Two cars and seven people went to the north shore, since more birds were reported there than on the south shore, which was the scheduled destination. It also was a shorter distance to cover and some had to return early. Bob, Howard and Marcy were there along with Peter Gagarin from Sunderland, who took a lot of photos. We went first to Gloucester were Good Harbor Beach was uncovered at low tide. We stopped at Bass Rocks, which was closer to Salt Island than the Elks Club and found the male King Eider close to the point on the east and ocean side. It was preening in the water and eventually climbed up on the low rocks. Also on the edge of the island were a flock of about 40 Sanderlings that flew off and around twice before returning to land in the same spot. Close to us on the rocks right beneath us was a Purple Sandpiper feeding on the seaweed exposed by the low tide. Also close were flocks of feeding Bufflehead, scattered White-winged Scoters and Common Loons. There were only a few Black Scoters and Red-breasted Mergansers. Farther out flying past fairly high was a stream of Gannets.
We made a short stop at the Elks Club, then down Atlantic Avenue seeing 3 Great Cormorants at the south end, then on to the outer Niles Cove. Only had a few things there, so went to Niles Pond, where there was another large group of birders parked and studying birds. We had 4 Coot, 2 Pied-billed Grebe, 6 Ring-necked Ducks, 4 Greater Scaup, and 6 Bufflehead. Rocky Neck had Horned Grebe, 6 Bufflehead, and 8 Red-breasted Mergansers. After a restroom break at Stop and Shop, we went to Jodrey where we had a close Oldsquaw, a big raft of Eiders and a Loon.
We went north and arrived at the Scotland Road area in West Newbury. Cherry Hill Reservoir gave us 115 Ruddy Ducks, 20 Bufflehead and some geese, but no sign of a Pink-footed Goose. Salisbury was very windy, but we managed to see a Harrier, 12 Red-throated Loons, 6 Common Loons, and many scoters. Two Merlins were perched on poles in the campground and near the jetty. We found 2 Yellowrumps and a Bluebird among the campground trees, but no Crossbills. At Plum Island the wind and sun bothered us badly, but among the many Black Ducks and geese at Bill Forward Pool were 7 Gadwall, 6 Hooded merganser, 50+ Pintail, a distant Peregrine, 2 Harriers, and a flock of Horned Larks. We waited at the North Pool Lookout, where others including Brad Winn from Manomet were also stationed, but we only picked up 3 more Harriers. For the day we found 33 water birds and 12 land birds.
I led trip to the north shore with 3 cars and 11 people. At Cape Ann the ocean swells were deep and the waves crashed wildly. At Jodrey Pier we found a few Eiders, Loons, and Cormorants plus a Peregrine perched on the light pole for a several minutes before streaking away. In the harbor at Rocky Neck were a few Loons, Horned Grebes, Buffleheads, about 20 Surf Scoters, a Black Scoter, and 10 Red-breasted Mergansers. Eastern Point had only 3 Gannets, some Loons, Buffleheads, Surf Scoters, Horned Grebe and a pair of Harlequins. Niles Pond had 2 Coot, 5 Bonaparte’s Gulls, 3 Pied-billed Grebes, and some Ring-necked Ducks. Bass Rocks had Buffleheads, Common Loons and scoters, a Red-necked Grebe, and more Gannets.
We moved north to Cathedral Rocks in Rockport and had 50 Harlequins and 30 Eiders, a few Loons, Gannets, and Scoters. Andrews Point had 30 Gannets soaring low past us and occasionally diving. There were 60 Harlequins, Scoters, and Loons. A Razorbill appeared and flew before us, dropping briefly to join two more. Then all three quickly took to the air and flew back and forth a bit before landing in the deep troughs for distant looks.
Clouds had cleared and the sun was bright when we reached the Salt Pannes at Plum Island , where we found Great Blue Heron, 3 Harriers, a dozen Black-bellied Plovers and 25 Dunlins. As we checked the first flocks of Black Ducks, we picked out a pair of Eurasian Wigeon and we had good enough light to see their colors. They swam about for 2-3 minutes before taking off to the north. At Lot 3 there were two more Harriers and some Greater Yellowlegs, plus a pair of American Wigeon.
At the Wardens area we had a pair of Oldsquaw, a Goldeneye and Buffleheads far out against the sun and a closer, clearer Red-throated Loon. A Bald Eagle perched at the top of a low, bushy evergreen, and two more Harriers bounced before us. We went on to Sandy Point where the waves were crashing, the tide was high, and the Emerson Rocks were invisible. There were rafts of 200 Red-breasted Mergansers with a few Eiders and Loons. Gannets were sailing past again and a flock of Black-bellied Plovers landed.
We hurried back north to Hellcat, past the flooded inland marshes. Viewers were few and the ducks were close, more than a dozen Pintail, 2 Shovelers, a male Gadwall, 2 Goldeneye and some Bufflehead. A flock of Dunlin was also present as was a young Red-tailed Hawk recovering from its attack of a duck that others had seen. It spread its wings and tail in the sedges, then perched in low trees for some time. Two more Harriers hunted in the area.
It was late afternoon when we joined other watchers at North Pool with many birders. There, a reported “Snowy Owl” sitting in the grass on the bank of the dike turned out to be a plastic water jug. The Short-eared Owl was real and it was seen circling and rising up over the dike in sweeping, intricate circles and dives before disappearing. A Rough-legged Hawk flew off from the dike and went steadily west toward the tree line. The Harriers included one or two males and numbered an amazing eight birds that hunted continuously over the north pool and dike. Also present was a Merlin perched for a short time in a tree along the road. As the day darkened, we headed home with 53 species, 39 water birds and 14 land birds.
Our second fall visit here drew nine people, two of them very new. It was windy and cold, improving very slowly as the day wore on. A few Green-winged Teal were at Laurel Lake and Fairfield Pond, while Stockbridge Bowl gave us a Great Blue Heron in the marsh and a Bald Eagle that flew along the shore just above our heads. We found a distant Red-throated Loon at Richmond Pond and the usual horde of over a thousand Ring-necked Ducks at Mud Pond. Another eagle perched on the shore at Onota Lake, where many Hooded Mergansers and a Pied-billed Grebe dove for food close before us. We watched a Sharp-shinned Hawk hunt at the home of Ann Conners, then waited for the Fox Sparrows and a Red-breasted Nuthatch to return to the feeders. Nearby Pontoosuc had a big flock of Common Mergansers, some Buffleheads and Goldeneyes. At the last stop, a lingering Yellow-rumped Warbler appeared and a Red-tailed Hawk circled low over our heads.
The usual leaders of this weekend trip were in Africa, but ten intrepid members headed north to Dead Creek in Addison Vermont. Day 1 was a cool but windless morning that made the 2-3 thousand Snow Geese at the refuge a real treat as they rose with a clamor many times, especially when a Bald Eagle perched nearby turned its head. Dozens of Green-winged Teal were in the nearby marsh and we got spectacular views of raptors. Three Rough-legged Hawks hunted the meadows, a male Harrier joined them, and a Peregrine Falcon perched close by for several minutes before steaming its way across the meadows and spooking up a flock of Snow Buntings. Even a Cooper’s Hawk appeared, then dove inside an abandoned barn. We made our way over to Lake Champlain, where the water birds were scarce on the lake shore, but we managed close looks at Common Loons and Horned Grebes. The coves sheltered a few Bufflehead, a Black Scoter, and some Hooded and Common Mergansers.
The weather turned nasty the morning of Day 2, with strong, cold winds following a night of rain. We still found flocks of ducks on the inland side of Sandbar Park and some Black-bellied Plovers on the lake side. South Hero Island had only a few loons, a Black Scoter and a White-winged Scoter. At Isle La Motte, we found a few more loons on the water, but then lifted our eyes and looked west toward northern New York. The sky was full of thousands of Snow Geese rising from the lowlands. They first looked dark, but then glowed fiercely white as they rose higher into the sunlight against the distant backdrop of dark clouds. Some descended after circling for several minutes, but many skeins headed south. We returned to the eastern shore of the lake to find a flock of Dunlins and Plovers on the mudflats exposed by the low water level. There were more flocks of Buffleheads and Black Scoters here as well as farther south at St. Albans Bay. Also in the bay were hundreds of Ring-billed and Bonaparte’s Gulls loafing on the mudflats. Then we noticed the water farther out was covered with Common Loons, at least 120 of these regal birds.
Clouds and comfortable conditions greeted the eight members for the first fall trip to Berkshire Lakes. It was a slow start at Laurel Lake with only Mallards in view, but Stockbridge Bowl had 6 Green-winged Teal and a Great Blue Heron in the marsh. We rode over Stockbridge Mountain to find 10 more Green-winged Teal in Fairfield Pond. Richmond had 3 Ravens and a Coot, in the marsh , while on the pond was a Red-breasted Merganser. Going overhead we noted a flock of a hundred Cedar Waxwings and four flocks of Bluebirds totaling about 50. The count of Ring-necked Ducks at Mud pond was a cool 1100. The south end of Onota Lake had a Common Loon and a Bonaparte’s Gull while the north end had 20 Hooded Mergansers, 8 Green-winged Teal, a Pied-billed Grebe, and another lone Coot. The northwest corner of Pontoosuc had small groups of Common and Hooded Mergansers, along with another Red-breasted Merganser. We were welcomed to Ann Conners house for views of a young White-crowned Sparrow and a Fox Sparrow. Northeast Pontoosuc had another Common Loon and a third Red-breasted Merganser, this one a young male.
Eight participants turned out for the trip through Quabbin Park, where we tallied 16 species on a clear, cool but blustery day. The only woodpecker was a Flicker and the only sparrows were a few flocks of Juncos. Whatever was there seemed to stay in the shelter of the bushes. We had a few Crows but no Ravens, the reverse of what we usually get at Quabbin. Goodnough Dike was the best spot for waterbirds - two Common Loons, four Surf Scoters and two close Horned Grebes around the corner at Gate 32. The water here didn't have the whitecaps that were on the rest of the reservoir and the wind didn't blow us over. We had three Bald Eagles, one adult right over us at Windsor Park and two just floating above us at Goodnough (an adult and a 4th year bird). These two seemed to kettle with five gulls, enjoying the wind. We had a nice look at an adult Red-tailed Hawk which landed about 100 feet away, and a Golden crowned Kinglet also gave us a close view. The few birds we found were very nice and the scenery was great, bright multicolored trees and a blue sky with fast moving cotton ball clouds. The company was great too.
The frigid, freezing weather kept numbers down to 7 people for this venture. At the main gate, the first of many Wood Ducks were studied in the thick lily pads that covered the shallow cove. Just across the road, beneath a high canopy of pines, was a hidden pond that held a big surprise, two ducks of different sizes, the smaller one a female Green-winged Teal and the other a female Northern Shoveler. They stuck together as if mated, but they were only temporary mates. The large coves farther along held mostly Wood Ducks and Mallards, but a little patient searching revealed a pair of Ring-necked Ducks, a Pintail, and a Pied-billed Grebe. A large flock of Yellowrumps and some Palm Warblers gathered seed at the edges of the pond and a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds stalked the muddy edges and the exposed lily pads. A Bald Eagle arrived as the fog finally cleared, and later it caught and ate a fish before our eyes. Other birds at the far end of the main pond were a single Rusty Blackbird, a lone Phoebe, a Merlin mobbed by a flock of crows, and a calling Killdeer.
Five members joined me for the walk on the bike trail and we found 19 species, including the pair of resident Common Loons. Three Double-crested Cormorants were also on the water and a Belted Kingfisher was fishing the edges. The birds were not too active so soon after first light and fog hampered us at well. When the sun came up we noted some Golden-crowned Kinglets in the pines and four Phoebes in the brush along the shore.
