Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Black Tern and Red necked Grebe at Winsor Dam and another tropical update

Red necked Grebe, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 23, 2016
Red necked Grebe, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 23, 2016
Common Loon, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 23, 2016
Barn Swallows, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 23, 2016
Great Egrets, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Aug 23, 2016
Great Black backed Gull, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Aug 23, 2016
Least Sandpiper, Lower Mill Pond, Easthampton, MA, Aug 23, 2016
Dawn in the East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Aug 23, 2016
Certainly a feel of fall in the air this morning with a low of 50 degrees thanks to some northwest winds the last few days. It warmed up rapidly to around 80 but it certainly felt like fall early on. I started out my morning at Winsor Dam trying to hear some whip poor wills but once again I didn't have any. I had hopes today that the northerly winds would bring in some shorebirds but despite checking several spots I didn't find too many. None of the fields I checked in Hadley and Northampton had any shorebirds at all and most of the shorebirds I did manage to find were over at Lower Mill Pond. Early morning fog made viewing a bit tough so there may have been some shorebirds along the river hidden from my view but who knows. The highlights while checking the fields included a Merlin harassing a kestrel and a flyby Great Egret at the Honey Pot. I once again made it down to the Holyoke Dam and it once again produced some good birds including four Mute Swans (not really good but still a somewhat uncommon species in the county in summer), 31 Common Mergansers, 15 Double crested Cormorants, 11 Great Blue Herons, 9 Great Egrets, an adult Great Black backed Gull (my first this fall and one of three gull species there today), 140+ Chimney Swifts, 55 Tree Swallows and 110 Bank Swallows. No luck relocating the Little Blue Heron but hopefully it is still in the area somewhere. Once I finished up at the Holyoke Dam I headed over to Winsor Dam which quickly produced a couple of really good birds...Black Tern and Red necked Grebe. The Black Tern was an immature bird way out near the fishing area that was last seen working north along the west arm of the reservoir.  I attempted some digiscoped shots but the bird was just too far away to get an identifiable shots.  The tern becomes species #214 for Hampshire County this year. The breeding plumage Red necked Grebe was probably even more unexpected given the date. This is my earliest record in the fall by a few weeks (previous best was Sept 11) and is the earliest county record for fall in eBird in the county. I also made a couple stops in Quabbin Park itself before returning to Winsor Dam to meet up with Aidan and Devin. The tern and grebe did not resurface for them but we did have a Cliff Swallow among the more expected swallows. It was quite obvious from several stops this morning that swallows were on the move today with good numbers and variety around.
Great Egrets, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Aug 22, 2016
Great Blue Heron, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Aug 22, 2016
Killdeer, Lower Mill Pond, Easthampton, MA, Aug 22, 2016
Black capped Chickadee with leg bands, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 22, 2016
Yesterday was even cooler than today with highs making it into the mid 70's with a strong northwest wind. I birded along the river from Hadley down to South Hadley and then back to Quabbin. Highlights included seven Great Egrets flying past at Arcadia, three species of shorebirds (Killdeer, Least Sandpiper and Solitary Sandpiper) at Lower Mill Pond, eight Great Egrets and 110 Chimney Swifts at the Holyoke Dam and the appearance of a banded Black capped Chickadee at home that I last saw the day it was banded back in June of this year.

Now to the tropics and what activity is going on there. What was Fiona is now just barely a tropical depression and will soon be just a remnant low. What had been Invest 90L has now become Tropical Storm Gaston and is forecast to become a hurricane but should remain well out in the Atlantic and recurve out away from any impact to the Americas. Invest 99L continues to hang on despite dry air being brought into the system. If it continues to survive and makes it further west there is a decent chance of it forming into something. The forecast models are all over the board out past a few days with some killing the storm off, others making it a tropical storm and others a hurricane. The track is also up in the air with a hit on Florida a very distinct possibility but also the chance of an impact elsewhere on the east coast. As mentioned before there are still a lot of questions with this system but it certainly should be watched over the next several days.

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