Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary
Birding Community Newsletter

Issue 2017-22 | Friday, December 27 2017 | 1,705 Subscribers
The Gatherers
Wicked Cold Out There
As if called by the iron's strike that marked the solstice, frigid air stubbornly clings to the New England landscape. Suppressed by the sting, the gatherers in the Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary yield to winter's icy will, and make room for a stranger from a far away land. Settling in for another season, the hinterland wayfarers begin the struggle of a long wait in the last grassland of the Rumney Marshes ACEC.
 December 10, 17, & 24, 2017 Trip Reports
Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary
Saugus, Essex County, Massachusetts, US

December 10, 2017
8:45 AM - 12:12 PM

Protocol: Traveling

3.0 Mile(s)

31 Bird Species
Canada Goose 60

American Black Duck 25

White-winged Scoter 2

Bufflehead 20

Common Goldeneye 2

Red-breasted Merganser 10

Wild Turkey 13

Northern Harrier 1

Bald Eagle 1

Red-tailed Hawk 3

Ring-billed Gull 3

Herring Gull 150

Great Black-backed Gull 35

Rock Pigeon 60

Mourning Dove 20

American Kestrel 1

Peregrine Falcon 1

Blue Jay 2

American Crow 5

Horned Lark 40

Northern Mockingbird 1

European Starling 1000

American Pipit 15
    Careful count

Snow Bunting 30

White-throated Sparrow 1

Savannah Sparrow 1

Song Sparrow 1

Northern Cardinal 2

Eastern Meadowlark 1

Red-winged Blackbird 9

American Goldfinch 1
Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary
Saugus, Essex County, Massachusetts, US

December 17, 2017
12:00 PM - 2:50 PM

Protocol: Traveling

3.5 Mile(s)

Christmas Bird Count
Two groups covered the majority of the Sanctuary. One group covered the grasslands and the second group covered the shrublands.

31 Bird Species in the Grassland
33 Bird Species in the Shrubland
Grassland List

Snow Goose2

Canada Goose 250

Mallard 4

White-winged Scoter 8

Bufflehead 16

Common Goldeneye 3

Red-breasted Merganser 3

Wild Turkey 14

Red-tailed Hawk 2

Ring-billed Gull 25

Herring Gull 100

Great Black-backed Gull 3

Rock Pigeon 40

Mourning Dove 20

Short-eared Owl 2

Downy Woodpecker 1

American Kestrel 1

Blue Jay 2

Horned Lark 150

Black-capped Chickadee 1

European Starling 20

American Pipit 2

Lapland Longspur 2

American Tree Sparrow 26

White-throated Sparrow 4

Savannah Sparrow 3

Savannah Sparrow Ipswich 1

Song Sparrow 6

Northern Cardinal 2

Red-winged Blackbird 8

American Goldfinch 2

House Sparrow 2
Shrubland List

Snow Goose 2

Canada Goose 155

Mallard 2

American Black Duck 11

White-winged Scoter 6

Bufflehead 16

Common Goldeneye 1

Red-breasted Merganser 8

Wild Turkey 14

Great Blue Heron 1

Red-tailed Hawk 2

Ring-billed Gull 15

Herring Gull 100

Great Black-backed Gull 11

Rock Pigeon 8

Mourning Dove 20

Downy Woodpecker 2

American Kestrel 2   
One consuming a vole on the power lines

Peregrine Falcon 1

Horned Lark 20

Black-capped Chickadee 1

Northern Mockingbird 2

European Starling 20

American Pipit 10  
 In two or three groups on and around the pond at the south end of the landfill. Good looks.

Cedar Waxwing 3

American Tree Sparrow 7

Dark-eyed Junco 2

White-throated Sparrow 2

Song Sparrow 8

Northern Cardinal 6

Red-winged Blackbird 25

American Goldfinch 2

House Sparrow 5
Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary
Saugus, Essex County, Massachusetts, US

December 24, 2017
9:00 AM - 12:39 PM

Protocol: Traveling

3.5 Mile(s)

34 Bird Species
Canada Goose 75

American Black Duck 50

White-winged Scoter 2

Bufflehead 30

Red-breasted Merganser 3

Wild Turkey 13

Common Loon 1

Northern Harrier 3
     Female seen flying over trash heaps; juvenile with orangey belly flying over marsh; silver male sitting on grassy mound

Red-tailed Hawk 4

Rough-legged Hawk 1

Ring-billed Gull 2

Herring Gull 300

Great Black-backed Gull 13

Rock Pigeon 22

Mourning Dove 25

Snowy Owl 1
     Seen far out in the marsh

Short-eared Owl 3
     Seen in different parts of the sanctuary, two seen together at one point. Good views of hunting behavior.

