Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Hooded Merganser Study

I've always thought that Hooded Mergansers were one of the most beautiful birds to be found during the winter. They are usually way out on the water and are a little shy, so getting really good views or pictures of them is always challenging. I lucked out though on December 30th with two pairs of Hoodies in the Emerald Necklace in Boston. They didn't seem to much mind me, so I ducked behind some trees to take pictures and was treated to great views of them up close. I would always try to guess where they might resurface after a dive and was often quite surprised! (Click to enlarge the pictures)

Hooded Merganser (Male)

Hooded Merganser (Female)

Hooded Merganser Landing

Monday, February 3, 2014

2013 Recap and Recent Sightings and Thoughts

Mute Swans on the Charles River

 Since 2013 was the first full year of this blog I thought it would make sense to do a 2013 recap. A quick look through my eBird records for Greater Newton, which including immediately adjacent birding area (see here), give year count of 106 species while my Newton life total stands at 130 species.

I'll just list some of my favorites for the year:

Common Redpolls at Nahanton
Redheads at Hammond Pond
Tennessee Warbler at Houghton Gardens
Eurasian Green-winged Teal at Newton City Hall (and Bullough's Pond and Cold Spring Park)
 Yellow-breasted Chat, Philadelphia Vireo, Lincoln's Sparrow and Clay-colored Sparrow of Nahanton
Common Raven in Newton Center

Oddly I went the whole year without seeing any Ring-necked Ducks. Previously they were easy to find at Hammond Pond in the winter.

Red-tailed Hawk After the Hunt
Okay onto 2014. A few days ago I stopped by Millennium Park (the source of this posts pictures) after making a stop at Nahanton in search
 of the Northern Shrike. Part of my logic for visiting these places is that a Shrike was seen at Millennium back in Dec. They can have fairly large winter territories and prefer open spaces like fields and marshes. Given the sightings at Millennium and Nahanton this winter, it may not be too much of an assumption thinking that its territory may center on the Charles River and the wetlands at Cutler Park and surrounding areas.

But alas I did not find the Shrike. I did however get to watch as a Red-tailed Hawk launched himself off a telephone pole and swoop down into the fields and then return with a small mouse like critter. I then got to watch a lesson in mouse anatomy as the hawk ate lunch. The thing that surprised me the most was that he didn't seem to fall onto his prey that quickly, I almost thought he had decided to gently land and then spend time in the grass. It wasn't until he flew back to the light pole with prey in his talons that I knew for sure what had happened. Other than the excitement of witnessing the hunt from beginning to end, only some of the regular birds were around (full checklist here).