Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar eclipse

Partial solar eclipse, home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 21, 2017
Partial solar eclipse, home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 21, 2017
Wilson getting a better view of the solar eclipse, home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 21, 2017
Today marked a very unusual occurrence with a total solar eclipse transiting the breadth of the United States starting out near Lincoln City, OR (where we were just a month ago) and moving southeast and exiting South Carolina near Charleston. This was the first total solar eclipse in the continental US since 1979. Around here the peak of the eclipse occurred around 2:45 when 66% of the sun was blocked by the moon.  Unfortunetly some spotty clouds arrived around this time blocking the sun from view occasionally but I still managed to get some good views.  The next total solar eclipse for the US will be on April 8, 2024 and this one will be much closer with the totality moving through northern New England...given the date the chances of having a sunny day is low then but one can always hope.
Canada Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 21, 2017
Chestnut sided Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 21, 2017
Prairie Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 21, 2017
On my way home from work I made a brief stop off at Quabbin Park and hit just a few spots before heading for home.  No sign of the Mourning Warblers today but I really didn't search for too long....list for the day at the following link: Quabbin Park
Baltimore Oriole, home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 19, 2017

Gray Fox, home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 18,2017
Chestnut sided Warbler and Tufted Titmouse, home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 19, 2017
The motion camera at home continues to capture some good stuff including the continued Gray Fox as well as a number of species of birds.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A very early Connecticut Warbler and Black crowned Night Heron this morning

Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Black crowned Night Heron, Lower Mill Pond, Easthampton, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Black crowned Night Heron and Great Blue Heron, Lower Mill Pond, Easthampton, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Great Egret, Lower Mill Pond, Easthampton, MA, Aug 19, 2017
One never knows what a day out and about will turn up but today was really fantastic with some great stuff around for the middle of August including an early Connecticut Warbler and a Black crowned Night Heron among some eighty species overall. I was unsure where exactly to start the humid summer like morning today but I decided on Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River where I hoped to find some warblers in the dense underbrush.  Although I didn't have too much luck with warblers there I did have a couple of Eastern Screech Owls calling back and forth.  Unfortunately the mosquitoes were a bit annoying so I decided to head out of there before I ended up with West Nile Virus and stopped over to Lower Mill Pond in Easthampton to try to catch up with a previously reported juvenile Black crowned Night Heron (a very tough species to find in the county, at least for me...I have only seen one other, back in 2015).  When I arrived at the pond there were three wader species around (Great Blue Heron, Green Heron and Great Egret) but initially no night heron.  After a few scans I walked a bit further up the road to view into a previously obstructed cove and there was the bird in all its dull brown glory standing in some shallow water.  A great day in the county when you can have four species of waders in the same spot!  This continues the great year for waders with the night heron bringing the total to nine species for me, a very good total for inland Massachusetts.  My eBird lists from these two stops: Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River and Lower Mill Pond. After getting my fill of the waders and the few shorebirds around I then headed over to Arcadia to see what else I could turn up.
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Bobolink, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Yellow Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Common Yellowthroat, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Indigo Bunting, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Song Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Arcadia once again offered up some great birds with the best by far being an exceptionally early Connecticut Warbler found along the edge of a field in some low brush...a huge surprise for me!  The Connecticut Warbler today is by far my earliest record (my previous early date was September 2 back in 2015) and it also appears to be the earliest fall record I could find in the state (either in eBird or Veit and Petersen's data...previous early date being Aug 23).  A truly impressive early record!  It will be interesting to see how many Connecticut Warblers I can find this season and if I can come close to my record breaking season last year when I found an amazing ten individuals!  More about last year at the following link:Connecticut Warblers 2016.  The Connecticut Warbler becomes warbler species #32 for the year in Hampshire County for me so far.  Besides the CT warbler I had lots of other good stuff with continued high numbers of Indigo Buntings and Song Sparrows.  Full eBird list with more photos here: Arcadia
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Late in the morning I made my way over to Quabbin Park where I was once again able to find one of the Mourning Warblers still hanging around...full list here: Quabbin Park.  I would have liked to explore some additional areas there but the day was rapidly getting hot and Wilson needed his walk so off to home I went to pick him up.
Red tailed Hawk, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Red tailed Hawk, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 19, 2017
Red tailed Hawk, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 19, 2017
The afternoon was spent around the house enjoying the day and I was treated to lots of activity from a very vocal and active family of Red tailed Hawks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mid August morning


Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 16, 2017
Red eyed Vireo, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 16, 2017
Yellow Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 16, 2017
Canada Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 16, 2017
Great Blue Heron, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 16, 2017
Blue winged Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 16, 2017
Common Yellowthroat, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 16, 2017
Porcupine baby, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 16, 2017
Now that the middle of August has arrived the fall migration season will start to kick into high gear with an overall peak coming in September.  Fall migration really starts in July with shorebirds heading back south but I consider mid August the beginning of a much larger start of migration.  I started off my morning before dawn over at Winsor Dam where I had at least one Eastern Whip Poor Will calling (and a couple Great Horned Owls) before heading over to Lake Wallace.  Lots of waterfowl at Lake Wallace early on but no sign of the Marsh Wren once again (I have missed it the last couple times I have stopped here so perhaps it has moved on).  The vast majority of the morning I spent at Quabbin Park where I covered a variety of areas and had some good stuff including at least two Mourning Warblers (an adult male and a juvenile) in the same area they bred in this year.  Lots of other good birds among the nearly fifty species tallied there this morning.  In addition to the birds at Quabbin Park I had a great look at a baby Porcupine (about the size of a football) resting on a branch.  My last stop of the morning was a brief stop back at Lake Wallace but it was fairly quiet by late morning and the several large lawnmowers working the playing fields didn't help.  Overall a very productive morning for mid August...full eBird lists below:

Winsor Dam
Lake Wallace
Quabbin Park
Lake Wallace

I also got my first Common Nighthawk of the fall over the house this evening making it a two nightjar day.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Last couple days around the valley



Indigo Bunting, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 9, 2017
Yellow Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 9, 2017
Cedar Waxwing, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Aug 9, 2017
Indigo Bunting, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Aug 9, 2017
On Wednesday I headed over to Arcadia around dawn but not before a quick stop at Lower Mill Pond to check for shorebirds (just the expected species around there). Arcadia highlights included good numbers of Yellow Warblers and Indigo Buntings plus other good stuff. I also spent some time at the Honey Pot checking the area around the transfer station and 'That's a Plenty Farm'.  Full lists from the morning:
Lower Mill Pond
Arcadia
Honey Pot

Yellow throated Vireo, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 10, 2017
American Redstart, Quabbin Park, MA, 
Gray Catbird, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 10, 2017
Thursday I stayed around the local area with stops at Lake Wallace and Quabbin Park. Lake Wallace featured the continued Marsh Wren as well as lots of other stuff. Quabbin Park was fairly active in spots with a few mixed species flocks but no sign of the Mourning Warblers on that day. Lists from the day here:
Lake Wallace
Quabbin Park

Blue gray Gnatcatcher, Quabbin Park, Aug 11, 2017
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 11, 2017
Mourning Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 11, 2017
Chimney Swift, UMASS, Amherst, MA, Aug 11, 2017
Mourning Dove, UMASS, Amherst, MA, Aug 11, 2017
Today I headed over to Winsor Dam predawn to try for Eastern Whip Poor Will and had some good luck with at least two calling. Bonus birds there included a couple Great Horned Owls calling and an American Woodcock flying around.  My next stop was over to UMASS where I started at Orchard Hill and finished along the dirt road in NW campus. Nothing too unusual but some decent birds nonetheless.  I finished my morning successfully looking for a Mourning Warbler over at Quabbin Park. The adult male showed quite well but briefly and I managed some decent shots of it. Quite a few other birds around this morning with the full lists with more photos below:
Winsor Dam
UMASS-Orchard Hill
UMASS-NW campus
Quabbin Park

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sightings for the first week of August

Marsh Wren, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 3, 2017
Marsh Wren, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 3, 2017
Little Blue Heron, Fitzgerald Lake, Northampton, MA, Aug 4, 2017
Little Blue Heron, Fitzgerald Lake, Northampton, MA, Aug 4, 2017
The first week of August has been fairly productive with a number of newly arrived rarities as well as few continued ones.  The newly arrived rarities include a Marsh Wren singing on territory at Lake Wallace (one eBird list here: Lake Wallace) and a Little Blue Heron at Fitzgerald Lake in Northampton (Fitzgerald Lake) with both still being seen as of yesterday.
Green winged Teal, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 1, 2017
Black Vulture, Hadley, MA, Aug 5, 2017
Orchard Oriole, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Aug 6, 2017 (photo with iPhone through binoculars)
Other unusual species around have included a couple Green winged Teal at Lake Wallace, at least three Black Vultures in Hadley, at least one (possibly two) Orchard Orioles in among a number of other species enjoying some ripe blueberry bushes at the Honey Pot, a calling Eastern Whip Poor Will at Winsor Dam and at least 13 Fish Crows along King St in Northampton.  The Mourning Warblers also continue at Quabbin Park through at least August 3rd with a female seen carrying food and a male seen in the same area with that individual occasionally heard still chipping.
House Wren, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 2, 2017
House Wren nestlings, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 5, 2017

Meanwhile at home the two nests of House Wrens were filled with nestlings on the verge of fledging.