Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue winged Teal continue

Blue winged Teal (two right side birds) with Mallard, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 31, 2012
Another cool morning with temperatures in the 50’s and sunny skies found me stopping briefly at Lake Wallace before work.  A nice selection of waterfowl around for the last day of August with a total of at least 10 Blue-winged Teal!  There was a group of six together as well as two more groups of two.  They were a bit difficult to see at times and had disappeared into the reeds by the time I left.  Other waterfowl included a single Hooded Merganser, a Black Duck, a Pied-billed Grebe (in juvenile plumage), Wood Ducks (77) and Mallards (146).  There were still several Green Herons around as well as a couple Eastern Kingbirds plus others.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Warbler migration begins

Radar image of migration on Tue Aug 28 at 9:55pm (Hurricane Isaac visible near Louisiana)

Common Yellowthroat, Orchard Hill, Amherst, MA, Aug 29, 2012

Common Yellowthroat, Orchard Hill, Amherst, MA, Aug 29, 2012

Gray Catbird, Orchard Hill, Amherst, MA, Aug 29, 2012

Gray Catbird, Orchard Hill, Amherst, MA, Aug 29, 2012
On Tuesday night into Wednesday morning a large nocturnal movement of birds looks to have taken place with the radars lit up and lots of flight call heard as I stepped out in the evening to listen to what might be calling overhead.  I also spent just a few minutes with the scope watching the moon and had several birds fly past.  I included a radar image capture of migration.  Certainly just the start of what is to come this fall.  On Wednesday morning I got up predawn and headed over to UMASS to bird the area of Orchard Hill.  It started off a bit quiet with a handful of thrushes around including several Wood Thrush’s, a Veery and robins.  I spent just under two hours around the area and turned up some decent groups of mixed species.  I found a total of ten warbler species with the highlights being Wilson’s, Tennessee, Yellow, Nashville Warblers and at least five Northern Parula’s.  Other birds of note included five Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, several Northern Flickers, lots of Gray Catbirds, a Scarlet Tanager, a few Baltimore Orioles and three Purple Finches.  In the evening I made a brief trip over to Quabbin to check the area around Winsor Dam.  Nothing too unusual with no nighthawks seen at all.  A pair of Common Loons calling back and forth were the highlight.  I did have just over a dozen Common Nighthawks fly past the house with ten of those in one group moving southwest after 7pm.

Today I decided to try once again to find some shorebirds in the valley.  I stopped briefly at Metacomet Lake and the fog made viewing difficult.  I had a single Least Sandpiper there but nothing else.  I then headed over to Northampton and Hatfield.  The fog coming up from the river completely obscured any viewing in the fields here and despite much effort I completely struck out on shorebirds once again in this area. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene one year anniversary

What a difference a year makes, Winsor Dam at dusk, Aug 28, 2012
It has been one year since the arrival of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene in western Massachusetts and delivered some incredible birds to the area.   I have written about that day extensively before but find it worth mentioning again on the one year anniversary.  Besides the tropical/pelagic species brought in from the storm there were a variety of shorebirds.  The list for the day is quite amazing when you look back.  Here is the eBird list submitted by Marshall Iliff for the time that he, Scott Surner and I were at Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park.  I think it does a great job of summing up the day.
Sooty Tern, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Aug 28, 2011

