Saturday, May 20, 2017

More migrants over the last few days including two Mourning Warblers


Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 20, 2017
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 20, 2017
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 20, 2017
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 20, 2017
Chestnut sided Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 20, 2017
Pine Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 20, 2017
American Redstart carrying nest material,  Quabbin Park, MA, May 20, 2017
Red eyed Vireo, Quabbin Park, MA, May 20, 2017
I headed out before dawn today to try to get out before the crowds would eventually arrive given the weather forecast of sunny skies, low humidity and temps in the 70's.  It started out quite cool with a breeze which made spotting some stuff difficult but kept the bugs to a minimum.  My first stop was to Mitch's Way which had the expected species, with most appearing to be on territory breeders.  The number of Canada Warblers was much reduced from just a few days ago.  Once I finished up at Mitch's Way I made a quick stop at Sweet Alice Conservation Area but didn't find anything too noteworthy beyond a Tennessee Warbler but did manage to pick up a fair number of ticks.  My last stop before heading home to get Wilson was over to Quabbin Park where I had a few good birds including a Bay breasted Warbler and my second Mourning Warbler of the season.  I added another Bay breasted during a walk with Wilson up at the Cadwell Forest in Pelham.
Ovenbird carrying nest material, Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area, Northampton, MA, May 19, 2017
Eastern Phoebe, Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area, Northampton, MA, May 19, 2017
After getting out of work yesterday I decided to take a short walk at Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area out to the wildlife blind in the slim chance of catching up with a Yellow breasted Chat that was seen there a few mornings before. The biting insects were out in force and even with a liberal dose of bug spray they were still quite annoying. Nonetheless I made it to the blind but didn't have any luck with the chat although I did hear a call quite distantly that might have been it but it was too distant to be certain as it could have been a catbird. Lots of flycatchers around the area of the blind taking advantage of all the insects. On my walk back to the car the most notable sighting was an Ovenbird building a nest along side a fallen tree...very interesting to watch.
Canada Warbler. Mitch's Way, Hadley, MA, May 17, 2017
Lincoln's Sparrow, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, May 17, 2017
Wilson's Warbler, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, May 17, 2017
Mourning Warbler, Sweet Alice Conservation Area, Amherst, May 17, 2017
Blackpoll Warbler, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 17, 2017
Wednesday I started out at UMASS in the hopes that Orchard Hill would produce some good stuff at first light but it was very quiet so I headed south to Mitch's Way instead and walked out a bit past the river overlook in search of new arrivals. The number of Canada Warblers here (at least seven) was impressive plus I added a couple Wilson's Warblers too. I did not manage to find my main target of Mourning Warbler there despite quite a bit of looking. I next made it over to Skinner SP but the gate to the top was still closed but I still managed to get a Worm eating Warbler right at the base of the mountain. I listened once again for a Kentucky Warbler that was reported in the area several days ago but again had no luck. With no easy way to the top of the mountain I decided to skip a walk up and instead headed over to Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River where I walked the loop and came up with more Canada and Wilson's Warblers plus many other expected species. While I was there I got a text from Mike L. telling me about an unusual plumaged Blue winged Warbler at the nearby Sweet Alice Conservation Area. I always enjoy tracking down unusual warblers so I figured I would stop on my way home...and I was certainly glad I did! Although I had no luck finding the unusual Blue winged Warbler I heard and saw a male Mourning Warbler. It showed itself quite well (at least briefly before disappearing back into the low tangles where it continued to occasionally call. I explored a bit more there to see what else was around but in the end just managed to pick up more ticks. As I seemed to be having a decent day with warblers I made a brief swing by Quabbin Park and picked up a few more species before heading home to get Wilson. I found a total of 24 species of warblers for the day among a hundred plus species overall. Wednesday was also the first of two back to back recording setting hot days with temperatures hitting the mid 90's both days but with more humidity on Thursday...quite a change from just a few days ago when the hill towns had a dusting of snow!
Bobcat, Quabbin Park, MA, May 16, 2017
American Redstart fighting with Blue winged Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 16, 2017
Nashville Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 16, 2017
Black capped Chickadee, Quabbin Park, MA, May 16, 2017
Chestnut sided Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 16, 2017
On Tuesday I had some unexpected stuff come up that kept me close to home but I took advantage of it by making a quick morning trip over to Quabbin Park where I ran across a lot of the expected species plus had a decent look at a Bobcat that was walking up the road.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Brewster's Warbler and Lawrence's Warbler today on eBird global big day and Mass Audubon's bird-a-thon plus other sightings the last few day


