Saturday, March 23, 2013

Fieldfare, YES! King Eider and Black Guillemot, Thursday, March 21

I arrived at Piggery Road at 6:38 am after surviving a rush hour parking lot on Route 3 south.  I was the third car present.   Steve Arena, local expert, and Skyler from New Jersey were there before me.  When I arrived, they had not found the bird.  I walked out the lane to the fields, and then other birders started arriving.  Steve Arena had found the local Northern Shrike, singing, and got close photos of the bill.  I had already seen Northern Shrike well in Ohio in January. At about 7:30 am, Steve Arena saw the Fieldfare flying with an American Robin toward the vicinity of the yellow house.  The Fieldfare was the first bird, but I got on only the second bird, the American Robin, which landed in the top of a pine tree at a distance.  Apparently, the Fieldfare kept going or ducked down into the woods.  Everyone returned to Maple Street in the vicinity of the yellow house, but no one found the bird, at least not right away.  I returned to the lane and the edge of the woods behind the yellow house.  A phone call came through to Larry Scacchetti from New Jersey that the bird was found again.  We all hustled/ran to Maple Street.  Steve Arena had found the bird in some bushes with red berries in the back yard of the gray house next to the yellow house and right beside a horse paddock.  We focused on the bushes with red berries with telescopes and binoculars, but found only American Robins.  The lady who lived in the gray house, came out to walk her dog and offered her back yard to watch the two bushes on her property.  We got behind the garage and waited.  While I was there, the Fieldfare came in three times to these bushes, there were at least two of them, to feed on the berries.  The bushes are barberry bushes, an imported ornamental shrub. Each time the Fieldfare came in to the bushes to feed, I could easily see the very white under-wings/accillaries/armpits of this stunning bird.   The first two times I could also see the silver gray on the head, crown and nape/back of neck and the white under-parts but could not easily see the streaking.  The third time I focused on getting good binocular views.  I could see the buffy color in the upper breast the reddish brown on the back and wings and the light colored eye line and the heavy streaking.  I tried but could not get any photographs, because it was distant focusing through bushes and tree limbs.  Tough to do.  The choice for a life bird was to get an identifiable look first.  I asked Larry Scacchetti if he would be willing to share his photos on his Flickr site, and he agreed.  I am including his photo downloaded from Flickr and cropped.  Thanks, Larry!  Great job in getting a tough photo!
Fieldfare is bird number 793 on my Life List for the ABA Area.  I now had time to go look for King Eider at the Elks Club in Gloucester before I headed south for the Black-tailed Godwit at Chincoteague NWR in Virginia.  I left the vigil behind the gray house on Maple Street at 10:30 am, and bid adieu to the many fine, friendly and helpful Massachusetts birders.  Many wished me good luck on my Big Year.  Connie told me she liked my blog and would be following me.

I found an adult King Eider near the Elks Club on Atlantic Avenue in Gloucester between 11:30 am and 1:00 pm.  It was very near the shore and rocks in a little cove just north of the Gloucester Inn By the Sea with an adult male Common Eider.  See photos below.  The second shows male King

and Common Eiders.  There was a flock of about   20-30 Purple Sandpipers on the rocks near the Elks Club.  Then I checked at Jodfrey Pier to see if there were any unusual birds present, but there were not.  I stopped at Niles Beach on my way to Eastern Point, and found a second adult male King Eider.   It was with Common Eiders and was near the eastern part of the beach near the private entrance road to Eastern Point.

At Eastern Point I walked out on Dog Bar Breakwater to the light.  I found three different Black Guillemots and one Razorbill.  I thought that one of the Black Guillemots was in adult plumage and sent a note to be posted on MASS Birds to that effect.  However, my photos indicate that it was not completely dark and still had some white in the body plumage.   The cloud cover reduced the light, causing the bird to appear darker than reality.  All three Black Guillemots were still in partial or full winter plumage.   The Black Guillemots conveniently showed the clear white patch on the wings without the dark bar in the white patch shown by the Pigeon Guillemot seen in British Columbia last week.  Below are photos of each Black Guillemot.  It was great to see the Razorbill close up as I approached the end of the breakwater at the  light.  Previously, I had seen only a distant 
fly-by  flock at First Encounter Beach on Cape Cod about 1.5 weeks ago.  The Razorbill came up once very close to me as it was diving close to the breakwater and then disappeared.  I found it again about 100 yards off the breakwater toward Gloucester and got a few distant photos.   See photo  below.  There was also a flock of about 50 Purple Sandpipers along the breakwater.

At 3:30 pm, I headed south toward Virginia.  I planned an overnight stay in Delaware with a stop to get the oil changed on my new Dodge Dart at 12000 miles---already!   My driving course was 128 south to I90 west to I84 to I95.  There were heavy snow showers in the Boston area.  I took the Tappan Zee Bridge to avoid New York City and then the Garden State Parkway to the NJTP.  I

encountered a 45 minute to 1 hour delay on the Parkway due to a six car crash.  I checked into a Motel 6 in New Castle Delaware at 11:56 pm.  Yesterday's blog entry was written in the morning at the Motel 6.  Today's blog entry is being written in a motel in Chincoteague, VA.  More about that later.

I found an error in the total.  After the trip to BC the total should be 180 not 184 as previously reported.  With the addition of the Fieldfare, King Eider and Black Guillemot, the total is now 183.


  1. Awesome finds so far Jay! I'm reading every blog entry with great interest.

  2. Jay -- Absolutely love following along. Any chance you'll be posting a list? Some of us are birding vicariously and would love to be able to see your progress. Thanks for keeping the blog, again, really love following along.