Quabbin Reservoir--Park HQ., Hampshire, US-MA
Aug 28, 2011 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Protocol: Stationary
Comments: This count is for the full day totals by Marshall Iliff, Scott Surber, and Larry Therrien, joined by others in afternoon. I kept detailed hourly totals, so this count is a duplicate of the other 11 checklists. With Tropical Storm Irene hitting Manhattan at 8:00-9:00 am, and its arrival in western Massachusetts scheduled for 15:30, I arrived here at 9:00 with the intention of staying all day and trying for hurricane birds, not least of them my state Sooty Tern. All week the 'eye' had been forecast to pass over Quabbin or slightly west, so this seemed like the perfect spot being a large north-south water body near to or just east of the eye of the storm. Scott Surner arrived two hours earlier than I and stayed all day; Larry Therrien joined intermittently, including the whole afternoon. Dozens more joined from 15:00 to 18:00, and were witness to the highlights of this phenomenal day.
Canada Goose 90
Mallard 75
Common Loon 3 adults; one pair seen in display flight
White-tailed Tropicbird 1 ***mega; stunning, full-tailed adult spotted by Larry Therrien at 16:34 and called out as 'I got something REALLY interesting'! Larry had not acted this way all day, so I snapped to attention immediately and followed his directions, expecting a Sooty Tern. When I got on his bird in my scope, it was flying directly away over the 'gap' (the view to the northern part of the reservoir) and was flying with fast, shorebird-like wing beats. I did not instantly realize what I was looking at, and seeing the flight style and odd black stripe down the back very quickly considered and eliminated American Avocet and then Pied Avocet. The bird banked slightly about a second later and I started screaming ADULT WHITE-TAILED TRPICBIRD!, which I am sure is what Larry knew it was all along! Pandemonium ensured as the bird banked left and flew towards the island, revealing the long tail streamer flowing wave-like in the wind. On the water (probably 0.75 to 1 mile distant or so) it sat very squat, not riding high like gulls, and it propped its rear end up. Occasionally the long, slim, tail streamers could be seen while sitting, It spent almost all its time facing right towards us, into the wind, but at one point it turned sideways and a white bird with a bold black carpal bar could be seen. No one was quick enough to take photos in flight and when sitting on the water it was hard enough to keep in the scopes, let alone to photograph. It sat on the water for over an hour, drifting slowly away from us, until lost from view at about 17:40. Amazingly, one of 10 live White-tailed Tropicbirds seen, with 2 in Delaware, three in a single Cape May, NJ, seawatch, at least two live (and two dead) in New York, and one or two at Onota Lake, Pittsfield, MA. Are more are yet to come? Tom Johnson and other researchers offshore this summer noted elevated numbers of White-tailed Tropicbirds, which may be a factor in this unprecedented storm for tropicbirds. DESCRIPTION: Bonaparte's Gull sized bird with gleaming white plumage and fast, hurried flap. It was flapping constantly and seemed to require much effort to stay airborne, flying much like a Willet (I once heard a pelagic Willet called out as a tropicbird) or avocet. The wings were slender and narrow, and came to blunt points. The tail was long, as long as the body perhaps, and very slender, flowing with every flap. The upperparts had a bold black carpal bar and bold black outer primaries (outer wedge, involving several outer primaries). The back was pure white. I could not see the details of the head, but there was certainly a mask. I could not see the bill color. The bird flew left and then wheeled into a glide and flapped as it landed on the water.
Double-crested Cormorant 3
Turkey Vulture 3
Osprey 1
Cooper's Hawk 1 flying across lake; spotted by Dave Donsker
Bald Eagle 2 one ad, one TY
Red-tailed Hawk 1 my first of the day; soaring at dusk to east
Black-bellied Plover 7 *rare; one flying with Hudsonian Godwit flock at about 13:30 and at 18:00-19:00 flock of six flying with two American Golden-Plovers; in flight, blackish underparts and white rumps and tails easily seen, as well as larger size relative to the Golden-Plovers
Whimbrel 1 **rare; heard clearly 4x giving 'slightly descending 'kek-kek-kek-kek'. I must admit, I first thought it might be a flicker (an ID problem I have never had before), but after another two calls it became clear that it was a Whimbrel and I called it out to the others. We heard it give one more call then, and after that it must have circled because a minute later we heard the call again, loud, right overhead. Never seen.
Hudsonian Godwit 12 **rare; about 10:30; I initially counted 11 in the field but photos clearly show 12
Ruddy Turnstone 4 *rare; flock spotted flying south towards us into wind (and ultimately over the dam and off to the south) by Mike Resch, who commented on their dark chests and instantly agreed when I suggested turnstone (before seeing the birds); flock flew past and seen well in flight. Bold pattern of white and black on wings with white oval up central lower back and dark smudges on chest.
