Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Clay colored Sparrow, more Connecticut Warblers and a Dickcissel today and a Yellow breasted Chat at UMASS yesterday

Clay colored Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 22, 2016
Clay colored Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 22, 2016
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 22, 2016
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 22, 2016
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 22, 2016
Lincoln's Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 22, 2016
Lincoln's Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 22, 2016
Swamp Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 22, 2016
Indigo Bunting, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 22, 2016
Song Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 22, 2016
Today I decided to head back over to Arcadia to try to turn up some more unusual birds and I managed to find two Connecticut Warblers (easily my best fall for this species ever), a Dickcissel and a decent influx of sparrows (7 species) including an amazing 17 Lincoln's Sparrows.  I also stopped at the Honey Pot on my way home and added a couple more species of sparrows including a Clay colored Sparrow, which became species #225 for the county this year.  Full lists with loads more photos at the following links:

Arcadia:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31703955

Honey Pot:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31703956

Yellow Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 21, 2016
Common Yellowthroat, UMASS, Amherst, MA, Sep 21, 2016
Yesterday I spent a few hours at UMASS with the highlight being a Yellow breasted Chat that popped into view briefly not long after I was joined by Keenan and Isabel. Eventually the bird popped back up again briefly but none of us were quick enough to get a photo. The chat became my 32nd warbler species that I have seen at UMASS...a real hotspot for warblers to be sure. I added a Mourning Warbler a little later in the morning in the fields near Sylvan. Other notables included three species of wrens including a Winter Wren.  A brief stop at Arcadia on my way to an appointment produced a couple of Yellow Warblers but no other unusual species.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A fruitless look for shorebirds after the rain and a Least Bittern yesterday

Killdeer, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 19, 2016
Savannah Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 19, 2016
Yellow Warbler, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 19, 2016
Yellow Warbler, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 19, 2016
Barn Swallow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 19, 2016
Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons, North Lane, Hadley, MA, Sep 19, 2016
Common Mergansers, North Lane, Hadley, MA, Sep 19, 2016
Although the weather set up last night with rain arriving overnight after sunset and continuing into the morning held hope for various migrants being forced down (mainly shorebirds but anything would be possible) a check of a few great looking fields this morning turned up nothing but Killdeer.  Surprising and disappointing but that is how it goes sometimes.  I guess you never know if anything will be out there until you look and sometimes you don't find much.  I didn't spend as much time out looking around as the rain made any lengthy walk unpleasant and just sitting in the car is too tough on the back.  Although I had no luck with shorebirds I did have a few notable sightings including a flock of 114 Common Mergansers and four Great Egrets on the CT river, 4 Barn Swallows, 3 Yellow Warblers, a flyby Dickcissel, 180+ American Goldfinches and a Rusty Blackbird at the Honey Pot.
Blue winged Teal, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Sep 18, 2016
Blue winged Teal, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Sep 18, 2016
Blue winged Teal, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Sep 18, 2016
Green winged Teal, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Sep 18, 2016
Wood Ducks, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Sep 18, 2016

Yesterday I made it out for a little while around the local area with a stop by Lake Wallace dodging the numerous rain showers.  I got there a little before six and one of the first birds I heard was a Least Bittern calling from the reeds!  A truly tough bird to find around here and only the second one I have ever had in the county (the other was a Covey WMA almost ten years ago).  The bittern called just three times and my attempts to coax it in did not work and I had no luck finding it scanning the edge of the reeds.  I was not quick enough to get any recordings of it but it was giving its distinctive 'chucking' call.  The Least Bittern became species #224 for Hampshire County this year.  Besides the bittern the notable species around the lake included 66 Wood Ducks, a half dozen Blue winged Teal (a very high count for the county), 7 Green winged Teal and four Green Herons.  I also got a text from Steve M. that he relocated the American White Pelican roosting on the Longmeadow sandbar.  It flew off to locations unknown but hopefully it will work its way back north again.  As the rain continued and my back started hurting without enough walking, I headed for home.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Rarities continue including Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Dickcissels, Connecticut Warblers, etc...a five wren day too!

Sedge Wren, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 17, 2016
Sedge Wren, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 17, 2016
Sedge Wren (photo taken with iPhone handheld..that is how close the bird was!) , Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 17, 2016
Dickcissel, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 17, 2016
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 17, 2016
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 17, 2016
Palm Warbler ('yellow'), Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 17, 2016
Common Yellowthroat, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 17, 2016
Yellow Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 17, 2016
Prairie Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 17, 2016
Brown Thrasher, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 17, 2016
House Wren, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 17, 2016
Dawn at Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 17, 2016
Although I didn't get any new rarities today there were a number of them around this morning with the highlight by far being point blank looks of the Sedge Wren at Arcadia and luckily Keenan and Isabel arrived just in time to see it too.  It was so close at times the camera could not focus and I actually got an identifiable photo just hand holding my iPhone.  It stayed with us for more than ten minutes before it moved away.  I arrived there before dawn and quickly ran across a Dickcissel, a Marsh Wren and then the Sedge Wren within minutes of each other.  Overall unusual species there included a Least Flycatcher, 17 House Wrens, the Sedge Wren and Marsh Wren, at least 13 Northern Mockingbirds, two Connecticut Warblers (a truly amazing showing of this species this year), 4 Yellow Warbler, a couple 'yellow' Palm Warblers and two Dickcissels.  I was joined by Aidan and Devin a bit later in the morning and also ran across several other birders that were there.  It was nice to be out walking a bit more after hurting my back...doctors orders to keep walking as much as I can so I could not think of a better way to follow orders than birding along the flat trails at Arcadia.  Full list with more photos here:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31621592
I managed to achieve something I have never gone before when I was able to find five wren species in a day...Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren and House Wren at Arcadia, a Winter Wren at home and a Carolina Wren. I also checked again for the pelican but it appears to be long gone (but there is always a chance it will show somewhere else in the area).

