Friday, May 29, 2015

Black crowned Night Heron and probable Common Gallinule along the rail trail in Amherst plus Eastern Whip Poor Will survey last night

Mallard with ducklings, rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 29, 2015
Mallard with ducklings, rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 29, 2015
Black Vulture, Moody Bridge Rd, Hadley, MA, May 29, 2015

White tailed Deer, rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 29, 2015
Hop Brook marsh, rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 29, 2015
I headed over to the rail trail in Amherst with thoughts of hitting that area and then over through Hadley to Silvio Conte NWR and then perhaps down to Skinner SP or back over to some gates on the west side of Quabbin but I ended up spending almost my entire morning at the rail trail as I tried to track down a bird in the Hop Brook marsh that I'm almost certain was a Common Gallinule (a very unusual species in the county...I have only seen one before in the county back in May of 2005 in nearly the exact same spot!).  Despite hours of looking I never did get a visual on the bird but did get a lot of audio that hopefully will confirm the bird.  The only other real possibility would be an odd sounding Sora but it just doesn't sound right for that species.  All the videos are at the following link:
As I spent time trying to get looks at the mystery bird I had another great bird when I heard a low croaking sound coming from overhead that sounded unlike a Great Blue or Green Heron but sounded a lot like a Black crowned Night Heron.  I quickly scanned the blue skies and spotted a stocky, chunky short necked heron heading north to south a few hundred feet above the trees.  I got a several second binocular view of an overall gray heron which indeed was an adult Black crowned Night Heron!  The bird appeared to be heading past the marsh complex here as I lost it from view behind some trees.  I was never able to get the camera up fast enough to get a shot before it went out of view but I got a good view of the bird.  A long overdue Hampshire County record of this species for me, bringing my total to 284. 

I also made a brief visit to the vulture roost on Moody Bridge and managed to find a Black Vulture as it left the roost and headed toward the river.

I also completed the first of two Eastern Whip Poor Will survey routes last night with the assistance of a biologist from Quabbin (thanks Ki).  This route goes through Quabbin Park and then continues south to the Palmer line.  Despite the thunderstorms in the late afternoon the weather turned out to be very nice with light winds, clear skies and thankfully few mosquitoes!  We ended up with 11 Eastern Whip Poor Wills calling at the various stops plus two more between our ten stops.  A successful time indeed with a few of the birds calling very close to us.  Hopefully I will get the other one done tonight.  Below are a couple quick video clips of some whips calling:

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