Baird's Sandpiper 1 *rare; flying with Ruddy Turnstones and only slightly smaller and without the chety appearance of Pectoral. Not seen well, but the size in comparison to turnstone, lack of a bold wingstripe or white rump, and long-winged appearance all combine to eliminate all species except Baird's, Buff-breasted, and Pectoral, and I was ocnfident that the shape was not that of Pectoral. The bill and head were seen well enough to eliminate Buff-breasted
peep sp. 1 small peep, probably Least
large shorebird sp. 20 one tight flock of about 20 shorebirds at 13:30 was spotted late and mostly got past us before we could Id then; some observers that saw them best thought Black-bellied Plover, but I felt I saw then well and saw long trailing legs
Bonaparte's Gull 5 at about 17:10; four distant birds and one much closer juvenile that landed on water and which I carefully checked for other gull species
Ring-billed Gull 58 almost all apparently adults
Herring Gull 24 one juvenile, one second-summer, the rest adults
Great Black-backed Gull 1 near adult; 15:00 hour; flew right over dam
Sooty Tern 1 ***mega; arrived at about 16:42; some photos by me may be identifiable and others (including Scott Surner) were shooting too; fully expected in this Tropical Storm, and by this time we had heard about Sooty Terns all around us: Boston, Long Island Sound, Manhattan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, etc. This bird flew by close (0.5 mi away or so), and generated some chatter as I screamed ADULT SOOTY TERN! A few people were struggling to get on it, but ultimately all present (10+ people) had prolonged views as this bird worked its way to the east side of the dam, fed in the small cove for 5-10 minutes, and then circled high and flew out over the dam and away (into the wind) to the south. DESCRIPTION: Moderately large tern, larger than a Common Tern with a broad-winged appearance but sharply pointed wingtips. It soared several times for 10-20 seconds and when feeding would swoop down to the water and pick things from the surface much like a Black Tern might. No molting flight feathers or aps in the plumage, so otherwise very crisp looking.  Underparts pure white. Underwings white with extensively dark undersides to primaries and secondaries, giving distinct two-toned appearance (like Swainson's Hawk). White underparts sharply demarcated from dark upperparts. Upperparts blackish with a faint hint of brownish on the central back indicating wear. Dark cap and nape connected to back without any sign of a collar, eliminating Bridled Tern. No contrast between black cap and blackish back. White forehead large and prominent in from of eyes and suqared off at rear, not coming to a point over the eye as on Bridled Tern. Tail, when flared and seen from above, had only a single narrow white rectrix, also eliminating Bridled Tern which has 2-3. Tail came to a moderate fork, with a rounded central notch. State bird for me!
Black Tern 3 *rare; 16:10 or so; Mike Resch spotted these distantly; I concurred with his ID: smallish terns that appeared pale gray overall at a distance without the white gleam of Sterna terns or contrast of a tropical tern. All even above (no white tail). I only saw the flying and did not see any foraging.
Common Tern 2 adults at 13:45 and 9:58
Sterna sp. 2 very distant, presumed Common Tern
Parasitic Jaeger 1 **rare; continuing bird from 13:00-14:00 period; adult or near adult intermediate morph; clearly not a Pomarine Jaeger, this bird was dark smoky gray on the head and chest, with a contrasting dark cap. Although I could not see a pale forehead, this plumage is probably only shown by Parasitic, since Pomarines are so dark as to have little contrast and have a more jagged cap margin and more uneven (less smooth) breastband etc. When in flight the upperwings looked very dark and the tail seemed to have some short, ragged points as though a non-adult. Some white at base of tail. In flight I felt size and structure was consistent with arasitic as well, and while I considered Long-tailed more likely here on this date, I saw nothing to indicate that species and felt the size was clearly that of Parasitic.
jaeger sp. 1 extremely distant darkish birds that were seemingly the same size. One showed dark plumage, a paler belly, and a bit of an underwing flash. I did not know if these were the same or different from the bird seen earlier, but I assume one of them was the same individual. The distance was extreme and we were unable to stay on them when flying against dark pines in the background.
Common Nighthawk 8
Chimney Swift 5
Belted Kingfisher 1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 1
Blue Jay 2
American Crow 8
Common Raven 2
Tree Swallow 31
Bank Swallow 4
Barn Swallow 24
Cliff Swallow 2
swallow sp. 10
Tufted Titmouse 1
Cedar Waxwing 1
Chipping Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 1
Bobolink 4 flight calls heard
American Goldfinch 1

