Saturday, January 28, 2012

6 Snowy's in less than 2 hours

So I started off the morning at 6:45 & headed strait for Sandy Point. Where other birding troops seem to start at the gate and go down, I reverse that. This is an unwise approach others use. The first Snowy was in the dunes of Sandy Point across from Ipswich. There was no way to get close to this bird without flushing it, so I stayed away. The second was sitting on Emerson Rocks, and was flushed by duck hunters just off the rocks. The next (number 3) was WAY out in the marsh just south of lot 5. Snowy number 4 was seen on the dike just off Hellcat. I watched about 10 cars drive past the 5th bird, it was so close to the road I think everyone over looked it. Not I. As soon as I got out to take a few pictures people began to realize that it was an owl. As I was getting in my car, another snowy flew overhead flushing the entire salt pannes and landing about 200 yards from the 5th bird. This last bird (6) was by far the most fun, as everything in the marsh seemed to be upset with it. Some great captures of the Snowy and  Northern Harrier. 

                                                               #3 ( crappy picture - yes )
                                                             #4 ( yes also crappy)

                                                         #6 w Harrier
                                                  This guy could not catch a break

Monday, January 23, 2012

Snowy Owl with damaged feathers

My friend Forest was down from Vermont this weekend, and we saw a number of different Snowy owls in the Parker.  Even one bird right on the beach in front of my house ! It was to dark outside for a "real" shot, but I got one neat picture seen at the bottom of this post. One of these birds we found sitting on Emerson rocks in the mid morning. Casey got some great pictures, but I am only using one of the rough pictures for science, if you will. I have seen this "dark" bird for about a month now. It seems to be the one bird exclusively sticking to a section of the Island, the rest seem to move around lot. I got some images of this bird about 3 weeks ago posted up on a stump in the dunes of Sandy Point ( seen in my post on Snowys) . I noticed some displaced damaged feathers the first time I photographed it. But when Casey transferred these new images, you can really see the whole wing. The bird has a number of damaged primary & secondary feathers. Seemingly this does not look like it throws off its flight to much, and the bird is clearly doing well on Sandy Point. I have seen it eating ducks on the beach. The one thing I wonder is with heavily damaged feathers, if this bird will make the trip back to the Artic. (The flight shot is by Casey)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday Birding

So the morning started with my BCP buddy Bill and I hitting the Parker looking for snowy's. We located 2 birds on the dike between Hellcat and the pines trail. Bill was using his 700mm lens, which needless to say... is bananas. We then made our way to the Salisbury State park, where there was literally not one bird.

After Bill and I parted ways, I took a hike in West Newbury near the backside of one of the Green Belt properties. I found 2 Northern flickers ( no pics) and a flock of Bluebirds ( terrible pics), and 2 snow buntings.  Honestly none of the pictures today came out good at all. The real highlight of the day came when I went back into the Parker and located 4 different Snowy Owls on a short drive, ending with me madly driving through the neighborhoods of P.I. following one of the birds. While drinking and driving may be dangerous, I am quite sure that following owls at dusk through residential neighborhoods at high speeds is FAR more dangerous. So please don't bird and drive.
Bill rocking the 700mm

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sharpie in the yard

We have seen this sharp shinned hawk a number of times eying the feeders, either from a roof perch or the thicket across the street. Today the bird seemed to be only interested in a number of sparrows, and let me get very close...not the norm for sharpies. This appears to be a younger bird, due to its yellow eyes. I recently learned that they change from yellow to red as the bird matures. ( thanks Bill) The sharp-shinned is the smallest of the NA accipiters, and is in decline in North America. One thought is that it is being eaten by is larger accipiter "cousin" the coopers hawk, who shares much of the same hunting areas & has drastically expanded its breeding  in Massachusetts.   Coop's have been doing very well lately. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Snowy Owls

Lots of Snowy's all over. In the area I have seen them from Salisbury, Plum Island, to Cranes beach. A number of the birds seem to be young, but both males and females alike have come down from the artic to winter with us on PI. Thoughts on this ? In years of high lemming populations Snowy owls have alot of young, sometime 5-6 per pair. In years with low lemming numbers, sometimes the birds do not even have young. Anyways with such high populations of birds and limited prey, the young birds are forced to move south where there is food. Thus a year like this, with 100's of owls moving downwards  across the country. 2010 had no snowy's at all, not 1 bird on PI... so this has been a real treat this year.