Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A morning at Arcadia as mid winter like conditions settle in plus some banded birds at home

Northern Shrike, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 14, 2018
Northern Shrike, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 14, 2018
Ruby crowned Kinglet, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 14, 2018
Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 14, 2018
Fox Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 14, 2018
Dusting of snow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 14, 2018
It appears that conditions more like mid winter have arrived and it is forecast to just get worse.  Although it was suppose to be sunny all day I awoke to find some light snow showers coming down that increased in intensity as I arrived at Arcadia with enough snow coming down to leave a dusting.  The temperatures today never climbed out of the low to mid 30's and the strong northwest winds had wind chills in the teens all day.  The core of the cold will arrive tonight with lows in the teens to single digits possible in some areas with highs tomorrow barely breaking the freezing mark..record setting cold for sure.  On top of it all we will get a bout of snow that will likely accumulate several inches from Thursday night into Friday morning.  Despite the less than ideal conditions the couple of hours I had available in the morning proved quite productive at Arcadia.  After much searching I finally got better looks at the Northern Shrike that has been present for several days down there.  I had seen it briefly and distantly a few days ago so it was nice to see it for a longer period and much closer.  I also tried to locate another Northern Shrike along the rail trail a couple days ago but failed to turn that one back up.  Besides the shrike there were other notables around today including three late Ruby crowned Kinglets, half a dozen Yellow rumped Warblers as well as some waterfowl and raptors moving.  All and all a good morning despite the cold temperatures with 48 species tallied during my time at Arcadia.
Black capped Chickadee with leg bands and Tufted Titmouse, Home, Belchertown, MA, Nov 14, 2018
Black capped Chickadee with leg bands and Tufted Titmouse, Home, Belchertown, MA, Nov 14, 2018
With the arrival of the cold I decided to try putting some feeders out (hopefully the bears won't be back).  In just a day I managed to capture two of my banded birds (both chickadees) on the cameras I have trained on the feeders.  Both the the birds were banded this season as part of the Neighborhood Nestwatch program.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Northern Shrike and others at Arcadia



Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 11, 2018
White crowned Sparrows, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 11, 2018
White crowned Sparrows, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 11, 2018
I noticed a post yesterday from Derek about a Northern Shrike that he and Ted had down at Arcadia but I had no chance to try for it until I got out of work this morning.  I immediately headed over to the area where it was seen and found a few others looking for it.  I saw Chuck and he mentioned he had it relatively close in along the road several minutes ago but it was no longer in view.  I parked and started walking the various hedgerows and fields in search of the bird.  I was joined by Chuck for part of the time and we had a brief false alarm when we noticed a distant bird that turned out to be a Northern Mockingbird.  We did turn up a number of sparrows along the way including a number of Fox Sparrows, Field Sparrows, a Vesper Sparrow and others (finished the morning with nine species of sparrows including three late White crowned Sparrows I turned up right before I left).  After quite a bit of searching I finally got distant views of the shrike teed up in a tree out in the middle of a field in the same general area as a mockingbird.  I got the scope out and got a quick look before it dropped down out of sight.  I continued searching for it but came up empty in my continued quest to get a closer look (and a photo).  Hopefully the bird is still in the area and just moved to a different area that I did not check but as far as I can tell it was not seen again through midday.  I also made a quick search for a late Pine Warbler that Derek also had yesterday but it was nowhere to be found...I had to be content with a few Yellow rumped Warblers.  The Northern Shrike was my 238th species for Hampshire County for the year and ties my best overall year (2016) with over a month and a half left of the year.  Full list for the morning here.

Although I had seen Scott while at Arcadia and he mentioned he stopped by Winsor Dam earlier and found it quiet I just had to make a quick stop given the history of rare birds (both new Hampshire County records) I have found there on past Veteran's Days including a King Eider back in 2013 and a Pacific Loon in 2015.  Sadly no great rarities were to be found during my brief stop with the only waterfowl around being a group of four Common Mergansers flying past.

Friday, November 9, 2018

More Cattle Egrets around plus more lingering warblers and Evening Grosbeaks

Cattle Egret, Amherst, MA, Nov 9, 2018
Cattle Egret, Amherst, MA, Nov 9, 2018
Common Yellowthroat, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 9, 2018
Common Yellowthroat, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 9, 2018
Palm Warbler 'yellow', Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 9, 2018
Black capped Chickadee, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 9, 2018
White tailed Deer, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 9, 2018
White tailed Deer, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 9, 2018
After getting out of work this morning I headed over to Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River once again and took advantage of some brief morning sun before the clouds moved in.  Some construction activity around the parking lot and entrance road kept that area quiet so I concentrated on areas that were a bit quieter.  During about an hour and a half of walking around I turned up a number of notable birds including a Common Yellowthroat (which appeared to be different from either of the two individuals of the same species I had in the same area several days ago), three Palm Warblers (all of the yellow subspecies), a couple flyover Evening Grosbeaks and several flyover Pine Siskins.  I also had a close encounter with a buck White tailed Deer that ran out through a grassy field right in front of me.

