Sunday, January 6, 2008
I fortified myself with a cup of coffee from Plum Island Coffee Roasters before heading over to the refuge in search of whatever birds might be there. Birders were out in force now that the dirt road is open past Hellcat and the weather is bearable. The first bird I saw as a northern harrier flying low right in front of my car before I even got to the gatehouse. Canada geese were everywhere. The salt pannes were frozen. I looked for snow buntings and horned larks without success. Ditto for owls of any kind. But I wasn't really looking very hard.
The highlight of the day was the easiest sighting of all: a merlin in the middle of the road. It was just kind of nonchalantly hanging out there as if it knew that the cars would have to stop for it. It finally flew off into the brush and I continued down the island until I realized my fuel gauge was on empty. Not wanting to embarrass myself by running out of gas at Sandy Point or something, I headed back to civilization. On the way back I spotted the merlin again, this time perched in a tree. I did not see the northern goshawk that was attracting tons of birders.
So that was it for the my first 2008 trip to Plum Island.
Yesterday's birding at Colt State Park in Rhode Island yielded two sure signs of winter: horned larks and brant. Hordes of both. Also saw a flock of about a dozen common goldeneye floating on the bay. Watching them for awhile I noticed that the whole flock never dove at once. There were always a few on the surface. Interestingly, there was usually only one male on the surface at any given time. Dunno what that's about. Must look in some of my duck behavior books.
Slowly getting back into both blogging and birding...