Friday, June 18, 2010

Late post - Boreal Birding Trip in NH

Last Saturday, I led a trip to from Massachusetts to New Hampshire for my annual Brookline Bird Club/Menotomy Bird Club co-sponsored Boreal Birding trip. I usually plan for Caps Ridge Trail as the trailhead is the highest in NH at a little over 3000', allowing you to drive into Bicknell's Thrush
territory.  But, since the access road to Caps Ridge Trail had still not been opened by NHDOT, we chose a back-up plan of taking the tram to the top of Cannon Mountain, followed by birding at Pondicherry NWR and finishing at Trudeau Rd in Bethlehem, NH.

The Cannon Mountain Tramway proved to be a very pleasant alternative - informative and very scenic, even in the clouds and drizzle.  At the top of the mountain, we walked the short circuit trail and were treated to good numbers of Red-breasted Nuthatches, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, with singing Winter Wrens and Blackpoll Warblers everywhere. It also wasn't long before we heard - and then got great looks at the big target bird of the trip - singing Bicknell's Thrush. (On one bird, we were able to see the back of it's throat at times!) In all, we heard at least three and probably 4 Bicknell's Thrushes.

A few more scenic views, then we headed back to the tram for a comfortable ride back down the mountain (with hot chocolates and coffees in hand from the visitor center - truly plush boreal birding).
 (view looking south in Franconia Notch)

We then continued on to Pondicherry NW,R we walked in the entrance trail from Hazen Road, finding warblers all along the way, including Blackpoll, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Chestnut-sided, Nashville, at least three Canada Warblers, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Ovenbird, Common
Yellowthroat, as well as Hermit and Wood Thrushes and Veery.  In addition to the birds, we also encountered, Butterflies, Dragonflies, Damselflies (including both Ebony and River Jewelwings) and a number of other interesting insects, which I am woefully undereducated about.

We worked our way towards Little Cherry Pond where we watched both male and female Black-backed Woodpeckers visiting a nest cavity. Then on our way back out, watched an immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker call and participate in an intersting behavior consisting of perching parallel to a horizontal branch and dropping its wings on either side of the branch(almost like when a raptor "mantles" over its food). Common Loon and an American Bittern at Big Cherry Pond were great sightings as well.

We stopped for a lunch break and rest stop then continued on to Trudeau Road, where we were able to add Magnolia and Black-and-White Warblers to the day list as well as a few Alder Flycatchers, several Rusty
Blackbirds (and great looks at another Canada Warbler) and stood amongst at least a dozen Cedar Waxwings, hearing their bills clapping shut as they were fly-catching insects in the air around us.
I've always thought that these were such handsome and dapper birds, and getting to see them like this really is a treat.
In all, our group of seven had a pretty nice day (despite the weather), tallying over 50 species of birds, some cool bugs, and with some wonderful scenic views, an and enjoyable tram ride.