Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day weekend birding

Tree Swallow in nest, Poverty Mountain, Shutesbury, MA, May 26, 2012

Baltimore Oriole nest, Poverty Mountain, Shutesbury, MA, May 26, 2012

Song Sparrow, Poverty Mountain, Shutesbury, MA, May 26, 2012
With the end of May rapidly approaching the vast majority of birds present now are local breeders on territory.  With this thought in mind, the season of conducting various bird census projects and breeding bird surveys begins.  On Saturday I joined several others in the annual Poverty Mountain bird census in Shutesbury.  I have taken part in this project for several years now.  The count began at 6am and went until late morning.  The total number of species seen for the count was 60 while I was there (three more were added later).  The number of warbler species totaled eleven.  In comparison to past years the numbers were almost exactly the same with the average being 60.  There were some new birds added such as Blue-winged Warbler and Common Merganser but others were missed.
Sunset at Winsor Dam, May 26, 2012

Sunset at Winsor Dam, May 26, 2012
In the evening on Saturday I met up with Ian Davies and we spent some time around Winsor Dam and Covey WMA until after dark. We managed to find some nice birds including  four Common Nighthawks moving northeast and two Whip-Poor-Wills calling at Winsor Dam.  A stationary count at Winsor Dam is almost always productive.  We tried for rails in a few spots but came up empty.  We did however manage to give a lot of blood to the local population of mosquito's.

Blue-winged Warbler, old Palmer airport, Palmer, MA, May 27, 2012

Blue-winged Warbler, old Palmer airport, Palmer, MA, May 27, 2012

Red Squirrel, Quabbin Park, May 27, 2012

Cooper's Hawk in display flight, old Palmer airport, Palmer, MA, May 27, 2012
On Sunday I visited several areas trying to catch up with some of the local breeders as well as any late season migrants.  I began the morning at Quabbin Park and then headed up to Gate 8 trying for Acadian Flycatcher, which I did not find.  I next stopped by Covey WMA with Wilson to go for a walk and had a calling Northern Bobwhite (a bird Ian and I  tried to get the evening before with no luck).  The bobwhite makes number 184 on my list for Hampshire county so far this year.  After that I headed over to some spots in Palmer Ian told me about the evening before.  He had a Grasshopper Sparrow calling on territory in a field on Babcock Tavern Rd. and it was still present there late morning on Sunday. The area also had Alder and Willow Flycatchers, Bobolinks, Blue-winged and Prairie Warblers as well as Field Sparrows.  There was also a nice selection of raptors around including Broad-wing, Cooper's (one in a deep wing beat display flight) and Red-tailed Hawks.  In the evening at home I added a couple of more calling Common Nighthawks heading northeast.  I managed just over 90 species for the day without too much effort
Wood Duck, Fisk Meadows WMA, Chesterfield, MA, May 28, 2012

Wood Duck, Fisk Meadows WMA, Chesterfield, MA, May 28, 2012

Great Blue Heron, Fisk Meadows WMA, Chesterfield, MA, May 28, 2012

Fisk Meadow WMA, Chesterfield, MA, May 28, 2012
On Memorial Day I headed to the hills of Hampshire County to try my luck in finding an American Bittern and hopefully some other species I have so far missed this year.  I started at the Cummington fairgrounds area and failed to find a bittern but did pick up a couple Green Herons, Spotted Sandpiper and a variety of other birds.  Upon arriving back home I realized I may have been in the wrong spot to get the bittern as I was near Flat Iron Road and not down further.  I looked up Cummington marshes in the western mass bird guide and it showed a marsh were I was.  I now think the marsh further south on the opposite side of the street may have been the correct one.  Guess I will have to try again sometime.  I next stopped at a few other marshes on the way home through Goshen and Chesterfield.  The best one is the large complex of marsh area contained within the Fisk Meadow WMA in Chesterfield.  I added some good stuff here including Evening Grosbeak (#185), Red-shouldered Hawk and other typical marsh area birds.  The area looks great for Moose too.  It is such a vast area you would need a kayak to cover it well.  I made my way back through Amherst and made some brief stops but found nothing too good.  I got home and we went for a walk with Wilson along Jabish Canal and picked up lots of ticks plus I had an odd sounding Scarlet Tanager that had me thinking Summer Tanager but it was not.  The birds around the house continue there nesting activities with House Wrens omnipresent, Tree Swallows in a nest box and various warblers, vireos and flycatchers in the woods and marsh nearby.

TD Beryl projected path as of midday May 28, 2012

TS Beryl, evening of May 27, 2012

TS Beryl potential tracks
And finally there is another tropical storm in the Atlantic.  This time the storm is named Beryl and developed off the coast of Georgia and is tracking southwest.  The storm has sustained winds near 65 MPH on Sunday evening so is just below hurricane strength.  This makes two storms before the hurricane season officially starts on June 1.  The long range prediction is still for a typical hurricane season but the appearance of two pre season storms certainly makes you wonder about the accuracy of the long term prediction.  This storm is not likely to have any impact here but I always had an interest in weather and its impact on birding.  As the season goes on I will return to this topic from time to time. 

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