Thursday, June 7, 2018

Neighborhood Nestwatch 2018

House Wren being banded, Home, Belchertown, MA, Jun 7, 2018
House Wren, Home, Belchertown, MA, Jun 7, 2018
Eastern Phoebe with bands, Home, Belchertown, MA, Jun 7, 2018
Eastern Phoebe, Home, Belchertown, MA, Jun 7, 2018
Black capped Chickadees in net, Home, Belchertown, MA, Jun 7, 2018
Black capped Chickadee, Home, Belchertown, MA, Jun 7, 2018
The Neighborhood Nestwatch Program returned to the yard for the fourth year today to band a variety of target birds.  The banders arrived at 7AM and after a quick point count they started setting up the nets.  The first two birds to get captured were the nesting pair of House Wrens (including the female that was banded last year).  The next bird to fly into the nets was a Tufted Titmouse which was quickly released as it was not a target species and then there was a bit of a lull before another House Wren and an Eastern Phoebe eventually made their way to the nets.  There were a number of Gray Catbirds and American Robins (both target species) that just would not fly into the nets.  The most productive single net check turned up four Black capped Chickadees (a male and three females) all captured at the same time.  Overall the morning produced nine birds captured with eight of those target species (three House Wrens, an Eastern Phoebe and four Black capped Chickadees).  The previous three years have each produced eight new birds to be banded so this year was just one below with seven (plus the recapture of the House Wren banded last year).  The nets got closed for the morning around 10 so they could then wander the area around the house in search of previously banded birds for a couple hours. Their effort turned up a Black capped Chickadee and a Gray Catbird with bands in yards nearby.  No luck finding any of the three American Robins with the GPS packs that were captured and outfitted last year.  More about the program and previous years of banding can be found at the following links: 201720162015.
American Robin fledgling, Home, Belchertown, MA, Jun 7, 2018
Pine Warbler, Home, Belchertown, MA, Jun 6, 2018
White tailed Deer, Home, Belchertown, MA, Jun 5, 2018
Red Fox, Home, Belchertown, MA, Jun 3, 2018
The cameras around the yard continue to capture a variety of creatures including my first fledgling American Robin of the season and occasionally the Red Fox family plus other stuff.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

May wrap up


Cattle Egret, Hadley, MA, May 7, 2018
Yellow billed Cuckoo, Quabbin Park, MA, May 29, 2018
Baltimore Oriole, Quabbin Park, MA, May 29, 2018
Hooded Mergansers, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, May 29, 2018
Scarlet Tanager, Quabbin Park, MA, May 23, 2018
Black billed Cuckoos mating, Quabbin Park, MA, May 21, 2018
Olive sided Flycatcher, Quabbin Park, MA, May 20, 2018
Ruby throated Hummingbird building nest, Quabbin Park, MA, May 17, 2018

Cape May Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 16, 2018
Bay breasted Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 21 2018


Golden winged x Blue winged Warbler hybrid, Quabbin Park, MA, May 16, 2018
Mourning Warbler (eastern vocal group), Quabbin Park, MA, May 17, 2018
Cerulean Warbler building nest, Skinner SP, Hadley, MA, May 15, 2018
May has now come to an end and it was once again a great month for migration with a total of 175 species in Hampshire County over the course of the month (a tie with 2014 for my highest May total).  Among the species seen were a number of highlights including a number of unusual waterfowl species at Winsor Dam May 12 during bird-a-thon, a Red throated Loon (among dozens of Common Loons) at Winsor Dam on May 22, a couple Cattle Egrets in Hadley, multiple Soras, a few unusual shorebirds including a Dunlin in Hadley, decent numbers of both species of cuckoo (taking advantage of yet another terrible season for Gypsy Moth caterpillars), a White eyed Vireo in Amherst, a total of 30 species of warblers (highlights including a Brewster's, another hybrid, an Orange crowned Warbler, three Hooded Warblers, at least 9 Mourning Warblers and above normal numbers of Tennessee, Cape May and Bay breasted Warblers) and a Grasshopper Sparrow in Northampton.  A more detailed review of warblers can be found at the following link: Warblers spring 2018.  I also completed my two Eastern Whip Poor Will surveys.  There are still some late season migrants moving through but for the most part the birds around are now breeders.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Several bird surveys, more Mourning Warblers and an epic list from Quebec


