Friday, August 31, 2018

End of August

Dawn, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Aug 30, 2018
Green Heron, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 26, 2018
Upland Sandpiper, Hatfield, MA, Aug 2, 2018
Bonaparte's Gull, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 24, 2018
Snowy Egret, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Aug 2, 2018
August has quickly come to an end as summer comes to an end.  The fall migration has been on going for weeks but will really start heating up now.  The month was warmer than average with humid and hot conditions on quite a few days.  I managed to find a total of 143 species in the county for the month which is well above average and beats my previous best August by several species.  Highlights during the month included 13 species of shorebirds including Black bellied Plover , Upland Sandpiper and Buff breasted Sandpiper, a Bonaparte's Gull at Winsor Dam, a Snowy Egret at the Holyoke Dam, a large concentration of Green Herons at Lake Wallace that topped off at 37 mid month, 20 species of warblers including a couple early Cape May Warblers and a flyover Dickcissel.
Red Foxes, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 23, 2018
Monarch Caterpillars, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 21, 2018
European Starling, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 20, 2018
Veery (juv), Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 17, 2018
The water feature continues to host a number of species with one new species (European Starling) showing up this month.  The other motion cameras also continue to catch various species moving through the yard.  The yard also played host to a large number of Monarch caterpillars that showed up on some milkweed.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Buff breasted Sandpiper and Dickcissel this morning plus an early Cape May Warbler

Merlin, Hatfield, MA, Aug 23, 2018
Killdeer and a Buff breasted Sandpiper, Hatfield, MA, Aug 23, 2018
Cape May Warbler (photo through binoculars), Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Aug 23, 2018
After the rain yesterday and the winds again coming out of the north I headed out after work in search of some shorebirds (or anything else I might stumble across).  I was later getting out then I intended but I eventually made it up to Hatfield where I immediately ran across a Merlin sitting on the edge of one of the fields and the calls of Killdeer filled the background.  I started scanning the fields and came across a number of Killdeer and a single Buff breasted Sandpiper that quickly took flight as the Merlin cruised toward them.  Once the birds were up in the air I counted at least 41 Killdeer plus the Buff breasted Sandpiper heading off to the north.  I attempted a number of shots through the scope with my phone but the birds were just too far out to get decent shots.  As I searched some other fields trying to track down the flock again I had a flyover Dickcissel giving its unique flight call...I managed to get a recording of the bird before it disappeared.  Full list with crappy photos at the following link.  I then headed over to Hadley to search additional farm fields for other shorebirds but came up empty.  I did however have a mixed species flock there that included a early Cape May Warbler (hopefully just the start of many more to come).

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Loads of Green Herons, the annual eBird checklist update and a nearby Brown Booby

Green Herons, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 16, 2018
Green Herons, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 16, 2018
Least Sandpiper, Lower Mill Pond, Easthampton, MA, Aug 16, 2018
Green Herons, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 19, 2018
A few days ago I made it to Lake Wallace at first light and got an amazing count of Green Herons as they arrived for the day from a roosting location nearby. I counted at least 37 individuals which is by far the largest count I have ever had of the species at a single location in the county.   I stopped by again this morning but was a little too late to catch them all leaving roost but still managed a very respectful total of 34.  I did not have the Marsh Wren on my last few visits but did still have at least two Virginia Rails calling.  I have been searching with some success for shorebirds the last several days but have not found anything too unusual but I have a few spots that look prime to attract something good.
Andean Duck, Antisana, Ecuador, Nov 23, 2015
The annual update to the eBird list is now complete and the changes have produced a few new species for me through splits and the loss of another through the lumping of Cherrie’s and Passerini’s Tanager back to Scarlet rumped Tanager. The species I gained include Mexican Duck which was split from being a subspecies of Mallard, Andean Duck that was split from Ruddy Duck and Chiriqui Foliage Gleaner that was split from Buff throated Foliage Gleaner. My world total now stands at 1384.
Brown Booby, Marino Ballena NP, Costa Rica, Dec 21, 2012
Elsewhere in the local area a Brown Booby showed up at Onota Lake in Pittsfield and was still being seen as of today. This is only the second inland record ever in the state (and the first one that has stayed around for multiple people to see). This species should be way south of here in the tropics and over the ocean but there has been an increase the last several years of birds wandering north and occasionally being found inland. I have seen the species multiple times in the tropics but never up north.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Middle of August

