Thursday, December 7, 2017

First week of December produces 76 species in Hampshire County


Red headed Woodpecker, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Dec 7, 2017
Clay colored Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Dec 7, 2017
House Finch, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Dec 7, 2017
Bald Eagle, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Dec 6, 2017
Bald Eagles, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Dec 6, 2017
As the first week of December comes to a close the relatively tranquil weather continues and the variety of birds around continues to be quite high.  In the first seven days of the month I have found 76 species in the county, which is at least ten more than I typically find in the entire month!  Continuing rarities/lingering species just from today included Long tailed Duck (at Winsor Dam) and Red headed Woodpecker, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow rumped Warbler and Clay colored Sparrow (all at Arcadia).  Getting two species of warbler in the early part of December is really fantastic and not something I have been able to accomplish before.  Yesterday a brief stop at Winsor Dam produced a gathering of eleven Bald Eagles (all close in) plus a Red breasted Merganser.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

More rarities and lingering species in the first three days of December


Clay colored Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Dec 3, 2017
Rusty Blackbirds, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Dec 3, 2017
Rusty Blackbirds, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Dec 3, 2017
Green winged Teal, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Dec 3, 2017
Dawn, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Dec 2, 2017
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Dec 1, 2017
The first three days of December have continued the theme from November with rarities and lingering species around in good numbers.  In the first three days I have managed to find 62 species without too much effort with highlights including a Cackling Goose (Arcadia-Dec 2), a Long tailed Duck (Winsor Dam-Dec 3), Red headed Woodpecker (Arcadia-Dec2-3), Common Yellowthroat (Arcadia-Dec 2) and Clay colored Sparrow (Arcadia-Dec 3).  Other species around in above normal numbers have included Black Ducks, Green winged Teal and Rusty Blackbirds (including a flock of 27 at Arcadia today).  

Thursday, November 30, 2017

November ends after a long series of rarities and a total of 113 species in the county

MacGillivray's Warbler, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Nov 14, 2017
Snowy Owl, Hadley, MA, Nov 18, 2017
Red throated Loon, Arcadia, Northampton, Nov 21
Cackling Goose, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 29, 2017
Red headed Woodpecker, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 28, 2017
White eyed Vireo, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 13, 2017
Red eyed Vireo, Arcadia, Northampton, Nov 20, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 27, 2017
Common Yellowthroat, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 28, 2017
Clay colored Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 15, 2017
Baltimore Oriole, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 15, 2017
I spent the last day of the month once again exploring Arcadia and I found a very respectable 51 species total with several continued rarities and high counts of other species for the end of November.  Highlights included at least 66 Wood Ducks, the Red headed Woodpecker, a Common Yellowthroat, two Yellow rumped Warblers, several hundred Red winged Blackbirds and four Rusty Blackbirds.  Full list from the morning here: Arcadia 11/30

Now that November has come to an end I will take a look at all the rarities and late staying species I had this month.  It was a really great month for birding around here with a way above average total for the month for me, coming in at a very impressive 113 species (impressive for me anyway).  Looking at my eBird data for the last five years (easily viewed with the eBird app) this month beat my previous best November back in 2014 by 13 species.  I typically total in the mid 90's for species for the month.  Although I had slightly lower diversity of waterfowl than typical I didn't spend as much time looking and the warm weather has kept areas to the north ice free so some species have yet to be forced south.  Other families were around in greater variety with three species of shorebirds, six species of owls, seven species of woodpeckers, two species of vireos, four species of warblers and ten species of sparrows.

The list of unusual and/or late lingering species included the biggest highlight being a MacGillivray's Warbler (Nov 13-15), plus multiple Cackling Geese, at least four individual Red throated Loons at three different locations, American Woodcock (through Nov 22), Snowy Owl (Nov 18-20), Short eared Owl (Nov 23), Red headed Woodpecker (Nov 27-end of month), White eyed Vireo (Nov 13), Red eyed Vireo (Nov 20), Gray Catbird (through mid month), Yellow rumped Warbler (through end of month), Common Yellowthroat (through end of month), Clay colored Sparrow (Nov 15) , White crowned Sparrow (through Nov 21), Baltimore Oriole (Nov 15) and Pine Siskin (Nov 19).

