Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekend birding at Quabbin

Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Apr 13, 2014
Double crested Cormorant, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Apr 13, 2014
Double crested Cormorant, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Apr 13, 2014
Ring necked Ducks, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Apr 13, 2014
Common Mergansers, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Apr 13, 2014

Hanks Meadow looking east, Quabbin Park, Apr 13, 2014
The day started off for me before dawn as I heard a couple of Barred Owls calling back and forth at home. With the weather predicted to be a mix of clouds and sun and then sun with strong south winds and temperatures into the 70's I had high hopes of some good migrants at Quabbin. I intended to meet up with Devin and Aidan at Winsor Dam around 7:30 or so and do a stationary count but before that I made a quick run through Quabbin Park and over to Beaver Lake. Quabbin Park was fairly quiet with the highlights being eight species of waterfowl including the continued Pied billed Grebe at the Route 9 marsh and several Common Mergansers on the marsh plus my first Swamp Sparrow of the season as well as a couple singing Purple Finches. Beaver Lake was also quiet with just a few Bufflehead and a Common Merganser.

I then headed to Winsor Dam where I spent the next four hours or so dodging one rain shower after another as the predicted warmth didn't materialize. At times it was a bit chilly with a slight northwest wind and rain. We kept holding out hope the conditions would change but no luck. Nonetheless we still had some decent birds with the highlights being nine species of waterfowl including 38 Common Mergansers, eight Common Loons (five migrating north in the first couple hours) and three Double crested Cormorants. We also had four Great Blue Herons, an Osprey, a harrier, three American Kestrels, a somewhat early Spotted Sandpiper flying by calling, two Northern Rough winged Swallows, at least 293 Tree Swallows (feeding low over the water and oddly moving to the south), three species of warbler, and decent numbers of blackbirds, grackles and robins. Overall we managed a total of fifty species which given the conditions was pretty good.
Osprey, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Apr 13, 2014
Bald Eagle, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Apr 13, 2014
Broad winged Hawk, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Apr 13, 2014
After lunch it appeared that the sun was finally going to break through the clouds so I headed over for another try for migrants at Winsor Dam. As soon as I arrived I noticed some raptors moving. After just over an hour I had about a hundred individual raptors of eleven species with the majority (just under sixty) being Broad winged Hawks. Certainly an early movement of this species taking advantage of strong southerly winds just to our south. As the crowds were building up I headed for home and not long after I arrived the sun really broke through and the winds picked up and the temperature shot into the low 70's...better late than never I guess. More sky watching at home produced a few more Broad winged Hawks and four cormorants plus I had a Blue Gray Gnatcatcher and another Swamp Sparrow.
Mallards, Winsor Dam, Apr 12, 2014
Wood Duck, Winsor Dam, Apr 12, 2014
Hooded Merganser, Rt 9 marsh, Apr 12, 2014
Winsor Dam, Apr 12, 2014
Enfield Lookout with a fog covered reservoir, Apr 12, 2014
Despite the forecast for Saturday morning of clear skies and no fog I woke up before dawn to thick fog. I had intentions of trying to catch up with birds at Quabbin Park before the hordes descended on the place but the fog made it difficult viewing until after 8:30 AM. Eventually it burned off but it was a bit frustrating for a few hours. Nonetheless I still managed to find some good birds. I stopped initially at Winsor Dam but had zero visibility. I next headed through Quabbin Park but yet again no visibility down at the level of the water. The higher hills were fog free which made for some interesting views as the fog coated all the low lying areas. I then heard over to Beaver Lake in Ware which had slightly better viewing but not much...I did manage a couple each of Bufflehead and Common Merganser. I then headed back over to Winsor Dam and waited out the fog as I did a stationary count for an hour plus. One of the best birds occurred as I waited for the fog to clear when I had a flyover, calling Lesser Yellowlegs. Other notable birds included three Bufflehead, three Ring necked Ducks, a Common Loon, a Double crested Cormorant, an Osprey, two Northern Rough winged Swallows. After my time at Winsor Dam I decided to make a quick run back through Quabbin Park hitting just a few areas. Highlights included six Common Goldeneyes, Pied billed Grebe, an early Blue gray Gnatcatcher, three Winter Wrens singing and a few Hermit Thrush including one singing. Increased numbers of Pine Warblers, Eastern Phoebes, Chipping Sparrows, Northern Flickers and Yellow bellied Sapsuckers and others were also noted. After Quabbin came back home and got the Wilson and we headed to Jabish Canal where the highlights included a Red shouldered Hawk and a Palm Warbler. The rest of the day I spent at home doing work around the yard but still managed more decent birds including a Red shouldered Hawk, a Winter Wren and a Yellow rumped Warbler.

Overall a productive weekend with weather that eventually turned out sunny an warm both days.  One more day of 70 degree warmth before a rain storm comes in Tuesday and we spend the rest of the week with highs in the more expected 50's.

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