Thursday, April 19, 2018

Snow and sleet on multiple days as the cold weather continues


Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Apr 19, 2018
Palm Warbler 'yellow', Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Apr 19, 2018
Palm Warblers 'yellow', Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Apr 19, 2018
Chipping Sparrow, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Apr 19, 2018
Canada Goose with white on face, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Apr 19, 2018
Northern Watersnake with injury, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Apr 19, 2018
Ring necked Ducks (female with extensive white on face and neck), Beaver Lake, Ware, MA, Apr 19, 2018
Wilson checking out the latest snowfall, Covey WMA, Belchertown, MA, Apr 19, 2018
Ruby crowned Kinglet, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, Apr 18, 2018
Blue gray Gnatcatcher, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, Apr 18, 2018
Common Grackle, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, Apr 18, 2018
White tailed Deer, Covey WMA, Belchertown, MA, Apr 18, 2018
Eastern Bluebird, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Apr 17, 2018
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 16, 2018
Sleet covered ground, Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 16, 2018
Another round of snow today to go with the few inches of sleet we got on Monday (along with a couple inches of rain) continues our colder than normal month.  It honestly feels more like March then the middle of April.  The weather has certainly been tough on multiple early migrants that depend on insects for food (such as warblers, swallows, vireos, etc).  On the days with snow the insectivores have been concentrated in areas with larger numbers of insects (such as marshes and ponds).  As an illustration in just a small area around Lake Wallace I had nearly 80 Palm Warblers and double digit counts of Yellow rumped Warblers as well as multiple Tree Swallows, a couple Northern Rough winged Swallows and my first Bank Swallow.  I took a couple videos (#1#2) that show the warblers feeding there...I tried to find something else unusual with them but didn't have any luck.  Just as the snow was starting this morning I stopped at Beaver Lake where I had an unusual Ring necked Duck with extensive white on its head and neck..a unique looking bird that really stood out from the typical female that was also with the group.

Yesterday I hit a variety of spots including Quabbin ParkSilvio Conte NWR-Fort River and the Rail trail in Amherst and turned up a number of new species for the year including Louisiana Waterthrush, Blue gray Gnatcatcher and Pectoral Sandpiper.  I also followed up on a report from Mike L. that he had an unusual Palm Warbler at Covey WMA  that was either an aberrant individual or possibly a hybrid with a Yellow rumped Warbler.  No luck finding it despite a bit of effort both yesterday and today. 

I made a few stops on my way from work of Tuesday following our sleet and heavy rain on Monday but didn't turn up anything too unusual beyond a pair of Lesser Scaup at Winsor Dam.  Wish I could have gotten out during the storm as I'm sure something unusual was put down by the weather.
Sleet covered ground, Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 16, 2018
Mourning Dove, Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 16, 2018
Snow covered ground again, Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 19, 2018
The snow has kept the bird activity subdued at home too with just a handful of visitors to the water feature including a rather cold looking Mourning Dove the morning of the sleet storm.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A push of migrants before a big cool down with wind, freezing rain, sleet and rain for the middle of the month


Palm Warbler, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, Apr 13, 2018
Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Apr 13, 2018
Great Egret, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, Apr 13, 2018
Red necked Grebe, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 12, 2018
Hermit Thrush, Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 13, 2018
Horned Grebes, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 15, 2018
Wilson's Snipe (L) and Greater Yellowlegs (R), Rail trail, Amherst, MA, Apr 15, 2018
Eastern Towhee, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 13, 2018
The weather roller coaster has continued with temperatures on Friday reaching near 70 and into the 60's early on Saturday before the cold air started draining back on progressively stronger northerly winds.  Today started out cold and the temperature never managed to get out of the mid 30's all day with a strong wind and occasional drizzle (today actual set a record for the lowest high temp for the day).  The forecast calls for freezing rain and sleet overnight into early tomorrow before it warm enough to change it all to rain.  The rain should fall quite heavily throughout the day on Monday with up to a few inches possible.  The conditions certainly have the chance to ground some migrants such as waterfowl, gulls, waders and others but will also be very hard on the insectivores that have already made it here.  The warm push before the cold brought in some migrants with large counts of Palm Warblers, kinglets and my first Great Egret, Red necked Grebe, Blue headed Vireo and Eastern Towhees among many others.  I was able to get out a bit on Friday as well a little early on Saturday.  I checked a few spots briefly today for grounded birds on my way home but the best I could come up with were two near breeding plumage Horned Grebes at Winsor Dam.  Some errands midday brought me back over to Amherst so I took the opportunity to check Hop Brook along the rail trail where I found three Wilson's Snipe and a Greater Yellowlegs.  The first half of the month has produced a total of 103 species in the county so far.
Hermit Thrush, Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 13, 2018
Eastern Phoebe, Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 13, 2018
American Robin with leg bands, Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 13, 2018
The waterfall in up and running again at the house and has so far attracted five species including one of my banded robins and a Hermit Thrush.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A slightly nicer day today with warmer weather on the horizon

