Monday, February 16, 2009
Great cormorants were everywhere along the Merrimack along with red breasted mergansers and common mergansers. Every place I stopped to look had lots of bird action going on. Diving ducks and great cormorants were diving. Herring gulls, ring-billed gulls, and great black backs were hitching rides on ice floes. A red-tailed hawk flew by with a vole hanging from its beak. At one stop I even had tufted titmice, black capped chickadees and northern cardinals flitting around in the bushes like crazy -- and that wasn't a birding stop but the gas station.
At the Chain Bridge I hung out watching the ice floes flow back upriver as the tide came in while I kept an eye out for bald eagles. I was finally rewarded with one immature eagle flying around for a few minutes before perching in a tree. As I was heading back to my car I passed a guy who had located two adults perched in a tree across the river. Got the binoculars on 'em right away. Cool, a three bald eagle day. I figured this was the highlight of the day and I hadn't even made it to the refuge yet.
Then, at the refuge, I saw a snowy owl perched on a hay staddle in the salt marsh. Plum Island winter motif #1. This is what people imagine when they think of winter birding at Plum Island. Another highlight.
More gulls riding ice floes at Joppa Flats. Lots of 'em. Had to take some pictures. Then it was on to Salisbury Beach campground in hopes of white-winged crossbills or Lapland longspurs or who knows what.
There perched in a pitch pine in the middle of a campsite was a magnificent snowy owl. And it had an audience. Tons of people with cameras and digiscoping setups surrounded it. It had been perched on a picnic table and then flew up to the tree. I stayed there watching it and taking pictures until sunset. I guess my second snowy owl of the day was the highlight.