There were plenty of migrants and lingering species to see on this day for nine people. We started with Wood Ducks, Common Mergansers and a Green Heron in the wetland, where a Red-tailed Hawk was perched on a branch protruding from the surface. A Bald Eagle flew over as well as a falcon, too briefly and far away to identify. We enjoyed looks at two Phoebes, a Catbird, some Mockingbirds and six Flickers. A Black-and-white Warbler was added to the usual Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers, while Savannah Sparrows lurked in the grasses and brush.
The morning started out foggy, but cleared quickly with a slow warming and light winds for ten of us who stopped along Pondside Road and walked into the Bark Haul area. We counted an amazing 30 Great Egrets in one pool beside the road. More spread out were 24 Wood Duck, 15 Great Blue Heron and 2 Green Heron. A Kingfisher was working one pond and a Peregrine Falcon flashed past. Other highlights were Phoebes, Redstarts, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks as well as a single Red-breasted Nuthatch, a Red-eyed Vireo and 2 Magnolia Warblers. A small flock of Purple Finches also showed up, all part of 38 different species.
The hawkwatch and picnic on Blueberry Hill had 25 people, but only 32 migrants counted, thanks to the south winds and heavy air. The best migrants were a Merlin and a Harrier, but we did note a dozen high Broadwings and as many close Kestrels. There were only 2 Ospreys and 3 Sharpshins moving. Local raptors included a few Redtails, two Bald Eagles, and one Cooper’s Hawk. The wine and goodies improved our mood, but surprisingly not the flight. The handful of non-raptors included a Raven, a Pileated, 30 Cedar Waxwings, 2 Hummingbirds, and a Philadelphia Vireo.
Eleven people met at Fannie Stebbins to walk a portion of the Bark Haul Trail and along Pondside to see what the fall migration had brought. Before starting out, we heard the long absent song of a Warbling Vireo, and then another further down the trail. Red-eyed Vireos also made their presence known. Warblers did not show up in any large numbers, but we had good looks at Common Yellowthroat, Redstarts, a Magnolia, and a Northern Parula. Perhaps the biggest treat was seeing 2 Northern Waterthrush feeding among the muddy leaves in a dried-up pond near the railroad tracks. Pondside proved more productive, as we found Least Sandpipers in the mudflats near the culvert, and an Osprey and a calling Red-shouldered Hawk overhead. Everyone enjoyed the continuing extravaganza of the many Great Egrets (27) and Great Blue Herons (15) congregating in the shallow ponds. Green-wing Teal and Wood Ducks were in the northernmost pond, and a Green Heron also lurked in the buttonbush there, trying hard to keep out of our sight.
Up in time to reach Blueberry Hill at 7:30, but met only one birder there. We had nice walk, getting only Redstart and Yellowrump. It started to rain just as we got back to the cars. I returned at 11:30 and watched for 2 hours, with three migrants, Osprey and 2 Sharpshins. There was also one Bald Eagle.
There were 14 folks in four cars on the trip to Plum Island, but the tide had not dropped enough to uncover Joppa, so we drove quickly down the island stopping or slowing briefly for looks at a Peregrine, a Harrier, 30 Great and 25 Snowy Egrets, a close Redtail on the ground, and some Cormorants. Stage Island pool looked very inviting, but we started at Sandy Point where there was still some room to park and the cove was already open. We walked out on the beach to the cove, getting a flock of Sanderlings, hunting Ospreys and a Harrier. With a little more scanning we added a Golden Plover alone, some Black-bellied Plovers, 3 Dunlin, Semipalmated and Piping Plovers, and a Red Knot. On the other side of the point at Emerson Rocks we had an Eider and a Common Loon. On our return, Stage Island was still busy with many yellowlegs, some peeps, Green-winged Teal, a Pintail, 5 Dunlin, a Pied-billed Grebe, 4 Snowy Egrets and a Great Egret. We drove without stopping much to the Forward Pool blind, finding the small parking lot full at first. Then the birders there left, saying a peregrine had spooked all the shorebirds. We still found some Dowitchers and yellowlegs, a few Snowy Egrets, and a flock of Green-winged Teal. From the main dike at Hellcat there were a few yellowlegs, Killdeer, and peeps. We skipped looking for Night-Herons at the roost, and only paused just briefly at the Wardens and Salt Pannes, hoping to get to Joppa before it was covered by the tide. We were still too late, so we ended the trip and headed home.
Despite being postponed one day, the prospect of finding owls was still enough to attract 23 people. We began at the Great Brook crossing to the transfer station and were rewarded with two Screech Owls, heard by everyone and seen by several. Our next targets were Barred Owls along Munn Brook at the foot of Drake Mountain. We got three of them to respond, two serenading closely together. It took more time, but we also got a Great Horned Owl to begin hooting in this area. It was a very successful prowl.
The first walk of the season in Longmeadow was extremely birdless. No robins or thrushes where expected or found. However, Al Richardson and I identified 2 Red-shouldered hawks on Pondside. One flew in with a flash of red on its wings. We studied it and when it flew to join another hawk, we got positive identification marks.
It started slow at the meeting place on Bark Haul and Pondside, but when we moved up to the parking area on Pondside across from Tina Lane about 6:45pm, the Nighthawks began to flow down over the ponds. At one point there were 35 swirling directly over our heads. We ended with 107 common nighthawks, and everyone had great looks. We also had about 75 swifts, several Tree Swallows, a Barn Swallow and some Rough-winged Swallows. There were nine participants plus leaders, and we picked a good night. It was a nice evening and everyone seemed pleased with the number and the great views - lots of insects for sure - plus a nice sunset.
At the meeting place, Pynchon Point in Agawam, two screaming Peregrine Falcons flew over us. One continued west and the other landed on the cell tower across the street, calling for a few minutes. Walking to the Point, we managed to find 2 Great Egrets, a Great Blue, and 3 Dc Cormorants. We drove to the Expo Lagoon and found 3 Great Blue Herons, 5 Green Herons, 2 Dc Cormorants, Great and Snowy Egrets, 2 immature Black-crown Night-herons, a Solitary Sandpiper, a Kingfisher, an Osprey perched, and a Killdeer heard only. On to Longmeadow, where Pondside gave us 11 Great Egrets, 3 Great Blues, 35 Wood Ducks, 7 Mute Swans, 40 Mallards, 4 Least Sandpipers, 3 Tree Swallows, 3 Orioles, and 3 Warbling Vireos. At the Island the water was too high for anything but one Spotted Sandpiper, 2 Great Egrets, 2 Dc Cormorants, a Bald Eagle close overhead, and a preening Peregrine Falcon perched atop dead driftwood on a reduced sandbar.
Only a handful of people showed any interest in the weekend Cape Cod trip due to the overnight cost and the expected crowds. Instead, we offered interested birders a five hour offshore trip for pelagic species a few miles off Chatham. We were accompanied in the small fishing boat by veteran pelagic expert and spotter Peter Flood. Before boarding for the afternoon we had time to visit Morris Island beach, where many hundreds of mostly gulls, terns and Cormorants were roosting on offshore sandbars at high tide. We walked the shoreline to find some shorebirds and a preening White-winged Scoter. The tide was falling as we waited to board at the Fish Pier, so we scanned the island in the bay for Red Knots, Oystercatchers, Turnstones, Greater Yellowlegs, Semi and Black-bellied Plovers, Least and Semi Sandpipers, and Piping Plovers. At first the captain warned us there was fog off shore, but we had come too far to let that deter us. The fog soon faded away, revealing a gently rolling sea with many close birds sitting on the water and in flight. Within a short time we had close looks at Great, Corey’s, Sooty, and Manx Shearwaters. Wilson’s Petrels were also numerous in most areas. Roseate and Common Terns were flying over chattering most of the time and several small flocks were on the water. We saw a Black Tern fly past, disappearing in the distance, and a group of seven Red-necked Phalaropes flew low past the boat. We headed north toward some whale activity getting good looks at 2-3 pods of 2-5 animals each. We spotted two single Parasitic Jaegers and one group of four. We stopped to chum for a while with fish parts thrown out by the captain. Hundreds of gulls came to feed with a bedlam of chatter, and with them were some incredibly close shearwaters. We returned in time to have a take-out meal at the fish pier before heading back to Western Mass.
As usual the mid-day walk before the picnic had plenty of good birds; Sapsucker, Wood Pewees, Indigo Buntings, a Hermit Thrush, two Blue-headed Vireos, two Bluebirds, and 2 Yellow-rumped Warblers. Barn Swallows were eating while we dined on our picnic lunch and Turkey Vultures were looking for food. In all, there were 22 species noted and lots of delicious food to go around while we enjoyed the view before us.
The birding began even before we reached Judy’s property. On way up South Central Street in Plainfield two Turkey Vultures were spotted in a field next to the road, then a Turkey with 5 chicks in another field, joined quickly by another adult with 9 young. Once the whole group was joined together, we took a more western trail through forest when a bridge was out, arriving at edge of the big marsh. A Creeper and 2 Pine Warblers were in a wet area, and Juncos and White-throated Sparrows were found along the trail. The ponds were low, but productive, with a flying Bittern. Many thought it the day’s best bird sighting. Also there were an Alder Flycatcher, 2 Kingbirds, 2 Swamp Sparrows and a Purple Finch. In the woods on way back there were 2 Blue-headed Vireo, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatch, a Hermit Thrush singing, more wood warblers and some Purple Finches. We relaxed on the porch with more refreshments than we earned, served with great hospitality by our host. There we waited in vain for Evening Grosbeaks, but still we were amused by purple finches at one feeder and a beautiful little hummingbird at another.
This trip has been run bi-annually since 2008. The weather for the entire time this year was warm, sunny and only a bit breezy from time to time. Day one focused on several prime birding locations within the Connecticut River Valley as we made our way to the Northeast Kingdom. Our first stop at Allen Brothers Marsh in Winchester brought us a Green Heron that called out getting our attention, and then flew across the marsh for all to see. A pair of female Hooded Mergansers with two ducklings shared the marsh with several female Wood Ducks and their young. Kestrel, Kingfisher, and Purple Finch were also added to the list. Our next stops were the grasslands that surround the Windsor State Correctional Facility plus the extensive farm fields nearby. As we studied a close Wilson’s Snipe, we were all treated to what many felt was the most exciting part of the entire trip. An American Bittern flew from a distant portion of the farm fields into the reeds within 100 feet of our group. We admired and photographed the bird in its often seen, long necked "frozen" pose. What occurred next is not so common. A second bittern flew in and landed a short distance from the first bird. We were then treated to an apparent courtship activity as the first bird slowly strutted over towards the second bird proudly displaying its white shoulder patches for all to see. We left to continue our journey north quite, well pleased to have observed such a wonderful moment together. After several more stops, one including two Common Loons on Stiles Pond in Waterford, we arrived at our last major destination of the day, the "Blowdown" trail in Victory Bog. This is a well-known trail frequented by birders in search of a group of species collectively known as "Boreal Species". We did not locate any of the big four permanent residents, (Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, Black-backed Woodpecker or Spruce Grouse). We did however have excellent views of a Mourning Warbler. Northern Parula, Palm Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Golden-Crowned Kinglet, Winter Wren, White-throated Sparrow and Hermit Thrush were also heard or seen.
Day two brought a return to Victory Bog, and a two hour morning walk along the Rogers Brook/Lee's Hill trail that winds through beautiful boreal forest habitat. We were again in search of the "big four" boreal species. We were only able to get in "close proximity" to a Black-backed Woodpecker that was seen ever so briefly by several of our group, but we all heard the bird calling and briefly tapping. Other species added to our trip list were Swainson's Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Broad-winged Hawk and Red-shouldered Hawk. We next headed further north to walk the Moose Bog trail located in Ferdinand. This trail rivals Victory Bog as a choice for birders hoping to locate the "big four" boreal species. We found none! Roadside birding in the area added to the numbers of individuals for most of the northern breeding species noted above, but sadly we had no further sightings of the "big four".
