Sightings listed for the Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

Monday, December 06, 2010

{Bird Notes} December 6, 2010


Bird Notes



In my South Newfane backyard yesterday (12/1) I counted:


Evening Grosbeak 40+(a few photos of the flock are posted at

Mourning Dove 50+

Blue Jays 25+

Downy Woodpecker 4

Hairy Woodpecker 2

Black-capped Chickadee 10

Tufted Titmouse 6

White-breasted Nuthatch 4

Song Sparrow 1

Pine Siskin 6

American Goldfinch 20+

Dark-eyed Junco 15 +/-

Northern Cardinal 1 (usually 5)

Rock Pigeon 10


Also regular at the feeders:

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Cooper’s Hawk

---Chris Petrak, South Newfane, VT


Coastal Birding

The weekend of Nov. 20-21 we led the annual trip to Plum Island/Cape Ann for the Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club of Orange County, NY. The weather was sunny with a NW wind and temperatures in the mid 40s.


Day 1: Plum Island, MA

We met at 8 a.m. at parking lot #1 at the Parker River NWR on Plum Island. On the way out the boardwalk to the beach, a couple of Horned Larks sounded off overhead as they flew over the dunes and dropped out of sight. We arrived at the observation deck and set up our scopes. The ocean was fairly calm with ground swells and occasional white caps. Looking south at waters edge we spotted a small flock of Snow Buntings cavorting on the beach. Approaching beach strollers soon scattered them and they took flight toward the safety of the sand dunes. Out to sea we caught sight of many Northern Gannets flying, then diving headlong into the briny waters in search of their morning meal. A couple of Red-throated Loons came into view very near the shore. Out a little farther were more and more Loons swimming and diving. However, the Red-throateds outnumbered the Commons at about 10 to 1. I can safely say that there were many more Red-Throated Loons than we have seen in a lifetime. The ocean was teeming with them as they moved south. In winter plumage their necks are white. So, when we first noticed them we thought their necks were the sticks of the many lobster buoys. It was phenomenal! We continued to watch the parade and soon had added White–winged Scoter, Black Scoter, Surf Scoter, Red-necked Grebe, Horned Grebe and a lone RAZORBILL. Common Eider were indeed common. Long strings of them flew very low over the water, sometimes disappearing for seconds in the trough of a wave, then reappearing farther along their route.


With all of the activity, we hated to leave our overlook, but finally did and proceeded down the Island to the salt pannes where we added one of the best birds of the day, a EUROPEAN WIGEON that was snoozing in the sun with a few of the many American Wigeon. We also added Pintails, Gadwall, Black Ducks, a pair of Shovelers and a couple of Northern Harriers were tipping their wings just above the marsh grasses. Three Dunlin and a lone Black-bellied Plover were hunkered down on the lee side of the panne’s edge. The wind was whistling at this point, blowing hard enough to raise the small dog and toupee warning flags.


At Hellcat swamp we added Red-breasted Nuthatch and had good looks at a dark phased and a light phased Rough-legged Hawk circling above. A drive to the end of the island added more of the species that we had already ticked off so it was time to head back to Newburyport for a look at the Merrimac River. At the American Yacht Club we viewed a flock of Bonaparte Gulls, several Common Goldeneye and Long-tailed Ducks. Buffleheads were here too with the male birds throwing their heads back to their shoulders as they tried to get the attention of their girl friends. Daylight was waning and a quick stop at Salisbury Beach added nothing new to our day list, so we headed on to our motel room in Gloucester.


At 6:30 we all met for dinner at the Gloucester House Restaurant on the waterfront in town, for a sumptuous seafood dinner. With our appetites satisfied and all of that fresh air and sunshine we happily retired with visions of alcids dancing in our heads.


Day 2: Rockport/Gloucester, MA

We started our day at 7:30 by driving to Cathedral Ledge in Rockport. It is the most likely spot to find the most beautiful of ducks, the Harlequin. They obliged us by being there along the rocky shore in the swirling white froth. We counted 30 plus of those gorgeous creatures. What a nice way to start a day of birding. At Andrews Point there were many more of them flying by, some landing close to our vantage point, then diving and surfacing. We can never seem to get enough of them. We also had good looks at Razorbills, Red-necked Grebes, and the ever present Common Eiders in varying plumages. Long lines of Black Scoters skimmed the waves with an occasional Surf Scoter or White-winged Scoter in their midst. Once in awhile a Northern Gannet would surprise us with a close fly-by and a high dive that would hardly show a splash of water as their sleek, streamlined bodies with folded wings hit the surface of the ocean. I hated to leave this spot, but there was more to be seen. So, on to Gloucester.



A stop at the Fishermen’s Memorial on the walkway along Gloucester harbor afforded us repeat views of the more common of the waterfowl and gull species. At the Jondrow Fish Pier we could see the reported Peregrine Falcon sitting on a ledge of the City Hall tower. Both the Great Cormorant and the Double-crested Cormorant were within close range at the inner harbor. Niles Pond at Eastern Point produced a number of freshwater species. There were Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Ruddy Duck, American Coot and Great Blue Heron. Last stop of the day was at Bass Rocks along Atlantic Avenue. Here at the Gloucester Elk’s Club parking lot we scoped the ocean while munching a late lunch. Bufflehead, White-winged Scoters, Red-necked Grebe and last but not least a bird that we had looked for at every ocean stop but did not find until now, BLACK GUILLEMOTS. There were 3 of them sticking quite close together, not too far out, and not doing much diving. So, we had great looks at them in their winter plumage.


By this time most of the group had broken off and headed for home, so we decided to call it a day. Fifteen of us had counted 69 species on a sunny but cool weekend. And oh yes! I can’t forget to mention the evening’s fresh seafood repasts. They were scrumptious.


Happy Holidays!

Al & Barbara Merritt

West Brattleboro, VT


*   *   *

Don’t forget the annual Christmas Bird Count is coming up on

Saturday December 18th

Also there is a coastal trip to Cape Ann/Plum Island being led by Chris Petrak on January 8th.

For more information on the trip and to sign up: email Chris –




Please share your birding news with us.

What have you got coming to your feeders?

Are there any birds nesting in your yard?

What have you seen while on a trip?

Drop us an e-mail


 Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT


Check out our website:


A friend is someone who reaches for your hand

and touches your heart.







Post a Comment

<< Home