Sunday, September 13, 2015

Weekend birding turns up a Snowy Egret, Black bellied Plovers and numerous others

Killdeer, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Sep 13, 2015
Black bellied Plovers, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 13, 2015
Snowy Egret (L) with Great Egret, North Lane, Hadley, MA, Sep 13, 2015
Snowy Egret, North Lane, Hadley, MA, Sep 13, 2015
Snowy Egret, North Lane, Hadley, MA, Sep 13, 2015
Northern Harrier, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 13, 2015
Barn Swallow, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Sep 13, 2015
Another morning of low clouds and occasional sprinkles found me headed back over to the fields along the Connecticut River in search of birds put down by the weather.  I started out at North Lane in Hadley scanning the river trying to find a Snowy Egret that Bob Z. found yesterday and which I searched for fruitlessly (more on that below).  It was just too murky to see any white waders in the river at first light so I headed to the nearby Honey Pot and started scanning fields in search of shorebirds.  Despite many freshly tilled fields I managed to find just a single Killdeer until I was checking out the last field and I heard some birds calling overhead.  I scanned around and picked up three birds flying together heading toward me and then curving off to the southwest.  They called several times and I got decent enough looks to ID them as Black bellied Plovers.  I grabbed the camera and took some photos as they were in flight going away through the drizzly weather.  As I watched them fade out of sight I noticed I had just missed a call from Bob Z. who was back at North Lane and had relocated the Snowy Egret.  I made the couple minute drive over and finally caught up with the Snowy Egret (a great year for this species around here).  It was quite distant at first but we got a bit closer to it by walking down the dike and the bird got flushed by boats and eventually came back to land near a Great Egret (and thankfully closer to our observation point).  We watched the bird for quite awhile and were able to rule out the possibility of the Snowy Egret being something even more unusual.  Steve M. arrived after a bit and he got to see the egret too (a new species in western mass for him I believe).  After getting our fill of the egrets I headed back through the Honey Pot (no shorebirds beyond a single Killdeer but did have a flyover American Pipit) and then over to the East Meadows with the main focus being on finding the plovers from earlier (or any other shorebirds that might be around).  The first fields near the red barns featured at least 37 Killdeer but no other shorebirds with them.  I scanned through a lot of other good looking fields in the meadows but came up empty for shorebirds. 

Honey Pot:
North Lane:
Honey Pot:
East Meadows:
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 13, 2015
Before I went home to get Wilson I made a stop over at Winsor Dam and had a brief and distant view of an intriguing large dark bird that lifted off from the water and headed north.  My eBird report narrative is attached below: 

A very interesting large brown bird lifted off the water way out toward the small island near the boat launch area while I was watching some loons. The bird was quite large and dwarfed a nearby ring billed gull. Overall appeared brown with no other color noted. It seemed almost as large as an eagle but with thinner wings. I never got a look at the head as it headed north. The only species that came close was a sulidae of some sort....immature northern gannet or immature brown bobby. As either of these species would be incredibly rare I will have leave it as unknown at this time and hope it shows again or one of the fishermen in the area managed to see it better and hopefully got a photo. 

Winsor Dam:
Northern Parula, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 12, 2015
Eastern Towhee, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 12, 2015
Yellow throated Vireo, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 12, 2015
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 12, 2015
Following what appeared to be a large scale migration from Friday night into Saturday I spent a decent part of Saturday morning exploring the area of Quabbin Park and nearby Lake Wallace. I tried to find some lingering whip poor wills before dawn but no luck in any of the areas I had them just a few days ago. I did find a couple of calling Virginia Rails at the Route 9 marsh before I headed into the park itself. There was a decent selection of birds but not nearly the numbers or diversity I expected to find after several days of limited migration and light northerly to calm winds overnight. I managed an even dozen species of warblers but many were just one or two individuals of a species. Lots of Pine Warblers around with some still singing as well as a notable increase in the numbers of Northern Parula. Still no Philadelphia Vireo for me this fall but at least three Yellow throated Vireos still hanging around was good. 
Black and White Warbler, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Sep 12, 2015
Magnolia Warbler, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Sep 12, 2015
Northern Parula, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Sep 12, 2015
I hoped to catch up with a Hampshire Bird Club walk led by Aidan when I stopped by Lake Wallace but I missed them. The most notable species at the lake was a flyby Blue winged Teal that landed on the other side of a large group of cattails and remained out of view once it landed.

I got a few phone calls from Bob Z. during the day with his first report being of several American Golden Plovers scared up by a harrier over in the West Meadows. A bit after lunch he called again with a report of either a Snowy Egret or immature Little Blue Heron on a sandbar in the CT river in Hadley. After a bit of discussion with him it sounded like it was a Snowy Egret but I decided to head over to check it out for him to confirm the ID. The bird flew before I arrived and despite a lot of searching I only managed to turn up a Great Egret. After I left Bob called me again to say he had the Snowy Egret in the river viewed from North Lane in Hadley. 

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