Happy and Cold New Year!

The weather folks are claiming that this Saturday will be the coldest day so far this winter.  Sunday morning at 9AM, the scheduled kickoff for the January Winter Bird Walk in the Arboretum, is predicted to be minus 3, with winds at 10-12 mph.  Therefore I’m postponing the walk until Sunday January 14th, same time, same station.  Let’s hope for winter, not arctic, weather.

Even though it has been nasty cold, I have gotten out briefly and seen and photographed a few birds. Yesterday I sought a rarity that has been hanging out in a park near Carson Beach in South Boston since Christmas- Ross’s Goose.  This is the first Suffolk County record ever for this small goose that closely resembles another locally rare goose- Snow Goose. They are differentiated by the Ross’s smaller size, shorter bill, and the absence of a “grin patch” .

Snow Goose, left, showing a black patch on a longer bill, compared to the Ross’s Goose on right with smaller bill and no “grin”.

Who knew geese could grin?  In any case my wife drove as we circled Moakley Park and I quickly spotted the bird, hanging out with a small flock of much larger Canada Geese on the barren field:

Ross’s Goose. A small white goose with black primaries and tiny triangle pink bill. These geese are common in California, but very rare on the Atlantic Coast.

Here is another shot of the bird after it took flight.

In this image you can see the black primary wing feathers and barely see the reddish legs.  The bird was a lifer for me!

I also checked out the local ponds on the Emerald Necklace.  Jamaica Pond is down to a small swimming pool of open water with four swans and a few other winter waterfowl; not clear how much longer they can hold out there.  Leverett Pond, as usual, was partly open at its northern end and held a few very photographable ducks.

Male Northern Pintail, aptly named.

Another image of the pintail, above a common but lovely male Mallard.

And I can never get enough of the spectacular Wood Ducks; there were at least 6 still surviving in the open patch.

Male Wood Duck.

Note the iridescent sheen on the crest and the subtle patterns on the breast and side. And what eyes!

While I have your attention, the annual Boston Christmas Bird Count was held in relatively balmy weather (highs nearing thirty!) on December 17, 2017.  The seven people in the Jamaica Plain sector tallied 48 species.  Here is the list for the entire Boston count (thanks Bob Stymeist):

The 45th Greater Boston Christmas Count was held Sunday December 17th.  124 birders recorded 115 species and an additional five species during the Count Week.  There was one new species, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird added to the overall list which is an amazing 231 species!

Greater Boston Christmas Bird Count- Bob Stymeist, compiler

  • Greater White-fronted Goose 1  Jamaica Pond
  • Snow Goose 2  Bear Creek
  • Brant  17
  • Canada Goose  8702
  • Mute Swan  81
  • Wood Duck  23  22 Leverett Pond
  • Gadwall  3  2 Jamaica Pond
  • American Wigeon  5  1 Jamaica Pond
  • American Black Duck  371
  • Mallard  2266
  • Northern Shoveler  6
  • Northern Pintail  1
  • Green-winged Teal  5
  • Ring-necked Duck  75
  • Greater Scaup  402
  • Lesser Scaup  5  1 Jamaica Pond
  • King Eider  1  Deer Island
  • Common Eider  508
  • Surf Scoter  241
  • White-winged Scoter 193
  • Black Scoter  73
  • Long-tailed Duck  89
  • Bufflehead  305
  • Common Goldeneye  78
  • Barrow’s Goldeneye  1 Orient Heights Beach
  • Hooded Merganser  398
  • Common Merganser  190
  • Red-breasted Merganser  261
  • Ruddy Duck  49
  • Ring-necked Pheasant  1
  • Wild Turkey  119
  • Red-throated Loon  45
  • Common Loon  26
  • Pied-billed Grebe  CW
  • Horned Grebe  35
  • Red-necked Grebe  6
  • Double-crested Cormorant  15
  • Great Cormorant  1
  • Great Blue Heron  55
  • Turkey Vulture  1
  • Northern Harrier  3
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk  6
  • Cooper’s Hawk  26
  • Bald Eagle  3
  • Red-shouldered Hawk  3 New High
  • Red-tailed Hawk  104
  • American Coot  88
  • Killdeer  1
  • Sanderling  1
  • Dunlin  6
  • Ring-billed Gull  1887
  • Herring Gull  3597
  • Iceland Gull  1
  • Greater Black-backed Gull  270
  • Razorbill  2
  • Rock Pigeon  1396
  • Mourning Dove  763
  • Eastern Screech-Owl  49
  • Great Horned Owl  11  1 Forest Hills Cemetery
  • Snowy Owl  12
  • Barred Owl  4
  • Long-eared Owl  CW
  • Short-eared Owl   3
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird  CW (new to count)
  • Belted Kingfisher  19
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker  78
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  5 1 Arnold Arboretum
  • Downy Woodpecker  240
  • Hairy Woodpecker  15
  • Northern Flicker  21
  • Pileated Woodpecker  1
  • American Kestrel  4
  • Merlin  1
  • Peregrine Falcon  11
  • Blue Jay  796
  • American Crow  311
  • Fish Crow  1
  • Common Raven  11  Tied High Count
  • Horned Lark  194  New High Count
  • Black-capped Chickadee  788
  • Tufted Titmouse  429
  • White-breasted Nuthatch  251
  • Brown Creeper  16
  • Winter Wren  7
  • House Wren  CW
  • Carolina Wren  47
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet  110
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet  11
  • Hermit Thrush  7 1 Arnold Arboretum
  • American Robin  502
  • Gray Catbird  8
  • Brown Thrasher 1
  • Northern Mockingbird  102
  • European Starling  3042
  • American Pipit  14  New High Count
  • Cedar Waxwing  31
  • Lapland Longspur  2
  • Snow Bunting  88
  • Orange-crowned Warbler  2
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler  8
  • Wilson’s Warbler 1
  • Yellow-breasted Chat  1
  • Eastern Towhee  2
  • American Tree Sparrow  136
  • Chipping Sparrow  CW
  • Grasshopper Sparrow  1 Mt Hood
  • Savannah Sparrow  3
  • Fox Sparrow  4
  • Song Sparrow  458
  • Swamp Sparrow  9
  • White-throated Sparrow  316
  • White-crowned Sparrow  1
  • Dark-eyed Junco  1165
  • Northern Cardinal  466
  • Red-winged Blackbird  139
  • Rusty Blackbird  1
  • Common Grackle  102
  • House Finch  278
  • American Goldfinch 414
  • House Sparrow 3043

I hope many of you will join me and my co-leader Brendan Keegan, who will discuss how birds utilize the woody plant collection in the AA as we walk, on Sunday January 14th, beginning at 9 AM from the front gate.

Good Birding!