Monday, July 24, 2017

Oregon trip July 15-22, Part 1: Mount Hood and Columbia Gorge

Mount Hood from plane, OR, July 15, 2017
Mount hood from Lost Lake, Mt Hood NF, OR, July 17, 2017
We just spent the last week or so out in Oregon on a little getaway. Although not a birding trip I nonetheless still managed to get some birding in most days. We flew out to Portland on July 15 and then drove east out to the Hood River area where we spent three nights before driving out to the coast for four nights. We had fantastic weather throughout with sunny skies and pleasant temperatures.
Bewick's Wren, River Rush Ranch, Odell, OR, July 16, 2017
Mule Deer, River Rush Ranch, Odell, OR, July 16, 2017
Bridal Veil Falls, Bridal Falls State Scenic Area, OR, July 16, 2017
Multnomah Falls, OR, July 16, 2017
The first full day was spent along the Columbia Gorge exploring various parks as well as a few wineries and pick your own fruit farms...some damn good raspberries and cherries were obtained and quickly consumed. Before venturing down to the gorge I spent a couple of hours first thing in the morning around the 125+ acre ranch we were staying at. Nothing too unexpected but a nice selection of expected species.
Mount Hood viewed from Lost Lake, Mount Hood NF, OR, July 17, 2017
Hermit Warbler, Lost Lake, Mount Hood NF, OR, July 17, 2017
Steller's Jay, Lost Lake, Mount Hood NF, OR, July 17, 2017
Red breasted Sapsucker, Lost Lake, Mount Hood NF, OR, July 17, 2017
On our second day we headed up toward Mount Hood to hit some higher elevation areas. We began bright and early with a trip up to Lost Lake which provided some great birds as well as spectacular views of Mount Hood. We walked around the lake before many people began to stir for the day so we had it mostly to ourselves. Nothing too unusual but some good stuff nonetheless...full eBird checklist here:  Lost Lake eBird list
Mount Hood, viewed from Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood NF, OR, July 17, 2017
By late morning we stopped to grab an early lunch before heading out to drive up to the Timberline Lodge to get some up close views of the mountain and hopefully some new birds. The lodges area was very busy but did indeed provide some great views of the mountains south slope plus a few higher elevation birds including Clark's Nutcracker and Mountain Chickadee.
MacGillivray's Warbler, River Rush ranch, Odell, OR, July 18, 2017
MacGillivray's Warbler, River Rush ranch, Odell, OR, July 18, 2017
American Dipper, River Rush ranch, Odell, OR, July 18, 2017
Western Tanager,  River Rush ranch, Odell, OR, July 18, 2017
California Quail, River Rush ranch, Odell, OR, July 18, 2017
Latourell Falls, Guy Talbott SP, OR, July 18, 2017
On Tuesday we drove out to the coast after a midday stop in the Portland area to catch up with my uncle but before making it over there around I spent a few hours at first light exploring the area of the River Rush Ranch. Mostly the same species there once again but a couple American Dippers along the Hood River were a nice addition.  Also got some better looks (and photos) of species seen the first morning there...full list with additional photos here: River Ranch eBird list. We also made another waterfall stop along the way through the gorge which was at the stunning (and quiet) Latourell Falls.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Pair of Mourning Warblers at Quabbin Park


Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, July 10, 2017
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, July 10, 2017
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, July 10, 2017
Mourning Warbler (female), Quabbin Park, MA, July 10, 2017
Mourning Warbler (female), Quabbin Park, MA, July 10, 2017
Mourning Warbler (female), Quabbin Park, MA, July 10, 2017
I spent a decent part of the early morning around Quabbin Park with my main goal being checking up on the Mourning Warbler that has been in the same area for over a week (and likely much longer).  I arrived at the location and after several minutes I heard the male calling occasionally.  As the male continued to call I noticed another bird working its way though the tangles and when I got a look at it I found a female Mourning Warbler!  I watched her for several minutes and got a few marginal photos before she eventually disappeared, not be be seen again.  Hopefully she was heading to a nest in the area, which appears to be a very likely scenario at this point.  After listening to all the recordings I have made this spring I believe the male that is present is the same one I had in the same general area back in late June.  Probable breeding of this species at such a low elevation (600' or so) and this far south and east in the state appears to be without precedent.  Hopefully I will get to get 100% confirmation on breeding at some point in the near future.  Full list with additional photos and audio here: Quabbin Park eBird list
American Robin with leg bands and GPS tag, home, Belchertown, MA, July 10, 2017
American Robin juveniles, home, Belchertown, MA, July 10, 2017
Meanwhile back at home the motion camera continues to capture some great stuff including my first ones of one of the American Robins caught a few days ago (American Robins with GPS tags).  The female looks none the worse for wear and the GPS tag is now well hidden.  The water feature really seems to be a hit with the robins, especially the young ones.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Prescott Peninsula field surveys and a couple other stops this morning


