, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 10, 2012

Second storm brings more unusual birds


“Driving through the campground, we spotted a merlin (probably the same one), several red-breasted nuthatches and a golden-crowned kinglet that was feeding on the ground. We also found several more white-winged crossbills. At the boat launching ramp, we found three Bonaparte’s gulls hunting for fish in the tidal creek. At the mouth of the Merrimack River, we watched the waves crash onto the jetty — very impressive. We spotted a common loon and a white-winged scoter.

“From Salisbury Beach State Reservation, we returned to the Joppa Flats Education Center for a brief rest stop and coffee and then headed for the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Along the Plum Island Turnpike, some of our participants saw three black-bellied plovers and a killdeer. At the Salt Pannes Wildlife Observation Area, we had a good variety of ducks. Since the wind was so strong, many of the ducks were feeding along the near edge of the pannes where we could get great views.

The ducks we saw included: a drake Eurasian wigeon, gadwall (14), American wigeon (30), green-winged teel (six), American black duck and mallard. Also in the salt pannes were at least 10 greater yellowlegs.

“At the Bill Forward Observation Blind, we found a pair of hooded mergansers and 50 northern pintails. As we were watching the ducks, we heard and then saw several more white-winged crossbills, two pine siskins and a common redpoll. In summary, we had a great field trip.”

The next morning after the storm, Tom Wetmore of Newburyport also had a great experience on Plum Island which he described as a “carpet of crossbills”:

“My noteworthy moment came when I walked into the new blind pines to see if there was anything strange in Forward Pool. I was surprised to find that the pine-needle covered floor of the pines was a veritable carpet of birds. The birds were primarily white-winged crossbills, but there were also a number of nuthatches, chickadees, white-throated sparrows and at least one common redpoll with them. The birds did not seem under stress. They were all feeding, seemingly quite contentedly, on the ground, as the wind was howling through the pines just a feet above them.”

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