Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Outer edge of Hurricane Jose causes wind, drizzle here as yet another catastrophic hurricane hits the Caribbean


Black throated Green Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 19, 2017
Pine Warbler with odd growth near bill, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 19, 2017
Northern Parula, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 19, 2017
We have felt just the outer edges of weakening Hurricane Jose as it slowly circles around off the southern New England coast giving us low clouds, some wind and occasional drizzle the last couple days which has kept me birding locally around Quabbin Park.  Despite the conditions I have still managed to find some pockets of birds in my travels although not is as great of numbers as I would expect if the weather were better.  On Tuesday I spent a good portion of the morning around the park and found two Eastern Whip Poor Wills still singing, a Brown Thrasher giving an odd call and seven species of warbler including a Pine Warbler with an odd growth near its bill (I found the same bird today and got some better photos).  Full list from the morning: Quabbin Park 9/19
Pine Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 20, 2017
Pine Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 20, 2017
Pine Warbler with odd growth near bill, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 20, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler 'Myrtle', Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 20, 2017

As the conditions were a bit less conducive to birding today I covered a smaller area but still found some birds around including the Pine Warbler with an odd growth. Full list here:  Quabbin Park 9/20.
Hurricane Maria after striking Dominica, Sep 19, 2017 (courtesy of NOAA)
Now onto to Hurricane Maria which devastated Dominica as a Category 5 hurricane before it moved on to give Puerto Rico a direct hit this morning as a strong Category 4 storm (the strongest storm to hit the island since the 1930's).  This storm looks to have caused major destruction over a wide area and certainly impacted the various bird species on all the impacted islands.  Puerto Rico alone contains 17 endemic species with several of them endangered so a major storm like this will certainly have an impact on a number of species.  Puerto Rico is filled with some unique birds that makes it sad to watch a storm like Maria hit. Post from my trip down to Puerto Rico here:  Puerto Rico Dec 2016.  The island of Barbuda (home of the endemic Barbuda Warbler) was hit directly by Hurricane Irma with 185 MPH and the chance is there that this species was wiped out.  In addition the large frigatebird rookery appears to have been completely destroyed. Other nearby islands such as Saint Martin and the US and British Virgin Islands were also hit directly by Irma and also suffered extensive damage.  Cuba, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos also suffered extensive damage with heavy loss to some bird species there including the well publicized deaths of large numbers of American Flamingos in Cuba (warning, it is hard to watch)-Flamingos on Cuba-dead and injured.

Hurricane Maria rapidly developed and hit the island of Dominica (home to two endemic parrot species and a near endemic warbler) and the damage there looks to be in a similar category to the damage suffered earlier by Barbuda.  The parrots are critically endangered and may also have been wiped out...a truly sad toll from the storm.  I planned on getting down there in a few months but they may not happen now.  All the the impacted will need months and likely years to recover and if you are so inclined to make a donation to assist those who help the birds in the area follow either this link to Birds Caribbean or to a direct link to make donations: Birdscaribbean-Hurricane-Relief
The hurricane will continue to move off to the northwest before turning north and then northeast out to sea before hitting the US thanks to the continued presence of the remains of Jose to its north.  There is always a chance this track could change over the next several days and if any major changes occur that could impact us here I will update as needed.

I have a more detailed post concerning the impacts on the various endemic warbler species from the islands that have suffered from the recent hurricanes and a link to that post is here:  Hurricane Irma and Maria impacts on warblers

Monday, September 18, 2017

More migrants moving through and the latest tropical update


Clay colored Sparrow, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 15, 2017
Chestnut sided Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 15, 2017
Blackpoll Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 15, 2017
Ovenbird, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 15, 2017
Ovenbirds having a squabble, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 15, 2017
Ovenbirds having a squabble, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 15, 2017
Magnolia Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 15, 2017
On Friday morning I decided to spend my entire morning at Quabbin Park and get away from the crowds. It was a banner day with loads of stuff around including my first Clay colored Sparrow I have ever had at Quabbin Park (species #236 for me there...it has been awhile since I have added a new species there). Before the sun came up I was over at Winsor Dam listening for Eastern Whip Poor Wills and I heard at least two still singing. The rest of the morning I spent exploring various trails in the park and I came across a number of mixed species flocks containing a nice variety of migrants. Full list with lots of photos here: Quabbin Park

