Sunday, December 19, 2010

CBC at Cape Ann, MA

I flew up to Boston yesterday morning so that I could participate in the Christmas Bird Count on Cape Ann, MA. I chose this CBC because my contacts in MA told me my best shot at finding a thick-billed murre would be to do a sea watch at Point Andrews on Cape Ann. I met the bird counting group at 7 AM at Friendly's for the organizing session, and was out at the sea watch spot by 7:45. I spent the next seven very cold hours with Brian and Tim scoping the sea.

The day began with overcast skies and the occasional snow flurry. By noon the sun finally broke thru for about an hour before the skies started to cloud up again. By the time we packed it in at 3:15 it was very cloudy and decidedly colder. The views out to the ocean were very clear, and the seas were relatively calm (top photo) which was good since most of the birds we saw were flying by rather than sitting on the water. We saw many birds with the highlights being about 40 dovekies, roughly 200 razorbills including 1 that sat on the water very near our viewing spot, a pacific loon (rare in the east), a first year king eider, and a small flock of cedar waxwings with one bohemian waxwing mixed in.

The most common close in birds of the day were the harlequin ducks (bottom photo above taken by me earlier this year of harlequins in WA--click on it to enlarge). We also saw lots of black, surf and white-winged scoters; many common eiders; and a few long-tailed ducks, common loons, red-necked grebes, great cormorants, black-legged kittiwakes, and red-breasted mergansers. After 7+ hours of active scanning, only 1 bird might have been a thick-billed murre, but I did not see it well enough to make the call.

I am now trying to warm up at my friends in Lincoln, watching football and waiting for the Patriots game to begin this evening. For this week I have seen 39 birds. I will be checking the internet to see if any of the other CBC's in this area found a rarity that I can go look for tomorrow. Stay tuned!


  1. Depending on how much time you have, you could check out some of the places in Maine that can turn up thick-billed Murres. Bob Duchesne lists the following in his guide to Maine:

    Cliff House in Wells
    Marginal Way in Ogunquit
    Dyer Pont in Cape Elizabeth
    Pemaquid Point
    Thunder Hole in Acadia
    Blueberry Hill at Schoodic Point

    I imagine that up towards Lubec is also good.

    That all said, I haven't seen any recent reports on the Maine listserv.

    good luck

  2. Hi Chris: Great seeing you in Chapel Hill last week. Good luck finding your bird(s) tomorrow, and big congrats on your past year. Don't forget, on your way out of town...stop at PICCO on Tremont Street for hands down Boston's best pizza, raviolis, grilled cheese sandwiches, fish tacos and Greek Salads.

    Give me a call if you want some company.

    All the best...Cob Carlson

  3. YOu Probably could have seen them at Eastern Point in Gloucester either at the back path near the lighthouse, or at Brace Cove.

    Daniel D