Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Snowy Owl becomes species #236 for Hampshire County this year! Plus an end of year wrap up.

I was not expecting to add another species to my county big year list on New Years Eve but I got lucky once again (last year I added Northern Shrike on the last day of the year).  Not only did I manage to add a species to my county year list but also a new species for the county for me.  The species I added today was a Snowy Owl that I stumbled across along Route 47 in Hadley on my way home.  The bird was initially seen as I drove by on rt 47 and noticed an odd, white bump on a tobacco barn.  I went past, turned around and came back to get a better look.  I stopped along the side of the road and watched the bird for several seconds and then got out and started to set up the spotting scope when a Red tailed Hawk made a few passes at the owl and the owl flew off toward CT river and disappeared toward the area of the East Meadows (stupid red tailed!).  Wish I was able to get scope views (and some photos) but no question about the ID.  Species #236 for Hampshire County this year and species #278 for the county life list. 
King Eider, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Nov 11, 2013 (1st county record and 2nd western Mass record)
Gyrfalcon, East Hadley Rd fields, Hadley, MA, Jan 31, 2013

White eyed Vireo, Barrett St marsh, Northampton, MA, Apr 27, 2013
Sandhill Crane, Worthington, MA, May 10, 2013
As the year comes to an end I will take a little time to post a summary of the year.  My attempt to break my previous Hampshire County record for species seen was a resounding success.  I ended the year with 236 species seen in the county topping my previous best year (2012) by seven species (I also had an 'Oregon Junco').  I’m doubtful I can top this total without another great year of northern irruptives, several vagrants and a lot of luck.  Maybe I will try again in a few years?  Among the 236 species were many highlights including a first county record when I found a female King Eider at Winsor Dam at Quabbin.  The eider was only my second first county record with my other occurring a couple years ago when I found a White tailed Tropicbird during Hurricane Irene.  The funny part is both of these first county records occurred at the same spot, Winsor Dam.  Besides the eider I added four new birds to my Hampshire County life list including a fifth state record (2nd Hampshire County record) of a Lazuli Bunting in the Honey pot section of Hadley.  I also added a Gyrfalcon in January in Hadley, a White eyed Vireo in April in Northampton, Sandhill Cranes in May in Worthington and the Snowy Owl today.  My Hampshire County life list now stands at 278.  If you are bored and looking for an activity to waste hours on during the cold and snowy winter feel free to go through all my posts from the last year to get a real feel for the....excitement, yes excitement of the year (or perhaps even further back if you are really bored!)
Pine Grosbeak, Quabbin Park, MA, Jan 1, 2013
Snow Buntings, Aqua Vitae Rd, Hadley, MA, Jan, 2013

Red Crossbill, Prescott Peninsula, May 5, 2013
The beginning of the year featured a great show of northern irruptive species including Pine Grosbeak, Common and Hoary Redpolls, both type of crossbills, the previously mentioned Gyrfalcon as well as lingering sparrows.  With all the Red Crossbills around I was able to come across a few different types which were determined from audio recordings of their calls (thanks to Cornell).   The spring migration was also quite productive as was the fall migration season.  No tropical systems impacted Western Massachusetts for the first time in two years as the tropical season turned out to be lackluster and below predicted levels. 
Florida Scrub Jay, Cape Canaveral NS, FL, Jan 21, 2013

Cherrie's Tanager, Rio Magnolia Lodge, Costa Rica, Apr 12, 2013

Silver throated Tanager, Rio Magnolia Lodge, Costa Rica, Dec 15, 2013
I made a few trips away from the local area including a trip in January to Florida for several days, a trip to Costa Rica in early April and another nearly two week trip to Costa Rica in mid to late December.  The Florida trip produced a total of 111 species over just a few days.  The two trips down to Costa Rica produced a total of 309 species (more details on that latter).  Overall I found a total of 529 species this year during my many birding outings both near and far.  I once again used eBird to keep track of all my records and at the same time add some scientific value to my frequent outings.  I submitted a total of 2493 separate eBird lists this year with 2352 of those submitted for Massachusetts with most from Hampshire County (2200).  Although I have said it before I will say it again…eBird is a great and valuable way to keep track of your bird sightings.  Not everyone needs to be as fanatical as I am with eBird but everyone should at least give it a try.

I also conducted several bird surveys and studies including my Breeding Bird Survey route through Belchertown south to Monson, a couple of Eastern Whip-poor-will surveys including a new one through Quabbin Park and nearby areas (plus my original survey on Prescott Peninsula), field bird surveys on Prescott Peninsula, Common Loon surveys at Quabbin and a couple other bird surveys.

What will the new year bring?  Who knows for sure… just happy to be around to find out.  I already have a short trip to Florida and another trip to Costa Rica planned. 

I have included my full list of species seen in Hampshire County in 2013 below:

Greater White-fronted Goose

Snow Goose


Cackling Goose

Canada Goose

Mute Swan

Wood Duck


American Wigeon

American Black Duck


Blue-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal


Ring-necked Duck

Greater Scaup

Lesser Scaup

King Eider

Surf Scoter

White-winged Scoter

Black Scoter

Long-tailed Duck


Common Goldeneye

Hooded Merganser

Common Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser

Ruddy Duck

Northern Bobwhite

Ring-necked Pheasant

Ruffed Grouse

Wild Turkey

Red-throated Loon

Common Loon

Pied-billed Grebe

Horned Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

Double-crested Cormorant

American Bittern

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Green Heron

Glossy Ibis

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture


Golden Eagle

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Northern Goshawk

Bald Eagle

Red-shouldered Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk

Virginia Rail


Sandhill Crane

Black-bellied Plover

American Golden-Plover

Semipalmated Plover


Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

Greater Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs



Least Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Short-billed Dowitcher

Wilson's Snipe

American Woodcock

Bonaparte's Gull

Black-headed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Iceland Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Common Tern

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Black-billed Cuckoo

Eastern Screech-Owl

Great Horned Owl

Snowy Owl

Barred Owl

Short-eared Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Common Nighthawk

Eastern Whip-poor-will

Chimney Swift

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

American Kestrel



Peregrine Falcon

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Acadian Flycatcher

Alder Flycatcher

Willow Flycatcher

Least Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe

Great Crested Flycatcher

Eastern Kingbird

Northern Shrike

White-eyed Vireo

Yellow-throated Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Philadelphia Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Fish Crow

Common Raven

Horned Lark

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Tree Swallow

Bank Swallow

Barn Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper

House Wren

Winter Wren

Marsh Wren

Carolina Wren

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Eastern Bluebird


Gray-cheeked Thrush

Swainson's Thrush

Hermit Thrush

Wood Thrush

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Brown Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird

European Starling

American Pipit

Cedar Waxwing

Lapland Longspur

Snow Bunting


Worm-eating Warbler

Louisiana Waterthrush

Northern Waterthrush

Blue-winged Warbler

Golden-winged Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Connecticut Warbler

Mourning Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

American Redstart

Cape May Warbler

Cerulean Warbler

Northern Parula

Magnolia Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Palm Warbler

Pine Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Canada Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

Eastern Towhee

American Tree Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Scarlet Tanager

Northern Cardinal

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Lazuli Bunting

Indigo Bunting



Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Meadowlark

Rusty Blackbird

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Orchard Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

Pine Grosbeak

House Finch

Purple Finch

Red Crossbill

White-winged Crossbill

Common Redpoll

Hoary Redpoll

Pine Siskin

American Goldfinch

Evening Grosbeak

House Sparrow