Monday, September 9, 2013

A somewhat slow day at UMASS

White throated Sparrow, UMASS Amherst, Sep 9, 2013
White throated Sparrow, UMASS Amherst, Sep 9, 2013
Bobolink, UMASS Amherst, Sep 9, 2013
Cooper's Hawk, UMASS Amherst, Sep 9, 2013

Dawn at Orchard Hill, Sep 9, 2013
Despite a lot of promise given the action on the radar overnight and the flight calls I heard, the morning was actually quite quiet. I listened a bit predawn at home and heard a few Veerys and a Swainson's Thrush plus several unidentified zeep calls plus a Barred Owl that started calling around 5am. I then headed over to Orchard Hill to meet up with Ian, Keenan and Ben. Arriving before dawn I had a few birds calling flying overhead including a Green Heron and a Solitary Sandpiper as well as several Wood Thrushes bubbling from the woods. Certainly another cool morning with temperatures in the low 40's but clear so it warmed up nicely with the sun. Once the sun started hitting the trees the activity started picking up a bit with a couple Tennessee Warblers and a Philadelphia Vireo. As we made our way over to check an active section all the birds seemed to disappear and after a few minutes it became apparent why. A Sharpshinned Hawk came buzzing through and nearly got a Red bellied Woodpecker. With the activity brought to an early end on the hill itself we walked around other parts of Orchard Hill (which were also quiet but did produce a Lincoln's Sparrow) before hitting the hill again in the hopes that the birds came back. No luck on the second trip as a Cooper's Hawk had joined the Sharpshinned Hawk in staking out the hill. The only notable bird was one that got away as a small grayish wren darted out of the grass and into a tangle never to be seen again...likely a Sedge or Marsh Wren...oh well! We decided to cut our losses on the hill and head over to the Sylvan woods and fields. We hit a little pocket of birds in the woods but didn't find anything too unusual (we did add a sapsucker which made for six woodpecker species for the morning). The field that has been converted to a small scale farming operation looks primed to produce some good stuff and we had some luck there this morning. We had several Killdeer in a small plowed field plus a flyby American Golden Plover. The weedy fields and nearby edges produced a few Bobolinks, several sparrows including an early White throated Sparrow plus a Yellow Warbler, a flyby Bay breasted Warbler and an unidentified empid that worked the edge silently.

I didn't have time to hit other areas so I headed home to pick up Wilson and go on a few walks including the Jabish Canal where we ran across a mixed species flock which contained several warbler species including my first Blackpoll Warbler of the fall. I had a brief look at another interesting warbler that may have been a Connecticut but it was silent and I only had a brief view of a yellow bird as it disappeared into the ferns. We also had a calling Broad winged Hawk flying around the woods.
The weather over the next several days features southerly winds through the end of Thursday with a slight chance of rain showers tomorrow night and a better chance of rain Wednesday night into very early Friday with the heaviest overnight on Thursday into Friday.  If this forecast pans out (a big if several days out) then Friday morning could be good for shorebirds and other migrants.  With all the southerly winds there is also a chance of a vagrant being pushed north. 

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