www.thefilemyrs.com > Birding > New England 1998
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January/February 1998
Newburyport, Cape Ann and the surrounding areas

Martin Selzer, Bert Filemyr, Karl Lukens, Lynn Jackson, Jane Henderson

Trip Report by Martin Selzer

30-Jan-98 left Flourtown approx 12:30pm and headed to Shrewsbury River/Sandy Hook NJ for Barrow's Goldeneye and Tufted Duck that had been in the area. Missed both of them and headed to Amesbury at 2:45pm. Arrived at Susse Chalet approx 9pm. Had dinner at a Roy Rogers en route.

31-Jan-98 breakfast at 7am, loaded up and departed by 7:15am. Picked up lunch at the Cumberland Farms in Essex (?) again. (Note for future reference, there is a Cumberland Farms and w 24-hr mini-market at the traffic light at the intersection of Route 110 and 1A). Did you "usual" Cape Ann route. At Rafe's Chasm picked up our first Black Guillemots and Red-necked Grebes. We also had the Peregrine falcon that was wintering in Gloucester flew-by. We worked our way around Gloucester Harbor and stopped at the Rocky Neck Artist's Colony for the reported Barrow's Goldeneye. We didn't quite have the exact directions and missed it and the Eared Grebe at Niles Beach before heading to the Eastern Point Lighthouse. On our way to the lighthouse, we saw a group of birders (Brookline Bird Club) so we figured it was worth a slight detour to see what they had and to pick up some current info. They had an adult Iceland Gull and gave us more precise directions to the Barrow's Goldeneye so we went back to Rocky Neck and got the bird before returning to the Lighthouse. At the lighthouse. we had more Black Guillemots, some great looks at Great Cormorants and a Black-legged Kittiwake. We continued around Cape Ann and stopped about 12:30pm at Old Garden Beach for lunch. There was a group of 8 Harlequin Ducks there. At Andrew's Point, we had another group of about 25 Harlequins. Halibut Point was somewhat quiet although we did have 5 fly-by Razorbills and a 1st winter Glaucous Gull. We ran into a birder who had just come from Salisbury Beach where he said there were both crossbills. We decided to head there directly before returning to Newburyport and Plum Island. We had to drive around the campground a bit in search of the crossbills. We again ran into some of the Brookline Birders who told us of Snowy Owl, Northern Shrike and Bohemian Waxwings at Parker River NWR. We did see the Merlin that is wintering at Salisbury before we found the crossbills. There was a flock of 25-30 birds feeding on the cones in the pines which were all less than 15' tall. We had wonderful looks at all ages of White-winged Crossbills but couldn't positively identify a Red. We then headed to Plum Island. At the pull off east of the Parker River, we saw a group of birders scanning the marsh so we joined them and found a Snowy Owl perched on the frame that remained of a duck blind. We headed into Parker River NWR in search of the shrike and waxwings. We dipped out on them but did find a second Snowy Owl. Called in a day as the sun was setting and had dinner at Sylvan Street Grille.

01-Feb-98 breakfast at 7am, checked out and headed back to Salisbury at 7:30am to search for the crossbills again. After a few false alarms, we found the flock again and they let us walk right up to them. This time in with the White-wings were black-capped Chickadees and a couple of Purple Finches. Finally, Bert spotted a young male Red Crossbill in its pretty "limey" green plumage. We finally dragged ourselves away from this incredible display and went back to Parker River for the Shrike and Waxwings. We ended up getting multiple looks at the shrike or single looks at multiple shrikes as we had a shrike at several spots along the dunes between the Salt Pannes and Hellcat Swamp. We still dipped out on the waxwings but had 4 Pine Siskins and 3 Common Redpolls in the parking area at Hellcat. We then headed toward Plymouth, MA in search of the Bar-tailed Godwit. We arrived in Plymouth at 11:30, checked out the Nelson Road site and the beach to the north. Ran into some of the Brookline Birders again who told us we were in the right spot and had a favorable tide. Unfortunately, the godwit did not appear although the adult Common Black-headed Gull that was frequenting the Nelson Road Soccer field made a lengthy appearance. At 2pm we headed to Great Herring Pond (15 miles south off of Route 3A) for a Tufted Duck. Our friendly, local sources had told us that this duck has been on this pond for 3-4 years. We found the pond and the duck with little or no trouble at all. We headed home at 2:50pm and I arrived in my house at about 9:15pm. Total miles driven 1044.