Monday, October 12, 2009

Supurb Summer for Birding- Part 2- Wild Dove Chase


Another Friday, another Friday Morning Birders trip. This time, we set off to chase down a rarity- a White-winged Dove being seen in Manomet, Plymouth. It was the 7th record in Massachusetts.

The drive was probably 30-40 minutes, and when we arrived there were two birders already leaving, having seen the bird earlier. Ian Davis, the birder who had found the dove at his feeders, was outside. He reported that it had been seen recently, but flew across the adjacent pond and hadn't been seen since. We waited in the road and scanned the other side of the pond, hoping that it would fly back. It didn't. Our leaders, David and John, exchanged cell phone numbers with Ian, and we left for Manomet Point, hoping that the phone would ring to inform us of the dove's whereabouts.

The point was decent, but not great. We found turnstones, red-breasted mergansers, some eiders, and some not-bonaparte's gulls (we tried to make a few laughing gulls into bonaparte's, but they weren't.) On the way there and back, we drove slowly through the neighborhood across from Ian's house where the dove had flown to. On the way back, we searched extensively.

Below- The View From Manomet Point

Our group was in three vans. We could communicate with radios that we had in each. At one point, the first car, with David driving, stopped. After a minute, we began wondering what they were looking at. But we were sure that if the WWDO was actually in view, they would radio us. Then a bird flew off the wire and into a wooded area behind someones house. It had white wing patches.

The first van pulled up, and David jumped out. "Do you see it?" "That was it!" "Why didn't you back up?" "Is your radio on?" "We were trying to radio you to tell you to back up so the car doors opening wouldn't scare it." Turns out our radios were fine. His was broken. We had gotten a look at it, but not a very good one.

For some reason, the owner of the house that we were parked in front of was watching this whole thing. It was also his yard that the bird had flown into. David hurried over, and explained the situation. The guy probably thought we were crazy (we probably were), but he let the 15 or so complete strangers into his yard to see the bird. Thank you to that guy.

So we were staring into a tangle of vines and dense brush and trees. A redstart was distracting, but only for a millisecond. Then we got back to work. I was the first to spot it, a distinctive dove with a bright blue eye-ring and white on the side of its wing. We all admired it for 15 or 20 minutes, through a scope and with binoculars. The trees were so close together that there were only 2 spots were you could get a good look at it, but good look we got. Great bird. After stopping by to tell Ian of our success, we headed back, but not before stopping to get solitary sandpiper and rock pigeon, the 3rd dove of the day, at Damon's Point on the north river.

Above- The thicket where the Dove was found.

The dove was a great bird, and the story is good too. It was the first time the Friday Morning Birders saw the bird it the 21 year history of the group/walk/trip. It even had to be written onto the Field Card we used for our checklist. Somewhat ironically, this was the one FMB trip where I did not see a life bird. I had seen the dove before in florida. But this was a much better, longer, and more definite view, and it was in MA, so it was rare. Definitely one of the better FMB trips.

Eamon Corbett

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