A more in depth look at my late dates (and early dates) for warblers in Hampshire County can be found at the following link (if one is so inclined to look at more bird nerd data)...Late and early dates for warblers.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The last couple mornings at Arcadia produce multiple Common Yellowthroats, a Cackling Goose, a Red headed Woodpecker and Yellow rumped Warblers


Common Yellowthroat, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 28, 2017
Common Yellowthroat, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 28, 2017
Red headed Woodpecker, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 28, 2017
Red headed Woodpecker, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 28, 2017
Northern Mockingbird, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 28, 2017
Northern Mockingbird, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 28, 2017
After getting a call from Keenan yesterday mid morning about a Common Yellowthroat at Arcadia I decided to make a late morning trip over to see if I could find it.  I arrived around ten and found the bird in the area Keenan had it.  It would call occasionally and stayed hidden most of the time.  As I was getting photos of it another yellowthroat popped into view (this one was an adult male)...two Common Yellowthroats in the same area in late November made my morning.  My previous late date for the species in the county was Nov 2nd back in 2013.  The juvenile Red headed Woodpecker continued at the same location.  Full list here: Arcadia
Common Yellowthroat, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 29, 2017
Common Yellowthroat, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 29, 2017
Cackling Goose, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 29, 2017
Canada Goose with dark face, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 29, 2017
I had just a little time this morning before other obligations would keep me busy for the remainder of the morning but it was another great visit to Arcadia with highlights including a Cackling Goose, nearly 30 Wood Ducks, two Yellow rumped Warblers and at least two Common Yellowthroats among 37 species in just about an hour.  I would have loved to have stayed longer as I checked just a couple spots and there was lots of activity.  Full list here: Arcadia


Monday, November 27, 2017

Red headed Woodpecker at Arcadia

Red headed Woodpecker, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 27, 2017
Red headed Woodpecker, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 27, 2017
Red headed Woodpecker, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 27, 2017

Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 27, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 27, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 27, 2017
Yet another rarity has shown up for November when Eric Labato found a juvenile Red headed Woodpecker at Arcadia in the same area a different juvenile bird spent last winter.  It was vocal at times and was very busy caching food so it looks like it will be sticking around.  It does make you wonder if they are breeding nearby at a yet undiscovered location.  In the same general of the woodpecker I found a flock of seven Rusty Blackbirds moving through the swampy woodland.  The  beaver have been quite busy in the area with lots of freshly flooded areas.  The area looks perfect to attract a Prothonotary Warbler next spring (if one decides to move further north than usual)...it will certainly be worth checking the area.  Arcadia also held at least two and perhaps three Yellow rumped Warblers.  Typically I see the last of this species in the county in very late October to perhaps mid November.  The only other late date I have for the species was back in 2005 at Quabbin Park when I had two.  Perhaps the birds will stick around a few more days and linger into December.  I also briefly stopped at Winsor Dam on my way home and turned up a lone female Greater Scaup.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

More waterfowl the last few days


Red throated Loon, Beaver Lake, Ware, MA, Nov 23, 2017
Red throated Loon, Beaver Lake, Ware, MA, Nov 23, 2017
Hooded Merganser, Beaver Lake, Ware, MA, Nov 23, 2017
Common Merganser, Beaver Lake, Ware, MA, Nov 23, 2017
Red breasted Merganser, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 23, 2017
Canada Goose with extensive white on neck, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 23, 2017
Waterfowl continues to arrive as November marches steadily toward December although in lesser numbers and variety than expected which is likely due to lots of open water to the north of us. Over the last few days I have managed to find 14 species of waterfowl including all three species of mergansers, two Red throated Loons (one at Arcadia and another at Beaver Lake) and a Cackling Goose in among Canada Geese this morning in Hadley.  Other notable species in the last few days include a Short eared Owl at Arcadia and an American Woodcock still flight displaying in Hadley.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Snowy Owl and other unusual species including Red eyed Vireo, Red throated Loon and Pine Siskin


