Friday, June 6, 2014

Sharp shinned Hawk likely nesting and Eastern Whip Poor Will survey last night

Sharp shinned Hawk, Quabbin Park, June 6, 2014
Sharp shinned Hawk, Quabbin Park, June 6, 2014

White tailed Deer taking a swim, Quabbin Park, June 6, 2014

Bald Eagles at nest, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, June 6, 2014
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, June 6, 2014
I spent a few hours this morning exploring Quabbin Park and I managed to find a few goodies. The highlight by far was a territorial Sharp shinned Hawk in a large pine grove that almost certainly contains a nesting pair. I initially heard the bird giving an alarm call you would expect to hear near a nest. The bird flew in and stayed in a small area and I managed to get a few marginal photos before I left the area so not to disturb them any more. I never did see the nest but I'm fairly certain it was very close to where I was. Sharp shinned Hawk has become a rare breeder here in Western Massachusetts so I was happy to find the bird. While on he subject of nesting raptors the Bald Eagles near Winsor Dam were showing well this morning with all three young visible along with an adult. I heard from the Quabbin biologist last night that there are 14 active nests at Quabbin this season and all nests seem to be successful with a few featuring three youngsters. Other typical birds were also around this morning in good numbers but nothing else too unusual.

I returned home around midday to pick up the Wilson for a couple of walks including along the land trust and then over to Covey WMA. Typical birds were in evidence as well as my first for the location Virginia Rail along the land trust trail in a small marsh.

Another unusual bird event occurred at 3:40am this morning when I got up to take a leak and heard a Black billed Cuckoo repeatedly calling...very strange indeed and proof I never stop birding!
Goodnough Dike at sunset, Quabbin Park, June 5, 2014
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, June 5, 2014
I finally managed to get one of my Eastern Whip Poor Will surveys done last night after many earlier attempts that were foiled by weather and incorrect dates.  The surveys have to be run only on certain dates (due to arrival of the birds and moon phases) and only when the weather conditions (clear to partly cloudy and little to no wind).  I met up with a biologist from DCR and we conducted the Quabbin Park route that travels through the park and then south along the Swift River.  We started 15 minutes after sunset and then spent six minutes listening for whip poor wills at each of the ten stops.  It was a great survey with at least 14 Eastern Whip Poor Wills heard.  I have the breakdown of the stops and birds below:
Stop #                                     # of whip poor wills heard
1                                            0
2                                            0
3                                            3
4                                            1
5                                            3
6                                            4
7                                            2
8                                            0
9                                            1
10                                          0
                                              14 total
Besides the whips we had a Great Horned Owl calling near Goodnough Dike, American Woodcocks near the east entrance and at Covey WMA and all the expected species of thrushes calling just as the sun set.

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