Saturday, December 1, 2018

12.1.18  Thornton Burgess Adult Nature Club - Green Briar Nature Center Sandwich MA
Double Ponds - Shawme Lake - Cape Cod Canal - Sandwich, MA

The Thornton Burgess Adult Nature Club was established by Elise Leduc and we led our bird/nature walk together.  Three hours is a lovely long time to get to spend outdoors, even when the weather is cold.  There is a benefit in not having to rush, and I took advantage of our time by including several locations during our bird nerdy morning together. 

While commuting, I had been noticing waterfowl on the ponds that lie on either side of Route 6A in East Sandwich, so I wanted to begin there.  Water is the biggest draw for cold season birdwatching on Cape Cod, and I wanted to include both fresh and salt water locations.  We then headed over to Shawme Lake bordering Sandwich Town Hall to try our luck there.  It was Swan City!  We also saw a small flock of Canada Geese, but the Swans were truly amazing to watch.  If you've never seen a swan fly, it is a vision to behold and we got to see it three times while watching these tame birds cruise right by us.  The behaviors they were exhibiting were also a special treat for bird nerds!  See photos below...

The Cape Cod Canal is a unique location that promises birds no matter what the season.  If you want to see Common Eiders, it is the place to go this time of year!  They form huge flocks and as our largest diving duck, they are fun to watch, to listen to when they take flight and to appreciate their plumage.  I'm always pleased with who we spot and get to watch as they dive for food and even compete for space on the open water!  We saw RAZORBILLS this morning and I was fortunate enough to get a few (too many!) photos of these unusual birds who are members of the auk family.  They will winter as far south as the New Jersey coast.  Spotting them was a highlight of our morning, as was some territorial Common Loon behavior, a Northern Harrier and even a Harbor Seal who bobbed for a short time along the canal. (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
Hooded Merganser
Mute Swan
Canada Goose
American Goldfinch
Great Black-backed Gull
Northern Mockingbird
Common Loon
Common Eider
Song Sparrow
Razorbill (!!!)
Northern Harrier
Herring Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Red-breasted Merganser
Northern Cardinal 
Black-capped Chickadee
Carolina Wren
Red-tailed Hawk
Blue Jay 
Northern Flicker
Tufted Titmouse

Mute Swan & Bufflehead

Bufflehead & Mute Swan

Mallard pair

Mallards & Hooded Mergansers

Nest revealed 

Canada Geese

Mute Swan... here he comes!

I love the reflection in the water of his wingspan

Mute Swan juvenile
When they reach maturity, their wingspan ranges from 81-93 inches long

Mute Swan flotilla, on their way to defend "their" pond

Note the wing position.  This is aggressive behavior posture.  He is on his way to
force the youngster away...

Juvenile on the left, mature male on the right.
Note how the water has a wake in front of the birds.  They were paddling fast!

Guess who won?!

And the juvenile took off...
Northern Mockingbirds

Northern Mockingbird

The Cape Cod Canal is a fantastic spot for birdwatching all year long!

Common Eiders in the background
Common Loon in the foreground

Common Eider females and males

Common Loon

Harbor Seal checking out a Common Loon

Common Loon checking out a Harbor Seal

Much to our surprise, we even had a helicopter visit

The copter was delivering SANTA!



Song Sparrow

Common Loon - about to dive


Northern Harrier - note the white rump at the base of the tail

Northern Harrier

Common Eider - female

Double-crested Cormorant

Common Eider - waterproofing her feathers

Common Eider - females

Common Eider - female, probably her first winter (note the white wing bars)

Great Black-backed Gull

Common Eider - juvenile male

Common Eider - female, stretching her wings

Common Loons - showing aggression


Razorbill on the left, Common Loon on the right

Common Loon



Common Loons

Great Black-backed Gull

Great Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull

Great Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull

Common Eider - female
When the sun came out for a bit, I got a better photo

Great Black-backed Gull and Sagamore Bridge

Great Black-backed Gull

I swear, s/he was posing for the photo.
Note the pretty white spots on the wing tips when folded in

When you see a bird you rarely see, it is difficult not to take too many photos


Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Northern Cardinal - female
Happy Birding!

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