NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 13, 2012

Fall migrants headline feeders and Plum Island birding

The winter finch forecast that I reported on a few weeks ago is starting to become reality. Pine siskins have invaded Eastern Massachusetts in large numbers. Many customers are reporting flocks of 20 and 30 birds or more at their thistle and sunflower feeders. I have put a few more feeders out at the store in the hope of entertaining some of these finches. There have been many reports of purple finches at area feeders as well, so keep watching your feeders! It could be an exciting winter!

The birds afield have been exciting as well. Last week, Doug Chickering of Groveland described his encounter with a barred owl. Another encounter with the same owl on Plum Island was just one of the highlights of his visit to the island at the end of last week:

“When I reached Plum Island this morning shortly before dawn, it was enshrouded in a dreary damp October day. The sky was a thick blanket of clouds and there was a fine mist and fog in the air. It was difficult to trace the progress from night to twilight to daylight. Seemed dark and colorless. Windless and gray, it was in fact a nearly perfect birding day. Perfect not because of the dim light or the damp air but because the birds were literally everywhere. I birded the area around Parking Lot #1, which was alive with sparrows and myrtle warblers and after a half hour or so I convinced myself to go right to Hellcat.

“It was not as straight forward or easy to get to Hellcat for as I drove down the road I was constantly waylaid by the legions of sparrows and juncos and the occasional warblers and kinglets that jumped up from the side of the road or forages in the underbrush — I tentatively hoped that the Hellcat trails would prove as active. Hellcat was, if anything, more active. As far as I can recollect, it has been a few years since I have seen Hellcat as dense with passerines as today! There must have been an unimaginable amount of avian biomass on the island this morning.

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