Day three began at 5 am with a trip to the Barton Marsh in Newport. We walked the railroad bed that dissects the marsh affording wonderful views. The Marsh Wrens that maintain a significant population in the marsh sang constantly. Two American Bitterns flew past in the distance as did the only Black Duck of the trip. We were disappointed not to locate any of the Pied-billed Grebes known to breed in the marsh. After breakfast we began the 50 or so mile drive west to the Lake Champlain area. The next stop was one of the lesser known birding hotspots in Vermont; the Franklin Municipal Airport located on Route 78 just east of Swanton. It did not disappoint, as a drive along the perimeter road that encircles the airport gave us at least seven Vesper Sparrows and a like number of Grasshopper Sparrows and Savannah Sparrows. All three species often perched on the chain link fence that borders the airport, giving wonderful views. Many of the birds sang for us, adding to the experience. Not one airplane landed or took off during the hour we spent birding the airport grounds.
Our next stop would be the Missisquoi NWR, an extensive refuge on the northern end of Lake Champlain. A roadside stop along Route 78 in Swanton gave us at least six Black Terns, upwards of 10 Great Blue Herons, 2 Great Egrets, several Ospreys and a distant Bald Eagle. A stop at the visitor center located on Tabor Rd gave us close views of the dozens of Cliff Swallows that nest on the visitor center buildings. We drove up the road a mile or so to visit a large Purple Martin colony of at least 30 gourd nests where dozens of birds were seen. As we drove the back roads of Swanton, one more "special bird moment" occurred. Alongside the dirt road, we noticed a small puddle with exposed mud shoreline and we were treated to six or more Cliff Swallows plucking insects off the water just 30 feet away. A pair of Killdeer flew in to join the feast, and then a Wilson’s Snipe joined the party. We continued on to Mud Creek WMA and birded that beautiful wetland. On the way back to Massaschusetts, we stopped in Berlin at a large reservoir with an undeveloped shoreline and had one last birding memory. Two adult Common Loons were floating together in the center of reservoir. As we scoped the birds we noticed two little chicks swimming with the adults, multiple times mounting the backs of the adults then returning back to the water. Final species count for the three day trip - 113.
One new and eager birder joined me for a morning adventure in rural Williamsburg, exploring the Graves Farm Sanctuary and the unpaved section of Nash Hill Road. We found 36 species including Great Blue Herons on nest, a rattling Kingfisher, a pair of chanting Indigo Buntings, an active Yellow-bellied Sapsucker family, and many adult Bluebirds with young. Other highlight species were Bobolink and three kinds of swallows, notably Cliff Swallow. We heard the songs of sore-throated Scarlet Tanagers, melodious Baltimore Orioles, and six kinds of warbler. When we failed to see them, we talked about the tuxedo clothed Kingbird, the song of the Hermit Thrush, and the bouncing song of the Field Sparrow. We both learned a lot and it could not have been a more pleasant excursion.
Eleven people and 3 cars arrived in Lenox at Post Farm to find other birders led by Mass Audubon from the Worcester area. The most unusual sighting there was a pair of Virginia Rails, copulating while 3-4 young were nearby. There was no sign of Gallinule or Sora or Bittern, but Marsh Wrens and Alder Flycatchers were vocal. A chickadee was busy and noisy around its nest in a dead birch stub a few feet away from the bridge. Hummingbird and Kingbirds were also there. We stopped briefly at Woods Pond on the way out, getting Wood Ducks, a Kingfisher and many swallows. A Great Blue Heron flew over during the ride to Ice Glen in Stockbridge, where the Cliff Swallows were busy feeding young under the eaves of a large, red barn. In the marsh there were two Willow Flycatchers and an Alder calling constantly. We drove up the hill to look down on the main part of the marsh, but no Bittern caught our eye. Instead, an Olive-sided Flycatcher perched for perfect views in the top of a tree in front of a gated mansion. From the precarious side of a busy Route 7 we had another Marsh Wren and a Kingfisher. The first bird on Meadow Street in Tyringham was a flyby accipiter with prey in its clutches. At Breakneck Road and the Appalachian Trail we found three Willow Flycatchers, swallows and Bobolinks before the rain ended the trip just as we found another Chickadee nest with babies.
There were 8 teams and 14 observers in the field to count birds in the Little River Important Bird Area (IBA). This contiguous area encompasses the wild, sparsely populated parts of northern Granville, eastern Blandford, southern Russell and northwest Southwick. Together the counters recorded 113 species, slightly more than the 13 year average for the count. The 4,322 total individuals and the 57.8 average of individuals per hour were both well above average. Most of the average numbers per year of the 120 species recorded have been very consistent over the 13-year period and four stand out as most abundant; Red-eyed Vireo 328, Ovenbird 259, Veery 155, and Robin 146. The next 27 species average from 47 to 112 individuals per year. The next 33 species average from 10 to 40 per year. There are 56 more species with less than 10 individuals average per year. That adds up to 120 species recorded over the 13 years of counting. This year, high counts were set for Hummingbird (21), Phoebe (54), Tree Swallow (92), Rough-winged Swallow (10), Red-breasted Nuthatch (12), Eastern Bluebird (22), Gray Catbird (104), Louisiana Waterthrush (9), Pine Warbler (24), Prairie Warbler (15), Bobolink (96), Red-winged Blackbird (138), and Grackle (67). The Common Merganser, Bald Eagle, and American Kestrel were each found for only the 5th time, Brown Thrasher for the 4th time, Sora for the third time, and Hooded Warbler for the first time.
The 10 participants of this trip promptly (well, mostly) met at 7:00 at our meeting place and quickly drove to the gate of Westover Air Reserve Base where we met another 34 people from two other clubs (Hampshire Bird Club & Brookline Bird Club). Unlike other years in which we were able to drive our own cars inside Westover to the birding location, this year was different. We were met by an Air Force bus which took us on our birding trip, first stopping for a bathroom break and informational talk by Frank Moriarty, our leader from Westover. The bus accomodations were more comfortable than I had initially thought. The seats were roomy and there was air-conditioning which came in handy later in the day when the temperatures and humidity rose. It was a little cool and somewhat foggy when we arrived at the birding field, but about an hour later the sun came out and the temperature started to rise along with the humididy. At first everybody walked down the gravel path together to view any birds that would show themselves. When we got to a side path that led off to the right, about a dozen people took that path and remained there for just about the entire trip. The rest of the group stayed spread out on the main path with some people walking quite a bit ahead of everyone else while others arranged themselves somewhere in between. During the entire walk Bobolinks were flying all over the place. There was a tie for the next most abundant bird between Meadowlarks and Upland Sandpipers. It seemed as though there could have been many more Uplands than I counted only because once they landed in the tall grass they disappeared. When they flew again it was hard to determine if it was the same bird or a new one flying off. Since the grass was not as tall as last year the number of grasshopper sparrows, in my count, was not as high as in past years. In addition they were farther away sitting on whatever tall bushes they could find. In past years these tall bushes were adjacent to the path. After about 1 1/2 hours of walking through the field we were called back to the bus and taken to a wet area on a part of the base we had not previously visited. Since we had to walk through tall grass to get a good look at the small cattail marsh, my aversion to ticks kept me and quite a few other folks outside at the bus to see what showed up. We were rewarded with looks at a Kestrel and a pair of Bluebirds along with a few other common birds. Back on the bus we went and drove in air-conditioned comfort back to our cars waiting for us outside the gate. All three clubs, I'm sure, were very pleased with this trip and the target birds which we all saw in abundance. We'll have to wait for next year to do it again.
On a hot and humid Sunday morning, 11 members of the Allen Bird Club met at Meadowbrook School in East Longmeadow to explore some of the lesser known birding areas in that town. We began by walking the Jarvis Nature Sanctuary, an area of old fields and woods behind the school, where we found Yellow and Blue-winged Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, and an Ovenbird, as well as numerous Song Sparrows and a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. From there, we drove to the Deer Park Industrial Park off of Shaker Road, parked at the cul-de-sac and walked in to Jawbuck Pond. Here we found an Indigo Bunting, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, a Magnolia Warbler, Wood Thrushes, Field Sparrows, and Northern Orioles. At the pond itself, there were Eastern Kingbirds, a Great Blue Heron, and Canada Geese. The real treat, however, was a pair of Osprey, one flying and the other sitting in a tree near the nest. This will be the first time Osprey will have nested in this area. The next stop was the Brown Farm on Hampden Road, where we walked into the woods and found more Wood Thrushes. The last stop was Hoover Quarry at the end of Fernglen Road. The trail was blocked by recently fallen trees, but there was an Oriole was singing right over the parked cars. The trip took three hours and we found a total of 46 species of birds.
Eight observers started out on a warm, summer-like day. It started hazy, but soon cleared at Laughing Brook, where the hoped-for Louisiana or Northern Waterthrush was neither seen nor heard. Some did see a Hummingbird and all saw two Bluebirds and heard a Black-billed Cuckoo as well as a Wood Pewee and a Black-throated Green Warbler. We drove to North Road, stopping at the crest to hear and see five Bobolinks, two Barn Swallows, and a Meadowlark in a farmer’s field. At Hollow Road we heard Towhee, Tanager, and a Great Crested Flycatcher and most of us got good looks at a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. At the end of South Road we got good looks at a female Redstart at its nest. We also saw two Chestnut-sided Warblers and heard a Blue-winged Warbler. Our species count was 43.
This scheduled trip was moved up a week earlier to escape the holiday, but the forecast was rain by mid-morning in southern New Jersey, so a scant five of us decided to visit Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Long Island. There were a few other birders around and one larger group. The West Pond trail was still blocked by a breach from Storm Sandy, so we took the shorter walk straight out along the open bay, where there were many distant shorebirds and some quite close, including one Pectoral Sandpiper and a few Oystercatchers. We turned to see a group of birders approach and noticed a Clapper Rail standing in the trail before it scampered across the causeway and into the reeds on the other side. We visited a Barn Owl nesting in a box at a blind where we could see the mother moving around through the hole and a little bit of fluff from the baby. At the East Pond we scanned for Shovelers, Coot, many Ruddy Ducks, and some Glossy Ibis.
The rain was heavy at times until we got to Brigantine, where it had let up to a drizzle, but with the wind still brisk. The south loop was open only to the tower and the tide was low. The ocean side channel mudflats were covered with mostly Semipalmated Sandpipers, but among them were good numbers of Dowitchers, Dunlin, Willets, Turnstones, and Semipalmated Plovers. Among the Forster’s Terns and Laughing Gulls were a hundred Black Skimmers, some feeding, but most huddled on a sandbar inside the dike. Other birds present were Glossy Ibis, Great and Snowy Egrets, Cormorants, an adult Bald Eagle, Ospreys, a Green-winged Teal, and swallows. At the end we found a big flock of 60 Whimbrels on a sandbar with some calling loudly.
The next day was cloudy, with some rain showers, but we headed for the Belleplain State Forest, where we stopped to find birds still singing in profusion. We heard Yellow-throated Warbler right away, plus Acadian Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireos, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and many familiar birds. At triangle we met up with another group from Westchester Bird Club in Pennsylvania who were very friendly and helpful with information and scopes. We heard a Worm-eating Warbler among the many Pine Warblers, and good looks at several Hooded Warblers. When we caught up to the other group, they were watching Summer Tanagers. One of the group told us about a Prothonotary Warbler at campsite 11, which we got to see well after some searching. After returning to Cape May for lunch, we returned north to Reeds Beach, where we found the spectacle of shorebirds and gulls as the tide started to fall. Laughing Gulls and Red Knots were in the thousands, starting right at our feet and the clamor was amazing. With them were many Turnstones and Dunlin and the odd Willet and Yellowlegs. The rain and wind got the back of our legs soaked, but it was worth it. Later at the Wetlands Institute there were much needed restrooms and a lot of people, but only a few Egrets, an Osprey nest, some Ibis and Plovers, mostly seen from the Observatory. We went south through Stone Harbor to Nummy’s Island, where we stayed in the cars and saw one Little Blue Heron.We tried Higbee early in the morning, but it held mostly resident species, including many White-eyed Vireos singing. A bird perched on a small dead tree singing vigorously turned out to be an immature Blue Grosbeak. Then we went to Cape May Meadows, where we watched a reported Red-necked Phalarope male twirling at the back of the pond. Other birds there were egrets, terns, various expected shorebirds, Ibis, Oystercatchers, Killdeer, Green Heron in flight and Purple Martins. On our way north we stopped at Jake’s Landing, where the salt marsh was alive with Marsh Wrens singing and performing wild dances. Even better was a long, close look at singing Seaside Sparrows. We only heard one Sharp-tailed Sparrow sing, plus Virginia and Clapper Rail. There was plenty to remember on the long ride home.