I next headed north a bit in search of geese and perhaps some of the lingering Cattle Egrets that have been reported in the area of North Hadley/Amherst since first arriving back on November 3rd.  I quickly found two Cattle Egrets feeding in the median of Route 116 in Amherst near UMASS (apparently the same two that originally showed up near Stockbridge Road and have been seen in various nearby locations the last several days).  I also found several hundred geese in some fields in Amherst but couldn't find anything unusual among them.
Cattle Egret, Austin's Farm, Belchertown, MA, Nov 9, 2018
Cattle Egret, Austin's Farm, Belchertown, MA, Nov 9, 2018
I saw a Facebook report of a Cattle Egret in Belchertown in the mid afternoon and since it was not too far from the house I made the quick trip down to see it.  I wonder how long this one has been around...I'm certain it is yet another bird that came in on southerly winds last weekend.  This makes at least half a dozen individuals in Hampshire County in the last several days...really unprecedented numbers. 


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Another productive morning at Silvio Conte NWR


American Pipit, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 7, 2018
Palm Warbler 'yellow', Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 7, 2018
Palm Warbler 'western', Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 7, 2018
Rusty Blackbirds, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 7, 2018
Red bellied Woodpecker, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 7, 2018
Eastern Phoebe, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 7, 2018
I took advantage of a rare sunny day by heading over to Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River once again.  Although it started off cool it warmed up nicely by mid morning and it was comfortable to be out without a hat and gloves.  It was another banner morning there with many highlights including a single Common Redpoll (hopefully just the vanguard of many more of this irruptive species that looks to be moving in), a Black Vulure with a few Turkey Vultures, another late Eastern Phoebe and a double digit total of Palm Warblers (with both subspecies present)...more on the warblers here.  There were also a great number of Rusty Blackbirds with at least 49 individuals present, decent counts of American Pipits, continued numbers of flyover Pine Siskins and Purple Finches, a trilling Eastern Screech Owl, six species of woodpeckers and decent sparrow diversity...full list from the morning attached here.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Some late warblers, odd geese and other notables the last couple days

Rusty Blackbirds, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 5, 2018
Common Yellowthroat, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 5, 2018
Common Yellowthroat, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 5, 2018
American Tree Sparrow, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 5, 2018
Cedar Waxwing, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Nov 5, 2018
Pectoral Sandpipers, Hadley, MA, Nov 5, 2018
Dawn, Quabbin Gate 5, Belchertown, MA, Nov 5, 2018
I was up before dawn as both Wilson and I try to adjust to the end of daylight savings time.  Since I was up well before the sun I decided to try my luck in tracking down some saw whet owls before dawn.  I arrived at Gate 5 at Quabbin to find it a bit breezier than forecast but I nonetheless had at least one Northern Saw Whet Owl calling.  The waves were kicked up quite a bit on the water so no waterfowl were in evidence on the reservoir, just some flyovers.  Dawn produced the only bit of sun for the day as another bout of rain moved in by late morning.  I decided I would get away from Quabbin and try to find some more sheltered areas where the wind would not be as big of a factor and I decided on Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River.  Not long after I arrived I had an Eastern Phoebe and the first of at least two (possibly three) Common Yellowthroats.  Despite the cloudy and cool conditions I continued to turn up a number of noteworthy species including an extremely late Black and White Warbler, a Palm Warbler, a Lincoln's Sparrow, at least 28 Rusty Blackbirds, large numbers of Red winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles and Brown headed Cowbirds (tried to find a Yellow headed Blackbird in among the hordes but no luck today). The two hours at Silvo Conte produced a total of 51 species (a respectable total for early November).  I then hit a few other spots in the Hadley and Amherst area where I had five Pectoral Sandpipers in North Hadley and several hundred Brown headed Cowbirds at Cooke's Farm in Hadley.  Once I got home I picked up Wilson and we went for a walk in the rain along the land trust trail in Belcherown where we found a late Blackpoll Warbler in a mixed flock, bringing the total number of warbler species for the day to five...probably my highest one day total in November around here...more on the warblers at the following link.
Canada Goose with white above both eyes, UMASS campus pond, Amherst, MA, Nov 4, 2018
Canada Goose with white above both eyes, UMASS campus pond, Amherst, MA, Nov 4, 2018
Cackling/Canada Goose?, UMASS campus pond, Amherst, MA, Nov 4, 2018
Cackling/Canada Geese?, UMASS campus pond, Amherst, MA, Nov 4, 2018
Rusty Blackbirds, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, Nov 4, 2018
Eastern Comma, Belchertown, MA, Nov 4, 2018
I hit a number of spots yesterday, enjoying one of the sunnier days we have had lately although it stayed cool through most of the morning.  I started off at the Rail trail in Amherst where I had an Eastern Phoebe, several Rusty Blackbirds and a Palm Warbler.  I then headed over to the UMASS campus pond in search of a Cape May Warbler that has been reported there on and off.  No luck with the warbler but there were some interesting geese on the pond including two smaller individuals that certainly showed some traits of Cackling Geese as well as a Canada Goose with white above each eye.  A notable non bird sighting was a very fresh Eastern Comma seen along the Jabish Canal in Belchertown...a location that also produced dozens of deer ticks unfortunately. 



