Friday, September 11, 2015

Rain overnight into this morning produced a Whimbrel and lots of mud

Cooper's Hawk, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 11, 2015
Northern Harrier with light coloration on rear of head, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 11, 2015
Killdeer (the only shirebird photo I got today), Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 11, 2015
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 11, 2015
After all the rain yesterday, overnight and into this morning I had high hopes when I headed out before dawn in search of any birds brought down by the weather (the most likely species being shorebirds this time of year).  It was still raining on and off with a decent northerly wind at first light as I arrived in the East Meadows.  Due to muddy conditions I could not get very far into the meadows and I didn't want to chance getting stuck.  In the fields I was able to check all I found were a few Killdeer.  I then had to decide if I should try heading up to Hatfield to check fields there or head over to the Honey Pot instead.  As I was sure the farm roads in Hatfield would be very muddy too I decided on the Honey Pot.  As I arrived there the rain picked up a bit but I was still able to scan through the various open fields.  After a bit I ran across Scott S. who was also out checking fields.  Neither of us were having much luck as of yet but in weather like this you just never know when something good will show so we kept looking.  I drove past Scott and parked along the dike and as I was checking the fields I heard a bird call that immediately had me thinking to myself  "that sounds like it could be a Whimbrel" then it called a couple more times and I thought "I think that is a Whimbrel" but by then the bird was going away and the call was not very loud...given how rare a species this would be around here I was not 100% sure and I never got a look at anything in the rain and fog.  I thought it sounded like it was going toward the river so I headed that way checking fields as I went.  After a few minutes I got a call from Scott and he said he had heard and saw a Whimbrel while I was parked a few hundred feet from him near the dike.  Any doubts about the ID went away once I heard from Scott.  He last saw the bird in flight headed toward Hatfield/Northampton.  This is only my third Whimbrel record in the county with one of my other records (mid September 2013 -link here: coming from within a couple hundred feet of where we had the one today (my third record occurred during Hurricane Irene at Winsor Dam).  I spent more time looking for it but had no luck at all.  The Whimbrel becomes species #225 for Hampshire County this year.  I then headed back to the dike to see if any other unusual stuff would be coming by.  I managed to get a single flyby Greater Yellowlegs plus a handful of Killdeer down in the fields.  I did have a decent selection of raptors around at the Honey Pot (as well as elsewhere today with most every expected species seen).  As the weather continued to improve a bit I decided to give the East Meadows another try.  This time I walked part of the muddy roads but still didn't turn up anything beyond a few Killdeer.  Overall the search for shorebirds produced quality and not quantity this time (I really wish the Whimbrel showed itself).  I then headed for home with a brief stop at Winsor Dam before picking up Wilson and heading to the Jabish Canal area.  More raptors there but not too much else of note.

East Meadows:
Honey Pot:
East Meadows:
Winsor Dam:
Jabish Canal:
Winsor Dam:
Dawn, Honey Pot, Hadley, Sep 9, 2015
Greater Yellowlegs (with Lesser Yellowlegs), Arcadia, Northampton, Sep 8, 2015
Earlier in the week I made stops each morning before work but didn't turn up anything too noteworthy but did have some nice sunrises.  The midweek provided us with a heat wave with record high temperatures topping out in the mid 90's...certainly not a fall like start to September.

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