Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A rainy day, more loons and an update on the season so far.

Common Merganser, Winsor Dam, May 8, 2012

Now that there is a rainy, cool day I will take some time to try to sum up the last several days of spring migration around here.  There were many great days with so many highlights I cannot hope to touch on them all.  Some days, like May 5th, were truly memorable.  It seemed like everywhere we went there were new birds and good numbers.  Without trying very hard I managed to get 110 species in just three towns in Hampshire county.  I could have certainly added several to the total by starting earlier in the day and going past mid afternoon and/or visiting other areas. 

As another illustration to how much diversity showed up in just a few days I have included below a list of the number of first of year birds here in the state during the first week of May. 

Date                      Number of first of year birds

5/1                         3

5/2                         3

5/3                         12

5/4                         10

5/5                         11

5/6                         1

5/7                         2

The dates of May 3 -5 were very impressive with double digit first of year birds each day.   The diversity was matched by good numbers as many species arrived in force.  There is nothing quite like a good migration day (or days) in May.

Now I will take a look at where I stand on my way to observing at least 200 species in the county this year and where I am compared at this point compared to other years.  As of end of the first week of May my total stands at 171.  Below is a comparison of the previous five years in regards to how long it took to reach my current position for totals and year end totals:

Year                       Date to obtain 171                           Year end totals 

2011                       late August                                         197

2010                       early October                                    182

2009                       mid August                                         187

2008                       mid July                                                187

2007                       late May                                              199

I appear to be on track to meeting my goal of 200 and will likely exceed it with any luck.  I will attempt to maximize the number for the year as a sort of ‘big county year’ type goal.  It will be interesting to see the total at the end of the year.  Stay tuned.

Despite the rainy, cool weather (high of 50 degrees today) I still managed a couple of brief stops to bird before and after work.  On my way to work I stopped at Winsor Dam in the hopes of finding something grounded by the weather.  I had some 50+ gulls but they were all Ring-billed.  In addition there was a group of three Common Loons together as well as seven Common Mergansers cruising along the dam itself.  On my way home I stopped by the dam again and had a large group of Common Loons numbering at least 29!  The second large gathering of loons I have had here in the last week.  The birds were probably put down by the inclement weather and will continue their way north once the weather improves.  Try as I might I could not find any terns.

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