Sightings listed for the Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

Friday, November 28, 2008

BIRD NOTES ~ Nov. 25, 2008

Bird Notes



Cape Ann/Plum Island—11/22-23/08  

We couldn’t have picked a colder, windier, November weekend to look for birds along the coast with the Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club of Orange County, NY. The NW winds were constant at 15 to 20 with gusts to 35 mph. Most of the birds were hunkered down out of the wind and out of sight. The braver seabirds were on the water riding out the white-caps and enjoying the 50 degree ocean water temperatures. While we, as land lubber birders, were enduring 29 degree temperatures with a wind chill factor that was in the teens. According to that bit of reasoning, we should have joined the birds in the water.


Despite the unseasonable conditions, we made the rounds from Kettle Cove in Magnolia, MA to Andrews Point in Rockport, MA and penciled in a number of good species. At the Fisherman’s Monument in Gloucester Harbor, we started with Red-breasted Merganser, Common Eider, White-winged Scoter and a lone Black Scoter, (also 2 Harbor Seals) and went on from there adding Horned Grebe, Red-throated and Common Loon, Iceland Gull, Bonaparte’s Gull, Great Cormorant, Snow Bunting, Coot, Guillemot, Gannet, Surf Scoter, Black-bellied Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Harlequin Duck, White-winged Crossbill, Bald Eagle, Snowy Owl, and King Eider(See attachment).


All told 13 of us counted 57 species. It was a frigid couple of days and we all ended up with rosy red cheeks, but we relished the rush we received in finding birds that we rarely see if we don’t visit that rocky coast of Massachusetts in mid-November. Will we do it again next year? You bet. If the good Lord’s willing, we’ll be there.

---Al & Barb Merritt, W. Brattleboro, VT


I believe I had a small flock of approx 12 White-winged Crossbills pass by the house yesterday a.m.(11/21). Light was dim, so I my ID isn't 100%, but I saw wingbars and distinctive hooks on the beaks.
---Ian Martin, Dummerston, VT


This morning (11/21) I watched out my office window as an immature Bald Eagle was sailing over the Connecticut River, with a flock of gulls flying nearby. Nice inspiration for the upcoming (Christmas Bird) count.

---Jeff Nugent, Brattleboro, VT





Has the celebration of Thanksgiving always been on the fourth Thursday in November? The answer is No. The date was changed to make a longer shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In 1863 President Lincoln set the date as the last Thursday in November. In 1939 it was moved to the second-to-last Thursday. Then in 1941 it was moved to the fourth Thursday.

There are many myths and historical oddities connected with Thanksgiving. Did you know the Mayflower was headed for Virginia but, oops, it ended up in Massachusetts?

Indians were not invited to the celebration. A large group of men just showed up--the 17th-century version of party crashers. There were probably twice as many Indians as Pilgrims, so it seems unlikely the Pilgrims would have asked them to leave. Unfortunately, no one is sure why they came. Perhaps they heard the musket shots and were curious. But they did bring deer to eat. No popcorn, though. It wasn't even grown in New England then. But Indian corn was, and it was probably dried, pounded and cooked into a porridge. They probably ate waterfowl and turkeys, too, all living in the wild. Also available were fish, squash, cabbage, carrots, turnips, spinach and onions. No potatoes--they were still grown only in South America. Although cranberries were growing nearby, no records show they were cooked and eaten until the 1670s.

Forget the black clothes, too. Pilgrim women wore green, blue and purple. Men liked red linings in their cloaks. And they didn't have buckles on their shoes and hats. Buckles were not in style until years later. Next time you see a painting of the first Thanksgiving, look carefully. An iron cooking pot was really used; it may even be the one that survives in a museum. But there were no log cabins. They were built by Swedes who came 18 years later.

---The Kovels





Please keep us abreast of what birds you are seeing, whether at home or on a trip in or out of the Windham County area.


Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT



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