Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Ups and downs with the weather over the last several days

Mallards, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, Dec 9, 2019
White throated Sparrow, Hadley, MA, Dec 9, 2019
Winsor Dam Quabbin Park, MA, Dec 8, 2019
After a little freezing rain early on Monday the remainder of the day was rainy with a decent amount of snow melt as the temperatures climbed into the 40's and continued rising slowly overnight.  The rain continued on and off through Tuesday but we had a very rare above normal day as far as temperatures go with highs reaching into the mid-50's, melting at least 2/3 of the snow pack with several areas along the river down to bare ground. After not getting out much at all on Monday I was out the door before dawn on Tuesday.  There was a lot of low level fog early in the morning with all the melting snow but thankfully some fields were clear enough in Hadley to catch up with a Short eared Owl working the fields...hopefully it sticks around for the winter.  I then worked my way over to the rail trail  in Amherst where I had the best bird of the day when I very briefly had a Common Yellowthroat pop up along the edge of a marsh and then drop out of view, never to be seen again.  I also had a flock of 11 Red winged Blackbirds flyover.  I checked a few other small marshes in Amherst without finding anything noteworthy.  I then tried my luck one last time trying to relocate the long staying Pacific slope Flycatcher.  I was able to check all the areas it had previously been in but I could not relocate it.  I think with all the snow and temperatures below zero plus lots of snowmobile activity in the area the flycatcher has either moved on or finally met its end.  It had a long run from October 23 through December 2 and was seen by dozens (probably hundreds) of people.  After running a bunch of errands I finally got home late morning and then took Wilson for a walk along the Swift River in Ware where we had a flyover calling Yellow rumped Warbler making it a two warbler day.
Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Dec 8, 2019
Hoar frost on trees, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Dec 8, 2019
Hoar frost on trees, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Dec 8, 2019
American Tree Sparrow, Aqua Vitae Rd, Hadley, MA, Dec 8, 2019
American Tree Sparrow, Aqua Vitae Rd, Hadley, MA, Dec 8, 2019
Our cold stretch continued through the weekend with Saturday morning lows around 10 and the low on Sunday bottoming out at -5 degrees...not quite a record but very close.  With a little time after work on Sunday morning I braved the conditions and made a trip down to East Meadows where I found at least three Yellow rumped Warblers still around and active.  There were also a few mixed sparrow flocks but nothing unusual among them.  The hoar frost made for some nice photos as the sun came up.  After the meadows I headed toward home but not before making a stop along Aqua Vitae Road where I found more sparrows but oddly no larks or buntings.
Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Dec 6, 2019
Field Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Dec 6, 2019
Field Sparrows, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Dec 6, 2019
Field Sparrows (partially leucistic individual upper right), Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Dec 6, 2019
White crowned Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Dec 6, 2019
Mourning Dove, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Dec 6, 2019
I got out for a bit after work on Friday morning although access to most areas was limited or impossible due to the snow.  I spent about an hour at Arcadia and found a few notables species including at least two Yellow rumped Warblers and a group of seven Field Sparrows travelling together, including a partially leucistic individual.  A count of seven Field Sparrows together is very unusual at anytime of year but especially in the winter.  I assume it is part of the same group of five I had together at nearly the same spot on November 17th which also contained the partially leucistic bird.  I would have liked to explore other areas at Arcadia but I was not dressed for it so I instead headed over to the Honey Pot (where I had a late Vesper Sparrow on my way to work early Thursday morning).  Although I didn't have any luck relocating the Vesper Sparrow I caught up again with the continued White crowned Sparrow that looks to be set up to try to overwinter again near That's a Plenty Farm.
Wilson enjoying the snow, Belchertown, MA, Dec 4, 2019
Snow with brook, Belchertown Land Trust trail, Belchertown, MA, Dec 4, 2019
Wilson and I eventually managed to find a spot to go walking on Wednesday after finding several spots inaccessible due to all the snow.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Big snow storm