Goodnough Dike at dusk, Quabbin Park, MA, May 23, 2018
I conducted both of my Eastern Whip Poor Will surveys in the past several days and found a decent number of birds (and actually saw several).  The routes consist of 10 stops at one mile intervals with passive listening at each stop for six minutes...the conditions have to be clear, calm and the moon has to be up so it can be tough to get the routes in as lining up all the right conditions with time off can be tough.  My first route, which goes through Quabbin Park and then south along the Swift River, was completed on May 23rd and was very productive (at least within Quabbin Park) with a total of 26 Eastern Whip Poor Wills with 25 of them in Quabbin Park.  My second route goes from the southern part of the Prescott Peninsula all the way up to the northern end of the peninsula and I completed that route last night.  Last night was the first time I have ever had two species of nightjars during one of my survey when I had singing Eastern Whip Poor Wills and a calling Common Nighthawk at one of my stops...very cool.  Someday perhaps I will find a Chucks Wills Widow on one of my routes.  I also had a Northern Saw Whet Owl at one of my stops last night...only the second time I have recorded that species during a EWPW survey.  In addition to the birds I had a family of Black Bears at my first stop and a Moose near the end of the survey plus way too numerous ticks and mosquitoes.

Here are the comparisons of the previous surveys since I started running them..it was a good year:

Prescott

2012 -9 total individuals with 7 at survey stops
2013 -9 total individuals with all at survey stops
2014 -7 total individuals with all at survey stops
2015 -10 total individuals with 7 at survey stops
2016 -10 total individuals with 7 at survey stops
2017 -15 total individuals with 11 at survey stops
2018 -19 total individuals with 7 at survey stops

Quabbin Park

2013 -6 total individuals with 5 at survey stops
2014 -14 total individuals with all at survey stops
2015 -13 total individuals with 11 at survey stops
2016 -6 total individuals with all at survey stops
2017 -19 total individuals with 15 at survey stops
2018 -26 total individuals with 14 at survey stops

On Monday I assisted in the 10th annual bird survey at Poverty Mountain in Shutesbury.  Although the weather was less than ideal there were still birds active but the rain certainly reduced the overall numbers and variety.  Even in bad weather it is a joy to bird at Kevin and Cynthia's farm. 
American Redstart on nest, Quabbin Park, MA, May 29, 2018
American Robin feeding nestlings, Quabbin Park, MA, May 29, 2018
Yellow billed Cuckoo, Quabbin Park, MA, May 29, 2018
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 29, 2018
Hooded Mergansers, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, May 29, 2018
Today I spent my time around the local area with an early morning visit over to Lake Wallace before heading into Quabbin Park for a few hours where I had a decent selection of birds including at least three Mourning Warblers among some 70+ species.  The number of migrants continues to drop with most birds around now being breeders.
Red Foxes, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 27, 2018
Red Foxes, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 27, 2018
Red Fox, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 25, 2018
The Red Fox family is still around the house but not sure for how much longer as the kits are almost the same size as the adults.  I have caught just fleeting glimpses of them but the cameras around the yard have captured them quite a bit.
Eastern Phoebe with leg bands, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 26, 2018
House Wren with leg bands, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 26, 2018
American Robin with leg bands, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 26, 2018
Tufted Titmouse and Chipping Sparrow watching a Garter Snake, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 28, 2018
Tree Swallow nest with egg, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 23, 2018
Swainson's Thrush, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 24, 2018
Eastern Phoebe nestlings, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 28, 2018
Multiple birds are breeding in the yard with some nests with eggs and others with nestlings being fed.  There has been a Swainson's Thrush that was hanging around the yard and occasionally singing for nearly a week but it seems it may have finally continued on with its migration.  I also continue to see a number of banded birds around the yard including Eastern Phoebe, House Wren and American Robin.  Still no sign of any of the GPS tagged robins but I'm keeping an eye out.  With any luck we will catch one (or more) when we band again on June 7th.  Besides the birds and mammals that I have caught on the camera I captured a Garter Snake on the camera yesterday.


