Sunday, June 3, 2012

Breeding Bird Survey route -Belchertown

Tornado damage along King St in Monson, MA, June 3, 2012

Tornado damage along King St in Monson, MA, June 3, 2012

Grasshopper Sparrow (trust me it is there!), Palmer landfill, Palmer, MA, June 3, 2012

Route 9 marsh, Quabbin, June 3, 2012
Today I conducted my breeding bird survey (BBS) route which starts in Belchertown (BBS Mass route 14)and runs through Ware, Palmer, and Monson to the Connecticut line.   The Breeding Bird Survey http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBS/ involves a preset 25 mile route with 3 minutes stops every half mile to census the number and species of birds present.   I began at 4:42am in the fog and cool temperatures and spent the next few hours covering the route.  With every passing year with this route, more and more of the area becomes built up with more and more homes.  The damage left over from the tornado of June 2011 is still impressive and a great illustration of the power of nature.  I included a few photos of an area of Monson (King St) that is along my survey route.  The fog made photos a bit tough but the areas pictured were nearly mature forest with homes tucked in among the trees before the tornado.  The total number of species seen during my various stops totaled 56 species.  In comparison to the last few years the numbers are down from 64 last year and 71 the year before.  I had no waterfowl or raptors this year which is unusual.  To provide a little more info on my BBS route I will delve into the details a bit more.  The top five most frequently heard or seen species in order were Chipping Sparrow (28 stops), American Robin (25 stops), Northern Cardinal (25 stops), Black-capped Chickadee (23 stops) and Red-eyed Vireo (21 stops). Nine species were heard or seen at just one stop with the vast majority of the others seen at ten stops or less. The cool temperatures and fog may be partially to blame but it is tough to say for certain. 
video

Once I finished up my survey route I came back up through Palmer and made a stop at the old Palmer landfill where I had a Grasshopper Sparrow last week.  There are at least two birds still there as of today.  If I had remembered my good camera I would have gotten some good photos but I only had my phone and binoculars.  I also ran across an odd sounding Common Yellowthroat near Conant Brook Reservoir in Monson and I included the video of it above.  I also made a quick swing by the route 9 marsh at Quabbin where half a dozen Great Blue Herons were hunting. 
video

A short video clip of the Grasshopper Sparrow taken through my binoculars.  You have to turn the volume up high to hear it calling.

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