New England (November 1997)

I was in New England during Nov. 21-25 and was able to get out for some birding. The highlight of the trip was meeting fellow Bird Chatters John MacArthur and Marty Michener. The weather was less than ideal, but it could have been a lot worse.

After finishing business in the Boston area, I drove up to Maine to look for winter finches. I spent the morning of Nov. 22 along Route 11 north of Knowles Corner. I saw my first RUFFED GROUSE and PINE GROSBEAK, got my first good look at a BOREAL CHICKADEE, and had a GRAY JAY land right next to me asking for a handout. There were several flyovers of winter finches that I was not able to ID. I wasted the afternoon driving through the three-million-acre lumber farm that is misleadingly known as the Maine North Woods.

On Nov. 23, I drove through southern ME/NH/VT, where winter finches had been lighting up the rare bird alerts. Since it now appears that the flocks of redpolls were still on the move, I should have plotted a more southerly course. Oh well, maybe they will make it down to the DC area in a few weeks. It was still a great day. In Fryeburg, ME, I saw a flock of about thirty EVENING GROSBEAKS. I had only seen a grand total of two of them previously. In Plymouth, NH, I stopped to search through a flock of CEDAR WAXWINGS that were perched in a tree. Bingo! There were three BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS mixed in.

On Nov. 25, I had the honor of birding with John and Marty, whose combined birding experience of more than 100 years just slightly tops my 1.5 years. Marty had warned me that he and John “are really old dudes,” but they failed to live up to that billing. They kept going for an entire cold and windy day and repeatedly picked out the best birds first and IDed birds with a naked-eye glance that I could only ID by studying with binoculars. We rendezvoused in Newburyport, MA, and visited the harbor and Plum Island. The biggest highlight of the day was a GLAUCOUS GULL. We saw many other nice birds, including a female EURASIAN WIGEON, and watched a MERLIN in pursuit of a passerine (we didn’t see the outcome because they disappeared over a dune).

Red-throated Loon, Common Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Snow Goose, Canada Goose, American Black Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Canvasback, Common Eider, Oldsquaw, Black Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, *Ruffed Grouse, Dunlin, Bonaparte’s Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, *Glaucous Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Blue Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Boreal Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, *Bohemian Waxwing, Cedar Waxwing, European Starling, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Cardinal, American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, *Pine Grosbeak, House Finch, Pine Siskin, Evening Grosbeak, House Sparrow