Sunday, June 7, 2009

Parker River NWR May 30+31

May 30th and 31st I had off from work, so I treated myself to a trip to Plum Island both days. I've decided to post the pictures on my shutterfly site for better viewing:

May 30th I added at least 4.5 lifers to my list. I know, I know: .5?? Let me explain: I have seen a Woodcock before, but the encounter reflected this bird's reputation in that it was very brief and I didn't wind up getting a particularly good view or a picture. Although the woodcock is known for being elusive, it is very distinct in its appearance, and that allowed me to identify it at the time despite the circumstances. May 30th, however, was entirely different. Within 5 minutes of pulling into the refuge, I almost drove right past one that was just hanging out by the side of the road! It wasn't even just after dawn--I had gotten a late start that day, and the time was 8:42 am! I pulled over and was treated to several great pictures of this spectacular bird, it was a wonderful way to start the day, and I admit I took it as a good omen. Later on, talking to some other birders, I found out that apparently woodcocks often perform their courting ritual in the parking lot to the Hellcat trails at dusk.

My other lifers for the day:
Savannah Sparrow
Least Bittern
Purple Martin

I believe there are some others, as well. I just need to process the photos I took and identify the shorebirds I'm not sure about [one of them is picture 32 in the shutterfly album, I'd appreciate any help :) ].

I should mention that the last 3 photos in the album were actually taken in Gloucester, not at Parker River. You'll also notice a turtle portrait in the album--I discovered this Eastern Painted Turtle just chillin' smack dab in the middle of the refuge road. It struck me as a poor choice of hang outs, so I somewhat timidly picked the fella up and set him down about a foot off from the side of the road in some low grasses.

My May 31st visit saw "only" one lifer--a very special bird indeed--the precious Piping Plover. I was beyond thrilled to watch an adult foraging along the sand at Sandy Point, and couldn't get over the fact that most people just simply walked right on by the bird. There are signs all over the refuge and barriers set up to protect nesting areas, so I assume most people must be aware of their presence. A large stretch of the beach at Plum Island is blocked off every year for the Piping Plovers. I couldn't (and still can't) decide if all of this uninterested people simply didn't know it was a Piping Plover and took it to be "just another shorebird" or if they were locals who see them each year. In any case, I managed to get several shots before getting chased out by the rain.

Take nothing but pictures (and maybe the trash of jerks who came before you), leave nothing but footprints.


  1. Nice series of pics, and a great day with 4 lifers. Makes me long to get free for a day at Plum Island.

  2. Congrats on the lifers!
    If you are interested in visiting Plum Island again, a group of birders who blog, tweet, and chirp will be meeting this coming Saturday the 13th at the refuge headquarters at 7am to bird bird, photo, sketch & have a generally good time. If you are interested, you are quite welcome to join us. More details at:

  3. Thanks for the invite Christopher! I'll almost certainly be there, wouldn't miss it for anything!

  4. Hi Amanda. Whilst I'm no expert on American waders if pic 32 is P1090523 then I think this is a Willet.