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Birdwalk Highlights for 11/16: Farms and Fields Tour.

November 16, 2019

It was not warm. But boy, was it worth being out there this morning! In fact, we had three target birds, and saw them all!


We began at Thornhurst Farm, where the "goose season" continues to be disappointing. Just about 200 CANADA GEESE there today. 1 BLUE JAY and about 20 EUROPEAN STARLINGS were all that we added to the list.


But this was not our primary destination. Continuing inland, we arrived at the Mayall Road fields in Gray/New Gloucester, where we soon found the "Big Three" farm field birds of the season, and plenty of them: ~100 SNOW BUNTINGS, 40+ HORNED LARKS, and 10+ LAPLAND LONGSPURS.  The larks came close enough to get pretty good views in the scope, but unfortunately, the longspurs remained with the flock of buntings.  Identifiable in flight (the not-white-ones), this was not a particularly satisfying view. However, the flock of buntings glistening in the distance was an impressive show.  


Over 1000 Canada Geese were present, and among them, about 8 MALLARDS, 2 AMERICAN BLACK-DUCKS, and surprisingly a single GREEN-WINGED TEAL. A RED-TAILED HAWK soared in the distance, and from the woods behind us we heard at least 2 TUFTED TITMICE, 1 WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH, and 1 DOWNY WOODPECKER.


But we left the field with only 14 species, and not totally satisfactory looks at some of them, so we came back through Cumberland to check the Twin Brook Recreation Area, from the Tuttle Road side. There, we found the recently-reported flock of mixed field birds after a few minutes. While the 8 HORNED LARKS took off, the 52 SNOW BUNTINGS flew right towards us, and with them, a single LAPLAND LONGSPUR.  They flew by and over several times in perfect light before finally landing, but the longspur had split off and we lost him. The buntings gave fantastic views in the scope however.  


Two AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES flew overhead, and a slow drive-by of the edge produced 2 HOUSE FINCHES. But we were still at 16 species (or so I thought). Careful scanning as we drive back added plenty of ROCK PIGEONS, two HERRING GULLS, and a single RING-BILLED GULL. We then pulled over at the Cousin's River, and netted a single truant TURKEY VULTURE. Alas, upon returning to the store I see that I had miscounted - Ring-billed was our 20th species afterall. 


So yeah, despite the wind chills, that was most definitely worth the trip!

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