As you all know the weather this spring has been underwhelming, except perhaps for ducks. But the spirits of nature smiled on Mass Audubon with a mostly sunny and rainless day for their annual fund raising event, Bird-a-thon (BAT). I was fortunate to go out this year as part of a nicely balanced trio;
A relatively new birder with sharp eyes and ears and the determined curiosity and perseverance to find the bird behind the subtle movement high in the tree or deep in the thicket.
A middle-aged guy who caught the birder bug fairly recently but who has since become totally obsessed; and who birds with a SLR camera with 500 mm lens instead of binoculars, seeing thru the lens while simultaneously recording the sighting for others to review.
An octogenarian with lots of stored avian information; desiring to connect with his environment, but hampered by deteriorating senses, slowed reflexes and compromised mobility.
Put the strengths of each together with nice weather and the motivation that comes from backing a great organization at a time when support for the environment is crucial, and you have a chance to break 100 species for the day. We fell short, but only by thirteen!
Half of our catch was in urban Boston, including all sixteen species of migrating warblers, some of which were seen in multiple locations. The younger two in our group worked over Millennium Park in West Roxbury starting at the 6 PM kickoff time Friday night, and we all started Saturday at 6 AM at McLaughlin Woods on Mission Hill. We closed out the day at Franklin Park where we picked up two more warblers, another vireo and two thrush species. We spent much of our time south of Boston at Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary (DWWS) and the Trustees of Reservations site at World’s End. Usually with these counts some fairly common species get missed. Saturday was no different; we searched in vain for Eastern Phoebe, any kinglet, House Finch, Hermit Thrush, the lovely song of the Wood Thrush or the trill of a Pine Warbler. Water and shore birds were nearly absent from our list, largely because we didn’t visit appropriate habitat for them in our limited time. But we had highlights to balance the disappointments: a nice list of warblers, an Eastern Screech-owl in Franklin Park, two Glossy Ibis over-flying Daniel Webster and, in the same locale, a wonderful display of noisy Bobolinks:
The male Bobolinks were in full throat at Daniel Webster
Here are a few photos of other birds we saw, and photographer Jason Platt captured, during our excursion:
This silhouette view of a Glossy Ibis captures its prehistoric quality Photo- Jason Platt
This image of a Great Egret at DWWS is worthy of a first award in any photo competition Photo- Jason Platt
The Northern Waterthrush was our final warbler, seen at water’s edge of Scarboro Pond in Franklin Park Photo- Jason Platt
So far the Boston Nature Center has raised over $7500 toward their goal of 10.000, and our small team contributed a thousand of that total. Thanks to all who contributed; there is still time to donate on my donor website.
Finally I want to note a remarkable recent birding event, Global Big Day. This year on May 4th, 32,500 people ventured outside in 171 countries, finding 6,816 species: 2/3rds of the world’s bird species in a single day. This is a new world record for the number of people birding on a single day as recorded by eBird.
The spring migration is in full swing! Get out and bird, and/or join me on my last two walks this coming weekend:
Saturday, May 18
A 90-minute walk suitable for beginners as well as more experienced birders. See the arboretum website http://www.arboretum.harvard.edu for directions or to download a checklist of birds. Meeting location: Main Gate off the Arborway, park along Arborway 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM
Sunday, May 19 Bussey Brook Meadow
The Arboretum Park Conservancy and the BBC are sponsoring this 90-minute walk in the Bussey Brook area of the Arboretum. The walk is suitable for beginning birders as well as those more experienced. Meeting location: South Street gate to the Arboretum, on South Street, where there is limited parking. Also accessible from Forest Hills T Station path from Washington Street 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM
Bob Mayer, Jamaica Plain (617) 522-0157