Tuesday, May 2, 2017

PAINTED BUNTING in Hampshire County plus lots of migrants among 122 species today!

Painted Bunting, Huntington, MA, May 2, 2017
Painted Bunting, Huntington, MA, May 2, 2017
Sandhill Crane, Worthington, MA, May 2, 2017
Given the weather conditions overnight into the day today the possibility was there to find some good stuff and indeed that turned out to be the case. Southerly winds with predawn rain that continued on and off through midday resulted in some great birding. Normally I would have stayed fairly local to check Quabbin closely but I heard about a Painted Bunting coming to a feeder at a private residence in Huntington so I had to try for that. I made plans with the homeowners to be there around 9AM so I thought I would use the first few hours of daylight to swing through the hilltowns of Hampshire County to pick up some tough to get in the valley birds such as American Bittern and Sandhill Crane. Although the rain would occasionally interrupt my walks and stops, I still managed to get all the species I was after plus lots of other good stuff including my first Eastern Kingbird of the year, calling Virginia Rails, nesting Great Blue Herons and a close encounter with an Eastern Coyote. As nine o'clock approached I made it to the house with the bunting and as luck would have it the bird was sitting on the feeder when I arrived. The homeowners were very nice and allowed me to view the bird from inside the house. A truly striking bird and well north of where it should be right now. Although I have seen a number of Painted Buntings elsewhere this is the first one I have seen in Hampshire County (bringing my county total to 291). The bird disappeared for about twenty five minutes to parts unknown until it came back once again not long before I left.
Bonaparte's Gull, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, May 2, 2017
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, May 2, 2017
As I continued to find good birds despite (or because) of the weather I decided after seeing the Painted Bunting how many species I could get for the day. A little early to set any real big day record but thought it would be interesting to see what I could come up with. I headed over to the Oxbow briefly to look for grounded waterfowl/gulls/terns/shorebirds and found four Greater Scaup but not too much else noteworthy. I was originally going to head down to walk along the river but got a text from Devin stating they had a Lincoln's Sparrow at Conte NWR at Fort River so I headed there instead. I caught up with Devin and Aidan and we proceeded to continue to get some great birds. A flyby Snowy Egret (rare at any time around here but especially so in the spring) was quickly followed up by a flyby Bonaparte's Gull as well as a mixed species flock of warblers. The nearby vulture roost on Moody Bridge produced a single Black Vulture among the more common Turkey Vultures. I finally made it to Winsor Dam by late morning and I had another Bonaparte's Gull among a hundred plus Ring billed and Herring Gulls plus 15 Common Loons and hundreds of swallows.
American Redstart, Quabbin Park, MA, May 2, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler 'Myrtle', Quabbin Park, MA, May 2, 2017
Black and White Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 2, 2017
Chipping Sparrow, Quabbin Park, MA, May 2, 2017
I then headed for home to get Wilson and we headed out for a walk along the Belchertown Land Trust trail and that is when the sun finally broke through and the temperatures warmed up. My final stops for the day were over to Quabbin Park where I found several groups of migrants moving through including my first Lincoln's Sparrow and Yellow throated Vireo and then to Lake Wallace to pick up a few more species including the continued Red headed Woodpecker.

I started and ended the day with a nightjar...Eastern Whip Poor Will at Winsor Dam in the morning and an early Common Nighthawk over the house in the evening. I ended the day with 122 species including 18 species of warbler, quite respectable for the very beginning of May.


  1. Nice finds Larry, and always great to share the birds with you!