Six members of the Allen Bird Club, led by George Kingston, travelled to Pomfret to enjoy a birding adventure at a new destination for our Club. The sky was cloudy and there were a few light showers, but the birds were there. As we crossed the meadow near the headquarters, a male Bobolink rose from the grasses and gave us a display. We heard two Black-billed and one Yellow-billed Cuckoo calling. There were five different flycatchers: Eastern Kingbirds, Eastern Phoebes, Willow Flycatcher, Least Flycatchers and Eastern Wood-Pewee. There were several Wood Thrushes and Veeries, but the best display was put on by several pairs of Eastern Bluebirds posing on their nest boxes. We found a nesting pair of Blue-winged Warblers as well as two singing males. In the woods along the ravine were a Scarlet Tanager and an Indigo Bunting. One curious sight was a female Tree Swallow trying to figure out how to get a long stick through the hole of her nest box. It took several tries, but she succeeded.
After we were done birding, three of us drove to the famous Vanilla Bean Café in downtown Pomfret for an al fresco lunch. We had left Ludlow at 7:00 in the morning and were back home by two in the afternoon.
The 20 participants were ready to go and the trip started off well at the spillway with a ravenous Raven (juvenile) being fed by an adult. Also there was a pair of perched Rough-winged Swallows at eye level. We soon saw the first of many Towhees, a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Indigo Buntings and Ovenbird. A cooperative Swainson's Thrush approached our large group within 30 feet as we walked down to the water. It repeated its approach on our return, making us wonder who was studying whom. Heard but not seen were Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Least Flycatcher, Prairie Warbler and Wood Thrushes. It ended up being a five hour walk, but nobody seemed like quitting until our tally was 53 species and our batteries ran out. Thanks to Tim, Jan, Donna, Howard & Pete for all their help.
Eleven birders, including leaders, enjoyed our visit to this wetland area. As soon as we exited our vehicles, we were hearing the first of many Blue-winged Warblers. During the walk to the second entrance gate, birds seemed to be teed up everywhere - Field Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Baltimore Orioles, Catbirds, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers belted out their songs. Perhaps the best sighting here, though, was a resting Common Nighthawk. It perched on a nearby sycamore limb completely oblivious to the onlookers. As we walked the trail down to the water and the loop by the marshes, everyone became very familiar with the sight and song of the Ovenbird, Woodthrush, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Several warblers - Black-and-white, Common Yellowthroat, Redstarts, and Yellow - added brief bits of color to our walk. Some in the group were able to hear the calls of a distant Black-billed Cuckoo and see a first of year/life Swainson's Thrush. We ended our morning with a count of 48 species.
The walk was a huge success for nine participants who saw 29 species, including the target birds, Worm-eating and Cerulean Warblers! One Cerulean was very vocal with a textbook perfect song; the other rather abbreviated and laid back. We missed seeing the female Cerulean by minutes. Other highlights were at least three Scarlet Tanagers, some Baltimore Orioles and Indigo Buntings. A male Black-throated Blue Warbler also showed up for all the cameras that we birders had brought along to record what were life birds for quite a few. The wind was strong as we ascended the road, but nothing like the blasts that pelted us on the porch of Skinner House, reminding one of Mt. Washington. The descent was a happy and snappy walk after seeing such fine birds.
There were 14 teams and 28 observers out in the field the first evening and all the next day. Together they recorded 137 species, an astounding number in this limited area, but average over the last ten years, and three fewer than the total in 2015. As is typical, most common species were near their recent or long-term average, but some were noticeably high or low. There were especially high counts of Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, House Wren, Mockingbird, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue and Black-throated Green Warblers, and Cowbird. Species found in notably low numbers were Wood Duck, Killdeer, Woodcock, Ring-billed Gull, Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, Willow Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Tree and Barn Swallow, Carolina Wren, Veery, Blackburnian, Yellow-rumped and Canada Warblers. Some easy reasons for the unusual totals are the cold early May weather delaying or holding up migration, high survival rates from a mostly mild, snow-free winter, and continued long term or recent increases or declines. There were 32 species on the uncommon or rare list (over last 46 years), notably Black Vulture (only 2015 and 2016), Hooded Warbler (5 times, last in 2007), Hooded Merganser (6 years), White-crowned Sparrow (20 years), Sapsucker (22 years), Horned Lark (24 years - first since 2010), and Raven (24 years, first in 1992). Thanks to all who spent many hours in the field, especially Steve Svec, whose 21 hours gave us most of our owl records. May next year give you all more time, more habitat, and more fun sightings.
Over 20 birders turned out to walk along the rail trail near Station Road in Amherst. While scanning, we suddenly heard, then saw the elusive Virginia Rail ten feet in front of us dashing along the muddy shore. Another prize for the evening was a Woodcock with two young. Other sightings were a singing Orchard Oriole, Kingbird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Yellowthroat, Catbird, and an eye-level look at a Pileated Woodpecker framed against the setting sun.
The stones were silent, but the trees and grounds were full of song and flight as nine participants enjoyed wonderful views of Flicker, Hummingbird, Kingbird, Barn Swallow, Mockingbird, Redstart, Baltimore Oriole and more. We counted a total of 28 species by the time our walk came to an end.
Twenty-five participants located 38 species of birds on the second Wednesday morning walk at Stebbins. Gone were the groups of early warblers, replaced by Yellowthroats, Redstarts, Wilson’s, and Yellow Warblers. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Orioles were flashing their colors and singing emphatically. A group of 16 goslings followed a pair of Canada Geese. The biggest treats of the walk were a pair of Orchard Orioles and a Common Gallinule.
It was our 65th year for a Mother’s Day excursion through Robinson State Park, a walk plagued by showers that eventually cut the trip short. It was also the earliest possible date and followed up a week of cold, wet weather. Still, over 20 walkers were not deterred, and we managed to find Blue-headed Vireo and Gnatcatchers, several Ovenbirds, and a loud Louisiana Waterthrush. Even louder was the Wood Thrush that sang as we entered the park, the first of several. Catbirds were chortling deep in the bushes and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were singing their sweet melody. Other warblers in the almost leafless trees were Black-and-white, Redstart, three Black-throated Blue, Yellowrumps and Black-throated Greens. A good show was put on by some Black-throated Blue Warblers. A couple of Scarlet Tanagers and Baltimore Orioles crowned our brief venture. When the rain got heavy, hosts Madeline Novak and Steve Perreault offered delicious goodies and warming coffee in their home beside the park. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the feeder there was an added feast for the eyes.
The birders did not quite number the Great Blue Heron nests (19) at the flooded beaver pond, but they all enjoyed that spectacle as well as the several Great Blues and a few Wood Ducks. Other birds of the woodland and wetland were three Blue-headed Vireo, many Gnatcatchers, some Ruby-crowned Kinglets, seven Wood Thrushes, Louisiana Waterthrush, and three Yellow-rumped Warblers. Of the 32 species noted, most unexpected was an Osprey that was hunting low over a second marsh.
It was another cool and cloudy day with a few sprinkles of rain, but this impromptu trip attracted 21 viewers. We started by scanning the lake where there were Hooded Mergansers as well as Canada Geese with goslings and Wood Ducks with ducklings. We also got to scope a Kingfisher and Great Blue Herons, one of whom was sitting on a nest. It is the first time they have nested here in a couple of years. The lake had a large number of mostly Tree Swallows, with a few Rough-winged Swallows and a single Barn Swallow. As we got to the bridge heading into the woods on the west side of the lake, we spotted a Solitary Sandpiper out in the open on a log and a Pileated Woodpecker. We then worked our way through the woods in search of our target birds the Sora and the Virginia Rail. We heard both of them calling at various times from the middle of the reeds, but failed to see either one. On the way back to the parking area, we got good views of Rose-breasted Grosbeak and a number of bright Savannah Sparrows. On this trip our total was 37 species.
For a bird trip in early May, the nine attendees had weather more appropriate for mid-April. The sky was overcast during the entire trip with temperatures ranging from the mid-40s to the low-50s with a constant, fairly brisk, wind coming off the reservoir. Despite these conditions, the walk along the paved path at Ludlow Reservoir is always an adventure. As soon as we had open views of the water hundreds of swallows of various types came into view. They were mostly Tree Swallows but there were also a good number of Barn Swallows. In addition, some of the group saw at least two Rough-winged Swallows and one Bank Swallow. The Phoebe was in its usual spot building a nest, flying in and out from underneath the fishing pier. We did miss the Yellow-throated Vireo, which has been in the same place for the past few years. In fact, we missed many birds we usually see on this trip, the most notable being the Baltimore Oriole. Normally we see and hear them throughout the walk. This year, however, we did not see any. Very disappointing! The trip was supposed to have ended by 10:30 but by that time we were just getting started. We had only traveled a little more than a half mile to just past the fishing pier. We kept on going. The birding was slow but we did have good looks at most of the birds we did see. I wanted to go to a location further ahead with good views of the water since we were now walking through an area where trees blocked our view of the reservoir. At that point about half the group turned back due to other commitments. When we arrived at the water, we had an interesting treat awaiting us. The swallows (remember them), mostly tree swallows, hundreds of them, were flying very low to the water and in and around the remaining group who were congregated along the water, almost as if we were pylons for a rather interesting swallow flight competition. By that time it was close to 11:00 and we turned back to return to the cars. We did see other interesting birds on the way back. We all had good looks, some through the scope, of a sapsucker. Before we arrived at the parking lot, we had another treat. There were three Bald Eagles interacting among themselves. Flying high then diving at each other. They were quite close so everyone could enjoy the show. In total we saw four eagles. We finally made it back to the parking lot just before noon. In total we had eight warblers (Ovenbird, Black-and-white, Common Yellowthroat, Redstart (more scope views), Parula, Pine Warbler (heard only), Yellowrump, and Palm) and a total count of 39 bird species. We were all a little chilled but everyone considered it another successful Allen Bird Club outing.
Twelve birders met at the corner of Bark Haul and Pondside Roads in Longmeadow at 7:30 a.m. In the next three hours, they tallied 52 species of birds, including three vireos (Warbling, Red-eyed, and Blue-headed), six warblers (Yellow, Yellow-rump, Blue-wing, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, and Palm Warbler), Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Green Herons and Great-blue Herons, and a Kingfisher. Two Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were found and Wood Thrushes were singing. The male Red-headed Woodpecker was seen in his usual spot. Flycatchers were returning and the group saw four Eastern Kingbirds and six Eastern Phoebes. Interesting sightings of common birds included a second year Red-tailed Hawk sitting on a stub while being mobbed by a Blue Jay and Red-winged Blackbirds; a White-breasted Nuthatch nest with both adults bringing food on Bark Haul at the north west corner of the pond; and, 15 goslings with 11 adult Canada Geese at Tina Lane. The temperature was between 48 and 51 degrees F, and it was overcast with light rain at the end.
