Saturday, December 4, 2010

Where are the Birds? with correction

December.  I am desperate for birds. The woods have been quiet and skies empty. I'll soon be going into serious withdrawal. So I drove to Turner's Falls, MA,  to check out the power canal as James Smith of  Pioneer Birding had reported sightings of Cackling Geese and Iceland Gulls.

It was mid afternoon, the sun much lower in the sky than I had foreseen. Several groups of Common Goldeneyes were on the water and I got some photos before they had a chance to turn tails and swim toward the opposite shore as is they are prone to do when seeing anyone approaching them.

Male Common Goldeneye

Male flying

Flock of three females and one male

On the water there were several hundred Canada Geese, but I was lucky: Shortly after my arrival when passing the first group of Canada Geese  I saw a bird near the periphery which was strikingly smaller than the others. I was able to get a shot but the waning light resulted in a picture of poor quality. The petite size and build convinced me that this was a Cackling Goose but I stand corrected:

Thomas Wetmore pointed out that the photo probably shows an Atlantic subspecies of a Canada Goose, not a Cackling Goose. Cackling Geese are small still, show a stubby bill, short neck and blocky head with large cheek patch.

Far off shore were several gulls, mostly Herring Gulls, several Great Black-backed Gulls and a couple of lst cycle Iceland Gulls.

This photo shows an Iceland Gull standing on ice surrounded by Herring Gulls and GBBB juveniles which I took at Turner's Fall this past February. (More photos on my website, bottom of page.)

I am going to give it another shot next week. Timing is always finding the right balance: too early and the light is good, but the birds have not yet flown in to roost; too late and there is too little light.

November morning, Connecticut River, Hinsdale, NH

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment.


  1. Great photos, love the Goldeneyes. Congrats on your Cackling goose sighting. The last shot is beautiful.

  2. Hi Hilke: Some nice shots there. I should check the river for Cackling Geese. The ice is not settled in yet. Hope more birds show up so you can do your usual good job. Quick question: I'm still trying to process a memory card from Late Nov. I think one of the birds is a Hermit Thrush. Would they still be around? Boom & Gary.

  3. Thanks for your nice comments, Eileen and Gary.
    Gary, in VT you can still see an occasional Hermit Thrush in late November. You should go on - It's a world-wide data base and you'll find all kinds of information there such as global range maps and bar charts for your region. You can also report your observations and this way contribute to the data base.

  4. Hi HIlke,
    It is about the same over here, very few bird left, even if you go close to shore. Fortunately we got this bohemian invasion (even if they are gone). I think I will soon have to take landscape pictures even if we still do not have any snow.

  5. Thanks for the info Hilke. Gary & Boomer.

  6. Hi Hilke, I love the flight photos! I struggle with them.
    Thanks so much for sharing the "food" preference of RS Hawks on my blog. That really explains why the songbirds aren't afraid of them.

  7. Turner Falls is a long drive for me, so I don't think I'll be heading that way anytime soon to see the birds you observed. ;)

  8. Excellent images. Its a good comparison of the size of Cackling and Canada.

  9. Nice to see pics of the Goldeneye. I haven't seen any yet this winter close enough for a photo.


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