Common Goldeneyes: Merrimack River

November 30, 2017 in Nearby Waterbirds

_W7I0306-001The Common Goldeneyes are back and being seen in larger numbers along the Merrimack River in North Andover and Lawrence.  The Common Goldeneye is a medium-sized sea-duck.  During winter months, they migrate to coastal and inland waterways.  They dive for their food and typically feast on small fish and aquatic plants.  They may fall prey to eagles, hawks, and owls.

This pair was part of a much larger contingent seen in flight west bound just above the surface of the Merrimack River.

Great Blue Herons nest building

April 3, 2017 in Nearby Waterbirds

_W7I0289-001Great Blue Herons begin returning to former breeding colonies to breed in February and March. Nest building begins in March or April. Three to five pale, greenish-blue eggs are incubated for 25-29 days by both sexes. Young first fly at around 60 days of age and leave the nest at 65-90 days, at which time they are similar in size to adults. Great Blue Herons have one brood (clutch) per year, however, they may renest if their first clutch fails early in the season.

Great Blue Herons: nest building in Methuen

March 23, 2017 in Nearby Waterbirds

_W7I7304-001Great Blue Herons nest in colonies, often called rookeries or heronries. Heronries are usually in isolated spots away from potential disturbance and near suitable feeding areas.  Herons that are frequently exposed to human disturbance may be more tolerant. Herons nest in deciduous or evergreen trees, usually near the top on vertical branches. Nests are usually constructed in the tallest trees available, on islands, or in trees with water around the base, presumably to reduce the risk of predation by mammals.  Nests are constructed from branches and twigs gathered from the ground, trees, and old nests. Nests are typically 25-40 inches in diameter and 12 or more inches thick. Heronries, like the one near Nevins Farm MSPCA, may be used for decades; however, herons will relocate their colonies in response to increased predation on eggs and young, declines in food availability, human disturbance, and/or death of trees supporting the nests.

Common Merganser on the Merrimack River

January 5, 2017 in Nearby Waterbirds

_W7I6488-001The Merrimack River continues to host an ever-changing raft of wintering ducks.  One of the more striking ducks is the Common Merganser.  This large fish eating duck is seen in small flocks along the river.  It uses its serrated bill to catch fish underwater!

Common Goldeneyes in flight

December 6, 2016 in Nearby Waterbirds

_w7i1606-001The wintering ducks are being seen in larger numbers on the Merrimack River in Lawrence and North Andover.  Among the ducks are Hooded Mergansers, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Common Goldeneyes.  Always a treat to watch and photograph the Common Goldeneyes in flight!

Great Blue Herons: Merrimack River

September 22, 2016 in Nearby Waterbirds

_w7i4655-001A large number of Great Blue Herons are now being seen along the shorelines of the Merrimack River in Lawrence and North Andover.  They have been very active foraging in shallow pools and at the edge of the river shoreline.  These large majestic birds are a joy to watch, especially when they launch into flight just above the water!  This Great Blue was seen this morning in flight, from the landing at North Main St. in North Andover, heading east to join two other Herons.

Greater Yellowlegs – North Andover

September 15, 2016 in Nearby Waterbirds

_w7i4329-001The Merrimack River has been at record low water levels these past few weeks.  Along the shoreline a number of shorebirds have been seen over the past few weeks.  This morning a pair of Greater Yellowlegs were foraging among the rocky shoreline near North Main St. in North Andover!

Wood Duck!

April 16, 2016 in Nearby Waterbirds

CF2C7474-001Wood Ducks are being seen in many lakes and ponds in Essex County.  The beautiful male Wood Ducks are considered by many to be the most striking and colorful of all North American ducks.  Their brightly colored plumage and stunning red eyes make for a memorable sight!  Unlike most other ducks, the Wood ducks are known for raising two broods per season!  This Wood Duck was recently seen at the Ward Reservation in Andover.

Great Blue Heron in flight

April 16, 2016 in Nearby Waterbirds

CF2C7168-001The Great Blue Herons are back and very busy in nest building mode in colonies around Essex County.  These herons nest and roost in colonies located in swamps and marshes. The majestic, deliberate flight of the Great Blue Heron is a wonderful sight to behold!

Great Blue Herons: return to Carter Fields!

March 22, 2016 in Nearby Waterbirds

CF2C4203-001The Great Blue Heron, is a slender and elegant water bird with a lavender hue and a long pointed beak, and makes its nest in the tops of dead trees in wetlands.

Recently, there have between 40 and 50 active great blue heron nests in a rookery at Carter Fields, an 85-acre parcel of land with a huge beaver pond in North Andover at the Boxford line.  This year, it looks like we’ll have maybe active 10 nests. The land is owned by the Essex County Greenbelt Association, a nonprofit organization that owns thousands of acres in Essex County for the purpose of preserving natural habitats, the county’s agricultural heritage and scenic landscapes.

Herons typically do not migrate far. Adults will return to their previous nests, fix them up and reuse them to raise a new brood. The females lay between three and seven eggs in late March or early April, and the chicks hatch by May.