Date: 1/1/20 10:32 pm
From: Josh <opihi...>
Subject: [MASSBIRD] New Year's surprise YRWA in Weston
Hi MassBirders,

A belated thank-you to everyone who advised me on places to bird around Weston, Belmont, and vicinity, and about parking near Fresh Pond. I haven’t had as much time as I’d hoped to put your suggestions into effect yet; so far all I’ve managed is a couple of walks along the Charles River in Waltham (which have been nice enough). But we are still getting pulled back to the area regularly, so might get to poke around more in the near future….

On New Year’s Eve, we’d pulled into the place where we’d been renting an apartment, but it has a steep driveway, and the recent slush made it impossible to drive up; we had to park halfway down to the road. So after breakfast on January 1, we needed to scrape the frozen slush off of the driveway so that we could actually, y’know, drive on it. First I walked the dog around the yard, which was fun because we came across a large owl pellet! My first bird of 2020 was a Northern Cardinal heard during this walk, which was the only bird detected for about 20 minutes. But then, just as I was getting started on the driveway, a quartet of Common Mergansers flew over, surprising as there isn’t much significant water in the neighborhood. Third species was an American Robin that flew in and perched high above.

Then came bird species #4 for the year. I heard a distinctly warbler-like chip note, and stopped scraping slush to look for the source. The bird came flying across the road toward me, landed in a tangle of brush at the edge of the yard, and started eating Poison Ivy berries. Yellow-rumped Warbler! My big DSLR camera with the telephoto lens was back in the house, but the critter was so preoccupied snacking that I was able to stalk in close enough for identifiable photos using my little pocket-sized point-and-shoot. Sure, it’s a massively superabundant species at some places and times, but looking at my eBird records, I’ve never seen one in MA in December or January before, and my only February sighting was out on Nantucket. Made clearing the driveway seem like not such a terrible task…

Good birding,


Joshua S. Rose, Ph.D.
Amherst, MA

Vice-president, Hampshire Bird Club

Northeast Chapter head, Dragonfly Society of the Americas

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