Thursday, August 18, 2016

The last couple mornings

Great Egrets, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Aug 18, 2016
Great Blue Herons, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Aug 18, 2016
Common Merganser, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Aug 18, 2016
Double crested Cormorants, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Aug 18, 2016
Killdeer, Lower Mill Pond, Easthampton, MA, Aug 18, 2016
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 18, 2016
After getting out of work this morning I made my rounds trying to catch up with some unusual herons or egrets along the Connecticut River. I didn't find anything too unusual but the number of Great Egrets around is fairly high. I started off at Arcadia where it was very quiet so I moved on to Lower Mill Pond where I had a small selection of shorebirds and just a single Great Blue Heron. I then headed further south to check out the Holyoke Dam area not just for any unusual waders that might be around but also in the hopes of finding a Laughing Gull (more on that below). I didn't find any unusual gulls at the dam but did have a decent number of waders including 20 Great Blue Herons and 10 Great Egrets. Other notables there included 17 Common Mergansers, 18 Double crested Cormorants and around fifty Chimney Swifts. I also made a brief stop along the river in the area of the Honey Pot where I had a couple more Great Egrets. I also made a brief stop at Winsor Dam in the hopes of a tracking down any unusual gulls but found nothing beyond a few Ring billed Gulls. Once again there was no sign of the Lesser Scaup and I'm thinking it may be gone for good this time. A walk with Wilson at Lake Wallace turned up the expected species for a midday visit including a half a dozen Green Herons.
Green Heron, Lower Mill Pond, Easthampton, MA, Aug 17, 2016
Least Sandpipers, Lower Mill Pond, Easthampton, MA, Aug 17, 2016
Yesterday morning on my way to work I stopped along the river in Hadley at the Dawson Conservation Area and had three Great Egrets in the river plus a couple Great Blue Herons. A brief run though Arcadia didn't produce too much with just a half dozen Killdeer in the small field they have been in for a few weeks now. Lower Mill Pond produced one each of Great Blue Heron and Green Heron plus four species of shorebirds (Killdeer and Least, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers).

Now for more about the Laughing Gulls mentioned above. There have also been a couple of Laughing Gulls that have shown up inland in Massachusetts during the last few days with one found by James Smith up at Turners Falls on August 15th (link to his blog post here: seen the next day too.  Another was seen on August 17 and 18 at Wachusett Reservoir in Worcester County.  Both birds are juveniles and perhaps got pushed here by the southerly winds over the last few days. Laughing Gull is very unusual inland in Massachusetts and almost always is associated with storms (mainly tropical systems) so the arrival of these birds here is even more unusual as we have had no storms. Speaking of the tropics Tropical Storm Fiona recently formed well out in the Atlantic and the guidance suggests it should curve out to sea and not be a threat to the US but it will certainly be worth watching. There are a few more tropical waves coming off Africa which could also spin up into tropical systems going forward. The most active point of the hurricane season is rapidly approaching so likelihood of systems forming increases over the next several weeks.

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