This post will put a lid on my recent trip to Pittsburg, N.H.
Here are some more photos from my recent trip up north to Pittsburg, N.H. Admitted some shots aren’t great, but I didn’t have as much time to photograph wildlife as I would have liked — remember from the last bird column, I had two 14-year-old boys to keep an eye on, too.
The moose shot is particularly bad, but the moose population is having a tough time of it in New England, so I didn’t want to do anything to chase it off and potentially put it in danger.
Here are the shots. Always fun to visit the Great North Woods.
Here is the latest For the Birds column, which runs in several New England newspapers.
My trips, or as I like to call them pilgrimages, to the Great North Woods have changed over the years.
Back when I was making the trips alone, I would have a hard time sleeping the night before so I would eventually just get out of bed and hit the road around 2 or 3 in the morning. That would get me to my destination, usually Pittsburg, N.H., shortly after sunrise.
On one of those overnight drives I saw the most spectacular sunrise while driving through the White Mountains.
Lately, however, I have been making the trip with one or both of my sons. They are excited to get up there, but do not share my neuroses about it and can sleep through the night. Even so, I usually toss and turn most of the night wishing we could just get on the road already. I typically allow them to sleep until 5:30 or 6 before I start rallying the troops.
Such was the case a few weeks ago, when I made my first trip of the year up north. My older son, Andrew, now 14, Continue reading
But a Great Gray Owl within 3 1/2 hours? I gotta make that effort. I still had work but couldn’t risk waiting until the weekend should the bird decide to take off and not be found again. So I pulled a maneuver I used to do fairly often before I had kids: I basically pulled an all-nighter. I slept restlessly from midnight to 2:15 a.m. and drove three hours to Keene, N.H., to pick up my old friend Steve Hooper. Then we drove another 40 minutes to Newport, N.H., where this awesome bird had been seen in the same field each day for about a week straight. (I knew that thanks to the ABA rare bird alert.)
Hoop and I followed the directions and arrived at the scene at about 6:20 a.m. A rare bird alert message posted at 6:15 a.m. confirmed that the bird was indeed there. I was minutes away from seeing my first Great Gray Owl.
We walked a short distance down a trail, saw a handful of people and joined the small crowd. Sure enough, there was the owl, sitting in a bare deciduous tree surveying the field and ignoring his fans.
At one point it flew to another nearby deciduous tree and then eventually flew another short distance to a pine tree. The wind was strong and snow squalls came and went, but otherwise it was a rather pleasant day for the owl and his human visitors — especially for New Hampshire in early March.
I was hoping to see one more flight, but time was short. I had to drop off Hoop and drive the 3 1/2 hours back to Connecticut to get to work in the a.m. So by 10:30 a.m. I had driven to New Hampshire and back, and saw my first-ever Great Gray Owl. Just the old days.
Here are a few photos with more to come in the days ahead. Also coming soon is more information on the Great Gray Owl as a species.
During the Christmas Bird Count last week I found an Orange-crowned Warbler on my last stop of the day. It was a good bird for the Count and, for me, the first time I had seen one. It was a good way to end 2014, gaining a “life” bird. I’m not big on lists and do not even have an official “life list,” but I do know in my head what I’ve seen and what I haven’t seen. And I know I hadn’t seen an Orange-crowned Warbler before.
So what will 2015 bring in terms of new birds? I guess we will have to wait and see. The bird I’d like to see in 2015 is a Spruce Grouse. It’s a boreal bird so the only chance I have to see one is during a camping trip to northern New England or Canada. I hope to get in at least two camping trips up north in 2015, so we’ll see. I have, however, been looking for them on my camping trips for years and years and have never found one. Maybe this will be my year.
So what’s on your bird wish list for 2015? Leave a comment here, Facebook comment or email me your top bird(s) that you want to add to your life list in 2015.
Oh, and good luck getting it.
Here are a few more shots from my recent trip to northern New England. I’m already looking forward to getting up there again.
I call this one “The one that got away.” I was canoeing on a pond in New Hampshire and focusing so heavily on the loon pictured above that I wasn’t aware of the rest of my surroundings. Suddenly I noticed a Bald Eagle flying away from scene. It had been perched on the top of a pine tree and I completely missed it — well, almost completely. I managed this quick shot of it flying away.
Finally, here’s an American River Otter. There were two of them and it was the first time in years I’ve seen otters while I was canoeing. Unfortunately, this particular morning was very dark and gray, hence the not-so-good quality of the photo.
Gray Jays are quickly becoming one of my favorite birds. Their range does not stretch into southern New England, but on my last several trips to northern New England, I’ve seen these handsome and friendly birds. I have been visiting the northern reaches of New Hampshire for more than 20 years now and I started seeing Gray Jays only in the last few years. They appear out of nowhere and offer close views. They seem to be as curious about you as you are about them. From what I’ve seen, they hang out in small flocks (3, 4 or 5 birds.) Gray Jays are one of those boreal species that makes the Great North Woods so special. I took the above photo while canoeing on a small pond in northern New Hampshire. This one flew right up to the pond’s edge to check me out.