Six members of the Athol Bird and Nature Club traveled to the Gloucester-Rockport area on a birding field trip recently.
While traveling the group listed American crows, herring gulls, rock doves, mourning doves, blue jays, red tail hawks, Canada geese, greater black-backed gulls and an American robin. Bufflehead ducks were seen while crossing over the Annisquam River bridge as we entered Gloucester. A quick stop at Friendly’s Restaurant provided a good view from the parking lot of a tidal marsh in which American black ducks were seen.
From there we took Route 127 north to Rockport. On the way we saw mute swans, European starlings and a northern mocking bird. Our first stop in Rockport at Folly Cove Landing produced a common goldeneye, mallards, red-breasted mergansers, surf scoter and a common loon. Next stop, Halibut Point State Park.
This area required a short hike to a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean. Here, with scopes in place, we immediately discovered a large flock of harlequin ducks in the surf near the rocky shore. More scanning revealed black guillemots, red-necked grebes, northern gannets, thick-billed murres, oldsquaws and great cormorants. On the walk hack to the parking lot a northern cardinal, tufted titmouse and black-capped chickadees were added to the day list.
The next stop, at Andrews Point, produced horned grebes, white-winged scoters and a large raft of common eiders. These were carefully looked at as we tried to find a king eider among the flock, but to no avail.
We then picked up and headed to East Gloucester. Scanning the harbor from Rocky Neck we found, not without some difficulty, a Barrow’s goldeneye, one of our “target” birds for the trip.
Moving down to Niles Beach area a dovekie, eared grebe and gadwalls were spotted, although not everyone in the group was lucky enough to get a good look at these here.
As late afternoon approached, we decided to make one last stop in Rockport to look for a reported yellow-breasted chat near Pebbly Beach. After waiting for the bird to show up (which it did not), we moved the caravan down to Pebbly Beach where we added Iceland, Bonaparte’s, and Ring-billed Gulls.
On the trip home, as darkness was settling in, a Great-horned Owl was spotted sitting on a fence post bordering the old land fill off of route 2 in Concord-Lexington.