New England (January 1997)
I was in New England for business and managed to do some birding. My first stop was in Boston, where I saw a Boreal Owl that had been roosting in a small tree on Commonwealth Avenue. After completing business in Cambridge and Troy, I drove up to Bridport, Vermont, to see a Hawk Owl. I found it perched on a wire shortly after arriving. After it flew off, a group of birders from Pennsylvania showed up. The owl came back, and we all got great views. Deuane Hoffman gave me some tips on other birds I was hoping to see, including Northern Shrike and Rough-legged Hawk. I got about a mile away when Deuane ran me down to tell me about a Northern Shrike that had just shown up. It was still there when we got back. It was very nice of Deuane to go to the trouble. I went to a nearby location that Deuane had suggested and got a great look at another Northern Shrike and saw a Rough-legged Hawk, American Tree Sparrows, and Snow Buntings. The shrike was very close. It looked right at me so I could see that the mask did not go across the bill. The thinness of the mask was also evident. I kept my eyes open for a Gyrfalcon that had been seen in the area but had no luck.
I drove on to Pittsburg, New Hampshire, where the CBC had reported good numbers of Pine Grosbeaks and other goodies. I made a few stops near Island Pond, Vermont, where Deuane had seen Boreal Chickadees but didn’t have any luck. I spent the night at the Mountain View cabins in Pittsburg, which were extremely nice and only $28 per night. It was definitely winter in northern New Hampshire. There was two feet of snow on the ground and another six inches came down the next morning. I got my car stuck twice, but it wasn’t too hard to get unstuck. I spent all morning trudging through deep snow and walking along snowmobile paths but only saw Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches. I ran into some people on snowmobiles, who asked if I was OK. Only a mad birder would be out trudging around in the snow on such a day. I turned around at the Quebec border, where I was told that the snow was supposed to keep coming down and then it was supposed to get “cold.” I visited a feeder where Boreal Chickadees had been seen and was thrilled that one of them made an appearance for me. Too bad I didn’t stop there earlier in the day because a Ruffed Grouse had been seen. I saw a flock of White-winged Crossbills just down the street from the feeder. I had seen them before, but it was nice because I had never seen a female. I got really excited at first because they looked like Pine Grosbeaks through my wet binoculars.