Brewster's Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 13, 2017
Brewster's Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 13, 2017
Lawrence's Warbler, Mineral Hills Conservation Area, Northampton, MA, May 13, 2017
Lawrence's Warbler, Mineral Hills Conservation Area, Northampton, MA, May 13, 2017
Rose breasted Grosbeak, Mitch's Way, Hadley, MA, May 13, 2017
Yellow Warbler, Mitch's Way, Hadley, MA, May 13, 2017
The forecast for today was for rain to start by late morning and the conditions to be cool and cloudy before the rain but with the bird-a-thon going on as well as eBird's global big day there was incentive to get out despite the less than ideal conditions.  I started off predawn at Lake Wallace before heading over to spend the rest of the morning at Quabbin Park (at least that was my initial plan).  My big find of the morning was a Brewster's Warbler at the park plus a number of more expected species.  With the report of a Lawrence's Warbler in a conservation area in Northampton I decided to change my plans a bit and head over that way to try to catch up with the other named hybrid of Blue winged x Golden winged Warblers.  I made my way up the muddy trail and after getting to the area it was reported in I immediately started hearing a blue winged song and quickly got looks at the bird...a Lawrence's Warbler.  I have had a few of both of these types of hybrids in the county before but never both in the same day (Before today I have had two Lawrence's, both of which were in different locations in Belchertown on 4/29/09 and 5/14/12 and four Brewster's with three total at UMASS on 5/5/12, 5/11/14 and 5/8/16 plus one at Hampshire College also on 5/5/12...only the UMASS bird in 2012 stayed around beyond the original date of the sighting)  As always it is worth tracking down every Blue winged Warbler song you hear as the reward can be some impressive birds.  After having some good luck with warblers I decided to try to get some more and headed over to Mitch's Way and then Skinner SP.  Both spots were crawling with birders (especially Skinner) but I still managed to find the expected warblers there but no luck with anything unexpected.  I got a late report of a possible Kentucky Warbler heard at Skinner SP the day before but too late to check on it while I was there.  No one else apparently came across it either so who knows if there was one there or not...time will tell if it shows back up.  I ended the day back in the Quabbin area with visits to Lake Wallace, the land trust trail and a small section of Quabbin Park.  Found a total of 113 species for the day with 21 species of warbler plus Brewster's Warbler and Lawrence's Warbler hybrids plus a further Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler hybrid...I just needed a Golden winged Warbler but no luck today.  Lists from the day here:

Lake Wallace: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36780471
Winsor Dam: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36780606
Quabbin Park: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36791361
Mineral Hills Conservation Area:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36791365
Mitch's Way:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36791372
Skinner SP:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36791379
Lake Wallace:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36791419
Belchertown Land Trust trail:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36794201
Quabbin Park: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36798303
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, May 12, 2017
Yesterday I birded for a few hours in the morning with Devin in the cloudy and somewhat gloomy conditions but we nonetheless still turned up some good stuff (it is May after all).  We hoped the sun would eventually poke through but it never happened in the morning when we were out, it waited until the afternoon.  Full list from the morning here:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36758929

