Sunday, May 26, 2013

Annual Poverty Mountain bird survey and other stops before and after

Red breasted Merganser, Quabbin Park, May 26, 2013

Red breasted Merganser, Quabbin Park, May 26, 2013
Red breasted Merganser, Quabbin Park, May 26, 2013

Today marked the annual bird census up at Kevin Weir's property near Poverty Mountain on the Shutesbury/Amherst line.  I have taken part in this survey for several years now and we always manage to turn up something good but more about that later.  Before heading over there this morning I made a stop by both Winsor Dam and fields around UMASS in search of birds still down due to the recent rain storm.  Nothing storm related or unusual was found at either location.  At least viewing was a bit better today with the rain stopped and the sky occasionally showing spots of blue.  The temperatures was still quite low to start (40 degrees) but it warmed into the 50's but the wind increased so it still felt quite chilly. 

Highlights of the bird survey included swallows feeding over the fields including Cliff Swallow, an unusual species for that location .  There was also a late Lincoln's Sparrow along the edge of the upper fields.  This is actually the first one I have seen this spring and I still need it for my Hampshire County list.  If only the bird were about a 750 feet west it would be in Amherst and therefore in Hampshire County...oh well I will just have to wait until fall to find this species in county I guess.  The total of number of species for the morning survey are still being tallied but may be just a bit under the typical average of 60 species.

On my way home I decided to try my luck at a few fields in Hadley and see what I could find.  Along Mill Valley Road near the town line I had a few shorebirds but they were distant and the wind made viewing difficult (and photography impossible).  The best bird there was a Semipalmated Plover (#206) way out.  I also had a couple of closer in Spotted Sandpipers.  A stop at East Hadley Road produced just a single Killdeer as far as shorebirds go.  I had heard from a friend that they had several species of shorebirds yesterday during the storm but I assume most vacated the area as soon as the weather improved. 

I then went east to Quabbin Park where I stopped a couple of times at Winsor Dam searching in vain for something unusual.  I also checked Goodnough Dike and Gate 52 in the park to see if anything noteworthy might be around.  The swallow show was much diminished at Gate 52 with just a handful of Tree, Barn and Bank Swallows present.  The highlight there was a female Red breasted Merganser which is quite unusual inland, especially this late in spring.

Meanwhile back at home this afternoon the bird activity continued with the young Eastern Phoebes getting more vocal, a Rose breasted Grosbeak competing with the local Scarlet Tanagers and Baltimore Orioles to see who can sing the loudest or the most.  The resident Louisiana Waterthrush called several times from down along the rain swollen Jabish Brook...hopefully the high water didn't wash away its nest.

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