Pine Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 11, 2018
Palm Warbler 'yellow', Rail trail, Amherst, MA, Apr 11, 2018
Red bellied Woodpecker excavating a nest hole, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, Apr 11, 2018
Black capped Chickadee, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, Apr 11, 2018
Eastern Phoebe, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, Apr 11, 2018
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 11, 2018
April continues to be cooler than normal with a little more snow yesterday but thankfully today we had a brief respite with morning sun and temperatures eventually getting to near normal (after a record low this morning of 22 degrees).  The next few days are forecast to bring warmer temperatures on southerly winds with the chance for temperatures into the 70's on Saturday.  Migration has so far been fairly slow but I suspect it will pick up a bit if the forecast plays out as advertised.  Despite fighting yet another cold I made it out a bit before a doctors appointment and found some early migrants around including three species of warblers, quite a few Eastern Phoebes and Hermit Thrushes at multiple locations. 
Eastern Phoebe with leg bands (only the white band on the right can be seen here), Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 11, 2018
Eastern Phoebe, Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 11, 2018
American Robins with leg bands, Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 11, 2018
American Robin with leg bands, Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 11, 2018
American Robin with leg bands, Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 11, 2018
Duck box with eggs, Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 11, 2018
I spent most of my time around the house today and was rewarded with multiple banded birds in the yard including the return of my banded Eastern Phoebe.  The two previously seen banded robins are still around and appear to be paired up as they stayed close to each other most of the time I saw them.  I also checked the two duck boxes with eggs in them and one had a Hooded Merganser sitting on eggs when I checked (no photo of that box) and the other box had a full clutch of eggs covered with down.  Not sure what species is in the second box but I have never had anything but Hooded Mergansers however there is always the chance the nest is from Wood Ducks as I have had them in the stream on many occasions (including today). 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

First week of April comes to an end


Bufflehead, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 1, 2018
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 1, 2018
Overall the first week or so of April was cooler than normal with occasional bouts of rainy and/or snowy weather plus some strong winds.  Despite the less than ideal conditions early migrants continued to arrive.  I stopped at a few spots on my way home from work on Sunday but didn't find anything too unusual.  On Monday I made it out before snow quickly put an end top my time outside.
Eastern Phoebe, rail trail, Amherst, MA, Apr 3, 2018

Palm Warbler 'yellow', rail trail, Amherst, MA, Apr 3, 2018
Rusty Blackbird, rail trail, Amherst, MA, Apr 3, 2018
Yellow bellied Sapsucker, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 3, 2018
Pine Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 3, 2018
Tuesday was a nicer day (at least in the morning) so I spent more time out and about with highlights including multiple Ring necked Pheasants, at least two continued White crowned Sparrows at the Honey Pot, lots of Eastern Phoebes at multiple locations, my first yellow Palm Warblers of the spring, singing Pine Warblers and a few Yellow bellied Sapsuckers.  Two of the better stops of the morning were along the rail trail in Amherst and Quabbin Park.
Long tailed Ducks, Beaver Lake, Ware, MA, Apr 4, 2018
Tree Swallows, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Apr 4, 2018
Pileated Woodpecker, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Apr 4, 2018
 Great Blue Heron at nest, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Apr 4, 2018
American Robin with leg bands (banded 2017), Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 4, 2018
American Robin with leg bands (banded in 2016), Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 4, 2018 
Although the forecast for Wednesday was for some early rain giving way to some sun with temps into the 60's the rain/drizzle/low clouds never really gave up so the temps never climbed a whole lot before a cold front came in during the afternoon.  Despite the rainy weather I headed out in hopes of finding some good stuff forced down by the weather.  The best I could come up with was a pair of Long tailed Ducks at Beaver Lake.  Lake Wallace didn't have much as far as waterfowl goes but it did feature 80+ Tree Swallows looking miserable, a Great Blue Heron back at one of the nests and a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers destroying a rotten log.  I got to watch them for quite some time and got some video.  I also had two banded American Robin show back up in the yard (unfortunately none of the GPS tagged birds)...the birds were banded June 5, 2017. and June 2, 2016.
Black Vultures, Lower Mill Pond, Easthampton, MA, Apr 5, 2018
Common Loon, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Apr 5, 2018
I only had a couple hours to be out on Thursday morning before other commitments brought me back inside but I still managed to find a few things around including the continued Black Vultures in Easthampton, a continued Common Loon in the oxbow at Arcadia (an unusual species at this specific location as there is usually so much boat traffic) and the Red headed Woodpecker in its usual spot.  I'm sure there were more birds out there but the very strong winds  and cool temperatures made birding a bit difficult at times.
Blue winged Teal, Hadley, MA, Apr 7, 2018
Greater Scaup, Beaver Lake, Ware, MA, Apr 7, 2018
Greater Scaup and Ring necked Ducks, Beaver Lake, Ware, MA, Apr 7, 2018
Dark eyed Junco with white on face, Griffith's, Belchertown, MA, Apr 7, 2018
Dark eyed Junco with white on face, Griffith's, Belchertown, MA, Apr 7, 2018
Black capped Chickadee with leg bands, Griffith's, Belchertown, MA, Apr 7, 2018
After work today I checked a few spots on my way home following another bout of snow yesterday and again overnight.  Thankfully most of the snow melted fairly quickly but the day was still windy and cool.  I found a total of 13 species of waterfowl with just a few stops with highlights including a pair of Blue winged Teal in Hadley among 28 Green winged Teal, two Common Loons at Winsor Dam and four Greater Scaup at Beaver Lake.  After I got home I got a text from Devin letting me know a likely cassiar race of Dark eyed Junco that showed up in their yard a few days ago had returned and if I wanted to check it out I could swing by.  I had to take Wilson for a walk first but after that I stopped by and despite spending some time looking the bird never turned up while I was there.  There were still interesting birds stopping by the feeders including a Dark eyed Junco with white patches on its face (the individual has been around most of the winter) and a banded chickadee.  Overall for the month so far I have found 87 species in the county which is better than I have ever done before for the first week of the month despite the less than ideal migration conditions.  Once the weather breaks the migrants should really start moving back in.