Today was a special day that only happens once a year: Audubon Christmas Bird Count Day. It’d been four years since I’d participated, and I was really looking forward to it. It did not disappoint.
In fact, among the birds we spotted at the Rockland Breakwater (which I hadn’t walked since Jack’s and my return from Salt Lake City back in April) was a lifer for me: Dunlin. Fact is while heading out across the great granite blocks, I nearly stepped on the bird. (OK, it was maybe eight or ten feet away.) There were a pair that I saw (although my birding pals saw a third). Not every day you get a lifer.
Many other species also (see below), and then I returned home for Jack and right away we hiked Beech Hill—albeit a little later than usual.
Notable at the hill were a posing Brown Creeper and the call of an Evening Grosbeak in overflight. Snow up there (not much here, a mile and a half away).
I kinda like the end of the year but, to me, every day is a holiday.
Beech Hill List Beginning at 10:02 a.m., I hiked all trails.
1. Blue Jay (v) 2. American Crow* (v) 3. Golden-crowned Kinglet (v) 4. Downy Woodpecker** (v) 5. Brown Creeper 6. Evening Grosbeak (v) 7. Black-capped Chickadee** 8. Red-breasted Nuthatch** (v) 9. Northern Flicker 10. Tufted Titmouse (v)
11. Mallard 12. Herring Gull 13. Great Black-backed Gull 14. Ring-billed Gull 15. House Sparrow 16. House Finch 17. Common Goldeneye 18. Common Loon 19. Horned Grebe 20. Long-tailed Duck 21. Black Guillemot 22. Purple Sandpiper 23. Canada Goose 24. American Wigeon 25. Surf Scoter 26. Bufflehead 27. Red-breasted Merganser 28. Dunlin‡ 29. Common Eider 30. Ring-billed Gull
(v) Voice only *Also elsewhere **Voice only elsewhere †First-of-year ‡Lifer
Another bright, nippy morning, but without a lot of wind. Had only two species on the hill first thing—but one showed up in a flock. Spent a good while getting cold fingers while photographing Common Redpolls.
About midday, I couldn’t resist taking a quick trip to the breakwater, knowing it was low(ish) tide and hoping for Purple Sandpipers. No sandpipers, but a bunch of typical winter birds—along with the half-dozen American wigeons that’ve been hanging out there for at least three weeks or so.
A bit sore tonight; still, two hikes are better than one.
Beech Hill List Beginning at 8:45 a.m., I hiked the open trail.
1. American Crow* 2. Common Redpoll
Rockland Breakwater List Beginning at 12:15 p.m., I hiked to the light and back.
3. American Black Duck 4. Mallard* 5. Common Eider 6. Herring Gull* 7. Great Black-backed Gull 8. Long-tailed Duck 9. Red-breasted Merganser 10. American Wigeon 11. Common Goldeneye 12. Canada Goose 13. Black Guillemot 14. Horned Grebe
Yet again a nippy early hike up Beech Hill produced no bird photo ops, so Jack and I took a second hike this afternoon—to the end of the Rockland Breakwater and back. I was imagining taking pics of Purple Sandpipers, but we got there at peak high tide, so I got photos of miscellaneous ducks instead.
Here’s a handsome male Common Eider.
Beech Hill List Beginning at 8:15 a.m., I hiked the open trail.
5. Black-capped Chickadee (v)
6. Rock Pigeon
8. Red-breasted Merganser
9. American Black Duck
10. Common Eider
11. Common Goldeneye
12. American Wigeon
13. Ring-billed Gull
14. Long-tailed Duck
15. Great Black-backed Gull