Tuesday, July 28, 2009

First Few Days in NEW HAMPSHIRE!

Here is a rundown of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday ((following post - scroll down - contains the internet worthy photos of the three days)):

I arrived midnight Saturday/Sunday, and got up early Sunday to look around. The first "eastern" bird I saw was a few Eastern Bluebirds! That was cool! Then a few Northern Cardinals. That was it until we got to the beach. Great Black-backed Gulls are definitely different from the Herring Gulls, and Ring-billeds I am used to back home.

I got my lifer Common Eider on the first day!!! The Eiders are soo cool!!!
We then went off to Newport, Rhode Island for some family stuff, and picked up the birding again the next day.

Monday morning I got some tips on where to go, and got my lifer Saltmarsh Sparrow behind "Little Jack's" restaurant in Hampton! That was amazing! One bird actually perched semi-concealed, and I got to look at it through my scope.

Then, at Hampton Harbor I ran into a birder, and she helped me generously in finding my lifer Roseate Tern and Least Tern, even though it was crummy looks, it still was looks. Also she found me my lifer Short-billed Dowitcher. Also we got my first-of-the-year Ruddy Turnstone.
Actually I had a lot of yearbrds. At the same place there was a Fish Crow hanging around, and flying over the cities were Chimney Swifts. On the flats there were many Semipalmated Sandpipers, and a few Semipalmated Plovers. Back in North Hampton, I had an adult Broad-winged Hawk give me a great close, slow flyby, my best looks at a BWHA ever! Also saw a few Northern Mockingbirds.

Now, up near Portsmouth, we came across a couple of Mute Swans, which I found out was countable, so that makes another lifer for the trip!

Tuesday: Got up early and headed off for Rye Harbor, the site of my absolute favorite thing in New Hampshire, the Granite State Whalewatching tour! We departed at roughly 8:30 eastern standard time, and that is when it all began....
My first lifer was also the most common pelagic bird, and also one of my most favorite pelagic birds, a WILSON'S STORM-PETREL!!! They were everywhere, and also tagged along behind the boat in some numbers. This gave me a great oppertunity to study there shape, and behavior, as the next time I see one maybe 10 years from now. Shortly after my first Willie-storm (for short) I saw an oddly shaped bird flying in the distance. Its course was going to intersecct ours and we would be much closerto it then. I raised my binoculars, and SUPRISE! A NORTHERN GANNET!! Turns out, there were many many gannets to be found. One of the suprising things was I had no idea the size of the bird. I guess I never really looked in the book, and my preconceved notion was a small bird. Gannets are massive!! After we have travelled a ways from the Isles of Shoals (about 6 miles of the coast), so about 10 to 14 miles out, I spotted a bird zipping across the water with quick wingbeats. A SOOTY SHEARWATER!!!!!!!!!!! WOO HOO! My first Shearwater!!
From then one, the birds never let up action untill we departed the whale feeding grounds for harbor. My first GREATER SHEARWATER was shortly after the Sooty, and WOW!! Way more beautiful then the books portay! Once to the feeding grounds, we saw Minke, Humpack, and Fin whales, and while everyone was watching whales, I was looking for lifers. I spotted a Jaeger!!! My first Jaeger!! With my first Jaeger came my first time dealing with ID'ing a Jaeger. Luckaly, this bird cam in fairlyclose enough to give away its ID as a PARASITIC JAEGER, and I managed to nab a record shot. WOO HOO! My first Jaeger!! Then came the span of no new birds untill we left, then we ran across a new Shearwater only 4 or 5 times. A yellow-billed, white-bellied, tan brown-backed CORY'S SHEARWATER!!!!! I was beginning to doubt we would find one untill we eventually did. Totally amazing!!! Now, I thought to myself, the boat trip was complete, but I was slightly wrong. As we pulled into Rye Harbor, my aunt Penny spotted a duck. I thought oh another Common eider, but something had me raise my binoculars, and BAM! It was a full breeding plumaged male WHITE-WINGED SCOTER!!! Right in close!!!!! That was totally unexpected!! What a way to end the birding day!! 7 lifers, bringing me to 335 for the ABA area.

A few good pictures!!

Green Heron!! WOO HOO!! We don't get many of these in Montana, actually I don't know of any records. This was a really dark day hence the crummy photo.
Northern Cardinal!!
This Herring Gull was very cooperative at North Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.

Ring-billed Gull
COMMON EIDER! My first lifer of the trip! number 323 for the ABA area.
I didn't grab any photos of any other of my lifers untill the boat trip. No photos of the Terns, or the Saltmarsh Sparrow.

I love Storm-Petrels!! There was hundreds of these Willie Storms (Wilson's Storm-Petrels) all over! It was so cool! I am glad that a Storm-Petrel was my first pelagic bird EVER!


When everyone was freaking out about the Humpback Whales, I saw two Jaegers, and got a positive ID on one, a Parasitic Jaeger!!! My first Jaeger of the three!
Humpbacks feeding!

Northern Gannets were common but scattered throughout the boat tour. That was one of the 7 lifers I got today.

CORY'S SHEARWATER!!!!!!! Appearantly they are very uncommon in New Hampshire waters, but this year they have had several every signal outing! I saw 4 to 5 today!!
Another shot of the Cory's Shearwater!
Pins indicate where costumers are from in a lobster shop in Rye, New Hampshire. Looks like a few NW Montanans!

Hermit Crab!!! WOO HOO!! We don't get many of these in Montana, just one or two a year, mostly around water treatment plants during fall migration.