Monday, December 31, 2012

End of year wrap up and species #228 for the year in the county

Indigo Bunting, Quabbin

Time for the end of year posting once again.  This year was yet another good year to be out and about checking my local areas as well as places far from home for birds. 

Blue gray Tanager, Los Cusingos, Costa Rica, Dec 2012
Caspian Tern, Viera Wetlands, FL, Jan 2012
Cooper's Hawk, Sweetwater Wetlands, AZ, Apr 2012
I took a few trips this year including a trip to Florida at the end of January-early February, Arizona in April and Costa Rica in December.   Other shorter trips included day trips to the Connecticut shore and down to the Plymouth area.
Yellow-headed Blackbird, Hadley, Oct 2012

Rough-legged Hawk, Hadley Honeypot, MA, Feb 2012
Little Blue Heron, Arcadia, MA, Apr 2012
Brewster's Warbler, UMASS Amherst, May 2012
Golden-winged Warbler, Amherst rail trail, May 2012
Lawrence's Warbler, Belchertown, May 2012

The rest of the time I spent mainly in the local area trying to maximize my county list for the year.  My initial goal at the beginning of the year was to top the 200 mark for the county which I had oddly never done before.  I managed to go well past the 200 mark and finished with a total of 228.  Although I missed on some birds I would normally expect such as American Bittern, Acadian Flycatcher, and Black Vulture I still reached a higher number than I had expected to.  I added several county birds to my life list this year including Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Yellow headed Blackbird, Rufous Hummingbird and Hoary Redpoll bringing my overall county total to 272.  Overall some really great warblers including a couple hybrids including at least two Brewster's Warblers as well as a Lawrence's Warbler plus the unusual Golden winged and a singing spring Orange crowned Warbler. 

Pine Grosbeak, Quabbin , Dec 2012
Common Redpoll, Hadley, Dec 2012

There was also a big incursion of winter irruptive species this fall and winter that continues with most every possible species represented in numbers (except for Bohemian waxwings which were around at the beginning of the year). 
Black-legged Kittiwake, Quabbin, Nov 2012
Hurricane Sandy brought a large number of sea ducks down onto Quabbin over the course of several days and finally delivered a notable inland bird for me...a Black-legged Kittiwake almost a week after the passage of the storm.  Two years in a row with tropical systems impacting the area...amazing.

I tried one last run through the Hadley Honeypot midday today to try my luck at catching up with a Northern Shrike or perhaps (with lots of luck) a Gyrfalcon that was there a couple weeks.  Although there was no Gyrfalcon around I did finally catch up with a Northern Shrike (county species #228 for the year!)  I was very happy to add one final species for the year.  Other birds of note around the Honeypot and nearby Aqua Vitae Road included dozens of Horned Larks, a handful of Snow Buntings and a lone Lapland Longspur.  I also made a brief stop at Quabbin Park at Winsor Dam and at least seven Pine Grosbeaks continue in the crabapple trees.

I managed to add a total of 69 new species to my life list this year with two each coming from Arizona and Massachusetts and the remaining 65 species coming from my recent trip to Costa Rica.  The highlights are many and a look back through the last year of postings will revel most of them.  A total of 556 species for the year and a total life list that now stands at 766.  Many of the highlights were captured on film and can be found at my flickr site at:

I continue to use eBird to record my sightings and I passed a few milestones this year including adding my 10,000th list and submitting almost 2400 lists this year with over 2175 of those lists from Massachusetts.  Yet again I will mention what a great resource eBird is for recording sightings and researching information of various species.  With the many advances made in accessing information and providing easy ways to submit data, more and more people will hopefully embrace the use of eBird and make the information even more useful to both the public and researchers.  The website to start your journey on eBird is here:

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