Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The last few days have produced a steady stream of migrants

Lincoln's Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 14, 2015
Red eyed Vireo, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 14, 2015
Northern Harriers, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 14, 2015
Red tailed Hawk, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 14, 2015

I have been enjoying the last few mornings out and about during my vacation on what has turned out to be a beautiful week of weather. Other than Monday being a little cloudy and cooler, the rest of the days have been sunny and warm with light winds. This time of year brings many possibilities as so many species are on the move so you never know what you will find until you go out and look. 

On Monday morning I went over to search fields along the river looking once again for shorebirds as well as other stuff.  I started at the Honey Pot and found just one Killdeer.  I then ventured over to the East Meadows and had 34 Killdeer in one field but no other shorebirds at all.  Three Northern Harriers may have had something to do with the lack of shorebirds visible.  My next (and longest) stop of the morning was over to Arcadia where I had some decent stuff including at least four Northern Harriers, several other raptors, a Traill's Flycatcher, a Least Flycatcher, 7 species of warblers and 3 Lincoln's Sparrows among others.
Philadelphia Vireo, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 15, 2015
Tufted Titmouse with a large caterpillar, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 15, 2015
Black throated Green Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 15, 2015
Ovenbird, home, Belchertown, MA, Sep 15, 2015
Tuesday morning I stayed closer to home with most of my time spent at Quabbin Park. I started before dawn at Winsor Dam where I still had at least two Eastern Whip Poor Wills calling despite the cool temperatures. Quabbin Park featured a nice selection of birds with highlights including a Virginia Rail calling, five species of vireos (including three Philadelphia Vireos) and 14 species of warbler and lots of other good stuff.
Grasshopper Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 16, 2015
Savannah Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 16, 2015
Common Yellowthroat, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 16, 2015
Northern Harrier, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 16, 2015
Snowy Egret, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 16, 2015
Wednesday I headed over to Orchard Hill at UMASS at first light hoping to catch some migrants enjoying the warming rays of sunshine at dawn. Overall it was very quiet warbler wise with just four species (singles of Tennessee, Wilson's and Nashville Warblers plus a few Common Yellowthroats). Other highlights included at least four Wood Thrush popping off early on and tons of Gray Catbirds.
I decided to head over to the Honey Pot next to try my luck there and I'm glad I did. After checking the plowed fields for shorebirds without any luck my stop near the 90 degree corner to look for sparrows was much more productive. I got a Grasshopper Sparrow to pop up almost immediately and it showed well for several minutes including a little bit of time sitting on the power lines....very cooperative individual! As I was watching the Grasshopper Sparrow a Dickcissel flew over giving it's typical 'farting' flight call (never saw the bird but it sounded like it was headed east). Two good birds in just the first twenty minutes was great! The Dickcissel is unusual but not totally unexpected here and this year seems to be producing several in the area already.  I also looked through a large flock (130+ individuals) of House Sparrows trying to find the Dickcissel among them but no luck (it is not uncommon to find Dickcissels hanging out with House Sparrows).  The Dickcissel becomes species #227 for Hampshire County this year. I then spent a few hours exploring the roadsides and 'That's a Plenty Farm' and turned up more migrants.  Just before I left I walked down to where the town road ends and noticed a small white egret on the far shore...Snowy Egret. I assume it is the same individual that was in the same general area a few days ago. I got much better looks at it today as well as some better photos...a really good year for this species in the area.  Lots of other highlights (with more photos) in the lists below.

Orchard Hill UMASS:
Honey Pot:

A couple other items worth mentioning. One would be some postings from the bird observatory in Cape May, NJ from a few mornings this week that featured tens of thousands of warblers flying out during the morning flight there...well worth the effort to read about what must have been an incredible experience to witness first hand.
Another item would be a record set by Noah Strycker who broke the all time record of number of species seen in a year in the world when he reached 4342 today in India when he saw a pair of Sri Lanka Frogmouths. He still has a few months of birding ahead of him so his goal of reaching 5000 (about 50% of the existing bird species on earth) certainly seems within reach.


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