Merlin, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 16, 2017
Merlin, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 16, 2017
Marsh Wren, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 16, 2017
Marsh Wren, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 16, 2017
Grasshopper Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 16, 2017
Saturday morning was spent around Arcadia with Keenan, Devin and Aidan. The low clouds stayed in place throughout the morning but at least the visibility was decent. No luck finding any Connecticut Warblers but we did have some unusual species as well as decent numbers of some more common species. The unusual species included a Marsh Wren and a Grasshopper Sparrow. Unfortunately while we were there one of the best fields for sparrows was plowed under so the birding will not be nearly as good moving forward. Not too surprised as the fields in question are active farm fields but it would have been nice if the plowing was put off until later in the season...oh well.
Northern Parula, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 17, 2017
House Wren, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 17, 2017
Sunday started off as yet another warm morning with low clouds and fog. Without a lot of time to go out before other commitments later in the morning I stayed close to home with a visit back over to Quabbin Park. After adding a new species to my Quabbin Park list just a couple days before I added another on Sunday with a Connecticut Warbler...two new species in just three days. I guess it pays off to spend a little more time there in fall. Before I found the warbler later in the morning I had some good stuff early morning including two Eastern Whip Poor Wills, a half dozen Great Horned Owls, a Barred Owl and a Eastern Screech Owl. Overall the park was a little be slower then a couple days ago but the weather was not as good and I didn't have as much time to poke around. Full list from the morning here: Quabbin Park
Dickcissel, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 18, 2017
Dickcissel, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 18, 2017
Dickcissel (dull individual), Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 18, 2017
Marsh Wren, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 18, 2017
With the thought that the crowds of the weekend would be gone I headed back to Arcadia on Monday morning to enjoy the last calm morning before the effects of Hurricane Jose start being felt here with increased winds and rain. The storm looks to brush past southern New England before heading out into the Atlantic (more on the tropics below).  I was joined for part of the morning by Keenan as we explored a variety of areas on a foggy, misty morning which made viewing a bit tough at times.  Overall numbers were down a bit but we nonetheless still managed to find some good stuff including two Marsh Wrens, a Connecticut Warbler (seen very briefly) and two Dickcissel (an incredible fall for this species).


Hurricane Jose remains a Category 1 storm as it continues north on the way to a brush past southern New England.  The storm should stay far enough offshore to spare extreme damage but there will certainly be some wind, rain and beach erosion.  As far as bird activity is concerned there is always the potential for something unusual to show up or be grounded by the weather but the chances are quite low with the track of Jose.  Beyond Jose the tropics continue to be active with two more named storms out in the open ocean...Maria and Lee. Hurricane Maria is moving northwest through the northern Lesser Antilles...an area that does not need any more impacts from tropical systems but it appears they will indeed. It also looks to be heading for a direct hit on Puerto Rico on Wednesday before continuing northwest.  The storm is now a Category 4 storm with 130 MPH and is forecast to remain a major hurricane for the next several days. The long range forecast is tough to determine this far out but there is the distinct possibility it could be a threat to the US at some point.  Lee has lost most of its strength and is no threat to any landmass as it slowly drifts way out in the Atlantic.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

