Casual County Big Year


This year since I've gotten to know Norfolk County up to a point where I feel comfortable with it, I've decided to try and pull off a county big year. Since I'll be limiting myself to my home county there won't be much driving involved and it will be easy to chase anything rare that shows up. I won't be dropping anything I already have planned to chase birds, and since I've never tried this before, I don't expect much. I'm not reaching for the stars. I'm just testing this out. I want to focus on local birding and limiting the majority of my birding to one county is how I'm going to do it. I don't know the county as well as I could but I definitely know it better than I ever have before (obviously). I feel confident in being able to find 200 species, which would be a new record for me as I've only had 183 in one year (2015) in the county before. Since I missed several peak seasons last year I figure it will be easy to do better this time around, as long as I stay in Milton.  Milton has a well positioned spot within Norfolk County. Very close to Squantum in Quincy (the biggest hotspot in Norfolk Co.), Milton also allows very easy access to the Blue Hills Reservation and several very good Spring warbler spots such as Fowl Meadow. On the north edge, Milton directly abuts Suffolk County. This is not ideal, since any birds seen over the border will not count for my big year. It often seems however, that sometimes the best birding is on county lines. The Neponset River Reservation and Cutler Park are both on the border of Suffolk County. The Neponset River, and the Charles River respectively forming the actual border.

Since it's already February, you may be wondering what I have seen this year so far. I'll break down the species list and some of the spots I've hit. I tried to start the year off strong and I think that worked out pretty well. I started on January 1st at Webb Memorial State Park in Weymouth and did very well by picking up a Razorbill just off the point. I filled out my new year list to 24 species there with birds like Bald Eagle, both loons, and plenty of the common sea ducks. ​Picked up my continuing Laughing Gull at a nearby beach and continued to Turkey Hill in Cohasset/Hingham. Birding the Norfolk side of the the hill I didn't add much to my list, having only 8 new birds. A low flying Common Raven was a nice addition however. Making my way back north along the coast I picked up Hooded Merganser and American Oystercatcher on my way to Squantum. Squantum treated me well with a group of Northern Shoveler and a single Brant. Horned Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, and American Tree Sparrow were a few more of the birds I added there. I managed 45 species in total for January 1st which is surprising considering I only started birding at half past 11.

On January 2nd I stayed inland and did some birding in Randolph. I picked up some good birds in Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Swamp Sparrow and Red-winged Blackbird. At Great Pond I had Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Common Merganser, Belted Kingfisher, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet among other birds.

With the first big sections of birds done, I'll recap the rest of the year so far with any new birds I had after the first two days. At Ponkapoag Pond on the 6th of January I added Merlin, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Carolina Wren, and Orange-crowned Warbler. On January 7th I added Eastern Screech Owl in the Blue Hills, and at Shea Naval Air Field (Southfield) I added Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, Rock Pigeon, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, and Purple Finch. I added Gadwall from Souther Tide Mill, Common Yellowthroat from Broad Meadows Marsh, and Canvasback, Sanderling, and Snow Bunting from Wollaston Beach. On January 8th I added American Wigeon and American Coot from Lake Massapoag. On January 10th I added Wood Duck from Leverett Pond. On January 27th at Great Pond I added Northern Pintail, Ruddy Duck, and Fox Sparrow. I also added Ruddy Turnstone from Wollaston Beach and Savannah Sparrow from Squantum. On January 30th along the Cohasset coast I added Black Scoter, Barrow's Goldeneye, Red-necked Grebe, Great Cormorant, and Purple Sandpiper. On January 31st I added Common Grackle from Cutler Park. On February 2nd I added King Eider, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Lark Sparrow (photo below) from Webb Memorial State Park.



And finally on February 7th I added Horned Lark while kayaking from Milton Landing.

This concludes my very boring recap! The following posts should undoubtedly be much more entertaining!

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Avian Obsession © 2019 Evan Lipton

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