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sedge Wren, yet another Connecticut Warbler and a few other notable birds seen by others

Connecticut Warbler, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 16, 2016
Lincoln's Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 16, 2016
Vesper Sparrows, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 16, 2016
Palm Warbler 'yellow', Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 16, 2016
Grasshopper Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 16, 2016
Indigo Bunting, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 16, 2016
Another banner day for birds in the valley (even if I didn't get to see all them all).  I had limited time this morning as I had a number of appointments so I spent just a short time at the Honey Pot with almost all of my time spent in one small section.  Highlights included yet another Connecticut Warbler, both 'western' and 'yellow' Palm Warblers, a Lincoln's Sparrow, at least three Vesper Sparrows and a Grasshopper Sparrow.  I then spent the next few hours not birding but when my appointments were all done I noticed a message from Bob B. and he had seen a Sedge Wren at Arcadia (plus other good stuff) so I headed over that way late morning and eventually caught a fleeting glimpse of the bird.  Sedge Wren is a tough bird to find in the county and this one became my third (others were in 2005 at Arcadia and 2007 in Amherst).  The Sedge Wren becomes species #223 for the county this year.  At least one Dickcissel was also still around (likely the one I had there yesterday).  I also got a call from Keenan who had a Clay colored Sparrow at UMASS (another species I need for the year).  The biggest surprise bird seen lately was an American White Pelican that was seen and photographed in the Oxbow in Northampton Thursday evening.  Unfortunately word of the bird didn't make it out until later today but I guess I would not have been able to chase it last evening anyway.  The pelican is quite rare anywhere in the state with just a few inland records...would be a new county bird for me if I'm lucky enough to find it again.  No one had any luck finding it today so it is likely far gone by now but you never know...worth keeping an eye out for.

The tropics are heating up once again with a few new named storms over the last several days.  Hurricane Ian has fizzled way out in the central Atlantic.  Tropical storm Julia which formed right on the south Atlantic coast of the US continues to slowly spin in the area but is not expected to gain much, if any, strength.  The newest storm is Tropical Storm Karl which is way out in the Atlantic but headed this way slowly.  It should pass north of the islands and then who knows.  It may get caught up and curved out to sea (which is the more likely scenario) or it could impact somewhere in the US.  Way to far out to say for sure right now but it bears watching.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dickcissel and Golden winged Warbler this morning!


Dickcissel, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 15, 2016
Dickcissel, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 15, 2016
Dickcissel, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 15, 2016
Common Yellowthroat, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 15, 2016
Black throated Green Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, Sep 15, 2016
Swainson's Thrush, UMASS, Amherst, MA, Sep 15, 2016
Chipping Sparrow, UMASS, Amherst, MA, Sep 15, 2016
The northwest winds overnight certainly delivered some great birds this morning including Dickcissel and Golden winged Warbler.  I thought it would be a good morning but getting both of these species today exceeding my expectations to say the least.  My focus this morning was initially shorebirds but after checking the Honey Pot and the East Meadows I only managed to find seven Killdeer at the Honey Pot and no shorebirds in the meadows.  I then turned my attention to passerines so I headed over to Arcadia to see what I could turn up.  I walked a few of the edges and turned up the expected species but nothing unusual until I made it to the Ibis Pool where I had a bird fly in that looking interesting and when I took a look at it I discovered I had found a Dickcissel.  It teed up nicely allowing good looks before it dropped back down out of site when some runners came by.  The Dickcissel became species #221 for the county for the year so far.  As I was about to post about the bird I noticed a text from Keenan with a photo showing a beautiful male Golden winged Warbler at UMASS!  I immediately made the walk back to the car and headed over there but the traffic at that time of day was a bit heavy.  I finally made it over there and started trying to find the warbler and after about a half hour I had brief glimpses of the bird as it worked its way through the brushy areas heading toward Sylvan Woods.  Unfortunately I was unable to get a photo as the bird just would not pop back out in the open but Keenan got some fantastic photos and hopefully he will add them to his eBird list for the morning...link to his list here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31590033.  Golden winged Warbler is very unusual here at any time but especially in the fall.  The Golden winged Warbler became species #222 for the county list this year and my 32nd warbler species in Hampshire County this year.  I have managed to find seven new species for the year list in less than seven days starting last Friday...amazing.  There were a number of other interesting birds around hill including at least four Scarlet Tanagers, a somewhat late Least Flycatcher, my first Swainson's Thrush and Ruby crowned Kinglets of the fall plus a few migrant hawks.  Full lists from the morning with more photos below:

Honey Pot:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31591018
East Meadows:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31592386
Arcadia: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31592392
UMASS Orchard Hill:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31594252
UMASS Sylvan Woods: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31594259