Date: 4/3/17 10:09 am
From: <s2ary...>
Subject: [MASSBIRD] Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary April 2 trip report

Hi Folks,

I just wanted to put out a quick post regarding what a great walk we had on Sunday. 40 species in total including the Smith’s Longspur. Big Thanks to Marshall and John for patiently and systematically locating the Smith’s. Some of the other highlights were 4 short-eared owls and a light Rough-legged Hawk. For the most part, the Rough-legged and/ or Shorties were visible the entire trip. If you pick through the different eBird lists there are lots of photos.

Our next bird walk is on Sunday, April 9 at 9am. We will not have a walk on Easter Sunday, April 16. We will be resuming the weekly walk schedule on Sunday April, 23 at 9 am. Even though the next few walks are not dedicated to the Smith's Longspur, we will still look for it.



Soheil will not be able to attend for the next few weeks. Geoff Wilson, will continue to post trip announcements to Massbird and has started an online newsletter in which he announces Bear Creek walks and other issues important to Bear Creek enthusiasts. To subscribe to the Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary newsletter, text BEARCREEK to the number 22828. Alternatively, drop an email to <s2ary39...> and ask to be included in the mailings.

Big Thanks to Marshall, Alan and others who filed ebird lists for us, and everyone who shared their great comments and fantastic photos in their eBird posts:

Bear Creek Sanctuary (restricted access), Essex, Massachusetts, US
Apr 2, 2017 9:08 AM - 12:44 PM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
Comments: Geoff Wilson led the 9:00 Sunday Morning walk, with 26 participants. Weather was mostly clear (scattered clouds) and mild (50-60 F), with light westerly winds. We walked directly to the Four Corners area where the Smith's Longspur was sneaky initially before finally being flushed by John Young and Marshall Iliff and relocating to the upper plateau. From there, we chased the bird for several flushes, eventually getting decent if not prolonged looks for all. We then walked a circuit around the eastern edge of the sanctuary, enjoying Short-eared Owls, a Rough-legged Hawk, and some other species before returning to the admin building.
40 species

Canada Goose 95 a few flocks
American Black Duck 3 flushed from pond on landfill top
Mallard 6 flushed from landfill area
Bufflehead 14 in creeks off east and south side of sanctuary
Common Goldeneye 1 female off east side of sanctuary
Red-breasted Merganser 12 in creeks off east and south side of sanctuary
Common Loon 2 in creeks off east side of sanctuary
Turkey Vulture 1 flying to W
Northern Harrier 1
Cooper's Hawk 1 one imm soaring to W; second bird seen by Sebastian Jones and Alan Trautmann
Red-tailed Hawk 3
Rough-legged Hawk 1 *rare, but regular here; light morph; hunted full circuits around sanctuary several times, unfortunately never crossing into Suffolk County; photos
Killdeer 28 careful count of flock on top
Wilson's Snipe 5 flushed from wet swale just when we started the walk
Ring-billed Gull 3
Herring Gull 130
Great Black-backed Gull 5
Rock Pigeon 5
Mourning Dove 10
Short-eared Owl 4 flushed from field; photos
Downy Woodpecker 1 near feeder area
American Kestrel 1 female
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 8
Horned Lark 85 a few large flocks, the largest of which was 65 at the southwest corner; none behaving like breeders
Black-capped Chickadee 2
American Robin 120
European Starling 25
Smith's Longspur 1 ***mega; continuing third/fourth state record (probably returning bird from last year); flushed about 6x and always gave dry, abrupt rattle when flushed, with notes spaced almost slowly enough to count (Lapland's rattle is faster); no other vocalizations heard; in slight always flashed substantail white in tail and showed prominent white median/lesser coverts, whcih show in many photos; on the ground appeared overall buffy with bold black frame to facial pattern, showed no whitish on underparts and no rusty wing panel, and no hint of blackish below which would be expected on Lapland at this season; in addition to call and plumage, the behavior of always flushing from close range in dense grass was typical for Smith's. Diagnostic photos by several and audio recording by M. J. Iliff
Snow Bunting 1 *late; calling flyover heard only giving rattle call, which was a rattle with each note more rounded and less abrupt than Smith's (or Lapland) Longspur
American Tree Sparrow 5 at feeder
Dark-eyed Junco 1 along entrance road
Savannah Sparrow 1 heard in wet ravine where Smith's was initially flushed; subspecies uncertain
Song Sparrow 9
Northern Cardinal 1 at feeder
Red-winged Blackbird 55
Common Grackle 20
Brown-headed Cowbird 17 one flock of 15
American Goldfinch 4
House Sparrow 7 most at entrance gate

View this checklist online at

If you want to join the walk on Sunday, April 9 at 9 a.m. here are the details:

Bear Creek is an upland sanctuary built on the Wheelabrator (formerly RESCO) landfill at the northern end of Rumney Marsh in Saugus and Revere. Access information is below. Wear good walking shoes and be prepared to hike 3 – 4 miles. The property is mostly very open, so be prepared for sun, wind and weather.

This walk is free and open to the public, but also note that this property is accessible by invitation only and visitors need to be chaperoned at all times. Please allow roughly 4 hours for this field trip. The actual length of the trip depends on conditions and the birds present. It's usually difficult to break up the party if you need to be somewhere in the early afternoon. Come prepared to stay with the group.

Wheelabrator company has graciously stocked up on some extra pairs of binoculars, so if you or someone you know wants to learn about birds and birding, come on down.

Bear Creek sanctuary access is via the Wheelabrator plant, 100 Salem Turnpike (Rte 107), Saugus. The rotary at the intersection of Rtes 60 and 107 is about 1½ miles southwest of the plant and about 1 mile east of Rte 1 exit on Rte 60. When traveling northeast on 107, if you go over the Ballard Street bridge (just after a set of lights) you’ve gone too far—turn back. Here is a link to google maps:

When you arrive, drive through the plant gates, park in the parking lot immediately and wait for the group. Please do not drive farther into the property without an escort.

Geoff Wilson

Berwick ME



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