Springtime on the New Hampshire Seacoast

The odyssey begins in March, on my way to the Seacoast. The last time a Trumpeter Swan was seen in New Hampshire was way back in the 1700s, before most of them were all but exterminated from North America, which occurred between the 1600 and 1800s. They were hunted for meat, skins that were used in powder puffs and for their white feathers used in quill pens. According to Wikipedia, The Hudson’s Bay Company killed 17,671 swans between 1853 and 1877 alone. By 1900, the remainder of them had all flown west, never to return. Until now. This is the big news at the Audubon this spring and amongst birders in New Hampshire. A Trumpeter Swan is being seen for the first time at the Abe Emerson Marsh in Candia. This is wonderful news. I must get out to see it, before it flies away. It takes me at least an hour to find the marsh and to bushwhack into where the swan is floating amongst the reeds.

I am so elated to finally catch a glimpse of this beautiful creature. This bird feeds only on aquatic plants. It is a vegetarian!
The total number that was left was around 70 swans. Thanks to careful reintroduction efforts, there are now approximately 63,000 Trumpeter Swans in North America.
They have slowly made their way east from the midwest and more recently, from New York’s finger lakes. This swan may be a result of the restored Ontario population. It could be a male, but I am thinking it might be a female because I saw it sitting on a beaver lodge on the marsh. Maybe it has returned in order to educate us about how it used to be here in abundance. I am hoping that a miracle will happen and a mate for this bird will fly into the marsh out of the wild blue yonder…
While I am there, I see my first Palm Warbler. A nice lady pointed it out to me while walking back to my car.

I finally arrive at Odiorne State Park, where I spy between twenty and thirty Cedar Waxwings perched in an apple tree. They are feeding apple blossoms to one another in some type of mating behavior. The birds are so camouflaged that it is difficult to find them. I see a flutter here, a flutter there, and then I sit and watch them for a while.

The camouflage. There is a Blue Jay in here as well, pretending to be a Cedar Waxwing.
Apparently, they eat the entire flower.
Feeding one another is so romantic!

I then decide to walk around the point on the ocean side. Another type of wildlife appears… the resident Groundhog!

Looks like a happy fellow.
Swainsons Thrush.
A Brown Headed Cowbird enjoying the sun.

Back near the Settler’s Monument, I see (for the first time) some interesting shore birds that I must go home and identify in my Sibley’s Guide. I am learning so much about birds and nature and it makes me so happy that I want to share it with everyone.

Semi Palmated Plovers flying into shore.
Semi Palmated means they have only partially webbed toes.
The SP Plovers are hanging out with these guys, the Semi Palmated Sandpipers. Sort of like, the SP Club, I guess.
After that, I see 4 Spotted Sandpipers on a rock, separate from the SP crowd.
This guy, a Double Crested Cormorant, is hanging his wings out to dry. This bird does not have oil on its feathers the way ducks do. As far as I know, it is the only species, other than the Anhinga, that does this.

Next stop is the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which is a great place to bring strollers and the elderly, because it has a boardwalk and isn’t too long of a jaunt.

I am now able to identify about 7 species of Warbler, and I am very proud of this!

Pine Warbler.
Blackburnian Warbler.
I believe this is a female Hairy Woodpecker w/ ants in her mouth. Yuck!
Iris flower in the refuge garden.

A few days later, I meet up with a group of friends from the New Hampshire Audubon, a few of whom are serious birders. These experienced naturalists and scientists are helping me to learn, and I am so grateful to them. We meet one morning at Odiorne State Park, a hot spot in every season. One of the first birds we see is this Eastern Kingbird looking out towards the ocean.

Another ubiguitous species is the Gray Catbird. Meoooww! is just one of the Catbird’s calls.
Vegetation at Odiorne. If anyone can tell me the name of this plant, please do so. 🙂
This is a Traill’s Flycatcher, similar to other flycatchers.
I believe this is a Yellow Bellied Flycatcher, catching a fly.
We all stop to admire this plant, although the group of birders have no idea what it is!

Our group spots many other birds, including Red Eyed Vireo, Yellow Warbler and Magnolia Warbler, in addition to the usual suspects like the Mockingbird. On our way back to our cars, we notice how they have cleared out large sections of underbrush from the forest and we talk about how the county is working on bringing native species of plants and trees back to the park. This project includes removing invasive species such as certain vines and iris and replanting native species like scrub pine and lily of the valley.

Lily of the Valley.
Barn Swallows have the longest tail of all the swallows.
Canadian Geese are doting parents. They teach their children well.

Unfortunately, my spring wanderings have come to an end. Thank you for joining me on my journey to find spring birds in New Hampshire. I hope you enjoyed my writing and photos!

3 thoughts on “Springtime on the New Hampshire Seacoast

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