Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Valentine's Day & Presidents' Day Weekend - 2014

We had a fantastic, long weekend with four programs searching for Bald Eagles. The condition of the lower Merrimack River was perfect for viewing these majestic birds.  We discussed the field marks, bill size and shape, cere and talons, wingspan, eyes and their hunting style, flight speed, their plumages and more. We witnessed stooping and taking prey to a tree over our heads. Our birding friends savored the joy of winter birding by seeing up to 15 eagles.

We watched Common Merganser drakes rowing with their wings during a catfish battle.  These handsome & agile males were highly competitive, and I thought of them as contending medalists.  The drake with the prey took flight, and the second drake continued in flight after it.  Within seconds of their flight, the two Bald Eagles that were perched and searching also joined in the pursuit. We never learned who was the victor of the catfish battle,  but I gave the mergansers and eagles high scores for effort.  Gratefully, some hot beverages and assorted snacks kept participants comfortable as we concentrated on finding birds at out of the wind viewing locations.

At Cashman Park, there are a loose flock of 6 Horned Larks gritting in the snow mountains.


Horned Lark

At Amesbury's Point Shore we saw an adult Bald Eagle soaring overhead, causing all the waterfowl to lift.  A flock of Wild Turkeys was wandering there, and one is nearly a blonde.

In Salisbury, we also found a few of this winter's charismatic bird, Snowy Owls.  Three Bald Eagles were active on the salt marsh - one eagle
was sporting adult plumage. We came across a Merlin and a Cooper's Hawk with prey.  That "entrance road Snowy Owl" is very cooperative and likely the most photographed Snowy in Massachusetts.

We ventured up the New Hampshire Seacoast and saw Lesser Scaup, Peregrine Falcon, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Eider, scoter and Sharp-shinned Hawk. On River Road, we saw two Snow Buntings looking for shelter from the wind.

Good birding,
Sue

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