I managed to add two life birds, four state birds and seven birds to my Hampshire county list.   In addition to the birds the day of the storm a few days later (September 1st) I also sighted a large swift species (moving with nighthawks) that very well may have been a Black Swift. 

Here is a link from the day after the storm:

As well as a link regarding the large swift species seen after the storm:

Hurricane Isaac projected path as of the evening of Aug 28, 2012
On the date of the one year anniversary of Irene a hurricane looks to be on track to impact the gulf coast over the next few days.  Hurricane Isaac is expected to strengthen before landfall as a category 1 storm.  Although there is likely to be no impact at all from the latest storm here I have included a link from eBird regarding the possible species that could be displaced by the storm along the gulf coast:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Amherst area stops and some more nighthawks

Double crested Cormorant with catfish, Rail Trail, Amherst, MA, Aug 27, 2012

Double crested Cormorant with catfish, Rail Trail, Amherst, MA, Aug 27, 2012

Today I spent some time over in Amherst before heading back home late morning.  I first stopped at the rail trail, then over to UMASS at Orchard Hill and finally to Moody Bridge Road in Hadley.  The rail trail was fairly quiet with the typical species around.  There were a few Bobolinks flying out near dawn from the fields.  I was able to see close up a Double crested Cormorant catch and then eat a catfish near the horseshoe dam. 

Ruby throated Hummingbird, Orchard Hill at UMASS, Aug 27, 2012

Ruby throated Hummingbird, Orchard Hill at UMASS, Aug 27, 2012

Least Flycatcher preening, Orchard Hill at UMASS, Aug 27, 2012

At Orchard Hill the area was still quiet as the students have not yet arrived for another year.  As far as birds go there was some activity in a few area but other spots were devoid of any activity.  I did have an interesting flycatcher that I tried to turn into a Yellow-bellied but was instead almost certainly a Least.  The view was quick and it just was not quite right for YBFL.  There were a few Least Flycatchers around as well as a handful of warblers but no big groups at warbler among them was an adult male Yellow Warbler.
Turkey Vulture, Moody Bridge Rd, Hadley, MA, Aug 27, 2012

Turkey Vultures (6 of 17 total), Moody Bridge Rd, Hadley, MA, Aug 27, 2012

A quick swing through Hadley to Moody Bridge Road to once again try to find a Black Vulture in among the Turkey Vultures did not result in success.  It is like a broken record trying to find Black Vultures and finding none.  I did have at least 17 Turkey Vultures lifting out of roost but just that species.

Common Nighthawk, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 26, 2012

Common Nighthawk, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 26, 2012

Common Nighthawk, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 26, 2012
Around midday Wilson and I took a walk at the Jabish Canal and then in the afternoon took a walk at Covey WMA.  With the heating of the day and a breeze that picked up there was not much activity but the Red-breasted Nuthatch's were around in force with double digit counts.  I watched for nighthawks again last night and tonight.  Last night I had a half dozen in an hour and tonight I had none at all.  Perhaps the breezy conditions kept them down a bit.  I included a few photos from last night.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Early Sunday morning...lots of swallows and the teal continue

Tree Swallows plus a few Bank Swallows, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 26, 2012

Winsor Dam at dawn with fog coming over the dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 26, 2012

