Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Yellow breasted Chat yesterday (and fruitless search for it today)

Merlin, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 10, 2014
Merlin, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 10, 2014
Merlin, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 10, 2014
Great Egret, Hadley, MA, Sep 10, 2014
Wood Ducks, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Sep 10, 2014
Despite the forecast for sunny skies and temperatures in the 70's it remained cloudy and cool through midday today but I still managed to find some good stuff (not even close to as good as yesterday but more on that later). My intentions today where to stay close to home but when I arrived at Winsor Dam it was quite breezy out of the northeast which makes some of my favored spots at Quabbin tough to bird so I decided to head over to Lake Wallace which is sheltered from the wind. The lake was fairly quiet with just under fifty Mallards and 17 Wood Ducks (13 of which were acting more like geese as the waddled up into the middle of one of the soccer fields to feed). With it being quiet around the local area I decided (once again) to try my luck along the river looking for shorebirds (among other species). The river in Hadley produced a Spotted Sandpiper, a Solitary Sandpiper, a Lesser Yellowlegs with an injured right leg (video link here:  and ten Least Sandpipers plus 47 Mallards and a Great Egret. I then wandered up to the Honey pot in the area of the dike and scanned the fields but all was quiet except for a Merlin sitting on top of a telephone pole devouring a fresh kill. (video links below).
Figuring the Merlin had scared most everything in the surrounding area away I then decided to head across the river to Arcadia in hopes of catching up with my great find of yesterday morning and perhaps some shorebirds or a Connecticut Warbler. Yet again no luck with shorebirds as the water levels remain just a little too high. Despite much effort looking in the same area as yesterday the best birds I could find included a Philadelphia Vireo, four Scarlet Tanagers and five Ruby throated hummingbirds feeding and harassing each other in a patch of jewelweed. Oddly I only had three species of warbler all day today...very odd considering the date...there should be a big influx of them soon (perhaps Friday or Saturday?).

Wilson chasing a grasshopper
Sometimes the grasshoppers end up on the wrong side of the fence (there is a life lesson here I'm sure!)
Late in the morning Wilson and I spent some time out along the land trust trail.  Not too many birds but a couple of small pockets kept it interesting.  Lots of time spent playing with a stick and then some grasshopper round up.
Great Blue Heron, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 9, 2014

Arcadia meadows at dawn with the 'super' moon, Northampton, MA, Sep 9, 2014
Now for the story of yesterday morning birding....After watching the water levels in the Connecticut River continue to slowly drop I decided to try my luck with shorebirds at the mudflats at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary.  As I made my way there around dawn I noticed the river appeared to be up a bit and after walking down to marsh I was sorely disappointed to find the river was up high enough to cover all the mudflats completely…the only shorebird I had there was a Solitary Sandpiper that seemed even more upset then I was of the lack of mud as it flew around the marsh repeatedly calling but never landing.  I did have all three species of expected egrets/herons (Green and Great Blue Heron and Great Egret) but that was about the best I could find.  With about an hour left before work I decided to try my luck in finding a Connecticut Warbler in the meadows area of Arcadia.  I walked into an area I have had this species before and there was a bit of activity with numerous species around.  After a couple of Common Yellowthroats popped up I noticed a larger, long tailed, bright yellow chested bird fly from one brushy area to another that immediately had me thinking chat but the view was brief.  I then tried for several minutes to try to get the bird to show itself again and eventually I got a better look at the bird in the brush for a few seconds and now I was certain of the species…Yellow breasted Chat!  A very good bird for this area and only my second county record ever (oddly my only other record was also from the same area, less than a ¼ mile away back in later September of 2005).  It dropped down again and stayed out of view for several more minutes despite more attempts to coax it out. I got one final (and best) look at it as it popped up briefly showing its bright yellow chest and belly and white spectacles. It stayed in view for about five seconds and then dropped back out of view not to be seen again.  I attempted a photo with phone through binos but I was not quick enough and just ended up with a photo of brush!  Although I missed out on shorebirds and couldn’t find a Connecticut Warbler I was more than happy to find a Yellow breasted Chat instead.
The Yellow breasted Chat becomes species #226 for Hampshire County this year and puts me within ten of tying my record of last year. I had no intentions of doing another county big year when the year started but I have had so much good luck with birds this year I felt a need to at least try hard to get as many species as I could and now that the record is almost within reach I will really try to beat my record of 236.  To have a shot at it I will need a few more shorebirds, a few more rarities, a couple more expected species and a lot of luck. A tropical storm would also certainly help put me over but the chances of that this year seem rather low at this point but you never know.  More about all this a little later. 

No comments:

Post a Comment