NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 25, 2008

Season's first snowy owl appears on Plum Island

The first snowy owl of the season appeared at Sandy Point on Plum Island this Thursday. This was one of the earliest records for this winter owl on the island.

There have also been sightings of snow buntings, Lapland longspurs and horned larks on Plum Island and coastal New Hampshire during the past week. It is beginning to feel like we are being pushed into the next season, whether we are ready or not.

Daily reports of pine siskins, an early report of a white-winged crossbill on the island, couple with the accelerated loss of leaves on trees in recent wind storms, only further emphasize the inevitable.

The offshore storm that went by this past week brought in a show of northern gannets feeding close off the beaches. These large birds with pointed wings, adults white with black wing tips, ride the winds and continually plunge into the ocean for fish, making for a spectacular display.

There are still some fall migrants moving through. A yellow-billed cuckoo appeared at the Warden's last weekend. White-throated, white-crowned, clay-colored sparrows and dickcissels are still moving through our area, along with ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets, and hermit thrushes. A number of warblers have been trickling through. We saw orange-crowned, parula, magnolia, palm, black-throated green, black-throated blue, blackpoll and lots of yellow-rumped warblers last weekend.

Doug Chickering of Groveland had a good fall migration day at Salisbury on Thursday, with a close encounter with one particular uncommon warbler: "It is why we go out. It is why we return to our favorite birding places day in and day out, searching carefully armed with nothing but memories and hope. Lois Cooper and I went to the Salisbury Grove today (October 23) expecting little more than a score of Myrtles and maybe a few White-throated Sparrows scratching in the leaves. But it is October, and wondrous things habitually happen in October. And what else is there on a fine crisp, cold fall morning but bushwhacking through the remainder of the migration waves.

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