Sunday, November 18, 2007

November 17 - Winter Finches "en masse"

Very early this morning (still last night for most normal folks !) my friend and I departed for the North-Central Massachusetts town of Royalston, which is just a few miles from New Hampshire. We set out to try our luck with the early winter finches that have been reported here.
It's probable that such birds will come closer, and remotely possible to even appear in my home state, much later on during this winter but I did not want to take a chance on that. The drive was exceptionally easy as more than 90% was on Interstate highways. During the final trek on local roads we stopped at a set of feeders and picked up some views of Pine Siskins.

Upon arriving in Royalston just before 8 am we immediately had tremendous looks of a large flock of Evening Grosbeaks. Shortly afterward we walked down the road from the library and came upon our first set of Pine Grosbeaks !

This species was a life-bird for me, and just the fourth time being seen for my friend Rob. We soaked up some amazing views of these birds, and likely saw a total that approached two-dozen.
It's difficult to describe the beautiful views of the Cranberry-colored males with their gray undertones, combined with the regal Golden and jet Black colors of the Evening Grosbeaks being in your scope simultaneously, but it was breath-taking.

Also seen at this spot was a roosting Barred Owl, who was subsequently chased from it's low perch by a passing Wild Turkey.

After having such early and satisfying success here, we took the advice of the local birders we met to go further east to Mt. Watatic where another boreal vagrant was being seen.
After a short drive, and a 1.5 mile hike up to the summit we took in tremendous views of the obliging Gray Jay.

click on images for larger views