Thursday, December 31, 2015

The highlights of the year as 2015 comes to a close

Bay headed Tanager, Rio Magnolia Lodge, Costa Rica, April 11, 2015
Chestnut headed Oropendola, Rio Magnolia Lodge, Costa Rica, April 11, 2015
Reddish Egret, Merritt Island NWR, FL, Feb 8, 2015
Now that another year comes to a close I will do a brief review of the highlights and trips during 2015. The first few months of the year were incredibly snowy and cold which limited birding to some degree but did produce some good birds. We took a quick trip down to Florida in February to escape the winter cold but then had to go back and endure the seemingly never ending cold. A much nicer reprieve came in April when we took our first of two trips down to Costa Rica for the year.  Highlights from that trip can be found at the following link:

House Wren banded, Belchertown, MA, June 2015

Ruby throated Hummingbird on nest, Prescott Peninsula, MA, June 20, 2015
Black Bear with Wild Turkey, Prescott Peninsula, June 13, 2015
During the spring and early summer I continued with various bird surveys including a couple Eastern Whip Poor Will surveys around Quabbin, field bird surveys on Prescott Peninsula, my breeding bird atlas route (with the aid of Devin and Aidan), the Poverty Mountain area bird census and the first year of participation in the neighborhood nestwatch program as well as others.
Red headed Woodpecker, Montezuma NWR, NY, Aug 1, 2015
Bird family mural, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, July 31, 2015
In late July/early August we made a trip out to the Finger Lakes of New York and I spent a couple mornings out birding with Ian and got to see the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  The lab was very impressive and it was not to get a behind the scenes tour although I was surprised there was not a stock exchange like running tally of eBird data!
Crimson rumped Toucanet, Tandayapa Lodge, Ecuador, Nov 18, 2015
Golden Tanager, Mashpi area, Ecuador, Nov 20, 2015
Andean Cock of the Rock, Refugio Paz de las Aves, Ecuador, Nov 22, 2015
In November I finally made a trip down to Ecuador (a trip I have talked about making for several years). The trip was a bird tour organized through Tropical Birding and it was a very productive trip with 389 species total including 275 life birds! Thankfully the group was nice and small (three of us plus the guide and driver) and we managed to find pretty much all of our target birds.  I'm sure I will make another journey down there sometime in the future to explore other areas.
Gartered Trogon, Rio Magnolia Lodge, Costa Rica, Dec 23, 2015
The final big trip of the year just ended a few days ago when we returned from our now annual December trip down to Costa Rica.  It was once again a relaxing and fun trip with loads of birds to be seen.  More can be found at the following link:
Pacific Loon, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Nov 11, 2015 (first county record)
Franklin's Gulls, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Nov 13, 2015 (life bird and second county record)
Northern Harrier, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Dec 4, 2015
Short billed Dowitcher, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 30, 2015
Great Egret with dark bill, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 21, 2015
Yellow Warbler, Belchertown, June 12, 2015
White eyed Vireo, Belchertown, MA, June 19, 2015
Common Gallinules, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, June 25, 2015
Worm Eating Warbler, Skinner SP, Hadley, MA, May 6, 2015
Bay breasted Warbler, home, May 15, 2015
Scarlet Tanager, Quabbin Park, MA, May 16, 2015
Clay colored Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, May 21, 2015
Mourning Warbler, Prescott Peninsula, MA, May 23, 2015
Chestnut sided Warbler, Quabbin Gate 12, May 23, 2015
Northern Shrike, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Jan 16, 2015
Despite not really trying to I tied my year record for Hampshire County (set last year at 237) I managed to do it due to a lot of luck and a nice showing of unusual birds.  If I had started the year trying to beat the record I think I could have done it as I didn't chase down some species early on.  My county total this year included five new species for me in the county (Black crowned Night Heron, Summer Tanager, Purple Martin, Pacific Loon and Franklin's Gull) bringing my county total to 288.  One of the best birds of the year turned out to be a Pacific Loon I found at Winsor Dam on November 11 which was a first county record. It became the fourth first Hampshire County record I have found in the last several years (three have been at Winsor Dam...White tailed Tropicbird, King Eider and the other county first was a Pink footed Goose in Hatfield) to loon sighting here:
Winsor Dam also produced a second ever county record when I found a couple of Franklin's Gulls during an unprecedented invasion of this species into the east in mid November (eBird link here: . I then turned up singles of this species at the dam on a few more mornings after the initial ones showed up.

Other noteworthy happenings around Hampshire County included a few unusual species that stuck around for an extended period of time and may have tried to breed. These unusual species included a pair of Common Gallinules that hung out at Lake Wallace for several weeks as well as a White eyed Vireo that stayed around in another location in Belchertown for several weeks also.  It was a great year for gulls in the valley with nine species as well as for waders with half a dozen species.  Warblers were well represented with 31 species.
Beautiful Jay, Tandayapa Lodge, Ecuador, Nov 18, 2015 (Life bird #1000)
Overall for the year I found 804 species with 275 of those being life birds bringing my life time total to 1186. The vast majority of the new birds came during my Ecuador trip (with 265 life birds).  I ended the year with 2530 eBird lists bringing my total to 17767.  I encourage everyone to enter there sightings to eBird as it is an easy way to keep track of your data while adding to science.

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