On a cool cloudy day that threatened rain that never came, seven members were up for a walk at this new site. The bird numbers seemed to be down a little due to the weather but we managed a few nice birds. The first of note were some Field Sparrows that cued up and sang singing for us. While we watched them, the male Orchard Oriole showed up and stayed at the top of a small tree long enough for everyone to get a good look at him. This was followed pretty soon by Brown Thrashers who were very vocal on this cloudy day. We found four of them as we made our way around the old track. As we approached the track we heard Blue-winged Warblers singing. It took us a little while to actually spot them, but our patience was rewarded with good looks. These were the only warblers we came across this day, though Fort River is usually a good place to find warblers in spring. We ended the day with a bluebird cued up on a post, making a total of 29 species for the day. I added a group of Turkeys as I was leaving, as well as an Eastern Meadowlark sitting in a tree nearby.
Eleven early birders gathered at the edge of the soccer fields of Wilbraham Middle School where an Eastern Towhee teased us, uttering only part of his song but we heard and saw several farther on. Red-winged Blackbirds had little competition for attention as we made our way around the swamp into the field. Then, at the far edge, a Brown Thrasher, dressed in his long-tailed rusty attire, allowed a good look before scurrying into the edge.
Hushed, we tiptoed down to the water and caught a few had brief glimpses of the bird who sang the song of the Northern Waterthrush. Keen eyes spied a Bluebird posing on a telephone pole. Hermit Thrushes were seen as we entered the woods and inched along the path where a Yellow-Throated Vireo sang and flitted, an Ovenbird called, and a Great Crested Flycatcher seemed to enjoy our attention. An Eastern Kingbird, Pine and Yellow-rumped Warblers and Field Sparrows were seen along with year-round residents. Two hawks with long tails flew overhead. It was a perfect day to enjoy being together while birding.
Bright sunshine warmed 22 birders as we gathered to start the first of the series of Wednesday morning walks. Before even leaving the parking area, the first of the new arrivals was heard and later seen - Warbling Vireo. Along Bark Haul we listened to scolding Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and began to see the first of many Yellow-rumps. Everyone got to see Ruby-crowned Kinglets flutter about in the grapevines. We stopped for a quick "fix" of Red-headed Woodpeckers and then continued on the Natti Trail for Blue-headed Vireos, Eastern Towhees, Hermit Thrushes, a Black-and-white Warbler, a pair of Ravens and the flash of a Great Horned Owl. It seemed as though every thicket held a singing Yellow Warbler. Just before emerging onto Tina Lane, we stopped to admire a flock of Cedar Waxwings that perched before us at eye level - always so elegant. Before crossing the railroad tracks, we stopped for Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers and then looked up to see an Osprey fly overhead carrying a fish in his talons. Flying in the opposite direction was an immature Bald Eagle. Pondside Road yielded a newly arrived Eastern Kingbird as well as a small group of Chimney Swifts that circling above our heads. The walk totaled 50 species and the opportunity to connect with many fellow birders.
With two birders coming later, the roster held 17 for the cold, breezy walk into Ashley. Brown Creepers and Pine Warblers greeted us with their delicate notes, and then showed off for us quite close. A Wood Duck was in the gate cove, and three more landed on the far side of the main pond. A Ring-necked Duck pair lurked at the edge of the south pool. Overhead an Osprey appeared and put on a show, followed by a Broad-winged Hawk that slowly circled up to migrate farther north. Migrant landbirds were gathered in the trees at the west end of the pond. First there were two Gnatcatchers, then some Yellow-rumped Warblers followed by a Black and White. Then a Northern Waterthrush surprised us singing in the swamp next to the tracks. We crossed the tracks and headed down the dirt road, hearing a Louisiana Waterthrush a few minutes later. A Hermit Thrush was in the road here and earlier before arriving at the main pond.
The morning walk at Longmeadow Flats was attended by nine birders who saw 31 species. We began the walk under overcast skies and the light was not great for birding. It cleared up within an hour and we started seeing a good number of “first of the year” birds. There were two Yellow Warblers, a Gnatcatcher, at least seven Palm Warblers, and two Towhees, the last at close range. We found two Red-headed Woodpeckers in the usual area, one of which was persistently checking out a nest hole. The Tree swallows put on an aerial show for us and a Rough-winged Swallow joined in as well. We counted seven Great Blue Herons, four of them hanging around together near the woodpeckers. The most common bird was the Yellow-rumped Warbler - at least a dozen. It was a nice beginning to the spring migration.
Only six came to the scrumptious breakfast at Sylvester’s, and the first birding idea was to check out the Wilson’s Snipe behind one of the malls in Hadley. We parked and walked along a wet gulley until the birds jumped and flew farther along one at a time, with five seen. Also there was a Killdeer. A run through the Honeypot on the way to Rte. 91 north got us only a singing Brown Thrasher. We met up with two more people at Riverview Road, where the sun off the water at Barton Cove was blinding. We still managed to note three Double-crested Cormorants and a few Mute Swans. A small group of Tree and Rough-winged Swallows circled low over our heads. From Barton Cove we spotted a pair of Ring-necked Ducks, more swans, and better looks at the eagle on its nest. We drove to the Rod and Gun Club to find more swans and some circling Turkey Vultures. The airport had two Kestrels, a Bluebird, and 2 singing Field Sparrows. On the Power Canal there was only a female Bufflehead diving constantly, and in the trees overhead a singing Pine Warbler.
Ten participants were treated to watching evening woodcock courtship display!. There were a grand total of six woodcocks. Other birds of note were a Hermit Thrush, five American Robins, and one Great Horned Owl.
There were 15 participants on the trip to Longmeadow and Agawam. Pynchon Point had pair of Wood Ducks going to a nesting hole in a big tree where they had nested many years ago. Bondi’s Island had a few Ring-billed Gulls. Mute Swans were nesting on Emerson Pond near the road and another single was at Pondside. Also there was a pair of Ring-necked Ducks and a few Tree Swallows. A bluebird was seen and heard singing from Tina Lane. We walked into Bark Haul and found two adult Red-headed Woodpeckers and a pair of Bluebirds together. On the way some of us glimpsed a Pied-billed Grebe in the pond along the road.
Seven students and a new family of four joined eight members for the trip to Turners Falls. A third Bald Eagle joined the nesting pair as almost constant companions during our stay at Barton Cove. On the water from three viewpoints we found 12 Ring-necked Duck, 4 Mute Swan, 3 Hooded Merganser, 85 Tree Swallows. Two flocks of Cedar Waxwings numbered more than 200, one group mostly seen on the ground beneath a fruiting tree at close range. The Conte Power Canal had only a few Mallards, but a Turkey flushed from a pine tree overlooking the main river. Upriver, the Rod and Gun Club had 2 male Bufflehead, 12 Common Mergansers, 3 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Mute Swans, and 3 Wood Ducks. The nearby airport had a Kestrel fly overhead and a Killdeer that posed near the parking lot. A luncheon at the China Gourmet in Greenfield followed the morning’s birding.
It was a day of daring, as six birders ventured out on the long drive and two-mile walk to this wild beach at the edge of civilization. We took the inland route, walking through a pitch pine forest, across the dike through the Hatches Harbor marshes and over the dunes to the edge of the Atlantic. There were a few Horned Larks on the sand among the sparse grasses. One vehicle was there and a small group of watchers, all seeking the rare seabirds. With their help, it was not long before the Yellow-billed loon came into view for us in the heaving waves close to shore. The bill was dull but huge and so was the body. The water surface was strewn with Red-throated Loons and a few Common Loons. The scoters, Eiders and Razorbills were mostly flying by, but some were on the water. The most abundant bird was the Red-breasted Merganser. A flock of gulls went up and down just off the beach, swarming at the water’s surface above schools of fish and shrimp. Other birders had seen the Common (Mew) Gull on the beach earlier with other gulls, but it was some time, before we picked it out in the swarm that moved back and forth along the beach. A dozen or more Iceland Gulls were haunting the area along with a few Herring Gulls, one or two Glaucous Gulls, and Great Black-backed Gulls, and many Ring-billed Gulls. Farther out many alcids were flying past in flocks, almost all Razorbills. The reported Common Murres eluded our efforts to find them. One Oldsquaw and one Horned Grebe were noted and three Gannets sailed past. Two Right Whales were noticed working their way back and forth, most often beneath the surface, but occasionally rising above for a moment or two. In the search and discovery for the rarer species, we were helped by the birders that were there when we arrived, and we in turn helped those who arrived after us.
(Day 1) Four cars met at Gloucester on a cold, windy day under cloudy skies. However, we reminded ourselves of what we were NOT experiencing since the trip had been postponed from Valentine’s Day weekend (when the forecast was anything but lovable!). We stopped briefly at Annisquam, finding a couple of accipiters and glimpsing only a very few ducks. The wind was strong and cold, but the offshore storm also sent huge waves crashing on the shoreline. We stopped at the cemetery and found a Screech Owl hidden deeply in the hole of a lower branch. Folly Cove had Harlequins, Scoters and Eiders and nearby Halibut shore had mostly a strong headwind and tremendous surf. Andrews Point had a flock of Common Eiders, but we could not spot the young King Eiders, though a flock of Purple Sandpipers sped past. Nearby Cathedral Rocks and Granite Pier were less wild with Common Loons, Eiders, Bufflehead, and another Purple Sandpiper flock. After lunch we hit the more protected east side of Rockport facing into the open ocean. Even so, there were only a few Harlequins and Eiders at Straitsmouth Cove and a few more at Loblolly Cove. Looking south from Penzance Road we had good looks at Loons, Goldeneyes, Bufflehead, and Eiders, plus Great Cormorants were roosting on Milk Island.
Arriving in Gloucester, we were greeted by a Harrier at Good Harbor Beach and a Peregrine on Salt Island. We stopped at the Elks Lodge, but there was no sign of the adult King Eider. Instead it was Buffleheads, Goldeneyes, and Scoters, plus a flock of Purple Sandpipers and a Horned Grebe. Brace Cove had a flying Razorbill, two floating Black Guillemots, plus Scoters, Loons, Goldeneyes and Mergansers. At Eastern Point the harbor was much calmer and we had good looks at an Iceland Gull. Also there were Oldsquaw, Eiders, Red-breasted Mergansers, Bufflehead, Goldeneye, and Surf Scoter. Niles Pond was glassy calm, with great views of 2 Redheads, Gadwalls, Ring-necked Ducks, and a big flock of 65 Red-br Mergansers. A Lesser Scaup hid at the edge of the cattails. The stop at Jodrey Pier had no alcids (a Murre had been reported), but plenty of regular gulls and some Eiders plus a few each of Common and Red-throated Loon, Oldsquaw, Surf Scoter and Red-br Merganser, and one seal near the pier. Saturday ended with 51 species and awesome views of sun “haloes.”
(Day 2) We arrived on time at the usual breakfast place in Rowley, and then we returned to Ipswich to bird Argilla Road, which had hundreds of Canada Geese, plus four Snow Geese and a few Killdeer. After that we did Town Farm Road, where we found two Redtails at a nest, and Pineswamp Road for Brown Creeper and the usual land birds. Back in Rowley, Stackyard Road had a few Robins, but little else. From the kayak shop parking lot, we had two Cooper’s Hawks crossing the river, 3 Oldsquaw and some Bufflehead. Just before turning onto Rolfes Lane a pair of Cooper’s Hawks was spotted on a nest in a small grove next to the road. The Joppa Flats visitor center had welcome bathrooms and a huge flock of geese. A bonus here was 3 Pintail and some Cedar Waxwings.
