Trip Report, Rockland Audubon Society


Trip: Annual Winter Overnight Trip


Leader:  Jim Previdi


Participants: Elyse Fuller, Tom Fuller, Veronika Krause, Julia Warger, Carol Weiss, Alan Wells, Della Wells


Weather: Cold, but then again, it is a winter trip!



January 22, 2010

All except Tom and Elyse, who were already in Connecticut, left Rockland at a leisurely 8:30 AM. After a quick stop for lunch, we all met at Parker River NWR, Newburyport, MA at 2 PM that afternoon.  Having heard an RBA report about a Snowy Owl near the North Pool, we drove south along Sunset Drive. As we arrived at the Hellcat Observation area we discovered that the road beyond was gated due to the deep snow. A local birder informed us that a Snowy Owl could be seen by going back to the “Warden’s” and looking across the river to the osprey platform. Sure enough, through the scope there was a miniscule white dot that looked vaguely like a fluffy wind-blown poodle.  While there, “Pat” (a local birder) suggested that we visit Salisbury Beach State Park to look for the reported Sage Thrasher.  Having our fill of the owl, we backtracked to Parking lot 3 where we hiked to the beach.  All had good looks at Horned Larks and several members witnessed a Black Scoter fly-by. On the way back, Tom lost a glove over the railing, but it was eventually rescued. Overall, it was a rather unproductive afternoon so we decided to head for our accommodations in Seabrook, NH. The Best Western Seabrook Inn was clean and reasonably priced. That evening we walked across the street to Master McGrath’s for dinner. The restaurant got mixed reviews. The lobster chowder was excellent but the rest of the fare seemed to rate a C+. The décor was rather eclectic with a hint of early bordello.  I guess that is what you get when a restaurant is named after a racing greyhound.


January 23, 2010

The next morning started with a hardy 7:30 AM Continental Breakfast at the motel. The morning was bright, clear, and relatively warm as we set off for Salisbury Beach State Reserve search for the Sage Thrasher.  No luck, but we did manage to spot a few more Horned Lark. Our first stop was at the boat ramp parking area to scan the bay. There, we noted large numbers of Herring Gull and assorted waterfowl.  While wandering away from the group, Alan spotted a lone 1st cycle Iceland Gull (Kumlein’s Gull) near shore. The bird was very cooperative, staying close-by for about 15 minutes. It turned out to be a life bird for several members of the group.  The stop also provided a variety of waterfowl including White-winged Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Eider, Common Loon, and Red-throated Loon. In the campground we added Ipswich Sparrows to our list. Overall, a productive area worthy of a stop during future visits.

In late morning, we headed back to Parker River NWR in hopes of getting better looks at the Snowy Owl. While crossing the bridge near the refuge, Della noted someone beside the road watching a falcon on top of a pole. Several of our group got a quick look before it flew off. Best guess was an American Kestrel. However, a posting on the RBA that evening indicated that it was a young Peregrine Falcon. After another look at the distant white dot at “Warden’s”, we decided to head on. We stopped by the Plum Island Grill for lunch, but it was closed so we ate lunch at “Bob Lobster”, a small seafood takeout shop.  A bit crowded, but the food was good. Next, a couple of quick tourist stops at the Parker River Visitor Center and Massachusetts Audubon Center at Joppa Flats and we were off to Cape Ann.

Once in Cape Ann, our first stop was the town jetty. Here we had great looks at two pairs of Harlequin Duck. The males were absolutely dazzling in the sunshine.  A passel of Great Cormorant rounded out the show. Then, on to Halibut Point State Park where disaster struck. While walking downhill to the coast, Alan stepped on a “black ice” coated rock. He went down (he wasn’t the only one to slip on this particularly treacherous spot), damaging his camera and lens. Most of the group finally made it to the shoreline where they were treated to about two dozen Harlequin Duck.

With the approaching darkness, we gave up for the day and headed for the Cape Ann Motor Inn.  Quite scenic overlooking the bay and famous Twin Lights!

That night we drove into town for dinner at Passports. Tom had noted the extensive beer and wine list. Excellent choice, this time an A+ rating! Tom managed to sample four Life Beers.


January 24, 2010

Despite the agreement to sleep in this morning (until 8:30 AM), some decided to stroll the beach before breakfast. We picked up our first Sanderlings of the trip, but not much else.  The stroll did help to work up an appetite and the Continental Breakfast just wasn’t going to do the trick. After checking out, we headed for Gloucester in search of a REAL breakfast. After considerable searching, we found a small place down by the docks, the Fort Sq. Cafe.  The placed was packed with locals and the décor was complete with a framed photograph of the Andrea Gail.  A satisfying breakfast was had by all and we’re positive that Jim enjoyed this Portuguese Breakfast throughout the day.

