Sunday, May 22, 2016

Two Eastern Whip Poor Will surveys, lots of Tennessee Warblers and loads of other stuff the last several days

Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, May 22, 2016
Common Nighthawk, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 22, 2016
Common Nighthawk, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 22, 2016
Common Nighthawks, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 22, 2016
After getting out of work today I made a stop along the rail trail looking for some shorebirds and found a Killdeer, a Solitary Sandpiper, three Spotted Sandpiper and a Least Sandpiper.  A brief stop at Winsor Dam was unproductive and I was too tired to go looking anywhere else for birds so I headed home.  Just as the clouds started to lift in the early afternoon I had at least 13 very vocal Common Nighthawks feeding over the house.
Black Vultures, Moody Bridge Rd, Hadley, MA, May 21, 2016
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, May 21, 2016
Before work yesterday I hit a few spots including Winsor Dam where the male Lesser Scaup continues (present since at least May 1st) and over to Moody Bridge Rd where I had two Black Vultures in among the roosting Turkey Vultures.  The rail trail was fairly quiet but my stop there was brief.  I also made a quick pass by a location where a probable Black crowned Night Heron has been heard a few times over the past week but I didn't have any luck finding it.
Cerulean Warbler on nest, Skinner SP, Hadley, MA, May 20, 2016
Tennessee Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 20, 2016
Wilson's Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 20, 2016
I spent the last day of my vacation on Friday out exploring on what started out as a foggy day but turned into a beautiful sunny day.  I initially had plans to stay around Quabbin but a walk at Gate 4 seemed quiet so I decided instead to make a trip west to UMASS which proved to be a good choice when as soon as I arrived I started hearing Tennessee Warblers.  I had at least eight on Orchard Hill and I think there were likely quite a few more.  The best bird of the morning turned out to be a calling Grasshopper Sparrow (#205) in the small field near the old observatory which I never got a look at despite my best efforts...a very odd location for this species.  I then worked south eventually ending at Skinner SP before heading back toward home.  I got fantastic looks at a Cerulean Warbler nest at Skinner which seems to be in a relatively exposed location but hopefully the nest will be successful.  I ended the day with a total of 25 species of warblers which is about as high a total as I have gotten this year.  Full lists from the day below:

Quabbin Gate 4:

UMASS Orchard Hill:

UMASS Northwest campus:

Mitch's Way:

Skinner SP:

Land trust trail-Belchertown:

Although I was tired the conditions were perfect to conduct my second whip poor will survey on Friday evening so I made a last minute decision to head to Prescott Peninsula to get it done.  I started the survey just before 8:30 at the southern end of the peninsula and then headed north making the ten stops.  Once again the lower part of the peninsula contained the majority of the whip poor wills and I ended the evening with a total of ten Eastern Whip Poor Wills heard with seven of those at official stops and three in between stops.  This total is three higher than last year but the same when looking at official stops only.  Just one Moose sighting as one crossed my path about half way down the peninsula at dusk.
Rose breasted Grosbeak on nest, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, May 19, 2016
Rose breasted Grosbeak, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, May 19, 2016
Pileated Woodpecker, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 19, 2016

On Thursday I headed over to Orchard Hill at UMASS to follow up on a Hooded Warbler that was seen there on Wednesday but not surprisingly the bird was gone.  Although the forecast called for rain later in the day, it showered on and off through the first several hours of the morning which made most locations fairly quiet (at least by mid May standards).  Nonetheless I still turned up two Tennessee Warblers and a Bay breasted Warbler at UMASS and my first Willow Flycatcher (#204) at Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River.  A text from Mike regarding a possible Acadian Flycatcher at Conte NWR had me looking high and low for it but having no luck...oh well.  Full lists from the morning below:


Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River:
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, May 18, 2016
I conducted the first of two Eastern Whip Poor Will surveys on Wednesday evening and I made a quick stop at the dam before I started the route and had the male Lesser Scaup still there (present on and off since May 1).  The whip route goes through Quabbin Park and then south along the Swift River.  It involves ten stops of six minutes each with passive listening (no playback).  This year only four of the ten stops had any birds calling, which is lower than last year.  The total number of whips came to six which is half of what I had last year on the same route.  Perhaps the breeze at a few productive spots just kept them quiet and the birds are still around.  I managed to get some audio of one of the below (you will need to crank the volume to hear it)

I also added a new species to the yard list on Thursday morning when I went out with Wilson before dawn and heard an Eastern Whip Poor Will calling distantly to the east....species #161 for the yard!

Eastern Towhee, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 21, 2016
The list of birds seen at the new water feature continues to grow and now stands at 25 with new species added being Eastern Towhee and Tufted Titmouse.

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