We arrived at Lot 1 at 11:30 to find the surf again high and noisy but giving views of an alcid, a Loon, and some White-winged Scoters. The salt pannes were mostly frozen over with 4 Gadwall among a hundred Black Ducks. Another walk to oceanside at Lot 3 got us all the scoters and a big flock of shorebirds flying past. We noted a few hawks at the Wardens, including 2 Harriers heading south. Hellcat was also mostly frozen, but we found more Harriers, including an adult male. At Cross Farm Hill one of us spied a Snowy Owl half hidden by a small bramble bush. While watching it a Rough-legged Hawk began hunting the north side of the hill, putting on a show for quite a while. Others driving by stopped for the owl and we told other birders about it. We went on to Lot 7, where we found more sea ducks and spotted the big flock of shorebirds resting on and working the rocks. They were mostly Dunlin, but some Sanderlings were also in the flock. From the tower a flock of 40 Pintails were visible in the Stage Island Pool. Next we drove upriver to Cashman Park, where there were Bufflehead, Goldeneyes, Red-br mergansers, and Oldsquaws, as well as a Great Blue Heron on the far shore. Last stop was Salisbury Beach, where the tide was low and there were many resting and feeding Eiders and White-winged Scoters, plus a few Gadwall and Loons. The seals basking on the exposed rocks were also a treat. We called it a weekend very pleased, with 71 species, despite the cold and wind, and a few “misses".
It was 2:30 when the group met at the Northampton commuter lot. Five cars and 14 people drove to Turners Falls, finding many roadside Redtails along the way and an early Turkey Vulture circling over Deerfield. Even before we set up our scopes at the Unity Park, someone drove in, coming from the larger parking lot a little upstream. He told us that this group was looking at the hotline bird in a big flock of gulls standing on the ice at the edge of Barton Cove. We loaded our gear and drove there quickly finding the Yellow-legged Gull with some help from Bob Stymeist and Geoff LeBaron. It was slightly larger than the many Herring Gulls, sporting a clean white head, a large red spot on its bill, the darker wings, and the yellow legs. A little more scoping also gave us looks at a Lesser Black-backed Gull and 2 American Wigeon. Bald Eagles were coasting around and spooked the gulls twice, first down to another patch of ice near dam and then later back to the cove ice. In the meantime we spotted 2 Goldeneye, a male Green-winged Teal, a female Lesser Scaup, a Ring-necked Duck, and 2 male Bufflehead. A walk along the power canal produced 3 Goldeneye and 2 Common Merganser. After so much success, being too late to see the Short-eared Owls in the Arcadia Meadows of Northampton was only a minor disappointment.
(Day 1) Four cars brought 12 birders from Ludlow Plaza to Watchemocket Cove in Rhode Island where over a 100 American Wigeon were assembled in the mostly ice-free waters. Also there were two Black-headed Gulls, one of which stayed and preened in the roosting gull flock, showing its head and black spots often. Other ducks among the many geese were a raft of Greater Scaup, along with a few Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, and Gadwall. We moved on to Turner Reservoir, which was mostly iced, but still held good numbers of Common and Hooded Mergansers.
We headed south to Seapowet Marsh in Tiverton on the east side of the bay, where the refuge field held a stately Sandhill Crane. It put on a great show of feeding and flying for the cameras. The cove across the street held Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, Horned Grebes, and Common Loons. Here we met Nick Russo, a fine, young birder and student at UConn, who joined the convoy for the rest of the day. At Nonquit Pond we added 3 Ruddy Ducks, and 4 Pintails. Then we headed back north, only pausing at Pardon Gray Preserve to scan the meadows and thickets, spotting Bluebirds and Meadowlarks. A Fish Crow also called there, and a few Turkey Vultures circled overhead.
At Nanaquaket Point we were engulfed by a huge flock of Robins and Starlings. We stopped for a noon break at Coastal Roasters, then crossed the bridge and headed south to St. Mary’s Pond, where a flock of Shovelers fed and flew before us, along with Ruddy Ducks, some Ring-necked Ducks, Gadwall, and Great Cormorants. From there we made our way to Third Beach, where the seabirds took over. Here in the broad bay were scattered Common Loons, Horned Grebes, Goldeneyes, Eiders, Red-breasted Mergansers, White-winged and Surf Scoters, Buffleheads, and Greater Scaup. Searching the beach before us for food were a hundred Sanderlings, and down the beach at the stony edge of Sachuest were a dozen Ruddy Turnstones. We moved to Gardiner Pond and had more Ruddy Ducks and two American Coots. Then it was time to walk the trails that looked down on the ledges and rocks of Sachuest Point. In a couple of hours we picked out Harlequin Ducks, Razorbills, Purple Sandpipers, and a Brant. With them were groups of Greater Scaups, Goldeneyes, and all three Scoters, plus smaller numbers of Red-throated and Common Loons, Horned Grebes, a Red-necked Grebe, Eiders, Buffleheads, Cormorants, and Red-breasted Mergansers. Harriers hunted the nearby marshes and the fields where deer grazed. The day ended with a get-together featuring snacks and refreshments, along with the bird tally and the telling of each observer’s best birds. For dinner, some chose Mexican, others chose Applebee’s.
(Day 2) After a fine breakfast at the Blue Plate Diner, we arrived at Beavertail on Jamestown Island at 8:30 a.m. and were faced with strong winds on the west side of the refuge. The east side was better, but we still took shelter behind the buildings on the point. A big surprise was the more than 75 Razorbills on the water and flying past the point into the wind. We picked out several Gannets streaming with them. Also unexpected were the numbers of passing and feeding Bonaparte’s Gulls. There were rafts of Eiders and over a hundred Black Scoters with a few Surf and White-winged Scoters. Red-throated outnumbered Common Loons. Harlequin Ducks were feeding close to shore and Purple Sandpipers were feeding on the ledges or flying around. As we drove out through the thickets and woods along the road, we came upon a large flock of Cedar Waxwings. Then a stop at the marsh by Zeek’s Bait & Tackle produced Great Blue Herons and a Kingfisher. At Point Judith there were more Bonaparte’s Gulls, scoters, loons and grebes among the surfers. The Galilee area at high tide had a raft of Red-breasted Mergansers, some Bufflehead, and a few Common Loons, but few gulls. Sunset Farm featured a huge flock of Starlings and Cowbirds, plus a Grackle and two Redwings.
We continued west to the Trustom Pond area, where we studied the feeder birds, which included a Rusty Blackbird. At the end of a long walk to Osprey Point, the open water had only a few ducks, though one was a male Barrow’s Goldeneye. We checked the roads in the area and managed to find another Northern Harrier. Our last stop was at Perry’s Mill Pond, a small pond next to a home, where a Redhead had been reported. Instead we got fine views of one male Eurasian Wigeon with the American Wigeons, plus some Ring-necked Ducks and Green-winged Teal. Also, a nice variety of landbirds was found there, including two Brown Creepers. We finally broke up and headed home with 83 species on our Blitz list.
There were 18 eager birders packed into five cars, ready to start the New Year right. We got to Siders Pond in Falmouth to find there was a distant flock of 200 Scaup at the far end along with a few Bufflehead. The flock of Scaup on nearby Salt Pond was smaller, but close enough to pick out a few Lesser Scaup in with the Greaters. Also with them were more Bufflehead, some Red-breasted and Hooded Mergansers, 5 Coot, 8 Goldeneye, and a Red-throated Loon. Off Surf Avenue there were 2 more Red-throated Loon, 2 Common Loon, a few Eiders and Goldeneyes, and Bonaparte’s Gulls feeding in flight. We drove north, then east to Crane WMA, where the Mountain Bluebird was on display with one Eastern Bluebird, several Meadowlarks, and a Pine Warbler.After a break, we headed east to Marston’s Mills, where at first there was little visible except a Great Blue Heron resting in the same tree as it was a few weeks earlier. We walked the small path through the alder brush until we could see the back marsh where the dabblers were feeding. The light was perfect and the colors shone bright on every feather. We picked out two male and one female Eurasian Wigeon as well as a pair of Shovelers, some Gadwalls, American Wigeons, and Hooded Mergansers. We heard from a local birder about a Redhead at Flashy Pond, but returning there only gave us some Bufflehead and a female Ring-necked Duck. He also reported a King Eider in the canal below the RR bridge, but we only found 800 Common Eiders packed close and diving for food, a sight in itself. Nine Brant were also on the grass above them and a dozen cormorants were resting on the bank there.
At the other end of the canal in Sandwich we spotted a diving Razorbill, a few Common Loons, and a flyby Peregrine at the Visitor Center. From the end of Town Neck Road, we had good looks at distant flying Gannets, and nearby there were a hundred or more Eiders, a dozen or more Common Loons, plus Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, and Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Greater Scaup and 3 Great Cormorant. It was late, so we rushed north to Plymouth Beach as the sun painted the western sky. Scanning there, we found Oldsquaw, as well as Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Loons, Surf Scoters, White-winged Scoters, Bufflehead, Eiders, and a Horned Grebe. It was the end of another terrific trip and the start of another great year of birding.
There were 11 teams in the field with 25 observers, five more than the average over the 25-year history of the count. The day was ideal, partly cloudy and mild with very light winds and no snow on the ground. Even the smallest ponds were free of any ice, and rivers were flowing freely. The 94 hours was 30 more than 2014 and just below the most ever. Joanne Fortin's home was again the compilation site and all enjoyed recording the numbers and telling their interesting stories of the day.
Teams and Highlights
Westfield: Joanne Fortin, Elethea Goodkin, John Froehlich, 36 species, 2 Bufflehead, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Red-shouldered Hawk, the only 2 Turkey, 104 Blue Jay, 2 Raven, 155 Chickadee, 42 Titmouse, 2 Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Carolina Wren, 29 Bluebird, 54 Cedar Waxwing, 118 Junco, 17 Song Sparrow, 47 Cardinal, 34 Goldfinch, a Red-winged Blackbird, 1000 Grackle, and the only Purple Finch.
Blandford and Westfield: Kathy and Myles Conway, 31 species, a Mute Swan, 4 Black Duck, 6 Hooded Merganser, Great Blue Heron, Red-shouldered Hawk, 2 Kingfisher, a Raven, a Flicker, a Pileated Woodpecker, a Red-winged Blackbird.
Russell and Westfield: Tom Swochak, Jeff Cormier, 40 species, 4 Black Duck, 4 Hooded Merganser, a Common Merganser, 2 Bald Eagle, 2 Cooper's Hawk, a Red-shouldered Hawk, a Screech Owl, a Great Horned Owl, a Kingfisher, a Sapsucker, 2 Flicker, 3 Carolina Wren, the only Winter Wren, 84 Robin, 3 Cedar Waxwing, a Red-winged Blackbird.
North Granby and Granville: John Weeks, Chris Chinni, S. Fowler, 35 species, 2 Bald Eagle, a Red-shouldered Hawk, a Screech Owl, a Great Horned Owl, a Barred Owl, the only Saw-whet Owl, a Sapsucker, a Fox Sparrow, the only Swamp Sparrow, a Red-winged Blackbird.
Granville: Mary Felix, 26 species, 6 Black Duck, Bald Eagle, Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, Golden-crowned Kinglet, 13 Bluebird.
Southwick: Janice Zepko, Seth Kellogg, Chris Blagdon, 41 species, 5 Common Merganser, 2 Bald Eagle, the only Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Cooper’s Hawk, 3 Great Horned Owl, a Kingfisher, a Pileated Woodpecker, 2 Raven, 40 White-breasted Nuthatch, 4 Carolina Wren, 3 Golden-crowned Kinglet, 27 White-throated Sparrow, the only Savannah Sparrow, 18 Red-winged Blackbird.
Southwick: Bruce Hart and Ilene Goldstein, 22 species, 2 Hairy Woodpecker, 2 Golden-crowned Kinglet, 4 Bluebird.
Southwick and Westfied: Steve and Rachel Svec, 25 species, 4 Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Hermit Thrush, 30 Cedar Waxwing, and 3 Fox Sparrow.
Westfield and Montgomery: Al and Lois Richardson, Michele Keene-Moore, Bambi Kenney, 37 species, 2 Bald Eagle, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Flicker, 8 Raven, 2 Carolina Wren, 17 Horned Lark, 91 Cowbird.
Westfield: George Kingston and Jean Delaney, 25 species.
