Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Birding Does NOT Take a Holiday

Went to visit my brother and family up in Boston this past weekend for the holidays. Of course, I planned to make a pit-stop along the way at Tibbetts Brook Park in Westchester. A Greater White-fronted Goose relocated there after it’s long stay at Van Cortland Park, and was relocated there by it’s overseer Andrew Baksh

On site of the Yellow-throated Warbler the past week, I had asked him about this bird and he replied: “you ~still~ haven’t seen it?!” Well late is better than never, so thanks Andrew for keeping tabs on it. The park was easy enough to find, and as promised the bird was where Andrew had stapled it. Satisfied with looks and photos, Jean and I hoped back in the car for the rest of the ride up to Boston. She texted... - sheesh I hate that term, she sent a text message to Andrew simply: “tick”, but sadly he misunderstood, inquiring “deer or dog?”

The rest of the day was occupied with car travel, food and festivities. The next day’s plan was to get an early start and get some local birding in. Unfortunately the weather was less than cooperative and the ceremonial wine did me in; massive headache which was only remedied by sleeping in.

Later in the day, we researched Great Meadows NWR in Concord Mass. Jean had been there years ago and nostalgia and opportunity was as good a justification as any other. I loaded the coordinates into Loretta, but she was misbehaving. Eventually she came around, and we got to our destination.

Or so we thought. Turns out this refuge has a number of units, so we did not actually get to the one Jean had visited before. No matter, there were good birds here too, despite the brisk temperatures. Borrowing a windbreaker and hat, we set off in search of what we could find.

Ring-necked Ducks were abundant in the water, and Red-winged Blackbirds were unconcerned by our close passing as they sat upon cattail stalks singing for companionship.

Unique to this place was an abundance of muskrats. I find them to be interesting creatures, and have come across one or two at Jamaica Bay and other locations, but never in the numbers seen here. They had plenty of lodges and the birds made good use of them for perches and nesting sites too.

From the ‘I’ve seen this bird a thousand times, but never seen it do that’ department, we watched as a young Red-tailed Hawk, oblivious to our presence, make several forays out to harass a female Mallard who was quacking loudly. We could not see young if there were any, and though the hawk made several attempts it never ‘took’ the duck. 

On our way back, we spied a fellow obviously trying to get photos of something, and he was in the presence of a Sora. Nice! What a confiding bird, it was probably no more than 5 feet from us!
We inquired of the reported Virginia Rails and the reported Sandhill Crane, but dipped on those. No matter, this was a nice bird! 

As we made our way back to the car in the setting sun, I was amazed at how many folks were showing up late in the day, and also noticing how popular Canon cameras are, particularly with the zoom lens I just got.

I have been using a Minolta with a mirror lens for some time. The 6 mega-pixels were a joke; cell phones have more resolution than that. Add to that the soft focus inherent with a mirror lens and the results are often far less than hoped.

So I bit the bullet and upgraded my equipment. Yay! In anticipation of my location, I had it shipped to my brother’s house and this was my first trial and I am very pleased. Of course the ubiquity of Canon SLRs with this lens at this location made for patent auspiciousness.

As Jean says, I now have a big boy toy! And it has an extensive instructional manual...

1 comment:

Jean L said...

Wow, nice shots for your first time out. The clarity is amazing.

In fairness to Andrew, he didn't misunderstand "tick", he had added a winky face to the deer or dog response.