Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Eurasian Teal Shows Up for a Photo and a Large Red-tailed Hawk Appears

I had limited time today but I still managed to get over to the Newton City Hall Plaza, with the goal of getting some photos of both the continuing flock of American Green-winged Teal and the male Eurasian Teal which has been seen around Newton for the last few weeks. We were lucky enough to come across the American Green-winged Teal almost right away, feeding at the edge of some thin ice in a small, compact group. After trying to take half-decent photos through the branches my girlfriend Joanna pointed out an open spot in the brush and as I moved in to take a picture I realized that I was looking at the male Eurasian Teal, which was exciting.

A male Eurasian Teal swims along the edge of the ice, searching for food. This bird has been seen regularly around Newton, massachusetts, over the past few weeks. Unlike the American Green-winged Teal, the Eurasian Teal has a horizontal white strip running along its side, and no vertical stripe, as is seen on the former. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2012.
Capturing the Eurasian Teal with my camera was very exciting, not to mention a good reminder that whenever I go birding I have no idea I will encounter, so it's probably a good idea for me to idea to bring my camera along on every outing. As I was watching the teal I counted the group several times and noticed that there were only 9 birds in the group (plus the Eurasian Teal) while the last few times I had been there I noticed 10 (plus the Eurasian Teal, for a total of 11 teal). I suppose it's possible that a predator might have gotten one of the birds or that it was feeding in another spot I couldn't see, but its absence occurred to me almost immediately as I watched these small ducks feeding hungrily through my binoculars.

As we were walking over one of the footbridges something very big lifted off from a branch near the water, catching us by surprise. I watched the bird take off and saw right away that it was a large Red-tailed Hawk. The bird flew a short distance, landing on another limb, before taking flight again and coming to rest about 30 feet up in the branches of another tree, where it sat still long enough for me to take a few photos. The light wasn't too cooperative, and these images defintiely did not capture the impressive size or presence of this bird, but from the image below you can get some idea of what we saw.

A large Red-tailed Hawk, likely a female, perches in a tree in Newton. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2012.
There are a number of resident Red-tailed Hawks in and around Newton Center, and I've watched them over the past couple of years, often as they've sat perched on tree limbs or at the peaks of tall buildings. It's a real delight to see them glide along on invisible tracks of air as they hunt for small mammals, birds and other prey.

We finished off the morning with a quick stop at Lake Massapoag in Sharon, Massachusetts, where I added Hooded Merganser and Bufflehead to list for the day. There was also another a group of very intriguing ducks fairly far from shore, which I was not able to identify, mixed in with the Bufflehead and some Canada geese. They looked like they might have been Ring-necked Ducks or Scaup, but without a scope it was hard to tell. I defintiely plan to return soon for a closer look.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2012.

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