Monday, May 20, 2024

Species #174 in the yard today with a Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 20, 2024

After living in our house in Belchertown since October of 2005 it is seldom that I get to add a new species to the yard this but I managed that today with a Peregrine Falcon, which became species #174 for the yard.  This is the first addition in two years with the last being a Horned Lark in April of 2022.  I was outside listening to some Bay breasted Warblers in the oaks that have almost completely leafed out and I saw the falcon circle around a few times.  I had my camera with me as I had a faint hope that a Swallow tailed Kite seen just a few miles away yesterday may make a flight past the house.  Although the kite did not show I was happy to add a new species for the yard.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Prothonotary Warbler in South Hadley!

Prothonotary Warbler, Bachelor Brook Conservation Area, South Hadley, MA, May 18, 2024
Prothonotary Warbler, Bachelor Brook Conservation Area, South Hadley, MA, May 18, 2024
Prothonotary Warbler, Bachelor Brook Conservation Area, South Hadley, MA, May 18, 2024
Prothonotary Warbler, Bachelor Brook Conservation Area, South Hadley, MA, May 18, 2024

After a rather productive morning out and about in various spots I made it home to take Wilson for a walk.  As we walked him I saw an alert about a very rare warbler for the area.  A Prothonotary Warbler was reported by Bill DeLuca at the Bachelor Brook Conservation Area in South Hadley.  The report sounded solid enough that I figured I would go check it out.  I knew a few other people would be going for it to so I headed over where I met Mary and we walked in from one entrance to the trail.  With no details on where it was seen we ended up making the wrong choice on parking lots but we were too far along the trail to turn back without wasting more time.  Greg messaged us that he found the bird and it was singing quite a bit. We arrived and quickly got to see the little beauty across a small stretch of water and got some distant photos as well as some recordings of its rather odd two part song (usually this species does not sing this type of song).  It would disappear for a time and could be heard distantly still singing and then would be silent for a few minutes (or perhaps moving further out of audio range).  It would then return and sing quite a bit but would be tough to track down among the leaves.  After our initial views we didn't see it again for quite a time and then I finally relocated it a bit lower down.  Unfortunately it was even further away and this made getting decent photos a bit of a chore for me (I'm sure Joe got some great ones with his big lens).  A few other birders arrived and all got some great looks of the bird.  This is only the second one I have ever had in the county with the first one being 20 years ago along the rail trail in late May.  I believe that one stayed at least a week before disappearing to parts unknown.  There have been just a couple other reports in the last 25 years with none of them relocated after an initial sighting so this is the first one that has been cooperative in twenty years.  A true rarity for sure in the county.  Beyond the Prothonotary Warbler I had  really good for warbler despite not being able to make the walk up the mountain at Skinner SP.  I ended the day with 27 species of warblers, which is my highest total for the migration season so far.  Full album of the Prothonotary Warbler at the following link.


Friday, May 17, 2024

Least Bittern in Amherst (plus other stuff) today

 

Least Bittern, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 17, 2024
Least Bittern, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 17, 2024
Least Bittern, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 17, 2024
Least Bittern, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 17, 2024

Although I have been concentrating on finding warblers at the handful of areas I have been walking a lot the last few weeks, I also have my eyes out for everything else.  There have been a few recent reports of a Least Bittern along the rail trail and although I have walked by the area several times and listened and looked I had no luck until today.  I arrived in the area and started scanning the reeds with no luck for a few minutes and I figured it was probably too late in the morning or the bird was not around.  As I was getting ready to continue my walk I heard the bittern calling (its a low call that is easily lost among the chatter of everything else in a wetland).  I then really intently started scanning and after a few minutes I had the bittern perched up about a foot in the reeds where it stayed for a few minutes before disappearing.  I thought there might have been two individuals calling but it may have been the same bird just moving around a bit.  Least Bittern is a rare species in the county and a tough one to actually see.  These were probably some of the best looks I have ever gotten of the species around here.  They have bred in the same general area for a few years so hopefully they will do so again.

Blue Jay carrying nest material, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 17, 2024
Blue Jay building nest, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 17, 2024
Rose breasted Grosbeak, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 17, 2024
American Redstart building nest, Quabbin Park, MA, May 17, 2024
Chestnut sided Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 17, 2024
Ovenbird looking very irritated by the arrival of another Ovenbird, Quabbin Park, MA, May 17, 2024
Red eyed Vireo, Quabbin Park, MA, May 17, 2024
Ruby throated Hummingbird, Quabbin Park, MA, May 17, 2024

Although migration conditions have been poor the last few nights as we continue to get northerly winds I still made the most of seeing what species are around and getting down to nesting for the season.  I came across several species collecting nest material and building nests.  It was just nice to have a sunny and calm morning after a few raining ones...good for mental and physical health for sure.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