Feeders waiting for action in the snow, Home, Belchertown, MA, Dec 3, 2019
Jabish Brook, Home, Belchertown, MA, Dec 3, 2019
Wilson with his favorite outside 'ball', Home, Belchertown, MA, Dec 3, 2019
Dark eyed Junco with breast stripes, Home, Belchertown, MA, Dec 3, 2019 (date is off by 12 hours for some reason)
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Dec 3, 2019
Carolina Wren, Home, Belchertown, MA, Dec 2, 2019 (date is off by 12 hours for some reason)
Wilson enjoying the snow, Home, Belchertown, MA, Dec 2, 2019
Wilson as the snow moves back in on Monday evening, Home, Belchertown, MA, Dec 2, 2019
Wilson as the snow starts, Home, Belchertown, MA, Dec 1, 2019
We continue to dig out from one of the largest storms we have had in awhile and probably one of the biggest December storms ever.  It started snowing Sunday afternoon and continued overnight into Monday and we ended up with about 8" of snow and sleet from that part of the storm.  Light snow was with us almost constantly Monday but didn't amount to much until the evening when the storm off the coast really cranked up.  The forecast for Monday night into Tuesday was for perhaps 3-5", maybe less.  It was quite a surprise to wake up on Tuesday morning to at least another 18" of fresh snow!  The snow finally quit late in the morning on Tuesday and it took hours to dig out the yard and feeders from our 2+ feet of snow.  It looks more like the middle of winter after multiple storms....at least Wilson was happy!  I didn't venture too far from the house the last couple days beyond a quick stop at Winsor Dam today (lots of Bald Eagles but not much else).  The feeders were active throughout my time at home and although there was nothing too unusual I did see one of my banded Black capped Chickadee and the partially leucistic Tufted Titmouse (neither of which fed on the suet so no captures on the camera).  The camera did capture a unique looking Dark eyed Junco that had striping on the breast.  Hopefully I will be able to get out a little tomorrow although access to most locations will be limited or nonexistent due to all the snow.  Surprisingly the Pacific slope Flycatcher was seen and photographed in the snow on Monday in between our bouts of heavy snow (eBird list here).

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Birding before the storm

Yellow rumped Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Dec 1, 2019
Ruby crowned Kinglet, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Dec 1, 2019
I headed out this morning to begin the month trying to track down lingering species with the main focus being any warblers and the long staying Pacific slope Flycatcher.  The day started off cold with lows around 15 and rapidly increasing clouds as the oncoming nor'easter approached.  I started off the morning before dawn at Arcadia where I checked out the waterfowl gathered in the rapidly icing up marsh and had mostly the same selection I had there yesterday with nothing too unusual.  The waterfowl got excited once when a Great Blue Heron flew past squawking the entire time as it headed out to the oxbow.  As the sun came up I caught up with my first group of Yellow rumped Warblers of the day, marking the second full year I have had a warbler in Hampshire County for every month of the year (much more about this at the following post: warblers into December).  I turned up another single Yellow rumped Warbler elsewhere along with two Ruby crowned Kinglets travelling together and a selection of woodpeckers.
Yellow rumped Warbler, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Dec 1, 2019
Yellow rumped Warbler, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Dec 1, 2019
After Arcadia I headed over to the East Meadows where I found another group of Yellow rumped Warblers and at least three Northern Harriers working the fields and occasionally flushing small groups of Horned Larks.
Greater White fronted Goose, UMASS, Amherst, MA, Dec 1, 2019
Cackling Goose, UMASS, Amherst, MA, Dec 1, 2019
Canada Goose with white on neck, UMASS, Amherst, MA, Dec 1, 2019
Bald Eagle, Moody Bridge Rd, Hadley, MA, Dec 1, 2019
I then made a stop to the Pacific slope Flycatcher spot to see if the hardy bird was still hanging on before the storm.  Unfortunately I struck out on the bird but the breeze was starting to pick up and the temperatures were still in the low 20's.  Hopefully it is still around and hunkering down for the storm.   I then drove over to the nearby UMASS campus pond where I had three species of geese including a Greater White fronted Goose and a Cackling Goose plus the hordes of Canada Geese.  I made one last stop along Moody Bridge Road looking for vultures before heading home but had no luck turning up any vultures.  There were a few raptors around and a flock of 75+ Horned Larks that were very wary and almost constantly in flight.  Overall found a total of 53 species for the morning...not too bad at all.
Wilson enjoying a previous snow storm
The forecast calls for anywhere from 6"-24" of snow depending on what outlet you look at with fairly strong winds on Monday as the storm really explodes off the coast.  We have been lucky to escape anything beyond a light dusting so far but it doesn't look like our luck will continue....at  least Wilson will be happy.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

