Words On Birds by Steve Grinley
Productive Birding Day Around Newburyport
November 26, 2021
By Steve Grinley
Strickland Wheelock led a Mass Audubon Drumlin Farm birding trip to our area last weekend and posted the following report:
“What a productive & 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 am, 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, 3 Long-tailed Ducks, Common Eiders, Brant, Double-crested Cormorants, etc. As we walked down the beach from the ramp we had our 1st 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, 1 Red-necked Grebe, 2 Razorbill, volumes of Red-throated & Common Loons, excellent looks of all three Scoters, Sanderlings, many Common Eiders plus the normal 3 gull species.
“We drove to the pines were we had a teed up Merlin in perfect light facing us for all to admire. The pines were relatively quiet with only 3 Mockingbirds, 1 Cardinal & a few Chickadees & 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 2 Great Blue Herons sitting in the trees.
“Two Northern Shoveler mixed with the Northern Pintails & Bufflehead were seen at the lookout at Parking lot #7. On the ocean side, there was a flock of Dunlin, 2 Black-bellied Plovers, Sanderlings, 1 Gannet, 2 Razorbills, many more Red-throated & Common Loons, all 3 Scoters, 1 Red-breasted Merganser. There was 1 Peregrine Falcon on an Osprey Tower and a Bald Eagle at Parking lot#1.
“At the maintenance building there were more Snow Buntings, Tree & Savannah Sparrows, and volumes of American Crows. On the Salt Pannes were approximately 8 White-rumped Sandpipers, 4 American Wigeons, many Northern Pintails and Green-winged Teal, Gadwalls plus Mallards & 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!