Post Content

Marion Larson

Marion Larson

Outreach Coordinator, MassWildlife

View Marion’s Bio
Pat Huckery spotting eagles

During the winter, seabird flocks – some of which spend the rest of the year as far north as the Arctic – cruise all along the Massachusetts coast. It’s a phenomenon known among the birding community nationwide.

My husband and I make an annual winter trek up to Cape Ann to see colorful Harlequin Ducks, striking black-and-white patterns of Eiders, Golden-eyes, Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks (aka Oldsquaws), aerobatic Gannets, and diving Dovekies, Guillemots and even Bald Eagles! Click here for images and information on these birds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds website.

If you, your family or friends want to give winter birding a try, check out two events happening on the North Shore in February. These events are a great opportunity for bird lovers of all skill levels to join expert guides who will help you identify birds.

The Mass Audubon Society and the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce is hosting the Cape Ann Birding Weekend on February 5-7. The event includes tour of the area’s birding hot spots, including a sea trip on the 7 Seas Whale Watch boat the Privateer IV! MassWildlife will provide checklists of birds and other wildlife related materials. Last year, 65 different species of birds were observed with 26 bird types spotted right from the window of the Elks Lodge! Click here for more information about this Cape Ann birding event. 

The Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and MassAudubon are sponsoring the Merrimack River Eagle Festival on February 16. While the focus of the event is on eagles, you will see many other kinds of seabirds in the designated eagle spotting areas around the Merrimack River and Plum Island. The event includes family activities and a live eagle presentation! You can also visit with MassWildlife biologist Pat Huckery (pictured above looking through a spotting scope in a photo I took at the 2006 Eagle Festival) who will be near the Chain Bridge that day. Click here for more information on the Merrimack River Eagle Festival.

Marion at Halibut Point

P.S. Bring binoculars or spotting scopes if you have them. Be prepared for cold temperatures and coastal wind! Winter birding and wildlife watching is a great activity but if you are cold, it’s not fun. Dress in layers of fleece or wool and wear warm and sturdy boots. Make your final outside layer something that provides wind protection such as rain or wind pants and jacket. Don’t forget a scarf, neck or face mask! You may be totally unrecognizable, but you’ll be warm and comfortable while you search the winds and waves for birds and seals.

The photo above is of me – unrecognizable but warmly dressed – and Scott Handler at Halibut Point State Park in Rockport in December 2009.

Written By:

Recent Posts

The Turtles are Coming posted on Aug 29

The Turtles are Coming

With a migration pattern that stretches thousands of miles, it is no surprise that Massachusetts is home to four types of turtles during the summer, all of them protected by local and international law. And while you probably know that sea turtles often frequent the Massachusetts beaches, can you identify them?

2014 DAR Agricultural Calendar: August posted on Aug 25

2014 DAR Agricultural Calendar: August

Augusts’ Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar Photo Contest winner was Cara Peterson, who photographed a high tunnel greenhouse at Flats Mentor Farm in Lancaster.

Not From Around Here: Green Crabs posted on Aug 22

Not From Around Here: Green Crabs

As part of its work to assess salt marsh health, staff from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) have frequently observed abundant green crabs, often burrowing in the banks of marsh creeks. This summer, CZM is examining the potential impacts of green crabs in salt marsh habitats, including the impact of burrowing activity.