Friday, February 29, 2008
They're in sharp contrast to the ones I took at Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA. You can see my pictures in my January 13th post: Horned Larks at Crane Beach. The birds I saw appeared taller, sleeker and behaved like plovers.
I just had to share the link to 10,000 Birds' post since these are some great close-up pictures.
I also have some exciting news to share—this morning I finally bit the bullet and got a Mass Audubon membership. Can't wait to start taking advantage of it!
The first thing I will do is sign up for the Mass Audubon Birder's Meeting March 15th. I'm really looking forward to the event. As a matter of fact, BirdingGirl will be featuring an interview with one of the presenters at the meeting, David Scarpitti, this weekend. His break-out session is on Habitat Management Opportunities for Birds and Birders and I had the opportunity to pick his brain last night. I'll probably break it up into two posts that I'll share this weekend.
We're getting even more snow in Boston tonight but as these lovely Horned Lark pictures prove—that shouldn't stop me from getting out there with my camera! I'll try to catch some birds in the morning.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
All along I've suspected that national membership does not cover my local chapter membership (which happens to be Massachusetts) because there is such a high discrepancy in membership dues ($20 vs. $44).
I decided to get on the phone Monday, as I posted, spoke with a very nice woman from the national office and then waited to hear back from my local chapter. Then I got a call on Tuesday explaining that the National Audubon Society is not affiliated with the Massachusetts Audubon Society.
So now I have a national membership that offers me no value (except for the magazine) and I have to start from scratch in getting a MassAudubon membership. I hate to complain so much, especially when I know the funds I've donated still go to a good cause, but it's a little frustrating because this information is not disclosed on the website.
Hopefully I can be of help to other Mass residents interested in joinging the Audubon Society and not knowing where to start! My advice—go directly to the MassAudubon Website.
Monday, February 18, 2008
The theme is "Massachusetts Birds: Our Common Wealth and Natural Heritage." Here's a brief description:
"Whether you feed birds at home, seek birds with binoculars, spotting scopes or hunting gear, you are sure to find topics that appeal to your interest in Massachusetts birds including: research findings, waterfowl identification, youth bird clubs, conservation stamps, bird calls, habitat management techniques for birds in decline and many other bird related topics."
I'm seriously considering going to learn more about birding and get some ideas for the blog and things I'd like to start doing.
Here are the prices (they go up $10 after March 10):
$48 Mass Audubon members
There are 3 morning lectures by representatives from both MassWildlife and Mass Audubon.
Lang Elliott: a renowned bird photographer and author of audio guides to wildlife sounds
Hector Galbraith: global climate change expert (I'd like to his own site but it's down)
John O'Leary: Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
John O'Keefe: Harvard Forest (HFR) Forest Ecologist
There are also three afternoon workshops scheduled (with 4 topic choices for each timeslot).
Some interesting titles include:
To Feed or Not to Feed: That is the Question?
Identifying Water Fowl
Massachusetts Coastal Birds: What Are We Learning?
and this one that seemed particularly interesting:
Habitat Management Opportunities for Birds and Birders
To register click on the link at the top of this post. Already registered? Let me know!
Despite not taking any time to stop, I was still able to catch a few sightings. I saw the resident Great Blue Heron, actually prompting him to take flight as I ran by. This was strange because the last time we were jogging my boyfriend picked up on him after I had already gone by and he stayed still while we took pictures before continuing on. Maybe he was in a more 'fleeing' mood due to the warmer temperatures this weekend. The previous time he was hunkered down into his shoulders trying to keep warm wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.
The only other interesting sighting I had was a Common Redpoll. This one crossed the path low in front of me and started hopping around the underbrush. My Sibley Guide says they're almost always seen in flocks (and when I saw them before on Martha's Vineyard there was a good number of them) but in this case I think they were there, but I just didn't stick around long enough to see the others. The way it moved, along with the distinctive red on the crown distinguished it from the hoards of house sparrows I also saw during the run.
Interesting fact about Common Redpolls from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Website: they have pouches in their cheeks for temporarily storing seeds. That way they can fly off to safety where they have take their time swallowing them.
You all know how much I favor this part of the Charles River for birdwatching, but I'm not alone! I've had many birding group sightings, and while I was jogging Saturday I saw 3 different groups. Two of them were couples, but the third was a group of about 7 people, with a leader who was educating them about something. I whizzed by without catching what they were talking about, but they picked the worst part of the trail to stop for their talk. It's an extremely narrow part of the trail that goes along a hillside, and is impossible for more than one person to pass at a time. For all I know there could have been a very relevant reason for stopping there, so maybe I should check it out next time I'm there for a birdwatching trip. It is actually in the vicinity of where I see the most species during the warmer months. It's a nice warm little cove where they like to hang out.
"In addition to your membership card, please find enclosed out brochure which outlines benefits of Audubon membership: Membership in your local Audubon chapter..."
It's just vague enough though that I'm still not sure. It just seems too good to be true: a one-year National Membership for $20 that carries the same benefits as an individual Massachusetts Membership for $44. I'm not complaining, but as you can understand I'm just highly skeptical that it's going to work out that way.
I just called the national membership services number and the woman said I should contact my local chapter to go about getting membership materials (most importantly the sticker for my car and the card needed to get into certain sanctuaries). I called the local chapter number she gave me but the office was closed due to the holiday. I left a voicemail though so hopefully someone will get back to me tomorrow. I'll keep you all posted on my progress! It would be great if things work out the way they suggest they should.
I kept trying to cross-check it but I kept forgetting the name he used, thinking he said 'midgeon.' Finally I was able to get confirmation that it was widgeon and just look a moment to look them up. I can see the similarities but it's not the same bird I captured. I found this picture on The Bird Zoo. Click on the picture to visit the duck section- it's worth scrolling through the whole list- there are some really great pictures in there.
Another recent development in this mystery bird identification was the latest issue of the Ducks Unlimited Newsletter. The 'Fowl Fact' of the month happened to be about the Green-winged Teal- the only species of duck known to scratch in flight. This picture was too close to question- I compared the coloring on the feathers and it was an exact match. Click on the first image (from Ducks Unlimited) to visit the Green-winged Teal profile page.
Now every time I return to the river I look for them in that same spot, but have yet to see another. I learned this about their preferred habitat from the Ducks Unlimited site:
Tidal creeks and freshwater marshes associated with estuaries are favored over more saline or open-water habitats.
It makes sense then to have seen them in that slow-moving, protected part of the river. I'm really looking forward to seeing what springtime birds will arrive to the river.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Bennet also shared his goal of visiting all of the Massachusetts Audubon sanctuaries (45). What great motivation to get out there and bird! The Mass Audubon Website has an interactive map that links to the individual sanctuaries:
Bennet also posed the question of which Mass sanctuaries I would recommend. After reviewing this map I realized I've only been to 3! Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, Blue Hills in Canton, and Ashumet Holly in East Falmouth. Of the 3, Drumlin Farm I've been to the most since it's so close to where I live now. Although I've never has access to the learning center I've had some great walks throughout the grounds and there's always been plenty of diverse birds there thanks to the nesting initiatives they have set up. The Blue Hills sanctuary constitutes the learning center I think, where they have some birds in cages (owls, hawks etc.), and Ashumet Holly I've only been to once and not to bird or check out the wildlife. I was there at night for a seminar for a Cape Cod Times story I was writing about renewable energy sources so I didn't have a chance to explore.
This map is great because it helps put things in perspective and will certainly help me choose my next birding destination.