Friday, June 5, 2015

Common Gallinules at Lake Wallace, a continued White eyed Vireo in Belchertown and other stuff from the end of the week

Common Gallinule, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, June 5, 2015
Common Gallinule, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, June 5, 2015
Common Gallinule, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, June 5, 2015
White eyed Vireo, Belchertown, MA, June 5, 2015
Although the forecast called for mainly cloudy skies and the chance of a shower, the day turned out to be quite nice with more sun than clouds (especially later in the day), fairly calm winds and temperatures eventually reaching around 70. I was up before dawn and headed over to the rail trail in Amherst to check out the area around Hop Brook. Nothing beyond the expected species there but still a pleasant walk. 
Killdeer giving distraction display, Amherst landfill, Amherst, MA, June 5, 2015
I then headed over to the old Amherst landfill in the hopes of finding a Grasshopper Sparrow but no luck there either.  A Killdeer giving a broken wing distraction display (to lead me away from a nest or young) and several vocal Bobolinks were highlights there. I was originally thinking of heading to some other spots in Amherst and Hadley but instead decided to head over through Quabbin Park and then visit the area were a White eyed Vireo was last week. Nothing too unusual at Quabbin Park but lots of birds on territory. 
White eyed Vireo, Belchertown, MA, June 5, 2015
My stop to check on the White eyed Vireo found the bird still there and singing quite a sign of a mate for him yet but he certainly is trying hard! I also was able to track down the Blue winged Warbler with an odd song I was unable to get a look at last week. It appeared to be just a typical Blue winged hopes for Golden winged or a hybrid were dashed again (video with audio linked here: ). Sadly it was cloudiest while I was checking out the vireo so didn't manage any great shots. 
Common Loon, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, June 5, 2015
Green Heron, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, June 5, 2015
My last stop before heading home to get Wilson was over to Lake Wallace which turned out to be the best stop of the morning. The sun came out just as I arrived and I had thoughts of ditching my stop there and heading back to get some better shots of the vireo but I figured I would at least do a quick scan before leaving. As I got to my first vantage point I had a Common Loon close into shore....not something I would expect here at all. I have had a few flyovers of this species at the lake but never on the water (it swam away and eventually flew out about 20 minutes after I arrived). I did a quick scan of the area and immediately noticed a bird along the edge of the reeds...a Common Gallinule! Although I'm fairly certain I had one last week at the Hop Brook marsh this one was much more satisfying as it was right out in the open. It vocalized a few times as I watched it and I took a bunch of photos and shot some video. I then started scanning the rest of the area and turned up another Common Gallinule! I was thinking the area would be a great spot for this species to breed and I may be right. The more distant bird never vocalized but the closer one did, so perhaps a pair? Until this morning I had only seen one Common Gallinule in Hampshire County (back in May 2005) plus another possible one last week and now I had two in view at once....good stuff  Other birds of interest here included a vocalizing Sora and at least three Green Herons plus lots of Wood Duck ducklings.
More photos and video of the gallinules at this link:
Once I had my fill of the gallinules I headed home to get Wilson and we went for a walk along the land trust trail and we turned up a vocalizing Virginia Rail (a great day for marsh birds!). After our walk I ran a few errands and then made a few stops along the west side of Quabbin including a stop at Gate 8 looking for Acadian Flycather (none found) and then up to Gate 12 to look for Hooded Warbler (no luck there either).

Overall a very productive day filled with lots of good birds.

Full lists from the day:
Rail trail
Amherst landfill
Quabbin Park
White eyed Vireo location
Lake Wallace
Land trust trail
Quabbin Gate 8
Quabbin Gate 12
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, June 4, 2015
Thursday I made a brief stop at Winsor Dam before heading over to Moody Bridge Road to check on the vulture roost.  Both stops were fairly quiet with no vultures at all at the roost...weird.  I also made a brief stop at the Honey Pot to see if the Clay colored Sparrow might have returned but no luck.  Two Vesper Sparrows (including a singing individual) and at least one Orchard Oriole partially made up for the lack of a clay colored.

On Wednesday morning I decided to try my luck in checking the East Meadows after the rain of the last couple days.  Unfortunately the roads were quite muddy and the areas where I would expect to find puddles contained no water.  I guess it all soaked into the fields after being so dry for so long.  Without any luck there I popped over to Arcadia on the slim hope of finding the Snowy Egret but the bird was no where to be found.  The marsh was fairly flooded out with no mudflats or exposed shore so not much activity there but I did manage to get some great looks at a Common Merganser female with young.  Link to a video of a female Common Merganser with young at Arcadia:

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