Strickland Wheelock led a Mass Audubon Drumlin Farm birding trip to our area last weekend and posted the following report:

“What a productive and special birding day [60 species] it was, under excellent weather conditions with sunny, cool and little wind all day. No pain factor like some mid-November days along the coast that we all have experienced.

“We started at Salisbury Beach at 8:30 a.m., scanning the marsh, and had a Raven and many Black Ducks. We drove to the boat ramp where an immature Cooper’s Hawk perched close to the road quietly so all folks could admire every feature.

“At the boat ramp, had our first Snow Buntings close to the group while in the channel there were several Red-throated Loons, three Long-tailed Ducks, Common Eiders, Brant, Double-crested Cormorants, etc. As we walked down the beach from the ramp we had our first Northern Harrier, fly over Northern Horned Larks, plus Common Loons.

“Once we drove to the breakwater area, all positive things happened with an unexpected Snowy Owl on the breakwater being the highlight. Other species were American Pipits in the wrack line, 20+ Snow Buntings, one Red-necked Grebe, two Razorbill, volumes of Red-throated and Common Loons, excellent looks of all three Scoters, Sanderlings, many Common Eiders plus the normal three gull species.

“We drove to the pines where we had a teed-up Merlin in perfect light facing us for all to admire. The pines were relatively quiet with only three Mockingbirds, one Cardinal and a few Chickadees and a distant Turkey Vulture. Back in the camp grounds we had another large flock of Snow Bunting feeding close by, House Finches and Goldfinches to close out our Salisbury Beach morning.

“Plum Island had many additional highlights: watched an American Bittern hard at work snatching up food along the pond’s edge behind the maintenance building, along with a Pied-billed Grebe and two Great Blue Herons sitting in the trees.

“Two Northern Shoveler mixed with the Northern Pintails and Bufflehead were seen at the lookout at Parking Lot #7. On the ocean side, there was a flock of Dunlin, two Black-bellied Plovers, Sanderlings, one Gannet, two Razorbills, many more Red-throated and Common Loons, all three Scoters, one Red-breasted Merganser. There was one Peregrine Falcon on an Osprey Tower and a Bald Eagle at Parking Lot #1.

“At the maintenance building there were more Snow Buntings, Tree and Savannah Sparrows, and volumes of American Crows. On the Salt Pannes were approximately eight White-rumped Sandpipers, four American Wigeons, many Northern Pintails and Green-winged Teal, Gadwalls plus Mallards and Black Ducks.

“What was impressive were the volumes of Red-throated Loons everywhere, large numbers of Snow Buntings and, always, the impressive Snowy Owl sitting on the breakwater. What was also special was that there were several birding organizations (maybe more) like the Forbush Birding Club, Williams College Birding Club, Joppa Flat’s birding group along with our Drumlin Farm group who were active in the area all day. All the sharing of information of sightings that went on helped to enhance everyone’s experience – a positive piece of the birding community.”

It is always fun to read Strickland’s reports and they make you want to join him for his next trip!

Steve Grinley is the owner of Bird Watcher’s Supply and Gift at the Route 1 traffic circle in Newburyport. Email him at On the web:

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