Sunrise at Covey WMA, Belchertown, MA, Aug 26, 2012

I tried first thing this morning for the Black Tern at Quabbin but it was not around when I was there.  There were hundreds of swallows feeding over the water with almost all of them Tree Swallows (at least 228 of them).  Also present were a couple of distant Common Loons and a Double-crested Cormorant.  I then headed over to Covey WMA with Wilson for an early morning walk.  Many Red-breasted Nuthatch's were noted here (as well as elsewhere this morning).  Nothing too unusual at Covey but there was a large roost (2000+) birds in one of the marshes which contained primarily Common Grackles and Starlings plus a few Red-winged Blackbirds.  It was an amazing sight as always to see a large flock leave a roost at once.

Hooded Merganser, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 26, 2012

Tree Swallows plus a few Bank Swallows, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 26, 2012
Tree Swallows plus a few Bank Swallows, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 26, 2012

After I dropped off Wilson I made a stop over at Lake Wallace.  I usually do not arrive here this late in the morning (7:30) but thought I would give it a try.  There were only a handful of Wood Ducks and Mallards around compared to the larger numbers typically found at dawn.  I did find some good stuff here again inclduing a half dozen Blue-winged Teal that put in a brief appearance before disappearing back behind the reeds (presumed the same group as yesterday).  There was also a Hooded Merganser (first one in a few weeks).  The other impressive sight for the morning there were the swallows staging before migration.  Some the of the trees were just dripping with them.  The vast majority were Tree Swallows with a few dozen Banks and a handful of Barn Swallows also present.  The total number of Tree Swallows alone exceeded 680. 

Louisiana Waterthrush chipping, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 26, 2012

At home this morning on my way out I heard a lingering Louisiana Waterthrush down near the brook.  It was chipping constantly and sang once but I was only able to get audio of the chipping.  I would not expect the bird to be around much longer before heading south.

Atlantic overview evening Aug 26, 2012, courtesy of NOAA

Projected path of TS Isaac as of  evening Aug 26, 2012, courtesy of NOAA

A quick update on the tropics.  Tropical Storm Isaac is poised to impact the US along the gulf coast after hitting Haiti and Cuba.  The exact track and strength remain to be seen but an impact somewhere in the US looks like a near certainty.  With any luck the damage will be minimal and the potential unusual bird sightings will occur along the path. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Black Tern and Blue winged Teal and others

Blue-winged Teal, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 25, 2012
Blue-winged Teal, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 25, 2012
Blue-winged Teal, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 25, 2012
Blue-winged Teal, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 25, 2012
Green Herons (3 of at least 7), Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 25, 2012
Green Herons capturing frog,  Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 25, 2012
Pied billed Grebe (with Mallard), Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 25, 2012

Another great day of birding the local area as I caught up with a number of noteworthy birds.  I decided to try my luck once again at Lake Wallace at dawn and I was not disappointed.  One of the first birds I looked at through the scope was a Blue-winged Teal.  I have been trying to find this species here for quite some time this late summer and I finally caught up with not one, but six individuals there.  The Blue-winged Teal was species #193 for the year in Hampshire county.
There was a reduction in the number of Mallards (38) and Wood Ducks (44) but still impressive numbers for such a small area.  Another great bird found just before I left was a Pied-billed Grebe juvenile.  The area looks great as a potential breeding spot but this bird was likely a migrant.  It will be worth checking closely for this species here next spring as a possible breeder.  The number of Green Herons continues to be impressive with at least seven individuals present with up to three in one scope view.  They were all quite successful in hunting the area with one capturing a rather large frog.  I managed to get several photos but the light was terrible and many were taken through the scope. 

