Thursday, October 25, 2012

Quabbin waterfowl, scoters and my 10,000th eBird list

Black Scoters, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Oct 25, 2012
Dawn at Gate 5 looking toward Quabbin Tower, Oct 25, 2012

Black Scoter flock (distant in morning light), Quabbin Gate 5, 2012
 Another morning I wish I had more time to spend at Quabbin.  I headed down to the water at Gate 5 arriving just as dawn was breaking.  I could hear a large number of gulls and some ducks but could not see them until the light increased a bit.  I counted a total of 528 gulls, all of which appeared to be Ring billed Gulls.  Scanning of water started turning up waterfowl right away and I ended up with the following before I had to leave for work:  one White winged Scoter (with group of Black Scoters), 75 Black Scoter (in groups of 47 and 28), two Hooded Mergansers, four Common Merganser, two Wood Ducks, six Black Ducks, 18 Mallard, five Common Loon, four Horned Grebe, a Double crested Cormorant, and 31 Canada Geese plus a few others that were too far out to ID.  I also had an Eastern Screech Owl calling right at dawn along the shore plus a Ruffed Grouse that flush from further up the shore and come flying in from the water right past me.  Also a number of Pine Siskins moving past and a Winter Wren right along the shore.  The sunrise was once again impressive and worth the effort of walking down to the water all by itself. 
Black Scoters, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Oct 25, 2012

Black Scoters, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Oct 25, 2012

Surf Scoters, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Oct 25, 2012

Evening view from Winsor Dam, Oct 25, 2012

Common Loons, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Oct 25, 2012
Video of Black Scoter flock, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Oct 25, 2012

Black Scoters, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Oct 25, 2012

Black Scoters (w/ Long tailed Duck-4th from left), Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Oct 25, 2012
I also stopped at Winsor Dam on my way home and my reward was a very impressive waterfowl show that included 232 Black Scoters in a single flock, nine Surf Scoters (species #217 for my county year list), a White winged Scoter (w/ Black Scoters), a Long tailed Duck, three Green Winged Teal, 10 Common Loons, a Horned Grebe and 22 Mallards.  All of these were on a nearly calm surface of Quabbin and allowed for some great views.
Your Stats
Total Species700357123
Total Checklists100002050139
ABA Area Total Ticks1914562123

In addition today I reached a milestone with eBird as I entered by 10,000th list (the list was from my stop at Winsor Dam on the way home...nice to reach the milestone with a great list!).  As I have been using eBird over the last several years I have watched it grow and have been impressed with the managers of eBird as they have made it more user friendly and interactive. I have used it to enter data from seven countries and twenty two states. I would like once again to encourage anyone and everyone who is out birding to enter their data to eBird, even if you only go out occasionally. It is a great way to add your sightings to a scientific database as well as allow you to easily keep track of your own sightings. The amount of data available to peruse is staggering as more and more people find and use eBird. It is easier than ever now that apps are available to allow data to be uploaded real time through a variety of mobile devices.

Predicted track of Hurricane Sandy as of 5pm, Oct 25, 2012
Yet another update on Hurricane Sandy and its potential impact on the local area.  The likelihood of a major impact has increased substantially and now seems much more likely.  With each new forecast the projected path becomes more certain that it will have a direct impact on the northeast.  Many of the specifics cannot be determined at this point as the storm is still days away but heavy rain and wind seems quite likely.  The storm strengthened considerably to a strong category 2 storm as it hit Cuba.  It continues to move north and is forecast to continue north along the eastern seaboard before potentially making landfall somewhere in the northeast or mid Atlantic.  In addition to the storm there is a second weather event taking place that may impact the appearance of vagrant birds.  There is a strong southerly wind flow moving toward the east that could easily displace birds from the south to the north and east. 
Here is what the website posted about the upcoming storm this evening:

Hurricane Sandy: 25 October 8PM Update

Hurricane Sandy is forecast to make landfall along the central New Jersey coast some time during the morning of Tuesday 30 October. This storm is not forecast to maintain consistent, hurricane force winds, but may have intense gusts, will have heavy rain, and may bring large storm surges. The low intensity and track of the system suggest that it will produce a large displacement of near shore and coastal species, such as several species of more common local tubenoses, Brown Pelican, Sandwich and Royal Terns, Laughing Gull, jaegers, and both phalaropes. This is in distinct contrast to stronger hurricanes that may entrain many aerial species and bring them far inland in large numbers. Additionally, given its track, some tropical terns will likely appear at the immediate coast and perhaps inland for 50-100 miles, though numbers of Sooty and Bridled Terns will likely be lower than typical earlier season storms. Birders may expect a lower Sooty to Bridled Tern ratio than stronger storms, similar in magnitude to what occurred during Irene in 2011. Although entrained species may be limited in number, there is potential for Pterodromasto occur along the coast and on inland bodies of water. Black-capped Petrel may be most likely, but Herald and Fea’s Petrel are in the realm of possible. Additionally, Leach’s Storm-Petrel (among Wilson’s and possibly some Band-rumped Storm-Petrels) could occur inland. Magnificent Frigatebird will presumably be one of the species driven in this system as well, so watching coastlines, ridgelines, river valleys, and inland bodies of water during and for days after the storm is worthwhile. Coastal areas from Barnegat Light north and east along the coast to the south shore of Long Island should experience at the least the displacement of near shore and coastal species. Sandy Hook may be a particularly good location for observation, given its proximity to the storm’s projected landfall and the swath of easterly winds that will likely impact the Hook. Points immediately inland along the track of the eye, as it moves over land, and to the immediate east of the eye, traditionally have the highest likelihood for finding odd, entrained species. Birder should pay close attention to the Delaware River as soon as the eye passes over it, as birds will use this as a conduit to return to the ocean. Similarly, Delaware Bay observation points should be checked for seabirds and other species returning from farther inland. Inland reservoirs in western NJ and northeastern Pennsylvania could be magnets for storm-driven birds, and should be checked as the storm passes and in the hours shortly after passage. By the morning following the storm, most individuals not exhausted or injured driven by the storm may have departed the area; if you want to see something wild, you had better place yourself accordingly during and just after the passage of the eye. Above all, when birding before, during, and after the passage of a storm like this, exercise extreme caution.

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