Westfield: Tim Carter, 31 species, 4 Black Duck, 3 Hooded Merganser, a Grouse, a Flicker, 4 Red-winged Blackbird.
The 62 species recorded was only a bit below the 25-year average of 64. Most common species showed significantly better numbers, partly due to increased coverage. Record high counts were made for Bald Eagle 8, Cooper’s Hawk 8, Red-shouldered Hawk 5, Red-tailed Hawk 48, Red-bellied Woodpecker 58, and Grackle 1476. Other higher numbers were for Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, Crow, Chickadee, Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Bluebird, Robin, White-throated Sparrow, and Cardinal. Some unusual misses were Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, and Field Sparrow. On the low side were Common Merganser, Turkey, all three gulls, Hairy Woodpecker, Tree Sparrow, and Song Sparrow. After two improved years, the Carolina Wren was again scarce. Mockingbird stayed at its recent low level, but House Finch had its best year since 2004.
Rarer species were not as common as one might expect, given the warm, dry December weather. There were no species new to the count, though it was only the third time for Bufflehead. It was only the second Grouse since 2006. Other rare species (with number of years found out of 25): Saw-whet Owl 5, Savannah Sparrow 6, and Fox Sparrow 6 (the 3 individuals were the most ever). Number of years now recorded for the uncommon species were Great Blue Heron 15, Bald Eagle 14, Red-shouldered Hawk 13, Sapsucker 11, Horned Lark 15, Field Sparrow 17, Swamp Sparrow 14, Red-winged Blackbird 13, and Grackle 11.
It was the first time Brown Creeper and Red-breasted Nuthatch were missed. Field Sparrow has been missed six out of the last nine years.
There were 35 birders in the field in 15 teams. The day was cloudy and cool with strong northwest winds, but the ground was bare of snow and ice was hard to find. Hours increased slightly to 125.7, nearly nine hours above the 1980-2015 average. After the day of birding, a nice crowd enjoyed the food and good cheer at the home of George Kingston and Jean Delaney. The compilation reports were filled with highlights and good numbers.
Team Members and Highlights
Longmeadow: Steve Svec, James Pfeifer (limited time in upland parts of town), 35 species, 3 Mute Swan, 155 Mallard, 2 Wood Duck, a Great Blue Heron, a Kingfisher, 2 Red-headed Woodpeckers, a Kestrel, 3 Bluebirds, 22 Tree Sparrows, 9 Cowbirds, and 2 Rusty Blackbirds
East Longmeadow: George Kingston and Jean Delaney, 22 species, a Red-shouldered Hawk, a Mockingbird
Forest Park: Al and Lois Richardson, Bambi Kenney, Louis Harm, Deborah Shea, 27 species, 89 Mallard, 6 Common Merganser, a Kingfisher, a Sapsucker, 56 Robins, 22 Waxwings, 135 Junco, and a Grackle
Springfield: Janet Orcutt, Kaylee Resha, Linda Leed, 29 Species, 3 Mute Swan, 6 Black Duck, 14 Common Merganser, a Bald Eagle, 239 Ring-billed Gull, 69 Herring Gull, 2 Great Black-backed Gull, 19 Titmouse
Hampden: Mary Felix, April Downey, Donna Morrison, 30 species, a White-fronted Goose, a Cackling Goose, a Pintail, a Raven, 29 Titmouse, 29 Chickadee, 12 White-breasted Nuthatch, a Brown Creeper, 2 Golden-crowned Kinglet, 2 Carolina Wren, 10 Bluebird, 58 Junco
South Wilbraham: Tim Carter, 27 species, a Raven, a Carolina Wren, 106 Robin, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, 24 Waxwing, a Savannah Sparrow
North Wilbraham: John and Grace Fleming 14 species, a Tree Sparrow
Ludlow: Bill and Carol Platenik, 28 Species, 10 Hooded Merganser, 60 Common Merganser, a Pied-billed Grebe, 3 Bald Eagle, a Brown Creeper, a Field Sparrow
Chicopee: Tom Swochak, Jeff Cormier, 32 species, 7 Hooded Merganser, a Common Merganser, a Bald Eagle, 2 Screech Owl, a Kingfisher, 13 Downy Woodpeckers, 2 Fish Crow, 325 Common Crow, 3 Carolina Wren, 58 Robin, 5 Mockingbird, 18 White-throated Sparrow, 6 Red-winged Blackbird, 193 House Finch
Holyoke Ashley Ponds: Tom Gagnon, Blaise and Linda Bisaillon, Deborah Oeky, Greg Saulmon, 34 species, 4 Black Duck, a Ring-necked Duck, a Hooded Merganser, 2 Bald Eagle, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Flicker, a Merlin, 2 Brown Creeper, 4 Bluebird, a Waxwing, 15 Cardinal, 31 White-throated Sparrow, 11 Song Sparrow
Holyoke Center: Bob and Lura Bieda, 26 species, 4 Mute Swan, 17 Black Duck, a Bald Eagle, 6 Hooded Merganser, a Common Merganser, 12 Herring Gull, a Great Black-backed Gull
West Springfield: Kathy and Myles Conway, 32 species, a Common Merganser, 3 Bald Eagle, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, 7 Red-tailed hawk, a Kingfisher, 2 Flicker, a Pileated Woodpecker, 35 Blue Jay, 1192 Crow, 23 Chickadee, 17 Titmouse
Agawam Southeast: Janice Zepko, Seth Kellogg, 40 species, 2600 Canada Goose, a Mute Swan, 4 Black Duck, a Greater Scaup, 81 Goldeneye, a Barrow's Goldeneye, 3 Hooded and 7 Common Merganser, 11 Turkey, 2 Bald Eagle, a Cooper's Hawk, a Great Horned Owl, 3 Carolina Wren, 5 Mockingbird, 79 Junco, 2 Red-winged Blackbird, a Rusty Blackbird
Agawam Robinson Park: Steve Perreault and Madeline Novak, 29 species, 3 Hooded Merganser, 10 Common Merganser, 2 Cooper's Hawk, a Brown Creeper, a Golden-crowned Kinglet.
The 70 species recorded was 3 above the 1980-2015 average. Only three common species were found in above average numbers: Canada Goose 4402, Goldeneye 81, Bald Eagle 12 (peak) (only since 1998).
Most species were found in low numbers, partly due to the unusually mild weather, which allowed birds to disperse more than usual and not concentrate in the traditional best habitat that counters tend to cover. Perhaps many birds had also not yet moved as far south as normal. Far below average were Black Duck, Mallard, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, Rock Pigeon and Mourning Dove, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Blue Jay, Chickadee, Titmouse, Red and White-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creeper, Carolina Wren, Mockingbird, Tree, Song, and White-throated Sparrows, Cardinal, and Goldfinch. Some of these have been trending low for 5-10 years.
Some very rare species were recorded. The White-fronted Goose was the second ever, first in 2010. It was the first ever for the Cackling Goose. The only other time Greater Scaup was found was in 1980. It was only the 4th time for Barrow's Goldeneye and Pied-billed Grebe, and the 5th for Red-headed Woodpecker.
Other species rare or uncommon in small numbers were the following (with number of years found out of 35): Wood Duck 22, Pintail 16, Ring-necked Duck 12, Sharp-shinned Hawk 19, Red-shouldered Hawk 17, Sapsucker 15 (every year in last 9), Kestrel 12 (absent until 1997), Merlin 25 (up to 11 per year for every year until 1995) Peregrine 15 (missed only in 3 years since 2002), Fish Crow 17, Raven 12 (first in 1997), Savannah Sparrow 10, Rusty Blackbird 11.
Four cars and ten travelers set off for the south shore on a calm, balmy day. We started our birding at the Cape Cod Canal in Sandwich, where many Eiders waited for the tide to finish falling and make the shell beds accessible. Scattered before us were a good number of Common Loons and Red-br Mergansers along with a few White-winged and Surf Scoters. Razorbills were mostly farther out except for one fairly close in front of us. At the Canal Visitor Center, a dozen or more Razorbills dove and surfaced, one very close to us, while a flock of 6 Brant grazed on the little lawn nearby. Common Loons were scattered about and one Great Cormorant was on a distant post. Shawme Pond held only a handful of Wigeon, Gadwall, and Bufflehead. We drove east and south to Marstons Mills, where the pond beside the road offered a Great Blue Heron in a low branch over the water, plus some Gadwall, a Pintail, and ten American Wigeon.
We turned west into Falmouth, arriving at the Frances A. Crane WMA to find a Mass Audubon group just starting down the trail into the taller grass. Soon the Mountain Bluebird was spotted, in poor light and distant at first, but then closer in good light hunting from low trees and bushes. Then it was on to Siders and Salt Pond for the hundreds of mostly Greater Scaups, plus Buffleheads, Hooded and Red-breasted Mergansers, and 2 Pied-billed Grebes. Across the road on the beach, Nantucket Sound was very calm, giving us a great view of a flock of Common Goldeneye and a single male Barrow’s Goldeneye. We also found two Red-throated with several Common Loons, and two very close White-winged Scoters, plus six Bonaparte’s Gulls and some Red-breasted Mergansers. In the brushy area around the Oyster Pond parking lot, a Marsh Wren called and showed itself briefly.
We headed north toward Plymouth, with the next stop at Herring Pond. Coot, Scaup, Bufflehead, and Goldeneye were gathered and a Kingfisher called. At Plymouth Beach we were able to scan for Horned Grebes, Red-throated and Common Loons, Long-tailed Ducks, Red-breasted Mergansers, Surf Scoters, and White-winged Scoters. Arriving at dusk at Cumberland Farms, we watched a perched Great Horned Owl and heard two Snipe call as they flew past.
A lucky 13 birders arrived at Gloucester Harbor and found ducks and seabirds waiting for them. There were Eiders, Bufflehead, Surf Scoters, Horned Grebes and Long-tailed Ducks on the unruffled waters. Niles Pond provided two pairs of Redhead Ducks, two close Coots and 10 Ring-necked Ducks. A north wind and heavier seas greeted us at Bass Rocks, but still gave us several soaring Gannets, a few White-winged Scoters, Red-breasted Mergansers and a flock of Buffleheads. We then drove straight to Halibut Point, hoping to find a special landbird reported there. The woods were quiet and the bird hidden, so we went to the overlook, where we found a huge flock of mixed waterfowl below us, hugging the shore. There were many Eiders, Black Scoters, and White-winged Scoters feeding and floating on the waves, plus about 20 Harlequin Ducks. Flying past farther out were Gannets and Razorbills. On the way back through the woods we heard a flock of feeding landbirds, so we tried to bring them close with some pishing. To our great surprise, the Townsend’s Solitaire came with them, pausing at various spots in the low trees.
With this success, we headed for Plum Island, checking Joppa Flats first, since it was still uncovered at low tide. The far edge held hundreds of feeding Dunlin along with many Black Ducks and gulls. On the island, we drove slowly past Lot 1 and watched the marsh against a glaring sun. At the Salt Pannes, we studied the American Wigeon and Gadwall among the many Black Ducks, eventually making out the red head of the reported female Eurasian Wigeon. A much easier prize was on the far bank, a gorgeous and very white Snowy Owl perched on a low post and turning its head back and forth in search of prey. A second one was in the distance. At Hellcat, the dike and the blind gave us looks at new species, adding Pintail, a Pied-billed Grebe, a Harrier and a Sharpshin. We studied the birds at Stage Island Pool as the sun set, mesmerized by two flocks of flying and feeding Snow Buntings. Hundreds of Green-winged Teal dropped into the distant pool to join more Dunlin, 2 Black-bellied Plovers, and some Hooded Mergansers. The setting sun made a magnificent glow to match our own as we made our way back to the entrance.
