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Monday, May 9, 2011

Petersham May 8, 2011 partly cloudy 60`

Yesterday we visited our grandparents up in Petersham Massachusetts. Highlights included:newly arrived Bobolinks which breed each year in a field across from the house, 2 Pileated Woodpeckers, 2 possible Common Ravens, 1 Chestnut-sided Warbler (a year bird), 2 pairs (?) of Wood Ducks, Common Yellowthroats, Ovenbirds, Black-throated Green Warblers, Barred Owls calling somewhere off in the woods, American Redstarts (year birds), Downy Woodpeckers mating and a possible Least Flycatcher.

I discovered the nesting site of a pair of Wood Ducks; something which I've never found before. It was up high in a deciduous tree. Both the male and female were staring at us nervously from their woody home.

That night, at midnight, my mother reported hearing a Great Horned Owl hooting in the distant woods. We ran outside, bare footed and wearing nothing but boxer shorts and T-shirts, but were unable to hear it. Afterwards we lay on the floor next to the open windows in our room for at least 20 minutes straining to hear a distant hoot. We didn't hear anything.

We discovered the flycatcher on the edge of the Bobolink field. Its call was a short "whit...whit...whit-whit" which narrows it down to either a Willow or a Least Flycatcher (the habitat was good for either species). There are supposed to be quite a few Least Flycatchers reported by ebird users in this area of Massachusetts, but no Willows anywhere in the state right now. This bird had a very noticeable white eye ring which, in the most part, Willow Flycatchers lack. My camera unfortunately had run out of batteries but my brother managed to take some really bad photos of the flycatcher. One of them luckily enough contains the under side of the bill and the edge of one of the eye rings. Hopefully, with this photograph and the recording I took of the call, we will hopefully some other birder on Flickr be able to successfully identify this challenging Empidonax. If it's a Least Flycatcher (which I am fairly certain it is) it would be a life bird!

Later that day we visited our other grandparents in Worcester. We went for a short walk with them at a local park known as "The Cascades" where we discovered a warbler flock which mainly consisted of Yellow-rumped Warblers plus a few singing Black-throated Green Warblers and American Redstarts. I lucked out with a quick glimpse of a Blackburnian Warbler which I identified by the bright orange throat. My grandfather also thinks he saw it but my brother (unfortunately) missed it. It was the second life bird of the day! So far I've 247 on the life list.

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