American Kestrel 1

Peregrine Falcon 2

Blue Jay 2

American Crow 4

Horned Lark 100

Northern Mockingbird 1

European Starling 200

American Pipit 2

American Tree Sparrow 8

Savannah Sparrow 1

Song Sparrow 2

Northern Cardinal 1

Eastern Meadowlark 3
     Distinctive flight style, white outer tail feathers, short tails. continuing birds

Red-winged Blackbird 1

House Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow
Cold Footed Friends
Savannah Sparrow
American Pipit eating an earthworm
American Tree Sparrows
Cold Turkey
Go Go Winter Sulphur
Eastern Meadowlarks
Snowy Owl
Northern Harrier
Short-eared Owl
Blue Jay
American Pipit
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Horned Larks
Black-capped Chickadee
Bald Eagle
Great Black-backed Gull
Northern Mockingbird
American Black Ducks
Lapland Longspur
Wonderful Friends
The Secret
The Bird of the Season this year, is a bit of a secret, at least for now.  We know… But this isn’t one of those kind of secrets. This is a very good one, we promise.  We can’t wait to share this secret with all of our friends.

On December 19, the maintenance crew stumbled across a new grassland species in the sanctuary, while performing some routine management duties.  Naturally, we contacted the right people to find out some more information on the species.

All of the folks we discussed the species with, basically advised us in the same way. “The species is a communal grassland species that is very sensitive to disturbances.  The sanctuary should consider delaying publicizing the species, at least until it can be determined if the species is migrating through, or is wintering at the site.”

There is some evidence that the species had been using an area of the sanctuary for some time, but we were not able to determine if it is staying or just passing-by.  As a precautionary measure, the sanctuary managers have closed off that section of the sanctuary, and we will review the area in late January to see if the species is yea or nay.

This is so exciting that all of our managers have been nervously wringing their hands all week.  But in truth, our mission is to be a migratory sanctuary, so win, lose or draw, we are happy to serve.
Runner-up this week goes to the gorgeous Rough-legged Hawk spotted by Susan and Mark on December 24. 

This is one of our favorite photographs. Ready to pounce, the lunging forward pose in this shot really shows off the tiny talons and fluffy warm leggings that the species is known for. 
 The Next Scheduled Nature Walks are:

New Year's Day Walk
Join us in our first annual New Year's Day Walk. Start the year off on the right foot by getting those pesky winter grassland birds on your list straight away.
Monday, January 1 at 9 a.m.
Sunday, January 7 at 9 a.m.

NOTE: The Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary is open to the public for guided tours only. If you would like to visit the sanctuary, please attend one of our regularly scheduled nature walks, or contact us to arrange a private tour. Thank you.

Special thanks go out to so, so many, including Soheil, Alan, Norm, Ted, Jarett, Ted, Cammy & son, Kevin, Patricia, Craig, Paul, Susan, Mark, Sebastian, Kaija, Pat, Joe, Brian, Nancy, Janet, Paul, Nancy, Kathy, David, Susannah, MK, Michael, Andrew, Marshall, Jeremiah, Paul, Bob, Nancy, and everyone else who contributed pictures and support this week. Without your help, this publication could not be produced.

Additional pictures from this week:
The modern world at our doorstep
Snowy Owl
Adult Male Northern Harrier
(Grey Ghost)
3 Lapland Longspurs
Northern Harrier harassing a Short-eared Owl
Horned Larks
A Fresh Short-eared Owl Pellet
Wild Turkeys
Eastern Meadowlarks
American Kestrel
Yellow-breasted Chat

The Wheelabrator Saugus Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary is a 370-acre property abutting a 2,274-acre estuary on the outskirts of Boston, located in the heart of the Rumney Marshes ACEC. Maintained and managed grasslands, salt marshes, shrublands and maturing woodlands combine as one of the largest bird migration staging areas on the North Shore and a habitat for nearly 200 bird species, as well as other wildlife such as coyotes, foxes, raccoons and snakes. Visitors can enjoy the more than 14,000 feet of walking trails that permeate the site, a half-acre exhibit garden, and meeting and lecture areas, which are scattered throughout nine of the restored ecosystems. Situated directly behind Wheelabrator Saugus, the Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary is maintained and managed by Geoff Wilson of Northeast Wetland Restoration. Follow along with us as the birds change with each passing season! 
Issue 2017-01 The Short-eared Owl
Issue 2017-02 The American Kestrel
Issue 2017-03 The Peregrine Falcon
Issue 2017-04 The Smith's Longspur
Issue 2017-05 The Smith's Longspur Cont.
Issue 2017-06 The Smith's Longspur Cont.
Issue 2017-07 The Horned Lark
Issue 2017-08 The Savannah Sparrow
Issue 2017-09 The Upland Sandpiper
Issue 2017-10 The Killdeer
Issue 2017-11 The Annual Breeding Bird Survey Part I
Issue 2017-12 The Annual Breeding Bird Survey Part II
Issue 2017-13 Salt Marshes / Sea Level Rise
Issue 2017-14 The Common Green Darner
Issue 2017-15 Birds of Prey
Issue 2017-16 The Shrublands
Issue 2017-17 The Painted Lady
Issue 2017-18 The Common Buckeye
Issue 2017-19 The Turnover
Issue 2017-20 Shoulder to the Wind
Issue 2017-21 Introduction to the Grasslands