Saturday, May 17, 2014

Weather related birds at Quabbin including Caspian Tern, Black Bellied Plovers and waterfowl

Red breasted Merganser, Quabbin Gate 5, May 17, 2014
Red breasted Merganser, Quabbin Gate 5, May 17, 2014
Blackburnian Warbler, Quabbin Gate 5, May 17, 2014
Bald Eagle (Aaaamerica!), Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, May 17, 2014
Common Merganser, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, May 17, 2014
Common Merganser, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, May 17, 2014
White winged Scoter and Common Loons, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, May 17, 2014
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, May 17, 2014
As predicted the heavy rain overnight into very early this morning produced some great birds. The weather predictions as of last night showed the rain stopping fairly early so I wanted to make sure I got over to Quabbin early. I got out of bed around 4:30 (yeah...couldn't sleep) and it was pouring out. I headed over to Winsor Dam a little before five but it was so hard and with it still being so early the visibility was poor. I then decided to make a quick run over to Beaver Lake in Ware to see if anything was down on the water over there...there was not. I then decided my best strategy would be to head back to Winsor Dam and view what I could in the rain and then be there when it stopped. After many times standing out in the rain at Quabbin I have gotten quite prepared for it and I was quite comfortable standing out there although trying to get photos of anything in those conditions is still near impossible. I arrived back at Winsor Dam around 5:30 and stayed for the next hour plus. As the visibility started to improve I started seeing some Common Loons as well as the group of eleven White winged Scoters that were there throughout yesterday. As I was scanning around I picked up a large white tern heading south. It continued south probably 3/4 of the way between the boat launch and my location before circling around once and then heading back north.  I got great scope looks at the bird...Caspian Tern! Only my second county record of this unusual species inland in Massachusetts and species #206 for the county this year. A large white tern with an obvious large red bill. The bird appeared just before 5:45 and I never got another look at it as it did not return. The rain started slowing even more at this point and that is when I heard Black bellied Plovers calling overhead. Despite my attempts to find them I never got to see them and the calls rapidly faded off to the north. It sounded like at least two but who knows exactly how many birds were involved.  Another new species for the county this year in just a matter of minutes...#207...a crazy few minutes to be sure!  Winsor Dam produces once again!  I continued scanning around and eventually turned up at least 17 Common Loons in various groups on the water as well as a flyby heading north. Here is the list for this stop at Winsor Dam:

I decided to then make a quick run through Quabbin Park mainly checking for additional weather related birds so I kept my stops limited to Goodnough Dike, Hanks Meadow and the state boat launch area. No luck with any additional storm related birds but a nice selection of birds around nonetheless. I also ran into some groups doing the Mass Audubon Bird a Thon and mentioned my sightings and locations of other target species for them..hopefully they found some good stuff too.

I then made it back over to Winsor Dam where I found the scoters still present but all the loons gone. I eventually had a few loons flying north but it appears all the groups headed out once the weather improved for them. I spent another hour here but didn't turn up any additional storm related birds. At this point I decided to head over to gate 5 to get some better looks at the scoters. Even from the end of gate 5 the views were not great due to the sun glare off the water. Additional scanning there didn't turn up any more terns but I did have a female Red breasted Merganser in quite close. I wonder if this bird was storm related or could it be the same one I have seen off and on around the area of Winsor Dam for a couple weeks now? Who knows? I asked the bird but got no response.

With the crowds beginning to arrive and I needing to get back to pick up Wilson I left there and we all went up to Reed Conservation Area. Nothing too unusual here but a nice selection of thrushes including one that got away that very well could have been a Gray cheecked Thrush.
Great Crested Flycatcher (female), Home, Belchertown, MA, May 17, 2014
Great Crested Flycatcher (male), Home, Belchertown, MA, May 17, 2014
Gray Catbird, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 17, 2014
Meanwhile at home the birds continue with a nice selection including several species of flycatcher but sadly not the Yellow bellied flycatcher seen yesterday.

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