Date: 5/19/19 6:09 pm From: Pam Hunt <biodiva...> Subject: [NHBirds] Five mile radius big day in Concord
As alluded to in yesterday's post, today I attempted a big day covering only areas within a five mile radius of my house.
I started at 0400, when immediately after my alarm went off I heard a robin singing outside my bedroom window. By 0430 I was at Mast Yard State Forest listening to whip-poor-wills, a Barred Owl, and American Bittern, among other things. By 0500 I'd found 27 species, and was on my way to East Concord, picking up an Eastern Meadowlark (increasingly rare in these parts) along Mountain Road en Route. After a stop at Turtle Pond (where Hooded Merganser was a bonus), I made it to the varied habitats along West Locke Road. By the time I reached the Merrimack River at 0600 the list stood at 67, including a Virginia Rail. Migrants were somewhat scarce however, and I started to get a little worried that yesterday's warbler diversity would not be matched.
Migrant activity didn't pick up in the next hour, although I did find my FOY Blackpoll Warbler, and left Locke Road just after 0700 with 80 species under my belt. A detour into the Riverlands Conservation Area in Canterbury yielded Willow Flycatcher and Brown Thrasher (both subsequently found elsewhere), but no sign of yesterday's Lesser Yellowlegs. A few other stops on the way toward Bog Road brought the list up to 87 by 0800. In the next hour, Bog Road delivered, and I wrapped up just after 0900 with 99 species. An intermittent drizzle during this period helped concentrate a few warblers, and my list for this group was now up to 19 species, including Cape May and Bay-breasted. Perhaps the highlight of this segment, however, wasn't a warbler - it was a well-seen (and early) Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.
Barn Swallows at Murray Farms were #100, while 101 and 103 were two more warblers: Tennessee and Wilson's (with a red-tail between them). At this point I headed to Horseshoe Pond, where Unity Dienes was going to join me for a walk around 1030. A stop at Long Pond failed to produce the local loons, but another highlight of the day was a flyover Northern Harrier while waiting for Unity. And herein lies a slight problem with Horseshoe Pond: the "main" pond is almost entirely OUTSIDE my 5-mile radius. The harrier was spotted flying in from the north, so even though I was outside the radius at the time it was clearly in my 5MR airspace. I was not so lucky with the next bird. Once Unity arrived and we headed into the field, we almost immediately found a Least Sandpiper near the causeway - and thus outside my 5MR. I had to be content with getting it on my Merrimack County year list, and hoped I'd find another at Morrill's later on. We walked 1.5 miles at Horseshoe, but other than the harrier my only adds in over an hour were Mallard and Canada Goose. But despite the slowing pace, there were a few highlights, including 15 Bobolinks, another Wilson's Warbler, and a good look at a gnatcatcher *below eye level*. Tally by 1200 was 106.
I stopped at Long Pond on my way back north and this time the loons were visible. As I scanned the pond, a Yellow-throated Vireo started singing across the street, and was later joined by a Black-throated Blue Warbler (species #22). At Morrill's I added six species (including 2 Vesper Sparrows and 6 Solitary Sandpipers), and left a little after 1300 with 115 species total.
By this point, things were definitely slowing down, so I stopped by my house to take a brief lunch break. Suitably fed, I went in search of a local bluebird (unsuccessfully), but managed to find a pair of Cedar Waxwings (rare in recent weeks) instead. Over the next 1.5 hours I made a large loop through Boscawen and Webster (even managing to get misdirected a couple of times), and added Blackburnian Warbler, Alder Flycatcher, and - at last - Eastern Bluebird. The latter was species #119, and I headed home again for a more extended break (2 hours). But even though I wasn't on the road, I was still doing a big day, and Pine Siskins over my yard at 1645 were species #120.
The day wrapped up with a loop to the north through Canterbury. I started at Brookford Farm (formerly a sod farm), where I added Greater Yellowlegs and another bittern, then continued east to Morrill Pond WMA (not to be confused with the Farm!) and a bonus find of a singing Winter Wren. The last stop of the day was Hoit Marsh, where the last new species was Common Nighthawk - two of which were migrating overhead in the distance.
All told, I drove 94 miles, spent 13-14 hours actively birding, and found 123 species - 23 of them warblers! I missed three species seen yesterday: Lesser Yellowlegs, Osprey, and Cooper's Hawk, and of course missed Least Sandpiper my a couple hundred feet.