The end of November

Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 30, 2019
Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 30, 2019
Canada Geese, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 30, 2019
Common Mergansers (plus some Ring billed Gulls), Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 30, 2019
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Nov 30, 2019
November has now come to an end and I have had a few decent sightings over the last week or so, with most of those detailed below.  Overall for the month in Hampshire County I found 112 species which is just shy of my best ever November around here when I had 113 species last year.  Although the month has averaged well below average as far as temperatures were concerned with a number of record setting cold days we have so far escaped with just a dusting of snow but if the forecast holds true for the end of the weekend into early next week that snow free streak looks to be coming to an end in a big way.  I got out a bit after work this morning and headed to Arcadia where I had at least three Yellow rumped Warblers still hanging around as well as some decent numbers of waterfowl but nothing unusual.  I also made a brief stop at Winsor Dam but the water was totally devoid of birds.
Cackling Goose, UMASS campus pond, Amherst, MA, Nov 28, 2019
Cackling Goose and Mallard, UMASS campus pond, Amherst, MA, Nov 28, 2019
Snow Geese with Cackling Goose (lower right) and Canada Geese, UMASS campus pond, Amherst, MA, Nov 28, 2019
Wild Turkey, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Nov 28, 2019
I visited a few spots on my way home from work on Thanksgiving morning with my first stop over to the campus pond at UMASS.  Among the several hundred Canada Geese was a single Cackling Goose that spent almost all of its time with its head tucked in plus a couple of juvenile Snow Geese that flew in not long after I arrived.  No sign of the Great White fronted Goose that has also been around so had to settle for three goose species (the GWFG showed up later in the morning).  I also made a brief stop at Winsor Dam to see if the strong northwest winds brought in any waterfowl but the only bird on the water was a single Common Loon.  The five Wild Turkeys that have been around the dam for months made an appearance for Thanksgiving.
Pacific slope Flycatcher, Huntington Rd, Hadley, MA, Nov 26, 2019
Downy Woodpecker, Huntington Rd, Hadley, MA, Nov 26, 2019
Common Goldeneye, Huntington Rd, Hadley, MA, Nov 26, 2019
Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 26, 2019
Ruby crowned Kinglet, Boardman St power line cut, Belchertown, MA, Nov 25, 2019
White tailed Deer, Bay Road power line cut, Belchertown, MA, Nov 25, 2019
Dawn, Quabbin Gate 5, Belchertown, MA, Nov 25, 2019
Both Monday and Tuesday featured mainly sunny conditions with temperatures that were actually slightly above normal (a very uncommon occurrence during our record setting cold November).  On Monday I stayed relatively local starting my morning predawn with a trip to Gate 5 at Quabbin with the intention of catching up with a Northern Saw Whet owl but I didn't find one.  Lots of logging activity in the general area may have moved the birds from what is usually a fairly reliable spot for them.  I also hit a couple power line cuts in Belchertown with the best sighting being a late Ruby crowned Kinglet.  On Tuesday I headed over to Arcadia where I started out by checking the marsh which held loads of Canada Geese and a smattering of other waterfowl but nothing too unusual.  I then heard and found a small group of lingering Yellow rumped Warblers in the same general area.  I found two more individuals at another location in Arcadia bringing my total for the species to a half dozen.  The only other unusual species was a Ruby crowned Kinglet.  I had an appointment late in the morning in Hadley so I had more time to check a few spots before having to end my birding.  I made a brief stop at the nearly frozen Great Pond in Hatfield and it was fairly quiet.  The bright sun was starting to warm things up so I thought I would try again to see if the Pacific slope Flycatcher was still around and I found it showing well once again (full list).  After my appointment I stopped along Moody Bridge Road and had a large flock of Horned Larks (180+) that got flushed by a Cooper's Hawk.  In among the larks were several Snow Buntings and at least one Lapland Longspur.
Bobcat, Home, Belchertown, MA, Nov 4, 2019
Black Bear,  Home, Belchertown, MA, Nov 14, 2019
Eastern Coyote, Home, Belchertown, MA, Nov 3, 2019
Raccoon, Home, Belchertown, MA, Nov 22, 2019
Beaver, Home, Belchertown, MA, Nov 27, 2019
Bobcat, Home, Belchertown, MA, Nov 27, 2019
I checked the game camera I have set up near the house and had a number of captures over the last few weeks including Bobcat, Black Bear, Beaver, Raccoon and Eastern Coyote.