Black Tern (center of photo, left and above Mallards...very distant), Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 25, 2012

Wild Turkeys sitting on fence, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 25, 2012

Black and White Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 25, 2012

Carolina Wren (unusual here), Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 25, 2012

Common Mergansers, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 25, 2012

Common Mergansers, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 25, 2012
I next headed for Quabbin Park where I started out at Winsor Dam where I had a Common Loon as well as a group of 23 ducks that appeared to be Mallards far out in the fog.  I decided to make the trip into the park and try to get a better view of them from the area of the police boat launch.  When I arrived there I couldn't see them so I headed back down to view from the opposite side of Winsor Dam.  This proved to be a great decision as it resulted in finding a Black Tern feeding over the reservoir.  This added yet another county species for the year bringing the total to 194.  I also ran into a father/son birding team from the other end of the state and was able to show them the Black Tern and give them some ideas for other birding stops in the area.  Hopefully their day continued to be productive.  Other birds of note included a single flyby Red Crossbill at Hank's Meadow, four Yellow-throated Vireo's, a few dozen Red-eyed Vireo's, my first Northern Parula of the season, nearly a dozen calling Eastern Wood Pewee's, four Common Loons, a half dozen Common Mergansers, a couple Double-crested Cormorants, a flyover Bobolink and three shorebird species.

Red breasted Nuthatch, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 25, 2012
At all locations today (really the last several days) the number of Red-breasted Nuthatch's continues to grow with dozens seen throughout the morning.  It looks like a large incursion of this species is underway.

Common Nighthawk, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 25, 2012

Common Nighthawk, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 25, 2012
This evening at home I had my best night yet of nighthawk watching.  I had a total of 51 with almost all moving northeast, low over the trees feeding.  While outside watching I had a Barred Owl start calling at 5:55 and called for 20 minutes.  Also a handful of Tree and Barn Swallows as well as a couple Chimney Swifts.

I have also passed 25,000 views on the blog as of a few days ago...amazing.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Birding Plymouth bird #700

Yellow-breasted Chat, Manomet bird banding station, Aug 23, 2012
On Thursday I did something I do not normally do and that is take a trip out to the eastern end of the state.  I usually avoid the area as it is too busy for me typically and there are so many good spots closer to home.  However I decided to take up Ian Davies on his offer to show me around the Plymouth area checking on shorebirds and stopping by the Manomet Center for Conservation Science to check out the ongoing banding operation there.

Manomet Point view, Aug 23, 2012

I left home predawn to make the two hour trip out to the coast arriving out there around 7am.  I met up with Ian and we were soon on our way for a full day of birding.  Our first stop was at Manomet Point to scan the ocean for birds including the possibility of some storm-petrels.  We scanned the ocean but came up short on any storm-petrels.  We did have at least one Northern Gannet, a few Common Loons and a variety of gulls, terns and cormorants as well as a scattering of shorebirds. 
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Manomet bird banding station, Aug 23, 2012

Yellow-breasted Chat, Manomet bird banding station, Aug 23, 2012

Removing Gray Catbird from net, Manomet bird banding station, Aug 23, 2012

Removing Alder Flycatcher from net, Manomet bird banding station, Aug 23, 2012

Tufted Titmouse, Manomet bird banding station, Aug 23, 2012

View from Manomet Center for Conservation Science, Aug 23, 2012

Downy Woodpecker, Manomet bird banding station, Aug 23, 2012


We then went over to check out the bird banding operation arriving there a little before 7:30.  The banding team of five was just finishing up the processing of birds from the first net run of the day at 7am.  There was a handful of Gray Catbirds (the most common species captured here) as well as a first of the season Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  Between the hourly net runs I got to see some of the history of this long operating banding station.  The variety of rare and unusual birds caught here over years is quite remarkable and would deserve a blog post all on their own.  The various tools, bands, nets etc used in  capturing and processing the birds is quite interesting to see close up.  We joined the banders on three hourly net checks and captured a variety of other birds including several more Gray Catbirds, a Yellow-breasted Chat, Eastern Phoebe, Tufted Titmouse, Northern Cardinal and Alder Flycatcher.  The Alder Flycatcher ID was the most time consuming to make as specific measurements and other criteria was needed to ID a species that is typically identified my call.  After processing the birds from the 10am net check we headed out to our next birding stop.


