, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 13, 2012

Fall migrants headline feeders and Plum Island birding


“Of the ones I could see, the overwhelming percentage, perhaps 80 to 90 percent, were yellow-rumped warblers. Yet I had other notable birds. Nashville warbler, three back-throated blue warblers, black throated green warblers, quite a few palm warblers, blackpoll warbler, two common yellowthroats, four black-and-white warblers, a parula and an ovenbird. Of the non-warblers there were two Swainson’s thrushes, two hermit thrushes and three yellow-bellied sapsuckers. At the Old Blind I had a terrific look at a Lincoln’s sparrow.

“It had been an exhilarating and satisfying morning by any standard. I was so pleased with the outcome of the day that on my way down the boardwalk, back from the Old Blind, I wasn’t ready for the great surprise of the day. I was heading back to the Hellcat parking lot, my attention still caught up in the movement in the trees. As I approached the southern junction of the marsh loop, a large bird burst down the trail, heading right for me at about eye level. It created a little shiver of fear and the hair on the back of my neck stood up as this large gray-brown bird headed right for me. Instantly I knew that it was the barred owl.

“Three days ago I had seen this bird nearby, and now it seemed to be heading right for my head. In the last second it swooped away and up into a birch tree on my left. I watched for a few minutes, until it flew back into the woods out of sight and into a chorus of scolding blue jays. A close encounter of a most spectacular nature. About a half hour later I had the same bird, this time perched in a tree about 7 feet up and directly over the boardwalk that runs between the Hellcat parking lot and the Ralph Goodno Woods.

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