Saturday, November 3, 2018

At least five Cattle Egrets following southerly winds


Cattle Egrets, North Hadley, MA, Nov 3, 2018
Cattle Egrets, Hadley, MA, Nov 3, 2018
Cattle Egrets, Hadley, MA, Nov 3, 2018
Cattle Egrets, Hadley, MA, Nov 3, 2018
Brown headed Cowbirds and European Starlings, Hadley, MA, Nov 3, 2018
After having southerly winds and warmer than normal temperatures the last couple days a number of Cattle Egrets appeared to have been pushed north with at least five present in Hadley alone today.  After a morning of rain where I hit a few spots around Quabbin early on where the best bird of the morning was a somewhat late Bonaparte's Gull at Winsor Dam, I spent the rest of the morning catching up on stuff around the house.  Early in the afternoon I saw a post about a couple Cattle Egrets in North Hadley and I decided to make a run over to see them.  I had a couple Cattle Egrets back in May but it is a species that is missed most years in the county so thought I would try to catch up with them again today.  Before today I have had a total of three Cattle Egrets ever (a single in 2017 and the two earlier this year in May).  I managed to catch up with at least five individuals today at two different locations in Hadley...two birds in North Hadley and three in southern Hadley.  These birds appear to be part of an incursion of the species into the northeast compliments of the southerly winds.  Besides the egrets the best birds during my afternoon trip out included a continued Pectoral Sandpiper in North Hadley and at least 700 Brown headed Cowbirds at Cook's Farm.  I tried to find something else unusual among the cowbirds but no luck today.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Record setting October comes to an end

Brant, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Oct 21, 2018
Black Scoters, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Oct 21, 2018
Surf Scoter, Quabbin Park, MA, Oct 28, 2018
Evening Grosbeak, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Oct 28, 2018
Purple Finch, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Oct 19, 2018
October has rapidly come to an end and what a month it was for birding in Hampshire County.  I managed to find a total of 152 species for the month, which beat my previous best October in the county by 21 species!  Despite the month being cooler than normal overall there were a number of lingering species as well as lots of migrants moving through including a few irruptive from the north that don't always show up in numbers (Purple Finches, Pine Siskins and Evening Grosbeaks).  Waterfowl figured prominently into the total species for the month with a total of 23 species including four new species for the year for me: Brant, Surf Scoter, Black Scoter and Ruddy Duck.  These four additions bring me up to a total of 236 species for the year which is just two short of my best year ever with two months of the year left.  Hopefully some rarities will show up and push me past my old record...time will tell.
White crowned Sparrow, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Oct 22, 2018
Lincoln's Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Oct 19, 2018
Song Sparrow, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Oct 22, 2018
Swamp Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Oct 14, 2018
White crowned Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Oct 11, 2018
White throated Sparrow, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Oct 28, 2018
As normal for October sparrows were evident in numbers and variety with a total of
14 species of sparrows and juncos seen throughout the month with a noticeably large number of White crowned Sparrows compared to a typical October.
Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Oct 26, 2018
Palm Warbler 'yellow', Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Oct 22, 2018
Black and White Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Oct 19, 2018
I found a total of 16 species of warblers for the month with a number of them lingering later into the fall then I have ever had before (more on that in another post sometime)...more details on warblers for the month can be found at the following link.
White rumped Sandpiper, Hadley, MA, Oct 11, 2018
Solitary Sandpiper, Hadley, MA, Oct 10, 2018
Pectoral Sandpiper, Hadley, MA, Oct 8, 2018
A dozen species of shorebirds was also way above the typical number I find during October around here and many allowed close viewing and furnished some of my highest totals for several species (Loads of Pectorals and several White rumped Sandpipers including my first ever at Quabbin..my 247th species at Quabbin).