Semipalmated Plover, Hatfield, MA, Aug 14, 2018
Ovenbird, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 3, 2018
White tailed Deer fawn, Quabbin Park, MA, Aug 3, 2018
Green winged Teal and Mallard, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 7, 2018
Peregrine Falcon after capturing Green Heron in flight, Hatfield, MA, Aug 11, 2018
The first two weeks of August have featured similar weather to what we had in July...heat, humidity and almost daily bouts of showers/storms.  Shorebirds have continued to show up in small numbers with ten species so far for the month with the most notable being the Upland Sandpiper seen at the beginning of the month, a few Semipalmated Plovers on the fourteenth and a Black bellied Plover today in Hatfield.  While looking for shorebirds last weekend I noticed a group of four Green Herons flying over first thing in the morning and out of nowhere came a Peregrine Falcon that whipped past me and rapidly climbed taking out one of the herons before they even noticed the falcon...amazing to see.  Other notable or continued species include calling Eastern Whip Poor Wills at Quabbin Park, Marsh Wren through at least August 10 at Lake Wallace and a Merlin in Belchertown on August 11.  This August is looking to be my most productive ever in the county with 129 species for the month so far.  The year is also shaping up to be one of the more productive with 219 species already...had not planned on doing another big year but I may put in a little more effort if the unusual species keep showing up.
Red Fox, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 15, 2018
Veery, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 15, 2018
Raccoon, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 10, 2018
Scarlet Tanager, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 10, 2018
Warbling Vireo, Home, Belchertown, MA, Aug 8, 2018
All of the nesting birds at the house have now fledged and the first groups of mixed species flocks have started to move through.  The motion cameras continue to catch a variety of both birds and mammals.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Upland Sandpiper and Snowy Egret among other notables the first two days of August

Upland Sandpiper, Hatfield, MA, Aug 2, 2018
Upland Sandpiper, Hatfield, MA, Aug 2, 2018
Snowy Egret, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Aug 2, 2018
Snowy Egret, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Aug 2, 2018
Snowy Egret, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Aug 2, 2018
Green winged Teal, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 2, 2018
Great Egret, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 1, 2018
 Green Heron, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 1, 2018
Great Blue Heron, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Aug 1, 2018
August has started off with continued hot and humid weather but with some great birds too.  I have managed to find a total of 105 species without too much effort including some nice rarities.  Yesterday I had an Eastern Whip Poor Will still calling at Winsor Dam before dawn and then added my first Great Egrets of the fall at Lake Wallace (plus the continued Marsh Wren).  The egrets yesterday where part of a push of post breeding egrets into the area which included several reports of multiple Great Egrets and a group of eight Snowy Egrets in Hampden County (one of the largest groups of this species I can ever remember hearing about in Western Mass).  Today I had even better luck with rarities starting off with an Upland Sandpiper in Hatfield (only my fifth county record).  The bird was quite wary (probably due to the hawks and eagles crisscrossing the area).  It only settled out in the open a couple times and was last seen flying out to the west-southwest.  My good luck with shorebirds that started at the end of July appears to be continuing into August as I have already had six species of shorebirds despite there being little decent habitat for shorebirds among the mainly full farm fields and a very high Connecticut River.  I checked a few other areas on my way to the Holyoke Dam and didn't find too many noteworthy sightings.  Once I arrived at the Holyoke Dam I found a single Snowy Egret among a small group of gulls below the dam.  I also had another Great Egret a little bit further downstream.  I would not be surprised if an even rarer egret or heron shows up in the next several days given the incursion so far.  My last stop for the morning was to Lake Wallace where I once again had the Marsh Wren and a Green winged Teal.