Sunday, May 7, 2017

CATTLE EGRET in Hadley plus a Cape May Warbler and a huge group of Common Ravens

Cape May Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 7, 2017
Cape May Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 7, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 7, 2017
Black throated Green Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 7, 2017
Common Ravens (part of group of 67), UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 7, 2017
Although I didn't have high hopes in finding lots of stuff this morning given the weather conditions of cool temperatures and a steady breeze I was pleasantly surprised.  I started off at Orchard Hill at UMASS and although it began rather slow it eventually got active.  The first notable sighting began when I heard some Common Ravens calling and looked up and noticed a group of several moving north to south which quickly grew and grew as more and more birds streamed by.  My total ended up at at least 67 individuals!  Easily the largest group of raven I have ever had here in spring (or even fall for that matter when larger groups are more likely to occur).  I have no idea where they came from or where they were going.  The big question is why there would be such a large group of this species when they should be paired off and nesting.  Perhaps it was all juvenile birds that were not ready to breed...very interesting.  As I was making my last pass through the top of the ridge on the way back to my car I could hear a few Yellow rumped Warblers and Northern Parulas calling so I got closer to investigate them and found a large mixed species flock that contained lots of good stuff with the highlight being a stunning male Cape May Warbler.  Although it never strayed far from the very tops of the trees it still provided some great looks and vocalized quite a bit.  Scott arrived and I was able to get him on the bird right away.  It was nice to see Orchard Hill produce some good stuff again.  The Cape May Warbler stayed in view for 25+ minutes and only moved down the ridge and out of site just before I left (and Joe arrived after getting my message)....hopefully he relocated it.  I also hit a few more spots on campus but I didn't find too much and the skies looked threatening and eventually produced some rain.  Full lists:
American Redstart, Quabbin Park, MA, May 7, 2017
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, May 7, 2017
As the rain stopped on my way home and the clouds parted a bit allowing for the occasional break of sun I headed through Quabbin Park to see what I could find.  I didn't hit as many spots as I typically do and the cool temperatures breeze made it a little bit tough to get loads of birds.  Nothing too out of the ordinary but I did find my first Swainson's Thrush of the season plus the continued hybird Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler.  Full list with more photos here:
Cattle Egret, East Hadley Rd, Hadley, MA, May 7, 2017
Cattle Egret, East Hadley Rd, Hadley, MA, May 7, 2017
Cattle Egret, East Hadley Rd, Hadley, MA, May 7, 2017
I was doing some projects around the house in the middle of the afternoon and was about to go outside and cut the grass for the first time this season when my phone rang and changed those plans.  Scott was calling to tell me about a Cattle Egret in Hadley that apparently was found late mid/late morning and was still there.  I immediately headed that way and thankfully the bird was still present when I arrived.  I got some great scope views and a few photos and video before I drove down the road toward the bird where I got a few more photos in passing on the very busy East Hadley Road.  The bird looked quite content and was actively feeding the entire time I watched it.  The egret was a new bird for my Hampshire County list becoming species #292.  Hard to believe I managed to get two new county birds in less than a week (Painted Bunting on May 2)...I have not had so many new county birds since Hurricane Irene!  Full album with additional photos and video here:
Yellow rumped Warblers, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 4, 2017
Gray Catbird, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 7, 2017
Pine Warbler (female), Home, Belchertown, MA, May 7, 2017
Ruby throated Hummingbird, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 7, 2017
Mouse, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 5, 2017
I also checked the various motion cameras around the yard and found some interesting sightings on them with more warblers, another hummingbird as well as my first Gray Catbird capture of the season (no bands on this bird).  Still no luck capturing the Hooded Mergansers at the nest boxes but a mouse was out and about at 3:35am.

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