I also just have to post a link to an absolutely incredible eBird list from former valley resident and good friend Ian Davies from yesterday up in Tadoussac, Quebec (located along the St. Lawrence River northeast of Quebec City).  I noticed a post from Ian last night regarding the day after I got home from my whip poor will survey.  When Ian started his post off last night regarding the list with the simple words "Today was the greatest birding day of my life" I knew I was in for a treat.  I opened the list to see totals of several species that were just mind blowing...721,000+ total warblers with 144,000+ Bay breasted Warblers, 108,000+ Cape May Warblers, 72,000+ Tennessee Warblers, 108,000+ Magnolia Warblers, etc, etc, etc.  Given the drastic drop in populations of so many neotropic migrants it is even more amazing to see these kind of numbers at a single point in a single day.  It truly does boggle the mind. As words cannot truly describe the absolute epic-ness of the the day I will let the list speak for itself: Tadoussac.  One of the largest (if not the largest) count of warblers in a single count...and the best part is the birds were just moving through on their way to breeding grounds....there have been a few high counts in the past but usually it is the result of weather grounding birds and resulting in high mortality but not the case with yesterdays list.  I know we had several great days of birding in the valley when Ian was here they don't even come close to his day yesterday.  Congrats to Ian and the others for being present (and documenting) a truly amazing day of migration.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Third week of May ends with lots of migrants


Black billed Cuckoos mating, Quabbin Park, MA, May 21, 2018
Rose breasted Grosbeak, Quabbin Park, MA, May 21, 2018
Baltimore Oriole, Quabbin Park, MA, May 21, 2018
Bay breasted Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 21, 2018
Looking northeast from Enfield Lookout, Quabbin Park, MA, May 21, 2018
Olive sided Flycatcher, Quabbin Park, MA, May 21, 2018
Prairie Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 17, 2018
Wilson's Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 17, 2018
American Redstart building nest, Quabbin Park, MA, May 17, 2018
Cape May Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 17, 2018
Ruby throated Hummingbird building nest, Quabbin Park, MA, May 17, 2018
Now that the third full week of May has come to an end migration is starting to slow (but it is not over yet).  The last week has featured some really great days of birding with obvious groups of migrants moving through.  The numbers of Cape May, Bay breasted and Tennessee Warblers continue to be impressive with way above average numbers compared to a typical spring around here (I will do a more in depth look at this once the migration season comes to an end).  Unfortunately it looks to be another huge impact from Gypsy Moths with the voracious bastards seemingly everywhere.  The cuckoo numbers seem to be quite high once again but their ability to make a dent in the incredible numbers of caterpillars is negligible.  Fingers crossed for an early onset of the fungi that kills them off before the damage is too severe but that seems like a remote hope at this point.
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 22, 2018
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 17, 2018
Mourning Warblers have started to arrive and I have found several so far and all have turned out to be from the eastern regiolect.  It appears to be another good migration season for them here with about half a dozen so far.

I will just list out below the last several days with selected eBird lists with additional photos and audio.

5/17
Quabbin Park (broke 100 species in a single visit)

5/19
Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River
UMASS

5/20
Quabbin Park
Home (entire afternoon with the Griffiths)

5/21
UMASS
Quabbin Park

5/22
Quabbin Park
Red Fox adult with prey, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 21, 2018
Red Fox kit licking his lips as dinner walks away, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 21, 2018
Red Fox kit, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 19, 2018
Veery, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 22, 2018
American Redstart, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 22, 2018
Gray Catbird, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 19, 2018
The cameras at the house continue to capture both birds and mammals including the family of Red Foxes.  I also finally found some banded Gary Catbirds back in the yard (just two so far but more catbirds seem to be arriving the last couple days).