Date: 1/10/21 5:01 pm From: Pam Hunt <biodiva...> Subject: [NHBirds] Circumnavigation of Coos County
Unity and I took a two-day trip up north this weekend with excellent results. We started Saturday morning at Trudeau Road, which was beautiful but fairly quiet with 8 species. Continuing onward, after finding nothing around the Whitefield Airport, we headed north along Hazen Drive toward Route 116, when a massive raptor in a dead tree proved to be an immature Northern Goshawk, essentially a lifer for Unity and an auspicious start to our Coos County adventure. It even had a patch of what could only have been blood on its breast feathers. From there we took in Dave Govatski's feeders (thanks Dave!) where we were treated to his impressive Evening Grosbeak flock and nice looks at a bright pink Common Redpoll.
As we crossed over Bowman Notch we called in a take-out order from the "Road Hawg BBQ" place in Gorham, picked it up, and proceeded to the old Burger King next door to find Susan Wrisley and Jenna Pettipas watching the local Bohemian Waxwings (although only 33 by Jenna's count). This was a fun meeting, since Susan and Jenna had left a note on my car along Trudeau Road while we were out hiking, and we were hoping to run into each other SOMEWHERE north of the notches. Shortly afterward David and Anne Forsyth pulled in, and we had a nice little distant gathering of birders. But our lunch was getting cold, so Unity and I took our leave and drove to Mechanic Street to eat in the car, keeping the windows open to listen for the local Red-bellied Woodpecker or whatever else. We never found the woodpecker either from the car or during a subsequent short walk, but the latter did turn up a few Pine Grosbeaks, lots of Mallards (and two black ducks) in the river, an impressive number of Blue Jays, and a eBird-triggering SIX cardinals. It would appear that these guys are getting well established at the southern fringe of Coos County.
Somewhere in here, Unity discovered via eBird that Lori Charron photographed a HOARY REDPOLL at her feeders the day before, and since we were heading toward Errol we added it to the afternoon itinerary. But first was a brief and unsuccessful search for the Black Scoter reported upriver in Gorham a couple of days previously, and an equally unsuccessful search for the shrike that Susan and Jenna had seen a couple of HOURS previously. A brief bit of searching downtown Berlin yielded a mixed flock of Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls (ratio about 4:1), and it was on to Milan. Searching the edge of the airport revealed no Snow Buntings, and despite the fact that the feeder bird mix there was likely the same as at Dave's house, we drove up Chikwolnepy Road just to check things out. Here we found a large flock (30+ birds) of redpolls, only to have them scatter as a beautiful adult Northern Shrike flew down to the feeders. It flew off just as quickly, but seeing as how we missed the one in Gorham we deemed the side trip well worth it!
After finding Common Merganser and Common Goldeneye (but, alas, no Barrow's) along the river in Errol, we pulled into Lori's house to watch the feeders. Chickadees were essentially the only visitors, and we were about to call it a day, when Lori came out to let her dog run just as a flock of redpolls descended into a nearby conifer. After learning that the viewing was better on the other side of the feeders, we left the car - although the redpolls had all disappeared in the meantime. But eventually they came back, and careful scrutiny eventually revealed the female Hoary. Another lifer for Unity and my first in several years. Then we drove through a beautifully snowy Dixville Notch to spend the night in Colebrook.
After a bit of unsuccessful owling just south of Colebrook this morning, it was on to Pittsburg, where we had a date with Canada Jays and Boreal Chickadees. An initial plan to walk part of East Inlet Road was stymied by no place to park nearby along Route 3, so we continued up to Deer Meadow Campground. Our first species of the day was a flyover WW Crossbill while we were gearing up, but the second was a friendly group of three Canada Jays that relieved us of a good number of peanuts and raisins. One even landed on my camera. Otherwise, however, the snowy woods were deathly quiet - save for the occasional whoosh of the wind through the spruce and fir. Walking Sophie's Lane to the dam revealed a single bird: another Northern Shrike teed up at the top of a conifer in the distance. The scene at the dam was arctic indeed, with frost on trees facing the wind, and we quickly crossed the frozen impoundment above the dam to the relative shelter of the campground. In the end, our 2 hour walk yield 7 species. As others have said about the north woods this winter - it can be pretty quiet out there away from feeders!
A walk along Magalloway Road was even quieter, yielding only 7 redpolls and a raven, so we headed south to more tropical climes. We added a handful of other species in the rest of Pittsburg, but left town at noon with maybe a dozen total - the same number in 5 hours as we had in 45 minutes at Dave's feeders the day before. And we never found a Boreal Chickadee, but plenty of chance for that on our next visit. The next significant stop was along Water and Winter Streets in Lancaster, where a couple of chickadees heard as we were driving led to a half hour walk that netted 16 species, including a single Pine Siskin and two more cardinals. A little farther down the road, we lucked into a flock of 25-30 Snow Buntings at the Lancaster Wastewater Treatment Plant.
We left Coos County with a quite respectable 37 species for the weekend, with many memorable sightings and experiences, and of course some beautiful scenery. We might not get all the way north again until May, when leaves and warblers will have replaced frost and finches, and we'll have fun all over again.
Now back to local birding for the rest of the week!
Pam Hunt and Unity Dienes
"The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world."