Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Spotted Sandpiper along the Charles River is Bird #174 for the Year

Fall colors were on display along the Charles River in Newton and Waltham. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.
Over the past week I've managed to get out and do a little more birding by kayak on Lake Cohituate in Natick and the on the Charles River in Newton. Both times I've brought my camera along and on each outing I've been able to get quite close to a number of very striking birds, including a Black-Crowned Night Heron (found perched in the same place I saw one mentioned in my last post), several brightly-colored male Wood Ducks, an Osprey and  a Spotted Sandpiper.

A Painted Turtle sits on a half-submerged log on Lake Cochituate in Natick, enjoying the last few rays of summer sunshine. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.
Paddling around Lake Cochituate I saw fewer birds than my previous trip, but there was still plenty to see, including the Painted Turtle in the photo above. There was also a raucous chorus of Blue Jays in the trees and many Mallards out on the water. The absence of the sound of Gray Catbirds was also noteworthy - perhaps they've already begun their migration.

A Spotted Sandpiper hunts for food along the muddy banks of the Charles River in Waltham, Massachusetts. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.
While paddling on the Charles River this past week I added a Spotted Sandpiper to my year list, bringing my total to 174 species. At this point it would be practically impossible to get my New England big year list up to 300 species, but I am hoping to hit at least 200 species for the year in New England, which should be an attainable goal if I get out this fall and early winter in search of Finches, Snowy Owls, etc. With one trip abroad planned before December 31 I's hoping to hit at least 210 for my personal year total. Either way it's been a fun project and down the road I would defintiely consider attempting another "big year," most likely within tighter parameters - i.e., only in Massachusetts or only for a month.

A Great Blue Heron sits perched on some branches along the Charles River in Newton, MA. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.
I have to admit that as much as I've enjoyed being able to be out in the woods without wearing many layers of clothing that birding in the warm weather can be just as challenging as birding when it's cold outside. This is one of the wonderful things about New England - last March when I had taken just about all I could handle of blizzards, ice and freezing winds I was ready for warm nights, sunshine and a steady stream of Warblers and now that I've endured a summer full of biting insects, sunburn and dehydration I'm more than ready to throw on an extra layer or two and head out to look for wintering sea ducks, Snowy Owls and Finches. I suppose that just like the birds themselves that birders have seasonal patterns too.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.