Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Charles River Lunchtime Birdwatching

It's been a while since I've been able to do this, but I went for a walk during lunch last Wednesday (April 9th) and was surprised at all of the birds I heard and saw. Unfortunately I didn't bring a camera but I'll do my best to report on what I saw.

I came across several ducks, and interesting ones that included a Common Goldeneye pair (or so I think- male had a mostly white body and black head), as well as a pair I saw in which the male had white rings around its all-black neck. My Sibley Guide is really helpful since I encountered the ducks as they were taking flight, and it includes illustrations of ducks in flight. The Harlequin Duck has the same white rings I saw, but according to the description it's a coastal bird, so it's unlikely I would have seen it in an inlet of the Charles River. But currently, that's the best guess I can make.

I heard many red-winged blackbirds throughout my walk. At this part of the Charles River the banks are very close to one another so I was able to hear birds on the other side of the river as well. The first red-winged blackbirds I heard were on the other side, but on my loop back to the office there were some on my side also.

One of the surprising calls I heard was what I call a 'shrill beach bird.' It evokes memories of my grandparents' beach in Wings Neck, Pocasset (Cape Cod) since this bird was always there to keep me company on days I spent at the beach alone. This is actually at the top of my list to identify because I am so curious what it actually is after all these years. During one of my few trips to Monument Beach last year (local public beach where I grew up) I was able to spot the bird making these calls, but at the time didn't have my Sibley Guide and also didn't have a camera. If I remember correctly it was a rather nondescript bird that was very muted in color. I would say it was a very light brown, with no distinct features. I do have a disc with bird calls on it; however, so I'll try to spend some time today listening to it to see if I can eventually narrow it down. I know that once I hear it I'll immediately know it- it's more a matter of choosing the right birds whose calls to listen to.

Finally, I had a larger bird sighting that I have not been able to identify at all. This bird was roosting very high in a tree and did fly between the tops of adjacent trees but never came down low enough so I could see it. This would be where my much-needed binoculars would come in handy! It was also a sunny day so it was difficult to look up for that long. The most distinguishing feature I could see was that it had a slight crest on its head. Its overall color was light brown/taupe and it had a distinct call. It was large as I mentioned, at least 10" long. My initial thought was that it was some type of Flycatcher, but I'm having trouble matching it up with any of those.

I suppose one way to solve some of these difficult identifications is to make a return trip this week!


Larry said...

Nice job describing the birds you saw.I liked the way you applied the knowledge from your field guide to help with identifications.

BirdingGirl said...

Thanks Larry- I'm trying to spend more time learning the craft. I'm grateful I got out again this weekend. I'll have to stop by your blog and see what you've been up to!