In the evening I met back up with the Griffiths at Winsor dam to begin Mass Audubon's annual bird-a-thon fundraiser.  Although the hoped for nighthawks never showed the Eastern Whip-poor-wills did not disappoint with one calling very close to us...list here with a recording of the whip: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36773106
Worm eating Warbler, Skinner SP, Hadley, MA, May 11, 2017
Yellow Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 11, 2017
Cerulean Warbler, Skinner SP, Hadley, MA, May 11, 2017
Cerulean Warbler, Skinner SP, Hadley, MA, May 11, 2017
American Redstart, Skinner SP, Hadley, MA, May 11, 2017
Cape May Warbler, Mitch's Way, Hadley, MA, May 11, 2017
On Thursday I made a trip over to Hadley to take an early morning walk along Mitch's Way and I had quite a bit of activity there starting off with my first of the season Wilson's Warbler following not long after by yet another male Cape May Warbler (my third for the season so far). Lots of Rose breasted Grosbeaks and Baltimore Orioles were around as well as a somewhat high count of three Ruby crowned Kinglets continuing to hang around. On my way back to the car I found yet another new warbler for the season when I found a Canada Warbler. After finding 16 species of warbler during my time at Mitch's Way including some tough to find species I decided to try to see as many warbler species as I could so my next stop was over to nearby Skinner SP. I took the Taylor Notch trail up the mountain instead of my typical route up the road. Quite a bit of activity on the way to the top including my first Worm eating Warblers of the day. Once I got near the top I started hearing Cerulean Warblers and I once again had at least three singing males, including one that continues to give an odd abbreviated song. I got some video and recordings of the call and have attached them to the eBird list. No sign of any females yet but they could be staying hidden in the ever increasing leafed out trees or perhaps they have not arrived yet. After a quick errand in Amherst I made it over to Quabbin Park to find a few more warblers I was missing. By the end of my stops around the park I had found a total of 23 warbler species for the day (plus the continued hybrid BWWA x GWWA). I took a walk midday with Wilson over to Covey WMA to try to turn up some more new stuff but we only managed to find tons of ticks (the predictions of a really bad tick season appears to be coming true). Although it was once again a cooler than normal day at least it was sunny for a decent portion of the morning.

Mitch's Way:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36727199
Skinner SP: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36728359
Quabbin Park:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36731255
Field Sparrow, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 11, 2017
American Robin with leg bands, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 12, 2017
Meanwhile at home I finally captured a bird on the motion camera at the water feature that I had never seen in the yard before. The new species was a Field Sparrow that showed up briefly late morning, becoming the 164 species in the yard. I have also captured a number of other birds including a hummingbird once again plus catbirds, robins, dove and more. Still on the lookout for any of the banded catbirds or wrens making an appearance but no luck there yet. However it appears one of the banded robins is nesting in a small pine tree right next to the house.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Cool stretch of weather continues


Chestnut sided Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 10, 2017
Prairie Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 10, 2017
Black throated Green Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 10, 2017
Black capped Chickadee with nest material, Quabbin Park, MA, May 10, 2017
Cape May Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 10, 2017
Blackburnian Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 10, 2017
Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler hybrid, Quabbin Park, MA, May 9, 2017
Northern Parula, Quabbin Park, MA, May 9, 2017
Ovenbird, Quabbin Park, MA, May 9, 2017
Blue winged, Quabbin Park, MA, May 9, 2017
Yellow bellied Sapsucker, Quabbin Park, MA, May 8, 2017
Although our weather continues to be much cooler than normal with much more in the way of clouds than sun, there have still been times of the day the sun has been out and the birds are out there to found.  The current conditions should last through the end of the week and then we have a larger rainstorm to contend with Saturday through all day on Sunday.  After the storm passes we should break the pattern and get warmer temperatures and more sun and I'm sure a big influx of migrants as migration peaks.  Highlights the last three days include a White eyed Vireo at Quabbin Park (a new Quabbin bird for me) and both species of cuckoos yesterday and a Cape May and Bay breasted Warbler today at Quabbin Park.  I will add a few photos and lists from the last few days (lots of photos and audio in some of the lists)...also added my 22,000 eBird list today.

