Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April ends cold and rainy

Swallows resting on sandbar, The Oxbow, Northampton, MA, Apr 30, 2014
Horned Grebe, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 30, 2014 (blurry distant shot taken during heavy rain)
As predicted today was rainy and cool.  I decided to try my luck before work at finding something grounded by the weather.  I stopped briefly at Winsor Dam and had a somewhat late Horned Grebe in breeding plumage as well as four female Bufflehead.  I tried to get some photos but the rain made it quite difficult.  No sign of the swallow show seen there last evening.  I then headed over to the Oxbow in Northampton and had around 225 swallows mostly sitting on the sandbar with the vast majority Tree Swallows but also double digit counts of Barn and Bank Swallows plus at least one Cliff Swallow.  Other reports from today found more Horned Grebes, double digit counts of Red necked Grebes (not sure I have ever seen such a good year for this species in the valley), Long tailed Ducks and more Bufflehead plus a possible Clark's/Western Grebe.  Wish I had the time to check areas more completely but not today.  A stop back at Winsor Dam in the evening produced a Red necked Grebe, a close flyby Merlin and a very interesting bird way out that defied identification.  Elsewhere today I had a partially leucistic American Robin fly past me near the community gardens in Northampton...wish I had had time to go back and look at it a bit more...very cool looking bird with lots of white.

As April ends I will take a look at where migration stands at this point and how it compares to the last few years.  This spring has certainly been cool with less than ideal migration conditions so far.  I have only managed to find 149 species so far this year in Hampshire County compared to 167 species at the end of April last year (I only had 130 total species by this date in April in 2012 but I was not trying as hard to maximize species that year).    The number of warbler species seen so far this year total only five while last year at this time I had already tallied 16 species (last year was a very good year!)…2012 featured nine species of warbler by the end of April (I actually had seen three warbler species before the end of March that year!).  What does it all mean?  Basically it means that we have a big influx coming in sometime very soon and my best guess is that day will be either Friday or Saturday. 
As an update on the influx of European birds into Newfoundland I'm including a post from Alvan Buckley from the ABA Rare Bird Alert facebook page....really cool stuff!
"As the west coast of Newfoundland is now infamously enjoying the stench of several beached and decaying whales, we on the east coast are enjoying hundreds upon hundreds of icebergs and what is one of the largest incursions of Icelandic/European birds to Newfoundland in living memory.
Today the first NORTHERN WHEATEARS were found. 1 in St. Anthony, and 3 in one spot in the East end of St. John's - with 20+ icebergs in view from the same location!!
The count of EUROPEAN GOLDEN-...PLOVERS is currently at 92, the 4 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS continue to be seen in Renews & St. Paul's, and the ROSS'S GULL was in Torbay today for the second day in a row.
Every day continues to outdo the previous day.
Finally, after a 5 and a half month hiatus, Northeast winds are back and Newfoundland is regaining its status as Attu East.
Links to check if you want information ASAP, weather forecasts, and more pictures & insight:"!forum/nf.birds

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