Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bohemian Waxwings!

First, let me apologize in advance for foisting upon my readers the world’s worst photographs of Bohemian Waxwings. I took the photographs in very early morning non-light at Plymouth State University in Plymouth N.H. on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, the HMANA board meeting required that I spend the day at that, so my only chance to see this life bird was before the sun was high enough to allow a good photo. But, as this will likely be the only time I ever see or photograph bohemian waxwings, for my purposes a bad photo is still cause for celebration.

And what a way to see a life bird! This wasn’t a single bo’wing or even a small group of them. The flock has been counted at around 300 individuals. So my first view of this irruptive migrants was in a huge flock that’s virtually impossible to miss. As of Saturday, the birds were spending a lot of time in an area around the arts center, where there are a lot of bushes and small trees with red berries.

Seeing a flock like this, it’s hard to keep in mind that what is a birding bonanza is actually a bad thing for the birds themselves. In a normal year, bohemian waxwings stay up north, happily chomping away on local food. When they come south, it means there’s not enough food up north to sustain them. So they are forced to migrate, with all the inherent dangers associated with that. And then in the spring they will head north again, braving those dangers a second time. I have to wonder if breeding success the season after these irruptions is poorer than it is in years when the birds can overwinter in their home turf. I try not to let the excitement of seeing a new bird for the first time override my sense of what that means for the birds themselves. But that is really hard when you’re surrounded by 300 of them.

So, now I’m back at Roundtop safe and sound. I’ll post more on my trip to New Hampshire tomorrow and possibly on Thursday before getting back to the news at Roundtop again.


Cicero Sings said...

We had Bohemians here ... I took similar photos just the other day (my camera!). A huge flock as well, stripping all of the crab apple trees (with small frozen crabs on) in town to the bare bone. They were out where we live a few days earlier eating all of the rosehips. Handsome but VERY hungry birds! The lady in the kitchen shop says they come every year to strip the tree out her shop window. She thought they were about a week early this year.

Carolyn H said...

Cicero: Wow! You get to see the bo'wings every year. That's very exciting.

Carolyn H.

Cathy said...

Oh good you made it home safe. I was thinking of you while watching the snow fall.

Had 3-4 inches of the white stuff on Sunday and woke up to a little ice on Monday. Then for this morning,another 2 inches fell.( so much for the forecast of just snow flurries) As for the wind up here, it awful with with it roaring through and yet, didn't lose power this time.

Look forward to reading more of her trip. You pictures aren't that bad either.

Kat said...

I love Bohemians, but don't get them near our home. I saw my first flock and a roadside rest and I was so excited but couldn't manage to get my camera out fast enough before they took off. They aren't easy to catch and are usually around when you least expect them. Thanks for sharing these photos. It's always nice to see them.

Jennifer http://winterwoman.wordpress.com said...

gosh. i get so excited when i see cedar waxwings. i'd probably go crazy over the bohemians.

Carolyn H said...

Cathy: we had snow on the drive south pretty much the entire way--not bad. We left early as NH ended up with over a foot of snow Sunday night.

Kat and Jennifer: I was pretty excited about the bo'wings too and that at least contributed to the poor photographs! Great birds!

PA-Birder said...

300 Bohemian Waxwings!!!! I'd settle for one, down here in south central PA. Congrats on the life bird. My next one will be my first one.

carolyn h2 said...

This morning there was a Pennsylvania report of a Bohemian Waxwing in a large
flock of Cedar Waxwings in Clarion County near Shippenville, at SGL 63. The flock is moving back forth in the food plot areas situated between Buckhorn and Roberts Hill Road.

Sorry - PA-birder - Clarion isn't exactly south or central, but it is in PA and "chaseable" if you're into that sort of thing.

PS - I'm often mistaken for Carolyn H., thus my nickname for this post!