Yellow throated Vireo carrying food, Prescott Peninsula, New Salem, MA, July 9, 2017
Purple Finch, Prescott Peninsula, New Salem, MA, July 9, 2017
Purple Finch, Prescott Peninsula, New Salem, MA, July 9, 2017
Red eyed Vireo, Prescott Peninsula, New Salem, MA, July 9, 2017
Ruby throated Hummingbird, Prescott Peninsula, New Salem, MA, July 9, 2017
Gray Catbird, Prescott Peninsula, New Salem, MA, July 9, 2017
Cedar Waxwing eating small stones, Prescott Peninsula, New Salem, MA, July 9, 2017
Moose, Prescott Peninsula, New Salem, MA, July 9, 2017
I conducted what will probably be my last field bird survey on the Prescott Peninsula this morning.  No big surprises but still some good stuff although some species have greatly curtailed their singing.  I was also on the lookout for any Red Crossbills that might be in the area but came up empty despite checking a few spots that have had them breeding in the recent past (there is a bit of an incursion occurring with this species in some nearby areas).  Among the highlights during my few hours on the peninsula was a Moose crossing one of the fields I was surveying as well as quite a bit of evidence of successful breeding among a number of species.  Overall a great morning to be out with sunny skies, cooler temps and low humidity.  Full list with additional photos here:  Prescott Peninsula 7-9-17
Green Heron, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, July 9, 2017
Double crested Cormorant, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, July 9, 2017
I also made a few more stops on my way home including Gate 8 road at Quabbin where I had an Acadian Flycatcher in its typical location and a stop at Lake Wallace where I ran across mostly the expected species.  It unfortunately appears the single active Great Blue Heron nest there may have failed as I have not seen an adult on the nest the last few times I have stopped and had previously seen some very tiny young in the nest but no sign of them today.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Capturing American Robins in the yard to attach GPS tags and other odd and ends the last few days

American Robin in net, home, Belchertown, MA, July 7, 2017
American Robin with leg bands and GPS tag, home, Belchertown, MA, July 7, 2017
American Robin with GPS tag, home, Belchertown, MA, July 7, 2017
GPS tag ready for a host, home, Belchertown, MA, July 7, 2017
American Robin with leg bands and GPS tag, home, Belchertown, MA, July 7, 2017
American Robin with leg bands and GPS tag, home, Belchertown, MA, July 7, 2017
This morning Susannah and Alex Jahn stopped by the yard to try to capture some American Robins to attach GPS locators to as part of an ongoing study associated with the Neighborhood Nestwatch program.  Below is a portion of the e-mail I got regarding this study:
"We are expanding our Gray Catbird study and the GPS tags, and hope to place about 10 GPS tags on robins. This is an exciting opportunity to better understand where one of our most iconic backyard bird spends the winter. The GPS tags are about the size of a dime and we attach them to the birds via a little backpack harness. The challenge is that we need to recapture the birds next year to recover the GPS tag and then download all the data. The technology is so cool that we will be able to pinpoint, within about 20 feet, where these birds spend the winter. Thus far, we've recovered 4 out of the 15 GPS tags from the catbirds. It's pretty exciting!
Alex Jahn, a scientist from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in DC, is leading the project."
They arrived around 7AM with the weather conditions overcast with occasional showers but decent enough weather to try to get some birds.  Once the first net was up and an audio lure placed, a male robin as well as a Northern Cardinal were quickly captured and another robin bounced off the nets without being caught. The robin quickly received both leg bands and a GPS tag and was then released.  Before moving the nets two more  robins were caught as was a Blue Jay.  As only one of the two robins caught was an adult only one bird got bands and a GPS tag.  As the weather continued to become more and more rainy they moved the nets to a new location and caught yet another robin but this one was a female.  All three robins caught did not have bands so somehow the two banded individuals I have had regularly around the yard evaded recapture today.  By this point the rain had increased to a near downpour so the banding ended for the morning.  Despite not capturing the previously banded robins we had some good results with three birds receiving the GPS tags.  Now we just have to until next spring to see if they return and recapture them to remove the GPS unit to see where they have been.  Fingers crossed they all have a safe journey over the next several months.
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, July 6, 2017
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, July 6, 2017
On my way home from work yesterday morning I stopped by Quabbin Park and found the Mourning Warbler still in the same location (I also had it the morning of July 4th).  I was calling occasionally and flying around a few hundred foot area and even stopped briefly along a guardrail and I got a few shots through the binoculars with my phone.  It has now been in the area since at least July 2.  It is truly unusual for this species to be this far south and east and at such a low elevation in an apparent breeding attempt.
American Woodcock, Prescott Peninsula, New Salem, MA, July 6, 2017
I also made an evening trip onto Prescott Peninsula on the fourth to check a few previously unchecked locations for Eastern Whip Poor Wills and found a few outside the areas covered by my annual survey.  Other nocturnal birds included a couple American Woodcocks and a couple Barred Owls calling back and forth.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Mourning Warbler at Quabbin Park in July!


Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, July 2, 2017
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, July 2, 2017
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, July 2, 2017
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, July 2, 2017
I was very surprised this morning as I made my way through Quabbin Park to hear and then see a male Mourning Warbler seemingly trying to set up a breeding territory and find a mate.  As far as I can tell there are no breeding records for the species in the Quabbin area so a very interesting sighting to be sure.  In fact I could not find any records in the immediate area in eBird in either July or August.  No sign of a female but the habitat is right for the species to breed in but his chances of finding a mate this far south and at a fairly low elevation seems quite low.  Full list from the morning at the park with additional photos and some audio clips:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S37923078

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Warblers this spring

Hooded Warbler, Mt Tom State Reservation, Easthampton, MA, Jun 12, 2017
Golden winged Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 31, 2017
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 20, 2017
Cerulean Warbler, Skinner SP, Hadley, MA, May 4, 2017
Worm eating Warbler, Bare Mountain, Hadley, MA, Jun 15, 2017
Cape May Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 7, 2017
Orange crowned Warbler, Skinner SP, Hadley, MA, May 4, 2017
Blue winged Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 9, 2017
Ovenbird, Quabbin Park, MA, May 9, 2017
Louisiana Waterthrush, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 20, 2017
Northern Waterthrush, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 3, 2017
Black and White Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 28, 2017
Nashville Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 17, 2017
Common Yellowthroat, Quabbin Park, MA, May 16, 2017
American Redstart, Quabbin Park, MA, May 2, 2017
Northern Parula, Quabbin Park, MA, May 3, 2017
Magnolia Warbler, Quabbin Gate 12, Pelham, MA, May 21, 2017
Blackburnian Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 9, 2017
Yellow Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 11, 2017
Chestnut sided Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 10, 2017
Blackpoll Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 23, 2017
Black throated Blue Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 4, 2017
Palm Warbler, rail trail, Amherst, MA, Apr 20, 2017
Pine Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 20, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler 'Myrtle', Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 28, 2017
Prairie Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 10, 2017
Black throated Green Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 10, 2017
Canada Warbler, Mitch's Way, Hadley, MA, May 17, 2017
Wilson's Warbler, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, May 17, 2017
With the arrival of July the spring migration season has come to an end I'm taking a quick look at the warblers I managed to find in Hampshire County this year so far.  I decided to focus a bit more on warblers this year to see what I could find and I was quite successful in my quest so far finding a total of 31 species of warbler (my best spring ever) and managed to get photos of almost all of them.  I also had a good run of hybrid warblers with more details and photos at the bottom of the post. The only two species that were reported in the county that I missed included a heard only Kentucky Warbler that showed up in Hadley one morning in mid May but was never seen or heard again and a Yellow breasted Chat that spent a morning at Fitzgerald Lake but didn't stay around (yes, I still consider the chat a warbler).   Beyond the typical species of warbler usually found in spring around here with a little effort I turned up some unusual species including an Orange crowned Warbler, a Golden winged Warbler and a Hooded Warbler.  I also had some success with a few other species that can be tough to find some years including three Cape May Warblers, three Bay breasted Warblers and at least nine different Mourning Warblers.  The Mourning Warblers were the biggest surprise with my total this spring easily eclipsing any previous spring.  As an interesting side note the recordings I was able to get of the various Mourning Warblers migrating through here show that they come from two separate vocal groups (Eastern group and the Nova Scotia group).  Link with additional information regarding the various vocal groupings of Mourning Warblers and the notes from the researcher here:  http://quabbinbirdingandbeyond.blogspot.com/2017/05/more-mourning-warblers-and-unusual-blue.html

Over the years I have had a total of 35 species of warbler in the county.  The species I have previously seen but are so far missing from my list this year include Prothonotary Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Connecticut Warbler and Yellow breasted Chat.  I should be able to turn up a Connecticut Warbler or two this fall (last year was an incredible year for the species, see the following link- Connecticut Warbler fall 2016.  A chat is also a decent possibility with a lot of effort and some luck.  The other two species will be very difficult to find in fall but I'll certainly be looking.  There is also the chance of something even more unusual showing up and there are records of four other species of warbler that have been seen in the county that I have not yet seen here including the following:  Black throated Gray Warbler (Westhampton, Oct 1973), Hermit Warbler (North Amherst, Nov 1995), MacGillivray's Warbler (Northampton, Oct 1998) and Yellow throated Warbler (Hadley, Oct 2010).  These species are obviously extremely rare in the county but worth trying to find as they have occurred before.
Lawrence's Warbler, Mineral Hills Conservation Area, Northampton, MA, May 13, 2017
Brewster's Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 13, 2017
Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler hybrid, Quabbin Park, MA, May 9, 2017
This spring has also been great for a variety of Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler hybrids including a Lawrence's Warbler in Northampton, two Brewster's Warblers (one at Quabbin Park and a second in Belchertown) plus another hybrid that looked like a typical Blue winged Warbler except for a golden wing patch.  This is only the second year I have found both named hybrids in the same year (the first time was back in 2012).  Taking a quick look at eBird records for this spring it appears that only two Lawrence's Warblers were found in the state with the other being at Fannie Stebbins, while a total of three Brewster's Warblers were found in the state with the only one besides my two being an individual out in Pepperell.