|Winsor Dam near dawn, May 29, 2013|
|Flock of Black bellied Plovers (I swear!), Winsor Dam, May 29, 2013|
As predicted yesterday the rain overnight resulted in some unusual birds around this morning (nice to have one of my bird predictions come true!). The winds stayed south during the night and the rain moved in overnight putting down some birds. I heard the rain falling around 4am so I figured it could be good once I got up. I headed over to Winsor Dam around 5:30 with a light rain still falling but luckily little fog. As soon as I got to Winsor Dam I thought I heard Black bellied Plovers but scanned around and could not find them. A couple minutes later I heard the calls again and this time caught sight of a group of about 25 birds in flight. I had the scope out and got on them fairly quickly and had a total of 28 birds with 26 of them being Black bellied Plovers. Along with the plovers were two other shorebirds that I originally called just dowitcher species. The group circled around a couple times before finally disappearing to the north. As the group flew around the plovers were calling constantly and the dowitchers called a few times (giving a three note call) which turned the ID to Short billed Dowitcher. I quick grabbed out my phone and tried to get a photo despite the rain. I managed a couple of out of focus shots of part of the group but nothing you could use to ID the birds. Tough to get a flock of shorebirds moving by using the phone and a scope but I did give it a try! These two species added two more species to my Hampshire county list for the year: Black bellied Plover (#209) and Short billed Dowitcher (#210). This is only the second time I have had Short billed Dowitchers in the county and both times have been at Winsor Dam in May in rainy weather. Before today I had a group of 32 together land along the dam during a heavy rain on May 17, 2009. I have never had Black bellied Plover in spring before here but the views I got ruled out anything else. I tried my best to turn at least a few into golden plovers but couldn’t. All the plovers were in breeding plumage which made for a great sight as they flew by. I’m sure there were other unusual birds out there just waiting to be found but with not many people looking and lots of potential spots for the birds to be I didn’t hear of any other reports in the valley. A bit further east at Bolton Flats a Franklin’s Gull made an appearance so there were indeed other oddities nearby.
Here is yet another example of unusual birds being grounded by the weather in the local area. James Smith had an extremely rare inland Forester's Tern along with two Common Terns in Turners Falls. In addition he had a late Gadwall and flyover Black bellied Plovers and Short billed Dowitchers. Here is his blog post about some amazing birds that morning. Great stuff James!
The next few days will feature summer like conditions with sun, humidity and heat with temperatures at or above 90.