Monday, August 20, 2012

Sunday and Monday birding plus a tropical update

Great Blue Heron, Quabbin Park, August 19, 2012

Mallards in flight, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, August 19, 2012
Lake Wallace at dawn, August 19, 2012

Green Heron, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 19, 2012

Despite the date of August 19th, yesterday morning had the feel of fall with temperatures starting out at a cool 53 degrees.  It eventually warmed into the 70's but not until late morning.  Quite a contrast from the very warm weather we have been dealing with for a few months now.  On Sunday I decided to stay close to home visiting a variety of spots.  I started predawn at Lake Wallace were I had the largest group of waterfowl so far this season with a total of 91 Wood Ducks, 158 Mallards, 24 Canada Geese and a single Black Duck.  I'm still on the lookout for something odd among them but I did not find anything today.  There were also at least eight Green Herons  and a vocal Yellow-billed Cuckoo plus a Spotted Sandpiper as well as several Killdeer on the nearby fields. 

Common Loon in flight, Quabbin Park, August 19, 2012

Common Loon in flight, Quabbin Park, August 19, 2012

Chestnut-sided Warbler carrying food, Quabbin Park, August 19, 2012

Great Blue Heron, Quabbin Park, August 19, 2012
White-tailed Deer adult with fawns, Quabbin Park, August 19, 2012
My next stop was at Quabbin Park spending some time at Winsor Dam, Route 9 marsh, Hank's Meadow and the area between Goodnough Dike and the entrance.  At the marsh there were a couple each of Green Heron's and Solitary Sandpipers.  There were a few groups of mixed species around with several warbler species including Black throated Blue, Chestnut sided and Black and White Warblers as well as Common Yellowthroats, American Redstarts and a few Ovenbirds (one of which called once).  I also ran across a unusual in Quabbin Carolina Wren which was singing over and over again.  In the same general area was a quiet Winter Wren.  A pair of Common Loons flew around low over Hank's Meadow calling back and forth to each other.  A stationary count at Winsor Dam turned up a Great Blue Heron walking along the rocks near the dam, several Turkey Vultures, a Red-shouldered Hawk and a Sharpshinned Hawk plus an adult White-tailed Deer with two fawns playing in the fields below the dam.

I then made a trip to Gate 5 and walked down to the water and along the exposed shoreline.  Not much here beyond the expected species.
Lake Wallace at dawn, Belchertown, MA, August 20, 2012
Today I had a little time first thing in the morning before I had to get back home so I headed over briefly to Lake Wallace.  Nothing unusual found there today with slightly reduced numbers of waterfowl.  The number of Green Herons (8) is still impressive.  Later in the morning I took Wilson for a walk along the Jabish Canal and had two Common Nighthawks moving south, feeding at 10:45.  A very vocal Broad-winged Hawk flew over repeatedly. 
Common Nighthawk, Home-Belchertown, MA, Aug 20, 2012

Common Nighthawk, Home-Belchertown, MA, Aug 20, 2012

Turkey Vulture, Home-Belchertown, MA, Aug 20, 2012

Painted Lady, Home-Belchertown, MA, Aug 20, 2012

Painted Lady's, Home-Belchertown, MA, Aug 20, 2012

I spent the rest of the day at home catching up on 'stuff' around the house.  A few notable items to mention from today included an impressive incursion of Painted Lady butterflies.  I had at least 15 in the yard at once today with up to eight on one butterfly bush at once.  The total number of this species that must be around the area must be staggering.  As one more example of the remarkable numbers Tom Gagnon mentioned that he had 95 Painted Lady's in one small area of the Northampton Community Gardens a couple days ago...impressive!  I also spent some time checking for nighthawks from the yard.  I had my first two before 4pm.  The total for the entire evening totalled 21 with the largest group of seven at the end of the evening passing by extremely high heading west. 

Atlantic outlook, courtesy of NOAA, Aug 19, 2012

As an ongoing update to the hurricane season here is the latest as of Sunday.  Hurricane Gordon (cat 2 storm) is poised to hit the Azores.  A tropical wave near the Cape Verde islands has a 60% chance of developing into a tropical system in the next 48 hours.  If this system develops it has a chance of an impact on the US but that would be many days away, if at all.

Atlantic outlook, courtesy of NOAA, Aug 20, 2012

Here is the view as of Monday.  Gordon has hit the Azores and is now a tropical storm and headed toward Europe.  The tropical wave midway between Africa and the Lesser Antilles now has an 80% chance of becoming a tropical system in the next 48 hours.  Some showers and thunderstorms in the western Gulf of Mexico has a 30% of development and a further tropical wave off the Cape Verde Islands has a 20% of development in the next 48 hours. 

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