More migrants the last few days


Cape May Warbler, Amherst, MA, Sep 11, 2017
After several nights of northerly winds bringing great migration conditions the winds have turned to the south and we have enjoyed a return to summer like temperatures with highs in the 80's. With the great migration conditions the last few mornings have produced some great birds.  Until the conditions change again I would not expect many new arrival nor many departures.
Grasshopper Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 13, 2017
Common Yellowthroat, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 13, 2017
Lincoln's Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 13, 2017
Gray Catbird, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 13, 2017
Clay colored Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 13, 2017
Today I headed over to Arcadia to see what I could find after not being there for a few days. The thick fog that was present when I arrived stuck around through mid morning before finally burning off. Despite the less than ideal conditions there were some great birds around with the highlights including three Yellow Warblers, both subspecies of Palm Warbler, a Clay colored Sparrow (seen distantly in the fog), a Grasshopper Sparrow and a flyby Dickcissel.  Full eBird list from the morning: Arcadia
Prairie Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 12, 2017
Black and White Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 12, 2017
Pine Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 12, 2017
Bay breasted Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 12, 2017
Northern Cardinal, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 12, 2017
Yesterday I spent the morning around Quabbin Park starting off predawn where I had at least three Eastern Whip Poor Wills still calling as well as a few owls. Once the sun came up the temps warmed up and the birds responded. There were several mixed species flocks with highlights including five Wood Thrushes, a Cape May Warbler, three Bay breasted Warblers and almost thirty Pine Warblers among 15 species of warbler and others among some sixty species total.  List from the morning here: Quabbin Park
Cape May Warbler, Amherst, MA, Sep 11, 2017
Northern Parula, Amherst, MA, Sep 11, 2017
Tennessee Warbler, Amherst, MA, Sep 11, 2017
On Monday morning I spent another cool morning out, this time in Amherst with Keenan and Isabel. It was another productive morning with several notable sightings including a spectacular number of Tennessee Warblers (at least 13). So far this fall has been spectacular for a few northern breeding species that nest in spruces with the most noteworthy being Tennessee Warbler. Some mornings I have seen more individuals in a single day then I have gotten in an entire season in the past. The count of 13 on Monday morning is the highest count in eBird for Hampshire County ever...really crazy considering all those birds were in such a small geographic area. It will be interesting to see if the large counts here in fall translate into higher counts in their wintering area (Costa Rica is one such area I will be checking) and if there is a noticeable increase in numbers here next spring. Other spruce nesting species such as Bay breasted Warbler and Blackpoll Warbler also have been around in larger than typical numbers.  I will give a full tally of the numbers once the fall migration ends.
Common Nighthawk, home, Belchertown, MA, Sep 12, 2017
Common Nighthawk with mouth open about to catch flying ant, home, Belchertown, MA, Sep 12, 2017
The warmer temperatures brought in some Common Nighthawks over the house taking advantage of a hatching of flying ants.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Connecticut Warbler today and loads of other migrants the last two days


Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 10, 2017
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 10, 2017
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 10, 2017
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 10, 2017
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 10, 2017
Prairie Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 10, 2017
Philadelphia Vireo, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 10, 2017
I met up with Keenan this morning and we explored quite a bit of area around Arcadia with one of our main goals being Connecticut Warbler...and we were successful!  It will be interesting to see how many of them I can find this year, I'm off to a good start with two so far.  Last year was my best year ever when I tallied a total of ten individuals (Connecticut Warblers 2016).  Besides the CT warblers we had a nice cross section of species (75 total species) and although the numbers were low for some species the diversity was quite high.  Full list with additional photos here:  Arcadia
Ruby crowned Kinglet, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Philadelphia Vireo, Amherst, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Nashville Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Magnolia Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Pine Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Northern Parula, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Tennessee Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Blackpoll Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Black throated Blue Warbler, Amherst, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Bay breasted Warbler, Amherst, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Wilson's Warbler, Amherst, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Yesterday morning I got up and out before dawn to make a quick stop over to Winsor Dam before heading out to various locations to catch up with what I was sure would be lots of migrants.  My main target at the dam was to see if any whip poor wills were still around calling.  No luck with those but I did have a Northern Saw Whet Owl calling which was a nice consolation prize.  I could hear lots of flight calls as I listened to the owl so I didn't stick around too long as I wanted to be checking some running spots at dawn on the cool morning.  I headed to various spots around Amherst for the morning until the wind picked up and then I headed over to a more sheltered spot at Quabbin Park.  An absolutely great early fall morning with good numbers and good diversity.  Highlights for the morning included at least eight Wood Thrush calling predawn, two Great crested Flycatchers, five vireo species (including five Philadelphia Vireos), my first Ruby crowned Kinglet of the fall, 21 species of warblers (12 Tennessee, a Mourning, 13 Northern Parula, 24, Magnolia, 2 Bay breasted, 30 or so Blackpoll, 3 Canada and 2 Wilson's and others) and a flyby Dickcissel.  The diversity the last couple days in unlikely to be duplicated again until next spring as more and more species move out for the winter.  Without too much effort I topped a hundred species in the last couple days with 22 species of warblers.


Hurricane Irma made two landfalls in Florida with the first in the keys and the second near Marco Island. The storm had regained some strength after it got back over the very warm waters of the Florida Strait and hit the US as a Category 4 storm with 130 MPH.  Not as bad as some of the islands in the Lesser Antilles but still very bad.  The storm should continue to lose strength as it moves north along the west coast of Florida.  Once again the link to storm related birds can be found at the following link: Hurricane Irma and birding

Eastern Phoebe with leg bands, home, Belchertown, MA, Sep 10, 2017
Raccoon, home, Belchertown, MA, Sep 5, 2017
At home the motion cameras continue to capture some good stuff although the number of birds coming into the water feature has dropped off a bit (typical for the fall).  I did manage to capture the banded Eastern Phoebe that I had not seen around in several weeks plus a few species of mammals.