The Kevin Costner approach to birding – build it and they will come (or at least let the water out)

As luck would have it, rock worm have been having a field day with the Monadnock Paper Mill dam on the Contoocook River. This dam is responsible for creating Powder Mill Pond, which is a fine pond for birding under normal circumstances. But for the second fall in five years, the pond has been drained to facilitate repairs to the dam, providing ideal habitat for a whole new cast of characters – shorebirds.

The Monadnock Region is flyover country for shorebirds that commute between the Arctic and various points in the tropics and/or the southern hemisphere. Flying south at altitudes of... Continue Reading →

30,000 foot view

I flew to Nashville via Chicago on Friday. The plane overflew some of my favorite birding haunts along the Connecticut River, from Charlestown to Walpole. I had planned on taking a day next week to check them out. Waterfowl should be starting to move north very soon. St. Patricks Day is peak (apparently the venerable saint could move more than snakes). Alas, a quick check out the window revealed that the river and associated cornfields were still in winter’s firm grip.

Red Crossbills – when binoculars aren’t enough

I was awoken on the morning of February 18th by a “kip kip kip” call note coming from the direction of the bird feeders. I instantly recognized it as the call note of Red Crossbill, a rare visitor to my backyard with only a couple of previous records in about 10 years. They are a species of finch, and one of my all time favorite birds, with a really interesting background story to boot. Uncommon anywhere or anytime in New Hampshire, this bird is North America’s answer to Darwin’s finch, the small inconspicuous Galapagos bird that contributed to Darwin’s thinking... Continue Reading →

Birds and Windows – epic journey ends in tragedy

Star Island Weekend Report, May 16-18, 2014

NB: space available on last trip of the spring – Sunday May 25th, 8am-4pm, $65pp. Contact me at eric.masterson@myfairpoint.net

You know how a plain white wall is the perfect foil for a great work of art. Saturday May 17th was the white wall, with scarcely a migrant to be found. We (all 27 of us) found a total of five migrant warblers – that’s individuals, not species. Set against this plain backdrop, Sunday provided a masterpiece – an exemplary example of spring migration at its best.