Next stop was Bass Rocks, Rockport, MA. We had heard reports of several good sightings in the vicinity of the Elks Club on Atlantic Road. This proved to be a worthwhile stop.  From the bluff we added Black Guillemot, King Eider, and Barrows Goldeneye. At our feet, 6-8 Lapland Longspur picked through the grass. Further up the coast we stopped at Niles Pond and the Mass Audubon tract at the eastern point of Cape Ann. (We learned to disregard the Private Road Signs). Plenty of gulls here; most were Herring Gulls but there were also a number of Iceland (Kumlein’s) Gulls.  We all enjoyed watching the male Red-breasted Merganser’s neck-stretch displays while they pursuing the females. A small group of Snow Bunting was discovered near the base of the Eastern Point Light.

Around noon, we stopped for lunch at “Charlie’s Place”. Lobster bisque, clam chowder, and cod cheeks were menu favorites. We next headed to the Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial (“Man at the Wheel”) for our official trip portrait. While there, all got good looks at White-winged Scoter and Horned Grebe. At about 3 PM, we decided to hit the road before the brewing rainstorm was forecast to hit. We ran into some of it on the way home, but otherwise an uneventful drive back.


Total Trip: 53 Species

Common Name


Canada Goose

Mute Swan

2 at Niles Pond


Several at Eastern Point of Cape Ann

American Black Duck




Ring-necked Duck


King Eider

1 at Bass Rocks

Common Eider


Harlequin Duck

Most at Halibut Point SP

Surf Scoter

White-winged Scoter

Most common of the scoters

Black Scoter

Fly-by at Parker River

Long-tailed Duck



Common Goldeneye


Barrow's Goldeneye

1 seen at Bass Rocks

Hooded Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser


Red-throated Loon

Common Loon

Horned Grebe

Great Cormorant

Several groups in the Gloucester area

Northern Harrier

Seen at Parker River

Accipiter sp.

Seen by Julia at Halibut Pt as she returned to the car

Red-tailed Hawk

Peregrine Falcon

Initially called American Kestrel, correct ID on RBA


Long Beach, in front of Cape Ann Motor Inn

Purple Sandpiper

Several along Bass Rocks and 30+ at Eastern Point

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull


Iceland Gull

1 at Salisbury Beach SR, several at Niles Pond/E Cape Ann

Great Black-backed Gull


Black Guillemot

Several at Bass Rocks

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Snowy Owl

1 distant view at Parker River

Blue Jay

American Crow

Horned Lark

Parker River and Salisbury Beach

Black-capped Chickadee

Halibut Point

Carolina Wren

Heard at Halibut Point

American Robin

Northern Mockingbird

European Starling

American Tree Sparrow

Savannah (Ipswich) Sparrow

Several at Salisbury Beach

Song Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Lapland Longspur

Several at Bass Rocks

Snow Bunting

At East Point of Cape Ann

Northern Cardinal

House Sparrow


Iceland GullFigure 1. First cycle Iceland (Kumlein’s) Gull at Salisbury Beach State Reserve, MA on 1/24/2009. Photo by Alan Wells.  
Iceland (Kumlein's) GullFigure 2. First cycle Iceland (Kumlein’s) Gull diving at Salisbury Beach State Reserve, MA on 1/24/2009. Photo by Alan Wells.  
Lapland LongspurFigure 3. Adult male, non-breeding, Lapland Longspur from Bass Rocks, MA on 1/25/2009. Photo by Alan Wells.  
Iceland (Kumlien's) GullFigure 4. First cycle Iceland (Kumlein’s) Gull at Eastern Point of Cape Ann, MA on 1/25/2009. Photo by Alan Wells.  
SanderlingFigure 5. Sanderlings at Long Beach, Cape Ann Motor Inn, MA on 1/25/2009. Photo by Alan Wells.  
Red-breasted MerganserFigure 6. Four male Red-breasted Mergansers trying to attract the attention of a lone female at the Eastern Point of Cape Ann on 1/25/2009. Photo by Alan Wells.  
Halibut Pt State Park, QuarryFigure 7. Quarry rocks at Halibut Point State Park, MA.  Photo by Jim Previdi.  
RAS at Gloucester, MAFigure 8.  Official Cape Ann portrait – Elyse, Jim, Julia, Carol, Della, Tom, and Veronika, on 1/25/2009. Photo by Alan Wells.