Recently Beth and I decided to meet for a day of birding. The plan was to meet at a Park & Ride just off the highway so we could continue in one car to Newmarket NH. I had done some research into sightings in the area of a nesting pair of Mississippi Kites. This would be a life list sighting for both of us, plus reports said there was one chick in the nest as well. It is rare for Mississippi Kites to nest as far North as New Hampshire so it sure was worth the attempt to find the nest site.
The NH Rare Bird reports and EBird both listed a street address where the nesting Kites had been seen. There was not an exact location given just the street, so we weren't exactly certain where to go. Beth mapped out our route to get us to the area and we headed out optimistic we could find the Kites. Our hopes were soon dashed. We arrived at the street location to find it was a short loop in a residential neighborhood. We drove the loop more than once looking for any signs of a large nest in the trees. We looked for any possible place to pull over that didn't look like private property so we could get out and look around. We did see a small well-worn path that went into the woods between two houses. But there was no place to pull over or park, it just didn't seem right to get out and walk thru someone's yard so we left the area disappointed. No Kites.
We decided to head to Great Bay Discovery Center in Greenland, which was an area also listed as having sightings of the Mississippi Kite flying over the marshes of the bay. The Discovery Center is just across the bay from Newmarket so it was plausible that the nesting pair would be hunting in that area. So off we went in search of the flying Kites.
Before we got there we made a quick stop at Chapmans Landing to scan the estuary. We saw some beautiful brilliant white Great Egrets. While watching them skulking thru the tall marsh grasses for something good to eat we noticed in the sky a large bird flying. It had dark wings and a light body could it be could it be the flying Kite!
The flying bird was too far away to see well enough with our binoculars so Beth rushes to set up her spotting scope. Unfortunately, Beth was a bit rusty in her set up skills, she nearly dropped the scope while trying to connect it to the tripod. Then a knob fell off the tripod and some other small piece falls to the ground. But she did it and quickly zoomed in on the bird. BUT it was only an Osprey, bummer no flying Kite.
We headed on to Greenland still hoping to find those Kites. We arrived and headed out on the trails of the Discovery Center into the Great Bay estuary scanning the sky for a flying Kite. It was a beautiful day for birding along the bay, sunny with a brisk breeze to cool you off. We saw the usual residents of the area, Grey Cat Bird, Flycatchers and assorted Gulls. Then we spotted a large bird soaring above the bay, here we go again, dark wings and a light body, large wing span coming right towards us! We both zero in on the flying bird with our binoculars and soon agree, it's an Osprey. No flying Kite!
No, we never did see the Mississippi Kite, but it was still an enjoyable day birding along the trails in the bay. Since our search for the Kite ended sooner than we expected we decided to head back to my house for an afternoon of local birding. I took Beth to a Great Blue Heron rookery that was in my neighborhood. The rookery isn't as active as it once was before residential building disturbed the area. But there were still two nests in the standing dead trees out in the marsh. But it wasn't the Herons that got our attention.
To the surprise and amazement of both of us, it was the Tree Swallows that left us both with our jaws dropped in awe of what was above our heads. A line of high power electric lines run past the marsh and there sitting on the lines were hundreds of Tree Swallows. Yes, I mean hundreds! It was amazing, we counted 250 Tree Swallows sitting side by side on the lines and there were more flying around the rookery, too many for us to count.
It was a perfect ending to a day of birding. No, we didn't get to see the flying Kites but seeing hundreds of Swallows flying above our heads made up for it. Both of us agreed that a day spent birding was better than a day at work no matter what you saw. And you never know, I just might still have a chance to catch sight of a Mississippi Kite flying in the wind over the bay. If any one out there sees one let me know!