Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The last few days...shorebirds, cuckoo, and foxes

Semipalmated Plover (with Least Sandpiper), Old Pilgrim Airport, Hatfield, MA, May 21, 2014
Semipalmated Plover (with Least Sandpiper), Old Pilgrim Airport, Hatfield, MA, May 21, 2014
Green Heron, Old Pilgrim Airport, Hatfield, MA, May 21, 2014
After seeing the reports yesterday of various shorebird species including Black bellied Plovers and Short billed Dowitchers at the old Pilgrim Airport in Hatfield I decided to head up there early this morning to see what I could find.  I arrived there just before sunrise and started scanning around the field and found a few shorebirds.  I then noticed a coyote walking the edge of the field and headed in my direction.  The coyote started flushing birds including a group of three Short billed Dowitchers that flew around and I believed settled back down way back in the field.  The dowitchers became species # 209 for the count this year.  The coyote continued to flush birds as it moved through which actually got me views of some birds I probably would have missed.  I also had a very brief view of an interesting shorebird that got flushed by a Red tailed Hawk that may have been an Upland Sandpiper but the view was very brief and I was not able to relocate it during my hour looking around up there.  I managed to find at least nine species of shorebird including the following: a Semipalmated Plover, five Killdeer, a Spotted Sandpiper, three Solitary Sandpipers, two Greater Yellowlegs, two Lesser Yellowlegs, 22 Least Sandpipers, three Short billed Dowitchers and a Wilson’s Snipe.  No luck with the Black bellied Plovers this morning but with the upcoming rainy weather more of them could show. 
A bit about the upcoming rainy weather and what impact it could have on birds.  The rain should begin sometime overnight tonight and continue on and off through early Saturday.  The wind direction will change from south to east to northeast during this period and the temperatures will not get much above 60.  Given the dates the chance is there yet again for some unusual birds to be grounded by the weather including terns, gulls, shorebirds and waterfowl.   Some specific unusual species to keep an eye out for would include Arctic Tern and Red Phalarope (or even Red necked Phalarope) among others.  It could once again be well worth the effort to check bodies of water and fields to see what might be out there.  The cool temperatures will also impact swallows and swifts and in similar conditions in the past these species could congregate in sheltered areas of river and lakes as they attempt to find food in the cool, damp weather.  Areas to check would include Quabbin, the Connecticut River (most anywhere could be productive), the oxbow in Northampton, the Old Pilgrim Airport and any of a number of farm fields along the river. 
Gray Foxes, home, Belchertown, MA, May 20, 2014
Meanwhile at home, besides the various birds around, I have a family of Gray Foxes living under one of our sheds including at least six pups.  I watched the pups play for an hour last night near dusk…really cool stuff.

On Tuesday morning I headed over to UMASS at first light to try to catch some birds enjoying the first rays of the sun on another cool morning.  I was rewarded with some great birds including an amazing seven Tennessee Warblers in just over an hour with up to three in one tree.  I also had my first of the year Yellow billed Cuckoo (#208) in some dense brush on the northwest end of campus.  Wish I had more time to poke around but reality got in the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment