Saturday, July 31, 2010

Loon with odd bill

Common Loon, Quabbin, July 12, 2010
Common Loon, Quabbin, July 12, 2010

I am finally getting around to posting about an odd loon I saw while assisting Quabbin biologists with a loon survey. The bird in question had a slightly lighter bill with either a part of the bill too long or a part that had been broken off. The bird was by itself and perhaps not quite as active as the others seen that day. Otherwise it appeared normal. This is not the only 'odd' loon I have seen at Quabbin over the last several years. Another was even more unusual and interesting but that will have to wait for another time.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sharp shinned Hawks

Sharp shinned Hawk, Quabbin, July 26, 2010
Sharp shinned Hawk, Quabbin, July 26, 2010

Today I went into central Quabbin and came across some good stuff. I began the morning watching a pair of River Otters in a large marsh. I then came across a Ruffed Grouse walking down the road. The grouse would occasionally tuck itself down low to the ground and then get up and walk a few feet and repeat. It eventually went off into tall grass and disappeared. I was afraid there might be young in the grass between the tire tracks of the road but I found none. The best find of the day was a group of at least three Sharp-shinned Hawks together deep in the woods in a large pine grove. There were two adults and at least one juvenile. I first heard them as the juvenile bird made quite a bit of noise and then the adults started. They flew around from tree to tree and gave some good, yet fleeting looks. One of the adults made a close run at my head so I decided to give them a wide berth as I moved back. I have come across so few Sharp shinned Hawks during breeding season that this is a truly great thing to see. Oddly the hawks were almost within sight of a tree I found Northern Saw-whet Owls nesting in a couple years ago. One other great moment was watching a couple Ruby-throated Hummingbird feeding on Cardinal Flowers along a stream. The breeze picked up as the morning went on and it became quite difficult to find any birds. The amount of bird song continues to drop off but there is still alot of evidence of successful breeding this season.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Prescott again

Coyotes, Quabbin, July 19, 2010
Coyotes, Quabbin, July 19, 2010

I spent about four hours this morning atlasing and turned up more evidence of breeding. Although the total amount of bird song has trailed off quite a bit, the birds are still around. The trip in today provided some great looks at young Ruffed Grouse, Northern Flickers feeding young, a Eastern Kingbird bringing food to some recently hatched young, various fledgling warblers, vireos and thrushes. I yet again found Chimney Swifts flying over the deep woods of Quabbin (a story for another post). The other highlights included a family group of two adult and three young Coyotes and a Small footed Myotis among the Little Brown Bats in a bat roosting site.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Loon survey

Common Loon, Quabbin, July 12, 2010

I finally managed to make it up to help out the Quabbin biologist with the ongoing loon surveys on Quabbin. We picked a perfect weather day for viewing. Nearly calm conditions for the entire time out on the water allowed for some great views of the birds. We covered the area from Boat Launch Area 2 south along the Prescott Peninsula and then across to shaft 12 and back and managed a total of eighteen adult Common Loons (including one with an odd bill..another post in the future) and five young. Only one pair of twins, all the remaining young were singles. There is still a loon on a nest that has not yet hatched. In addition to the loons highlights on the survey included seven Double crested Cormorants, four Common Mergansers, three Spotted Sandpipers, a Cooper's Hawk and a couple Bald Eagles. Despite alot of looking, I was unable to turn up the reported Caspian Tern(s). We spent about 4 1/2 hours on the water.

Common Loon w/young, near Boat Launch Area 2, July 12, 2010
Prior to meeting up for the loon survey I made a quick walk down to the water at Gate 16 just as the fog lifted off the water and had another pair of loons there as well as a number of Tree Swallows and other resident birds including several Hermit Thrushes and a freshly fledged family group of Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Gates 10, 8 and 6

I spent a few hours covering another atlas block (Belchertown 4). It was nice to get out in the early morning before it got oppressively hot again. The morning started out quite cloudy and humid with skies that look like they might open up at any point. No photos to go along with the trip today but some good stuff. The Acadian Flycatcher continues to call along the Gate 8 road and several fledgling Golden-crowned Kinglets were quite vocal and active. The toughest part of the morning were the incredible number of deer flies. They seem especially numerous this year.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Scrubland research project

Field Sparrow

I spent the morning in an area of north Quabbin assisting a DCR biologist with a bird survey of a scrubland research area. The project started last year looking at four separate survey circles with two having been clear cut several years ago and the other two in forest slated for harvest. The main aim of the survey is to discover what species are present and in what number as the forest regenerates. Due to some political issues at this point the next stage of the cutting has not yet occurred. I can say that the clear cut area continues to grow rapidly and contained a number of species associated with cut over areas including Prairie Warbler, Field Sparrow and Ruffed Grouse. The amount of available food within the clear cut was amazing with some quite tasty raspberries and blueberries.

Following the survey we stopped along the reservoir to take a quick look for the Caspian Terns that have been hanging around. During our time there we had no luck with the terns but did manage to have six Common Loons in view at once. Several other birders were in the area but none had yet had any luck with the terns. We then drove along inside the gates to Boat Launch Area 2 and then back to the New Salem office. Some nice birds along the way including a very vocal pair Broad-winged Hawks.

I then headed home with an hour walk down to the water at Gate 16 where I had another pair of Common Loons and other typical birds. By this time the temperatures had risen quite a bit so I headed out for the day.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Breeding Bird Atlas and a Moose

Moose, Quabbin, July 3, 2010

I spent yesterday morning atlasing a couple blocks in central Quabbin. Yet again a nice trip in with lots of breeding activity noted. Nothing way out of the ordinary for central Quabbin but another sighting of a Red Crossbill was noteworthy. The mammal show was nice too with my first Moose down there in quite sometime.