May 8th
Quabbin Park:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36650632

May 9th
Mitch's Way  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36680571
Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36680593
Quabbin Park  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36680566

May 10th
Quabbin Park  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36704439

Sunday, May 7, 2017

CATTLE EGRET in Hadley plus a Cape May Warbler and a huge group of Common Ravens

Cape May Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 7, 2017
Cape May Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 7, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 7, 2017
Black throated Green Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 7, 2017
Common Ravens (part of group of 67), UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 7, 2017
Although I didn't have high hopes in finding lots of stuff this morning given the weather conditions of cool temperatures and a steady breeze I was pleasantly surprised.  I started off at Orchard Hill at UMASS and although it began rather slow it eventually got active.  The first notable sighting began when I heard some Common Ravens calling and looked up and noticed a group of several moving north to south which quickly grew and grew as more and more birds streamed by.  My total ended up at at least 67 individuals!  Easily the largest group of raven I have ever had here in spring (or even fall for that matter when larger groups are more likely to occur).  I have no idea where they came from or where they were going.  The big question is why there would be such a large group of this species when they should be paired off and nesting.  Perhaps it was all juvenile birds that were not ready to breed...very interesting.  As I was making my last pass through the top of the ridge on the way back to my car I could hear a few Yellow rumped Warblers and Northern Parulas calling so I got closer to investigate them and found a large mixed species flock that contained lots of good stuff with the highlight being a stunning male Cape May Warbler.  Although it never strayed far from the very tops of the trees it still provided some great looks and vocalized quite a bit.  Scott arrived and I was able to get him on the bird right away.  It was nice to see Orchard Hill produce some good stuff again.  The Cape May Warbler stayed in view for 25+ minutes and only moved down the ridge and out of site just before I left (and Joe arrived after getting my message)....hopefully he relocated it.  I also hit a few more spots on campus but I didn't find too much and the skies looked threatening and eventually produced some rain.  Full lists:
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36613506
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36614172
American Redstart, Quabbin Park, MA, May 7, 2017
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, May 7, 2017
As the rain stopped on my way home and the clouds parted a bit allowing for the occasional break of sun I headed through Quabbin Park to see what I could find.  I didn't hit as many spots as I typically do and the cool temperatures breeze made it a little bit tough to get loads of birds.  Nothing too out of the ordinary but I did find my first Swainson's Thrush of the season plus the continued hybird Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler.  Full list with more photos here:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36616184
Cattle Egret, East Hadley Rd, Hadley, MA, May 7, 2017
Cattle Egret, East Hadley Rd, Hadley, MA, May 7, 2017
Cattle Egret, East Hadley Rd, Hadley, MA, May 7, 2017
I was doing some projects around the house in the middle of the afternoon and was about to go outside and cut the grass for the first time this season when my phone rang and changed those plans.  Scott was calling to tell me about a Cattle Egret in Hadley that apparently was found late mid/late morning and was still there.  I immediately headed that way and thankfully the bird was still present when I arrived.  I got some great scope views and a few photos and video before I drove down the road toward the bird where I got a few more photos in passing on the very busy East Hadley Road.  The bird looked quite content and was actively feeding the entire time I watched it.  The egret was a new bird for my Hampshire County list becoming species #292.  Hard to believe I managed to get two new county birds in less than a week (Painted Bunting on May 2)...I have not had so many new county birds since Hurricane Irene!  Full album with additional photos and video here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/54277284@N05/albums/72157681657658510
Yellow rumped Warblers, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 4, 2017
Gray Catbird, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 7, 2017
Pine Warbler (female), Home, Belchertown, MA, May 7, 2017
Ruby throated Hummingbird, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 7, 2017
Mouse, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 5, 2017
I also checked the various motion cameras around the yard and found some interesting sightings on them with more warblers, another hummingbird as well as my first Gray Catbird capture of the season (no bands on this bird).  Still no luck capturing the Hooded Mergansers at the nest boxes but a mouse was out and about at 3:35am.