs and wood boring beetles to make home. On this excursion, I sighted hairy woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches, and red-bellied woodpeckers all feeding among the dead whites. The next section of river is surrounded mainly by white pine and hemlock. In these trees, i observed juncos, chickadees, and a chipping sparrow foraging in the undergrowth. Finally, the river snakes through the woods and opens to the Assabet River marsh. At the edge of this marsh is a line of red oaks which separate the marsh from the pine/hemlock forest. In this tree line, I observed a pair of red-tailed hawks. The male was offering the female a vole or field mouse, and she readily accepted. In adjacent trees, I spotted Northern cardinals and several tufted titmice. They were all voicing alarm calls as the red-tailed pair were pretty close, but the red-tails didnt seen to mind. At this point, the marsh begins, and cattails surround the river on either side. On the cattails, i saw three main species: eastern bluebird, carolina wren, and of course, red-winged blackbirds. The wrens were picking at the cattail stalks, likely looking for insects within. The bluebirds and blackbirds seemed to be more interested in the tufts of the cattails. Perhaps there are seeds inside them. While watching a particularly magnificent male eastern bluebird forage, i caught a glimpse of a large raptor in the distance, which looked like an osprey (a pair nest a half mile down river every summer). I paddled quickly to the edge of the marsh where i saw it disappear and was surprised to observe a juvenile bald eagle swoop down from a white pine and narrowly miss a fish in the river. He/she then flew across the marsh, scaring up flocks of mallards and both hooded and common mergansers on the way. It was the first time i have seen a bald eagle in the marsh, and i do hope he/she sticks around for the summer. Finally, i visited the resident pair of mute swans in their home, the largest marsh basin. They had five chicks last spring, two of which I witnessed taken by the giant snapping turtle that is also resident of this basin. He is easily identifiable by the deep scar on his nearly 7-inch-wide head. The other three chicks survived the summer, however, I only saw the swan pair on this excursion. Thus, it is likely the other three perished this winter. Hopefully the young swan pair will have better luck this year.

Posted on March 23, 2016 17:54 by ntepper ntepper | 18 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

February 18, 2016

Shelburne Bay

I went birding down at Shelburne bay on Thursday February 18th. It was about 20 degrees, windy, but very sunny and clear. As soon as i got out of my car, I observed several House Sparrows chirping in the bushes. In a tree near to the water, i also observed a flock of starlings, which were chattering quite loudly. On the water i was able to observe flocks of mallards, common goldeneye, and mergansers which seemed to be feeding or socializing near the ice. I identified them with my binoculars. Right before i left i noticed a large bird flying far out above the lake. When i found it in my binoculars i could clearly see the white head and tail that identified it as a bald eagle. It was a great end to a beautiful day birding!

Posted on February 18, 2016 19:58 by ntepper ntepper | 7 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 31, 2016

January 21, 2016

On Thursday January 21, i went down birding at the Winooski Salmon holes. It was overcast and about 25 degrees at 3PM when i went out. I first used binoculars from the parking lot to identify five mallards in one of the holes, feeding near the ice. I then walked down the path and hadnt gotten very far when I found a flock of 25 or so starlings sitting and squabbling in the canopy of a large red oak. While checking them out with binoculars I saw what were probably three juvenile robins within the starling flock. They were catbird like, but with a bright orange breast and some barring. At first i thought they were varied thrushes, though i am happy they were not, I don't want to be on TV. Farther down the path, the starlings spooked. Their movements towards an river-bound island provoked a large red-tailed hawk to fly out of the forest there. I guessed it female due to an unusually large body size. Farther down into the Winooski woods, i could find no birds but a few rock doves. There is a nesting pair of Pileated Woodpeckers that live on the path in the warmer months, however it is likely they fly deeper into the woods for the winter, and they were nowhere to be seen. I left at sundown and saw the mallards again from the parking lot floating down the river when i left. They must fly into the island brush when people get near though, because as soon as i get down to the river bank they are always nowhere to be found.

Posted on January 31, 2016 21:17 by ntepper ntepper | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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