Mass Audubon Bird-a-thon: The Big Finish

Total Bird-a-thon Species: 91

Though exhausted from a long, sleepless night, we pushed on into the morning, a virtual confetti of warblers, thrushes, flycatchers, and so much more. Basically, the bird-a-thon had the great fortune of occurring during a bird fallout.

Moving beyond out immediate backyard, we decided to pedal to other parts of Scituate, including Musquashicut Pond and Minot and the Glades.

Byt 10:00, the day had already warmed to the high 60s and the breeze felt refreshing as we bike toward Musquashicut. Along the way, we picked up Greater and Snowy Egrets, Eastern Phoebe, and a Cooper’s Hawk.

Within seconds of arriving at the pond, we spotted the Common and Least Terns we had first identified earlier in the week. As usual, most of them were perched on the rocks. Then flying in front of them was a small sandpiper. Following its path, we pushed through the reeds and mud to discover a flock of Spotted Sandpipers, more than we usually see at the same time. We counted eight. Back around the corner, were repeats of what we had seen earlier in the day, plus a Greater Yellowlegs and Double-Crested Cormorants.

Missing from our usual sightings were the Buffleheads, which had moved on a week or two ago.

As we mounted our bikes to leave for Minot and the Glades, something didn’t feel right. Pedaling to the side of the road, I stopped and looked down at a flat tire. This would not help us get to all of the great birding spots we had hoped to. Still, we persevered. Sending Jackson ahead to do some initial spotting at the beginning of Minot Beach, I walked alongside my bike. The slow pace did afford me more time to observe the calls and flights around me. By the time I arrived at the beach, I had three species of swallows: Barn, Tree, and Rough-Winged.

Meeting up with Jackson, we moved down the beach and set up the scope. Again, many of the winter birds were now gone. However, we did pick up a few Common Eider on the rocks, which were smothered with Double-Crested Cormorants and one lone Great Cormorant. There were also solo Black Scoters and Red-Breasted Mergansers.

As we approached the Glades and the sea wall, we found another surprising flock of Spotted Sandpipers.

After slipping into The Glades, bird sighting was relatively quiet for a while. Plus, we were getting hungry from having to spend more time walking instead of riding. But as we journeyed to the Cohasset Harbor side, we made some new discoveries. Along with gulls and Brants, there were at least 5 Black-Bellied Plovers, a Semi-Palmated Plover, and Short-Billed Dowitcher. Two of these were first-of-the-years.

But it was on our way out of The Galdes, when we got one of our lifers for that day. We almost walked by the initial rustle due to rumbling stomachs but decided to stop. That’s when we started to see flashes of tail, wing, eye, and beak through the unfurling leaves. After five minutes, the whole bird popped into view and we were excitedly able to identify it as an Orange-Crowned Warbler, a rare find for this time of the year.

Other birds started appearing, including five Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds around a flowering tree, not to mention a Turkey Vulture soaring above.

Arriving back at Minot, I sent Jackson home as I began the long walk back. Fortunately, I was picked up 15 minutes later, flat tire and all.

During this outing, Fiona was at home discovering other birds in our yard and Bound Brook, which wound behind our house. These included a few Ovenbirds, a Swainson’s Thrush, and many warblers (Black-Throated Blue, Black-Throated Green, Black-and-White, Common Yellowthroat, Parulas, and more). The number of Black-Throated Blue and Greens was incredible. They were everywhere!

After a brief rest and cool down, Fiona and Jackson pedaled to Ellis Estates, where they encountered many of the same birds, including all four thrushes (Hermit, Wood, Swainson’s, and Ovenbird). They would have stayed longed except they were called back to the yard to see some other new discoverings.

From one of the many logs that dipped into the brook, we perched and watched a couple of black-capped Wilson’s Warblers and numerous flaming orange and black American Redstarts flutter from tree to tree. Well, the Redstart did more fluttering while the Wilson’s wandered.

But as the air began to cool, the birds seemed to follow suit. With an hour left, we went up on the roof to look for any passing bird. Usually, this is a great spot for mornings and evenings. Unfortunately, we had missed our morning roost because the early evening one wasn’t paying off so much. We were able to observe a Wild Turkey, American Goldfinches, and Tufted Titmice, as well as a majestic Eastern Kingbird sitting high on a tree top in the last golden light. It seemed a fitting end to an amazing day.

It was hard to believe after such an adventure and frenzy of birds that the next day would see them continue their migration and leave our backyard a whole lot quieter in song and color. But plenty remain to keep us busy.

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