White eyed Vireo today

White eyed Vireo, Hadley, MA, May 14, 2024
White eyed Vireo, Hadley, MA, May 14, 2024
White eyed Vireo, Hadley, MA, May 14, 2024
White eyed Vireo, Hadley, MA, May 14, 2024

After walking up early and tossing and turning as I tried to get comfortable I finally gave up and got out of bed a bit after four and then headed out.  The overnight looked to feature a good influx of migrants and I set out trying mainly to track down warblers.  I had some decent luck with them with my highest species total for the season so far with 25 species (plus a few hybrids).  However the species of the day was not a warbler but a vireo.  As I was walking a road in Hadley I came across a mixed flock of warblers and as I tried to get a Tennessee Warbler I came across a White eyed Vireo that was in the flock.  It initially was silent as I took pictures to document the rarity.  It then started to sing a bit and I got some recordings.  The species is not annual and is always a great one to run across.  I got the word out and a few others were able to catch up with it.  It was a nice day to be out and once the morning low clouds burned off (late morning) it warmed up quickly to around 80.  The fairly strong southwest wind made viewing tough at times but the day was productive with 122 species overall with three new species for the year here bringing that total to 197.  I really wish I felt up to making it into more inaccessible areas as I certainly could have easily added to the total.

Wood Thrush, Hadley, MA, May 14, 2024
Yellow Warbler, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, May 14, 2024
Wood Duck with ducklings, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, May 14, 2024
Common Yellowthroat, Rail Trail, Amherst, MA, May 14, 2024
Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler hybrid, Rail Trail, Amherst, MA, May 14, 2024
Cerulean Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 14, 2024
American Redstart, Quabbin Park, MA, May 14, 2024
Blue winged Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 14, 2024

A small selection of the other species for the day featured above.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Global Big Day

 

Chestnut sided Warbler at nest, Quabbin Park, MA, May 11, 2024
Ovenbird, Quabbin Park, MA, May 11, 2024
Brewster's Warbler, Rail trail, Amherst,  MA, May 11, 2024
Field Sparrow, Rail trail, Amherst,  MA, May 11, 2024

Today was the annual Global Big Day put on by eBird to try to encourage the maximum number of people to get out and bird and see how many species can be seen globally in a single day, with all the sightings being entered into eBird.  What did that mean to me?  Not much of a change from a typical day for me in migration season.  After a fitful night of sleep I was up before dawn and managed to catch just the tail end of a major aurora event...wish I was not so sleepy from muscle relaxers as the activity was apparently much more impressive around midnight.  With less than stellar migration conditions overnight there was not a big influx of new species but there were certainly birds around as it is May.  I ended the day with 117 species and I'm sure if I could have put in my usual effort and visited less accessible locations I would have added to that total.  Warblers were a major focus and I had 22 species plus multiple continued hybrids.

Rose breasted Grosbeak, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 10, 2024
Blue winged Warbler, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 10, 2024
Mourning Dove nest with young, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 10, 2024
Bay breasted Warbler, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 9, 2024
American Redstart, Quabbin Park, MA, May 9, 2024
Brewster's Warbler, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 9, 2024
Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler hybrid, rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 8, 2024
Gray Catbird with nest material, Quabbin Park, MA, May 8, 2024
Wilson enjoying the sun, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 7, 2024

The last few days before the Global Big Day I spent mainly trying to chase down warblers within the limitations I have (ie. no climbing up and down mountains on uneven trails) and have had some fairly productive days with everyday producing 100+ species with lots of warblers among them.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

End of the first week of May


Orange crowned Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 6, 2024
Black and White Warbler collecting nest material, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 6, 2024
Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler hybrid, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 6, 2024
Cerulean Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 6, 2024
Ruffed Grouse, Quabbin Park, MA, May 6, 2024
Brewster's Warbler, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 7, 2024
Rose breasted Grosbeak, Rail trail, Amherst, MA, May 7, 2024
Dull Nashville Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 7, 2024
Porcupine, Quabbin Park, MA, May 7, 2024

The first week of May has now come to an end and it has been quite productive with a total of 153 species so far for me in the county (my highest total ever for the first week of May).  I know I could have pushed this total even higher if I was feeling better as my ongoing back issues have kept me from walking in areas that have been productive in the past.  Thankfully walking (at least on somewhat even terrain) is one of the only things that helps me loosen up my back.  As expected with the first week of May there were tons of highlights as migration increases both in volume and variety and some of those highlights have been covered in earlier posts.  The main highlights the last few days have included warblers with two Orange crowned Warblers around, with one found on the 5th at UMASS and another seen at a different spot on campus on the 6th (originally found on the 5th but I didn't see it until the following day).  I also found a singing Cerulean Warbler at Quabbin Park on the 6th and it continued into today.  Today also produced Brewster's Warbler in Amherst.    

I have managed to exceed 100 species everyday for the first week of the month with the following totals by day:

1st- 118 species

2nd- 100 species

3rd- 102 species

4th- 102 species

5th- 106 species

6th- 107 species

7th- 106 species