As we retraced our steps back, we were entertained by a pair of dueling barred owls, hooting back and forth to each other -- at 10:30 in the morning. The exchange went on for almost five minutes, giving everyone the thrill of hearing owls in the bright sunlight. When we arrived back at the cars, I heard what I thought was either a brown thrasher or a mockingbird singing across the street. I saw a bird atop a distant tree so I took out a scope and got the bird in view. That bird turned out to be a beautiful male kestrel. Everyone got great views of it through the scope, though I never did find that singing bird.
Looking up, we saw a hawk soaring quite low overhead. It was a broad-winged hawk, my first of the season. Meanwhile, a sharp-shinned hawk sped by, perhaps in pursuit of prey. We received a report of a sandhill crane at the William Forward Wildlife Management Area along Route 1 in Newbury, so we decided to extend the trip and try for the crane. As we arrived, we spotted the young crane in the field of corn stubble on the left. It was a distance away, but we had nice views through the scope. It looked like the same bird that was on Scotland Road a day earlier.
A bonus was the half dozen kestrels that were hunting the fields. It was great to see so many kestrels in one area. It was a great way to end a very enjoyable trip for all! You are welcome to participate in future free walks from the store. To see the schedule, visit www.birdwatcherssupplyandgift.com.
Steve Grinley is the owner of Bird Watcher’s Supply and Gift at the Route 1 traffic circle in Newburyport and the Nature Shop at Joppa Flats.