Monday, January 31, 2011

Hadley farm fields

Horned Larks, Hadley, MA, January 31, 2011
Lapland Longspur, Hadley, MA, January, 31, 2011
American Pipit, Hadley, MA, January 31, 2011
Horned Lark, Hadley, MA, January 31, 2011
I made a trip to some farm fields in Hadley this morning to follow up on reports of various birds in the area. I managed to come across a large flock of Horned Larks (190+) which had at least three Lapland Longspurs mixed in with them. I also found a very cooperative American Pipit as well as another surprise bird...a Rusty Blackbird. The massive amount of snow has concentrated these birds into the only snow free areas around and allows for some spectacular views. I wanted to get some views of these birds before the next big snowstorm hits tomorrow.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A day above freezing

Despite a morning dusting of snow the day turned partially sunny and the temperatures actually broke the freezing mark and made it to 35 degrees today! I made a brief trip to Quabbin Park this morning and ran into some fairly dense fog. Despite this I had at least 52 American Robin fly by from their morning roost. Perhaps I can make it over there tomorrow or Monday and get a better count if the weather is clear.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Florida trip Sanibel Island part 1

White Pelican, Darling NWR, January 11, 2011
Yellow-throated Warbler, Darling NWR, January 11, 2011

Ring billed Gulls chasing a Laughing Gull, Darling NWR, January 11, 2011
Royal Tern, Sanibel West End Beach, January 11, 2011

I spent the next few days of my latest trip to Florida on Sanibel Island. My main area of coverage here was the J.N. 'Ding' Darling NWR. I made many trips through the refuge over the days there and found some nice birds. Although the weather certainly could have been much warmer there was no rain and I still managed to stay outside for hours at a time. No matter how cool it got here it was still better than the weather at home during this time as a major snowstorm with two feet of snow hit.

Sanibel Island is great for numbers and views of various waders as well as shorebirds. The wildlife drive through Darling NWR provides numerous opportunities to both view of photograph the birds. The numbers and variety fluctuate throughout the day so no one trip is like another. Its nice to just walk along the roadsides through the mangrove areas to see what you can come across.

Bitter cold

Not truly a bird report but just an observation about how truly cold it is and has been. Last night the temperatures tumbled down to at least -15F with a breeze. As of 10am this morning the temp is still at zero. The high today may not break out of the single digits. An amazing bout of cold weather. It will be below zero again tonight, which will make it three night in a row below zero. Very tough to take.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Florida Day 1 and 2, January 9-10

Black Vulture, Green Cay Wetlands, January 9, 2011
Mottled Duck, Green Cay Wetlands, January 9, 2011
Great Egret catching fish, Green Cay Wetlands, January 9, 2011

We arrived in sunny Florida after a slight delay due to snow. We spent these two days near Boynton Beach and visited Green Cay Wetlands and Loxahatchee NWR. Green Cay is a great spot most any time of day as the birds have little fear of people and the boardwalks allow for close of views. I ran into another western Mass birder within the first few minutes at Green Cay. The first day at Green Cay turned up some nice warblers including Northern Parula, Black and White, Prairie as well as Palm, Pine and Yellow-rumped. There was also a nice selection of ducks and waders plus a few Sora. Various raptors came and went. The Painted Bunting show was impressive with up to eight present at once, including three males. Other birds of note here included a Brown Thrasher poking under a feeder and a flyby Sandhill Crane. At dawn on the 10th I arrived at Loxahatchee to witness the fly out of waders at dawn. Its always impressive to see this as the sun rises and the birds disperse to feeding areas. The largest representation came from White Ibis that numbered into the several hundred. In addition I had some great views of a banded Snail Kite in the far cells at Loxahatchee and managed some marginal photos.

Snail Kite, Loxahatchee NWR, January 10,2011
Black and White Warbler, Green Cay Wetlands, January 10, 2011

After another trip to Green Cay we began the drive across Alligator Alley to Sanibel Island and J.N. Darling NWR arriving early afternoon. After a trip around the wildlife drive we made it out to the beach to finish the day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Back from Florida...what is with all this snow!?

Roseate Spoonbill, Merritt Island NWR, FL, January 16, 2011

Back from a week plus trip down to Florida and it appears I did not bring the warm weather back with me! After spending a few hours moving snow yesterday (about 18" of the stuff) I spent today moving an additional five inches of snow and another inch of sleet. It looks like true winter has set in. I will review my trip to Florida over the next few weeks. It was another good trip. We started in the West Palm area and then went over to Sanibel Island and then up to Orlando. A total of 138 species with three new Florida birds for me. It seems like a different world going from sun and 70 degrees to the reality of home!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Quabbin Park and Covey WMA

Eastern Bluebird, Covey WMA, January 3, 2011
Dark-eyed Junco, Covey WMA, January 3, 2011
Brown Creeper, Covey WMA, January 3, 2011
Brown Creeper, Covey WMA, January 3, 2011
Red-breasted Nuthatch, Covey WMA, January 3, 2011

I enjoyed a nice morning visit to both Quabbin Park and Covey WMA. The wind was up today and the temperatures down so it was a bit more like January. The morning started with a nice flight of American Robins moving south from their evening roosts. I had at least 421 and this was a minimum count as they were already moving in numbers before I arrived. I also had a nice group of 37 Common Mergansers at Quabbin as well as at least four Bald Eagles. I then went to Covey WMA to try to get out of the wind a bit. I immediately ran across a nice group of birds feeding along the edges including Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Bluebirds, American Robins, Juncos, and the other expected species. Some very good looks as the birds fed on the various berries still remaining here.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Quabbin CBC

American Goldfinch, Quabbin, January 1, 2011

I took part in my third and final Christmas Bird Count for the season today. The Quabbin CBC covers the area around the Quabbin Reservoir and we covered the area of the restricted Prescott Peninsula. The snow on the roads made it impossible to get to the actually reservoir so we had to be content to look for land birds only today. Despite this we managed a very good number of 26 species in this large forested tract. The weather made it a pleasure to be outside with morning sun, calm conditions and temperatures that eventually reached 48 degree F! Amazing for New Years Day! The highlights were many including the best view I have ever had of an adult Northern Goshawk as it flew within 20 feet of us, a group of flyover Red Crossbills, fourteen Common Redpolls, a Barred Owl, eight Pileated Woodpeckers and the list goes on. With the sighting of the Goshawk we managed a three accipter day which is truly memorable on any day. We had lots of Moose tracks but no Moose today. The best mammal of the day was a Beaver. All and all a great way to start out a new year of birding.