Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Purple Martin among the remnants of Hermine as some rain and wind arrives

Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 6, 2016
Cooper's Hawks, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 6, 2016
Spotted Sandpiper, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Sep 6, 2016
Least Sandpiper, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Sep 6, 2016
Semipalmated Sandpiper, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Sep 6, 2016
Herring Gull, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Sep 6, 2016
Bobcat, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 6, 2016
Bobcat, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 6, 2016
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 6, 2016
As the remnants of Hermine continued to get closer to us today we got more wind (in spots) and eventually some occasional light rain and drizzle.  I started off at Winsor Dam where it certainly felt like a storm was coming in with strong northeast winds (20-30 MPH with stronger gusts).  I had some faint hope that the strong winds might bring something noteworthy to the area so I decided to cover areas I felt held the most promise with the most likely species being shorebirds and gulls/terns.  After Winsor Dam I headed over to the Honey Pot in Hadley and found 13 Killdeer in one of the plowed fields but no other shorebirds.  A few Cooper's Hawks working back and forth through the fields might have kept some birds from settling in.  I then headed across the river to Arcadia to check the Oxbow and some fields.  Just Ring billed Gulls in the Oxbow and the fields were quiet.  The area where I have been having lots of waders was also fairly quiet with just four each of Great Egret and Great Blue Heron which is quite a reduction in just the last couple days (guess they are taking advantage of the northeast winds to start working south).  My next stop was down to the Holyoke Dam where I had 23 Double crested Cormorants, 9 Least Sandpipers, a Semipalmated Sandpiper, a Spotted Sandpiper, around seventy gulls with almost all being Ring billed Gulls (the others were Herring Gulls) and about 150 swallows with 120+ of them Bank Swallows plus some Tree and Barn Swallows mixed in.  After the Holyoke Dam I headed back to home with a brief stop at Quabbin Park before picking up Wilson and heading to Lake Wallace.  The best sighting of the day was probably the Bobcat I came across at Quabbin.  Sadly I only had my cellphone to get photos with as the cat was fairly cooperative and I could have gotten some great shots with my good camera.  Overall for World Shorebird Day I managed to find just four species...hopefully more will turn up soon.  I made a few more stops at Winsor Dam during the day in the hopes of finding something arriving with the rain and wind in the afternoon but no luck once again.  The cape and the islands of Massachusetts got the worst of it with some big waves, near hurricane force winds and more rain.  They also got some decent birds with the following eBird checklists detailing what showed up...I'm sure more will show up over the next couple days as the storm slowly pulls away and continues to weaken.

Race Point on Monday Sept 5th:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31439638
Andrew's Point on Monday Sept 5th:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31439563
Cohasset-Little Harbor on Monday Sept 5th: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31441392

Purple Martin, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Sep 6, 2016
Purple Martin, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Sep 6, 2016
Purple Martin, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Sep 6, 2016
Purple Martin, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Sep 6, 2016
I also came across an odd swallow at Lake Wallace that I had trouble coming to an ID on.  It was all by itself perched on a small branch in the middle of the marsh as the rain fell.  It had a dark back and light belly with a light upper breast band, a darker line running down the center of the chest and a slightly lighter throat.  The front 2/3 of the head was dark but the back 1/3 was light.  I original entered it as a swallow species until I could get home to get the photos to some other people.  Ian Davies got back to me with the proper identification of the bird...a Purple Martin!  A very unusual species in western Massachusetts and not one I expected to find here in early September.  It appears to be the only record for September in the county and one of only two records for this late in the year in all of western mass.

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