Snowy Owl, Hadley, MA, Nov 18, 2017
Snowy Owl, Hadley, MA, Nov 18, 2017
Snowy Owl, Hadley, MA, Nov 18, 2017
Snowy Owl, Hadley, MA, Nov 18, 2017
Snowy Owl, Hadley, MA, Nov 18, 2017
On my way to work on Saturday I headed over to Hadley checking a few spots briefly before heading over to Honey Pot to check to see if the MacGillivray's Warbler was still around despite the cold (temps in the teens).  As I was driving toward the dike I noticed a odd white lump at the top of a telephone pole right next to to the dike and immediately knew it was a Snowy Owl.  I quickly pulled over and got out the scope and got some fantastic close up views (and photos).  It was as close as I have ever been to this magnificent beast of the arctic and those piercing yellow eyes really felt like they were boring right through you.  I would normally post this sighting right away to various sites but given some recent poor behavior from a number of people regarding another Snowy Owl I decided to keep the sighting somewhat secret notifying just a few people.  It was tough to not let more people know about it right away as even those slightly interested in birds love owls but I could not be the one who instigated undue pressure on the bird.  I knew such an obvious species in such a well traveled location on a weekend would not stay secret for too long but I had to do my part to try to limit disturbance.  I have only had three Snowy Owls ever in the county with all three coming from Hadley with the one this year within just a few hundred feet of the one I had back in 2014 (Snowy Owl 2014).  With little time left in the morning before work I had just a brief few minutes to try to relocate the MacGillivray's Warbler and I was unsuccessful in my quest.  More information on what could be a very good year for Snowy Owls around here (as well as many other locations)...Project SNOWstorm.
Snowy Owl, Hadley, MA, Nov 19, 2017
On my way home on Sunday morning in the on and off rain and strong winds I checked to see if the Snowy Owl was still present and it was right back on the same pole I saw it on the day before.  I stopped briefly and got a few photos and then quickly left the area.  A brief stop at Quabbin Park produced a flyover Pine Siskin (perhaps a harbinger of things to come as far as irruptive species are concerned?)
Red eyed Vireo, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 20, 2017
Red throated Loon, Oxbow at Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 20, 2017
Snowy Owl, Hadley, MA, Nov 20, 2017
My original plan on Monday was to stay local as the winds were forecast to be strong and I figured finding small passerines would be hard to do and the winds might bring in some waterfowl to Quabbin.  I stopped at Winsor Dam at first light and the winds were light and the water devoid of waterfowl so I scrapped my original plan and instead headed over toward the river.  My first stop there was the Honey Pot where I once again had the Snowy Owl.  I checked for the MacGillivray's Warbler again without any luck (it may have moved on but the winds were kicking up a bit so perhaps it was just hunkered down).  I then headed across the river to Arcadia in search of a very late Red eyed Vireo photographed there the day before.  I ran into Keenan there and after a bit I picked out the vireo feeding in the fruiting trees along with many waxwings.  A really late date for the species and just another in a long string of rarities in the same small area.  Nothing else too unusual around the old orchard area but I did once again see the continuing Red throated Loon in the Oxbow.  I left Arcadia and made a brief drive through the East Meadows were I had at least one Lapland Longspur mixed into a large flock of Horned Larks.  My final stop of the morning was a return back to Winsor Dam where I found a Long tailed Duck, a Red breasted Merganser and a Horned Grebe.
Red throated Loon, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 21, 2017
Canada Goose with extensive white on neck, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 21, 2017
Cedar Waxwings, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 21, 2017
Tufted Titmouse, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 21, 2017
White throated Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 21, 2017
Song Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Nov 21, 2017
Today I once again headed over to the fields and meadows along the Connecticut River starting off at the Honey Pot where the Snowy Owl was not in the areas I checked.  No luck relocating the MacGillivray's Warbler once again so I think the bird has either moved out of the area completely or it has taken up residence somewhere else in the local area...lots of good habitat around.  Best species during my times there was a singing White crowned Sparrow.  Most of my time out this morning was spent at Arcadia where I once again had the continued Red throated Loon, a Yellow rumped Warbler,  285+ Cedar Waxwings and an odd Canada Goose among the few hundred geese present.  No luck in  relocating the Red eyed Vireo from the day before.  Still lots of activity in the old orchard area which still looks prime to attract additional rarities.