|An inviting wooded trail in Mine Falls Park in Nashua, NH|
|Colin Isotti jamming in Mike's cousin Dave and Maria's shop|
I joined Mike the next week. We hiked around Mine Falls Park and checked out some other potential birding spots with our dear friend Steve in Nashua.
|Lady's Slipper Orchid|
The Massabesic Audubon Sanctuary and Horse Hill Nature Preserve bird walks were unproductive, save the Prairie Warbler and Lady's Slipper Orchids.
|Prairie Warbler at Mine Falls Park|
But the gem of our outings were Plum Island's Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and the Sandy Point State Reservation, where we saw our first Piping Plovers. These busy little guys' conservation status has improved to Near Threatened but the beach was still partially roped off to protect the nesting areas. We managed to see and photograph a handful of them.
|Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) at Parker River NWR|
|Grandma with 3 of the 4 Cambridge grandsons|
This time Fresh Pond produced a nesting pair of Eastern Screech Owls which our grandsons were excited to point out. The birds have been nesting there for several years and we wondered how many times we walked that path with the owls looking down at us. This time we got to peek up at them! What a treat to see both a grey and rufous morph of this new bird.
Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio)
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)
|Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) at Fresh Pond|
We also finally got our first look at some Baltimore Orioles along the Fresh Pond trail. Plus one more new one for our list, the Gray Catbird. We knew nothing about the existence of this common eastern bird, so when we first saw one splashing in a puddle my first thought was an American Dipper. Impossible!
The next day we met Ginny and family at the Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center and Wildlife Sanctuary near Worcester, Mass. for a picnic lunch and bird walk.
|Boys love frogs!|
The bird of the day was the Scarlet Tanager, which we saw several times during the day. While watching a female through our big binoculars, I was fortunate to see a male fly in and mate with her! Green frogs were a hit with the boys, especially Paul who stopped at nothing to catch one.
|Northern Parula (Setophaga americana)|
|Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)|
Onward to Connecticut to spend a long weekend with Mike's son Tony and his family. We met everybody at Jack's little league game and he was the starting pitcher. We got to see a second game and a soccer game before we left, too. Proud Grandpa Mike!
The next day while everyone was at school and work we drove out to Bluff Point State Park in Groton, CT. We heard warblers all around in the tall woods, but were only able to pick out a handful. We have so much to learn about birding!
At the end of Bluff Point is Sandy Beach, a long shell-covered spit where we saw more Piping Plovers (and eggs in fenced in nests), our first Least Terns and American Golden Plovers. And on our way out of Bluff Point we saw our first Eastern Towhee.
|Piping Plover on its fenced-in nest|
|Piping Plover doing the "broken wing" act to distract us away from its nest|
|Eggs in the Piping Plover nest|
|Least Tern (Sternula antillarum)|
|Taking the grandkids bird-watching|
|Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)|
Our birding was about over for the trip and sadly the bird we had most hoped to see, the Pileated Woodpecker, had eluded us. We pulled in the Connecticut Molloy's driveway and just as we got out of the car, camera gear and binoculars still in hand, Mike called out "Pileated Woodpecker!" Unbelievably close, this shy forest bird was in full view drumming on a stump in the next door neighbor's front yard! What a great way to conclude our birding adventures.
|Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)|
On the plane ride home we worked on the count of our life birds and believe we are up to 262 in North America, 345 total.