Sunday, October 28, 2012

Various spots around the valley before the arrival of Hurricane Sandy

Gray Catbird, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Oct 28, 2012

Geese and ducks on pond, Arcadia, Oct 28, 2012

American Wigeon, Arcadia, Oct 28, 2012

American Wigeon, Arcadia, Oct 28, 2012

Green winged Teal, Arcadia, Oct 28, 2012

Mallards, Arcadia, Oct 28, 2012

Canada Geese, Arcadia, Oct 28, 2012

I managed to get in a bit of birding this morning before the weather turned too bad. There was a noticle breeze out of the northeast but nothing compared to what is coming. I met up with Ian Davies and we visited a variety of areas around the local area. We started at UMASS but found nothing of note and then drove past a variety of fields in Hadley and Amherst but found no geese at all. On our way through Hadley we stopped at Lake Warner and had 157 Canada Geese and 7 Mute Swans plus a Great Horned Owl that flushed and then perched for a few minutes before flying off. We then decided to head to the oxbow to see if anything out of the ordinary was present there. Not much action on the oxbow but we noticed some geese in Hurburt's Pond at Arcadia so we headed over to the observation tower there. The pond contained 480+ Canada Geese, one American Wigeon, 22 Wood Ducks, 8 Black Ducks and  85+ Mallards. Other birds of note there included Great Blue Heron, Winter Wren and four Rusty Blackbirds.
Large flock of American Crows, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Oct 28, 2012

Gray Catbird (two in same tree), East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Oct 28, 2012

Fox Sparrow, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Oct 28, 2012

Gray Catbird, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Oct 28, 2012

American Goldfinch, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Oct 28, 2012

We then headed to the East Meadows to try our luck at finding geese, a longspur and any odd lingering birds among the hedgerows. Although we had several flocks of geese in flight there were none down in the meadows. We did however have great luck with Lapland Longspurs when we noticed some calling within a large group of Horned Larks (70+). We initially had at least two but when we caught up with the flock a bit later we had at least seven Lapland Longspurs which is a fabulous count for inland. The longspurs make species #218 for the county this year.  We also ran across a few other notable birds here including two Gray Catbirds, a few Fox Sparrows, Ruby crowned Kinglets, several Yellow rumped Warblers, American Pipits, a few Rusty Blackbirds, about 120 Mourning Doves, large groups of crows (at least 378 of them), a couple Northern Harriers together and a few groups of Yellow rumped Warblers.

After covering a large amount of the East Meadows we headed back across the river to see if we could catch back up with the Yellow headed Blackbird along East Hadley Rd. Oddly the area there was almost devoid of birds and there were no blackbird flocks at all. Other areas in the immediate vicinity also had no blackbirds at all. This is quite a change as there have been flocks of over 10,000 birds.  There was an Eastern Phoebe at Hampshire College but little else
Canada Goose with odd plumage, UMASS Campus Pond, Amherst, MA, Oct 28, 2012

Canada Goose with odd plumage, UMASS Campus Pond, Amherst, MA, Oct 28, 2012

Canada Goose with odd plumage, UMASS Campus Pond, Amherst, MA, Oct 28, 2012

A couple of final stops around UMASS produced a few hundred Ring billed Gulls on the fields and a gathering of 282 Canada Geese on the campus pond plus a few Mallards.  Among the few hundred Canada Geese was this individual with white on its head and neck.  Keeping track of these unique type individuals is a great way to see what groups of geese come and go at the pond.  Also a few yellow rumped Warblers and a Ruby crowned Kinglet in the trees around the pond.

Dawn at UMASS, Oct 28, 2012
My camera phone was just not up to the task of capturing an amazing sunrise this morning but it gives you a tiny glimpse of how vivid it was.
Hurricane Sandy windfield map, Oct 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy as of 2:33pm Oct 28, 2012

Projected path of Hurricane Sandy as of 5pm, Oct 28, 2012
Now the daily update on Hurricane Sandy.  It is still forecast to hit south of us, coming ashore in central New Jersey as a category 1 hurricane.  We are forecast to get strong winds (25-35 MPH sustained with gusts to 60+ at times) and several inches of rain.  The track could still vary a bit but the current track puts it a bit too far south to give us a great chance at great birds but I will still be out looking in the hopes something makes it here.  Oddly this storm is forecast to hit almost a year to the day that we got hammered by an early season snow storm that left us without power for almost a week.  There has certainly been some strange weather around Halloween here.

View from Winsor Dam in the evening, Oct 28, 2012

Distant view of White winged Scoters, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Oct 28, 2012
As part of my attempt to find some storm related birds I spent an hour this evening at Winsor Dam.  The winds were up to about 10-15 MPH and there was occasional drizzle at times.  The only birds of note were eight White winged Scoters.  We shall see what tomorrow brings.  I will be at Winsor Dam off and on trying my best to find something good...hopefully I will be reporting something good tomorrow (provided we still have power!) 

Yesterday was yet another milestone on this blog when I reached the 30,000 view mark...who knew so many people had an interest in the birds I have seen and the places I have gone??!?!


  1. Congrats on the 30 thousand view makr and Lapland Longspurs Larry! We were out looking for them today too in plowed fields and didn't have the same luck. We did get a modest flock of Horned Larks and a very nice American Golden Plover in the same area though which somewhat made up for it but still want a Lapland this year! Thanks for the storm updates. I'm trying to figure out if a day off form work this week will be worth it or not so this helps

  2. Thanks...we were really hopeful to find the longspurs and we lucked out. Looks like you had some good birds too. I think the storm is really in uncharted territory and it is tough to figure out what the storm will bring. I know I will be looking but who knows if it will pay off.

  3. Hi, Larry. Loved reading your stuff. I was wondering if I could call on you for help. I have a blog at and at the very bottom of the page is a post titled, Gate 54A. Below it I have a picture of what I believe to be a Cedar Waxwing that I saw on Winsor Dam a little over a year ago. I was wondering if you could just go and look at that picture and let me know if I'm right or not and, if not, please let me know what it is exactly by commenting. Thanks in advance!

  4. The bird is indeed a Cedar Waxwing...always nice to see them.