Yellow crowned Night Heron-adult, Bluefish River, Duxbury, MA, Aug 23, 2012

Yellow crowned Night Herons (adult-right, juvenile upper left), Bluefish River, Duxbury, MA, Aug 23, 2012

Great Egret, Bluefish River, Duxbury, MA, Aug 23, 2012
We took a drive north to Duxbury to check on some Yellow-crowned Night Herons that have been seen along the Bluefish River there.  We got there and scanned quickly and found nothing besides a Green Heron, Great Blue Heron and some Greater Yellowlegs.  We then scanned the trees and found a juvenile well hidden in a tree.  We were about to head out when we stopped to scan the trees one more time and this time we found an even more hidden adult.  Amazing how well they blend in.  A few Great Egrets came into the area as we were leaving.
Blue-winged Teal, Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary, Marshfield, MA, Aug 23, 2012

Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary, Marshfield, MA, Aug 23, 2012

After the Bluefish River we headed even further north to Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield. We wanted to try and catch up with some lingering Purple Martins but they seem to have all left for the season. A brief walk to a few of the blinds produced a group of three Blue-winged Teal, a flyover Osprey carrying a fish, several Eastern Phoebe’s and a variety of other expected birds. By this time it was early afternoon so we headed back to Ian’s house to get a different vehicle to head out to Plymouth Beach.

Snowy Egrets, Damon's Point Road, Marshfield, MA, Aug 24, 2012

Bald Eagle, Damon's Point Road, Marshfield, MA, Aug 24, 2012

Our final stop on our trip north was up to Damon's Point Road in Marshfield.  We had some fairly decent groups of shorebirds here with the vast majority being Semipalmated Plovers and Semipalmated Sandpipers plus a handful of Greater Yellowlegs. The marshes had small groups of waders in them including Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Great Blue Heron. A juvenile Bald Eagle came in and flew off to the west just before we headed out. There was also hundreds of swallows (mainly Tree with a few Barn Swallows) feeding over the marsh.

Piping Plover, Plymouth Beach, Plymouth, MA, Aug 23, 2012

White-rumped Sandpiper with Sanderling, Semipalmated Plover and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Plymouth Beach, Plymouth, MA, Aug 23, 2012

Sanderling with tag "C7Y", Plymouth Beach, Plymouth, MA, Aug 23, 2012
Common Tern, Plymouth Beach, Plymouth, MA, Aug 23, 2012

Whimbrel (center), Plymouth Beach, Plymouth, MA, Aug 23, 2012

Sanderling flock, Plymouth Beach, Plymouth, MA, Aug 23, 2012

We ended the day by being at Plymouth Beach for high tide to check on what shorebirds and terns were around.  We arrived around 1:45 or so and drove up to the end of Plymouth Beach.   We walked out onto the beach and immediately had groups of shorebirds numbering into the hundreds.  The most prevalent species were Semipalmated Plover, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Sanderlings and Short-billed Dowitchers.  There were also a number of Black bellied Plovers around with some in near breeding plumage.  Other species of shorebirds included Whimbrel, Red Knot, Dunlin, Piping Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, White-rumped Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper plus a possible Western Sandpiper.  The terns were also present near the tip of the beach with the vast majority being Common Terns with a lesser number of Roseate, Black, Least and Forester’s Terns.  Overall the sight of thousands of shorebirds and terns was very impressive but was actually much reduced from what is normally present according to Ian.  Another note of interest was the number of leg tagged Sanderlings present (I will add more details on these in a future post as I get more info).   There were also hundreds of gulls around including Great Black backed, Ring-billed, Herring and Laughing Gulls.  We stayed there until a little after four when Ian had to leave due to a prior commitment and I made the drive back west.  Overall it was a great day of birding and I managed to reach a milestone in birding on this trip as I found my 700th species when we caught up with some Roseate Terns at Plymouth Beach.  A thank you to Ian and others at the Manomet bird banding station for a fun day of birding 'out east'.