Two Lifers in Ten Minutes

Today was a beautiful fall day to chase birds.  I returned to Artichoke Reservoir which was rather calm after yesterday’s chaos.  I was looking for the Greater White-fronted Goose that has been seen for several days in a row.  My first pass on the various vantage points brought some nice birds: lots of Mallards, Pied-billed Grebes, a Double-crested Cormorant, a couple of Mute Swans, and about 20 Canada Geese but no target bird.  I was early and knew that they had been overnighting in nearby cornfields and arriving later in the morning so I drove over to nearby Cherry Hill Reservoir.

I took a walk along the eastern edge, seeing hundreds of Ruddy Ducks, a couple of American Coots, a late Osprey, and numerous sparrows.  A birder came walking up, with a dog on a leash, and asked if I’d seen the goose.  When I said no, he told me that it had just flown in back at Artichoke — that he’d been there when it arrived.  So, back in the car I went, stowing scope and tripod, and drove the ten minutes back.  Sure enough, there was a gaggle of geese on the wind-swept water and after counting 49 and not seeing it, I went slowly back through the group and sure enough, there it was — smaller, orange bill, different coloration.  Life bird 348!  I took some digiscoped shots but they are for documentation — too far away and pretty windy.

A Greater White-fronted Goose on Artichoke Reservoir, West Newbury, MA.

As I was watching, a birder from New Hampshire showed up, and then another serious guy who’d driven yesterday to Rhode Island for the Wood Sandpiper.  They got on the bird and then a woman arrived, mentioning that “the Great Cormorant was still at Cherry Hill Reservoir.”  I asked her where and since I’d never spotted it, after watching the goose for a bit longer, I made the short trip back to Cherry Hill.  I suspect that locals are used to birders by now.

I found the juvenile Great Cormorant — perhaps two — the photos look that way — on rocks way on the other side of the water.  They digiscoped photo is pretty rough but the looks through the scope were good.  Life bird 349!

I would have liked to see the Pink-footed Goose that someone reported a few days ago and my birder friends were really after that … but it may have been a misidentification or just left, as rare birds will do.  I’m at the point in birding where I still have a number of not-so-rare birds to get for life birds.  Hope to get one more this week — perhaps a Northern Gannet.

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