A group of 11 birders began the trip at Laurel Lake where we had 4 Goldeneyes. Stockbridge Bowl followed with 12 Ruddy Duck, a female Red-breasted Merganser, and a Great Blue Heron. Fairfield Pond held 18 Green-winged Teal, plus a Kingfisher called while 2 Redtails circled overhead. Richmond Pond offered a flock of Cedar Waxwings and 2 Bluebirds along the road, and then on the pond were 35 Coot, 8 Goldeneye, 4 Greater Scaup and 20 Ruddy Ducks. After a stop at Bartlett’s for cider donuts, we walked in to see the 700 Ring-necked Ducks resting on Mud Pond. By the time we got to the south end of Onota Lake we had a brisk west wind and waves, but we spotted 3 Common Loons and the local Bald Eagle, plus a Raven and a Sharpshin. The west Pontoosuc causeway had many ducks in the back of the cove, a hundred Green-winged Teal, a pair of Gadwall and an American Wigeon. On the main lake we found 25 Common Mergansers, 3 Common Loons, and a Red-throated Loon.
We can never be sure about the weather when heading to northern Vermont at the end of October, but ten of us in four cars lucked out on the Champlain Valley trip this year. Temperatures on Saturday were in the low 50's, with either no wind, or just a slight breeze. Our looks at the numerous flocks of waterfowl were not with squinting gazes between the waves, but clear views on calm waters. Although we woke to higher winds on Sunday and even some light rain and drizzle, the skies cleared by late morning and the day ended on the mild side. That is when the mixed clouds and sunlight offered a perfect backdrop for great looks at rising and circling flocks of Snow Geese. The milder late fall weather provided some new species for the all-time triplist, including shorebirds such as Semipalmated Plover, Least Sandpiper and Hudsonian Godwit. The Godwits were especially unusual because they are rare so far inland. An immature Golden Eagle was also new and special. Other notable species included Pectoral Sandpipers, close looks at Rusty Blackbirds (44), an Osprey (seen in only two other years), an immature Golden Eagle, and a Northern Shrike. Some unusual misses were White-throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Purple Finch, and House Finch. Altogether we had 79 species, the most ever.
The rain stopped at 8:00 a.m. when 4 participants decided to check out Quabbin. Unfortunately, the Reservoir was mostly off limits because a movie was being produced. The guard said we could only go up to the Tower so we headed there. Stopping at Windsor Park, we managed to see a Chipping Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow and a few Juncos. A flock of 7 turkeys graced us with their presence. At the Tower we found at least 40 cars, 8 trailers and a large dining tent for the movie production crew, but zero birds. Since we weren't approached to be extras in the movie, we headed out. Tim suggested Lake Wallace as a next stop. It is located down the road on the old Belchertown State School grounds. We meandered around the edges getting Hooded Mergansers, a Raven and White-throated Sparrows. We saw only 12 species, but discovered a new birding area, and quit just in time, as the rain started again.
The trip to Berkshire Lakes had 12 members. Light winds and mild temperatures prevailed from the start at Cheshire Lake, where there were 3 Gadwall, 2 Coot, 3 Pied-billed Grebes, and a Peregrine. Pontoosuc featured a Red-throated Loon. The Berkshire Mall had another close Peregrine, but not the Lesser Black-backed Gull we hoped for. South Onota had another Pied-billed Grebe and a Common Loon. At the airport a flock of Horned Larks never landed, while Mud Pond had over 500 Ring-necked Ducks, a Pied-billed Grebe and 6 Ruddy Ducks. We also saw a Pied-billed Grebe at Richmond Pond along with 35 Coot.
There was a chill of winter in the air as ten members assembled for the walk through the woods surrounding the reservoir. It began with a quiet stroll through the huge white pines on the east side, where we heard the pure super high notes of unseen Golden-crowned Kinglets and had long looks at a Brown Creeper that appeared on the trunks above us. Then we arrived at the water’s edge and felt the brisk northwest winds that were to chill us throughout the walk. From the gated entrance we spotted several Wood Ducks, a Phoebe, and the first of many Yellow-rumped Warblers feeding openly in the shallows and mud. More wood ducks were in the back lagoons, but the biggest surprise of the day was a male Black Scoter that floated in the main pond, sometimes venturing close to us, as if showing off the gorgeous orange bill. Approaching the sandbar at the far end of the main pond, we noticed three bluebirds perched on a small stem above the shoreline, and then on the eaves of the stone building. Other treats were an Osprey sailing by low over the lake and a Great Blue Heron flapping its way across the water. Another large raptor might have been a Goshawk, but we failed to pin down the ID. The trek back gave us no new species to add, leaving us with a total of 38 for the morning.
There were 8 club members on the morning walk. The highlights included a Common Loon on the reservoir and a Raven croaking from across the water. There were two separate mixed flocks of Ruby-crowned Kinglets (10), warblers (Yellow-rumped, Blackpoll, and Black-throated Blue) and vireos (Blue-headed and Yellow-throated) that probably arrived overnight as they were busy feeding and let us get good close looks at them. We saw one late Phoebe and two Red-breasted Nuthatches, finishing with a total of 25 species. It was a brilliant fall day, maples ablaze with their autumn colors.
Eleven of us set out on a beautiful Saturday in search of migrants and whatever else we could find. We started down Riverbank Rd behind the Northampton airport and were greeted by a large flock of Red-wing Blackbirds with a few Grackles mixed in, plus an apple tree with a group of Yellow-rumped Warblers. As we continued down the road, the raptor show started: an immature Bald Eagle, a Peregrine Falcon and two Cooper's Hawks, the second being chased by a Sharp-shinned Hawk. We also got a late Swamp Sparrow with a few Song and Savannah Sparrows. Then we headed down to Arcadia Sanctuary, where the raptor show continued. We had a Kestrel, three Red-tailed Hawks, and a Northern Harrier in the fields. Sparrows were also well represented here, with a dozen White-crowned to go along with White-throated, Savannah, Song, and Chipping Sparrows. Other highlights included a single Redstart, more Yellow-rumps, a Golden-crowned Kinglet and a number of Bluebirds. We recorded a total of 43 species, including 9 raptors and 7 species of sparrow. - Tim Carter
It was another weekend of strong northeast wind, as well as some rain, so we forsook the north shore for seabird watching on Cape Cod. The massive counts at Race Point were a long haul away, so the single car filled with die-hard sea-birders settled for Sandy Neck on the bay side of Barnstable. Seven local watchers were already huddled on the lee side of a building with views of the waves, and they quickly invited us in with them. We missed most of the early flight, but Cory’s Shearwaters were still sailing by in the sea troughs very close to shore. We also had good views of a dozen Parasitic Jaegers and one Pomarine Jaeger along with 2 Northern Fulmar, 8 Leach’s and one Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, and 30 Gannets. One Jaeger came over the beach and flew next to the building. There were hundreds of Surf and White-winged Scoters and scores of Black Scoters on the water and in the air. Flocks of Common Terns went by and one Forester’s Tern appeared alongside. After 2.5 hours the flight slowed and we and some of the locals were worn out. We briefly considered going out to Race Point, but instead headed back home with a detour to Wachusett Reservoir. Many cars were parked at the entrance to the long, grassy dike, and we started marching the two-thirds of a mile out to the small crowd of people with scopes and cameras. It was well worth it, as the Northern Wheatear posed beautifully for us on the rocks, as well as in the grass catching crickets and grasshoppers. Amazingly, we met and talked with Peter Christoph, our speaker for the upcoming meeting. He was even gracious enough to snap a group shot of us with his cell phone. What a day!
Hurricane Joaquin was causing havoc down south and over the Atlantic, but New Jersey had “only” strong northeast winds. Five cars and 12 people began the Brigantine loop just past 10 o’clock. At the tower area we found a flock of 12 young Little Blue Herons. The tide was just falling and the wind was so fierce it kept us mostly in the cars. Several groups of Shovelers were unexpected, as was a Caspian Tern, but shorebirds were scarce and even the Forster’s Terns seemed reluctant to fly. Snowy and Great Egrets were numerous, but the Black-crowned Night-Herons were cowering in the bushes. We were happy to find some Glossy Ibis feeding at a couple of spots, and a big flock of Boat-tailed Grackles. Sparrows were hard to find with the wind, but on the bare sand at the double dog-leg there were 12 Black Skimmers, 2 Whimbrel, a few Black-bellied and 3 Golden Plovers, 3 Pectoral and 4 White-rumped Sandpipers, among many other regular shorebirds. A few raptors and a lot of puddle ducks completed the picture. It was early, so we headed for Nummy’s Island, where whistling Oystercatchers were already flying overhead to roost on the distant beach as the tide rose. In the tree roost we managed to get excellent close looks at Tri-colored and Little Blue Herons, eight Black-crowned Night-Herons and one adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.
Breakfast at an oceanfront pancake house gave some of us several looks at the big flock of restless Black Skimmers as they rose from their roost on the beach. Highlights at Higbee were few, mostly Sharpies and Ospreys constantly overhead. We left early for the hawk platform and ponds around it, where many raptors were in the air - 100+ Sharpies and 30+ Ospreys, 10 Coopers, 50 Kestrels, 20 Merlins, 2 Harriers and one Broad-winged Hawk. Four Black Vultures were also there among the many Turkey Vultures. For ducks, there was a male Eurasian Wigeon, some American Wigeon and both teals. We got close looks at Green Herons and were mesmerized by the several thousand Tree Swallows massing and dancing in the air constantly. A Thrasher was in the woods and Sanderlings were on beach. Lunch was again great at the West Side Market, but the jetties and meadows had nothing much new except a few Royal Terns flying over the wild surf. The day ended late with great views of the full lunar eclipse with and without the scope. Next morning we returned to the beach for more Royal and Common Terns, some Sanderlings, and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. A stop at Avalon on the way north allowed us to see Brown Pelicans and Parasitic Jaegers, thanks to a helpful official seabird counter. The second tour of Brigantine had less wind than the first but the only notable change was more Caspian Terns (8).
A big crowd gathered before 10 o'clock on the hill under overcast skies and moderate fog and haze. These included some students from Berkshire Community College. The early arrivals were greeted by a Palm Warbler almost at their feet, and it prompted a walk through the woods where vigorous pishing attracted a large group of warblers, including Bay-breasted and Cape May. We continued south across the field and into more woods, where we flushed a Ruffed Grouse sitting in the road. We returned to the summit where other arrivals had settled in to enjoy each other's company, the bountiful table, and the occasional raptor. It took a while for the first of six Sharpshins to go over, the same number as the Broadwings. Four Ospreys glided south low and slow. Later Kestrels put on a good show, with eight counted, plus one Merlin in the mix. A Bald Eagle moved through and a couple more were part of the many active local Turkey Vultures and the several Red-tailed Hawks that got into the air. For watchers and picnickers the maximum count at one time was 25, and with arrivals and departures the total was around 40.
Eight members of the Allen Bird Club met at the corner of Barkhaul and Pondside Roads in the Longmeadow Flats at 7:30 am. It was a beautiful early autumn morning with a clear sky and just a hint of chill in the air. The group walked counterclockwise around the loop trail. At the big pond we saw a couple of Wood Ducks and the first of six Great Blue Herons we would see that morning. It was a good day for herons and further along there were three Green Herons as well. The highlight of the trip was a mixed flock of warblers including several American Redstarts, two Black-throated Greens and a Northern Parula. A pair of Scarlet Tanagers followed the group for a while, and there were Warbling Vireos, Phoebes and many Catbirds. At the swamp near the end of the loop was a large flock of Redwing Blackbirds flying across the trail, a Common Yellowthroat and a few waxwings. A drive down Pondside Road found Mallards on the ponds along with a pair of Mute Swans with a cygnet.
It was a sunny, breezy morning for the 17 participants who visited the New England mecca of marsh dwellers and Arctic migrants. The Salt Pannes were nearly empty, hosting only a few Great Egrets, 2 Great Blue Herons, and several Greater Yellowlegs, but a gliding Harrier and perched Peregrine did raise our spirits. The Bill Forward Pool had some of the birds reported on the previous day, and we saw them from the distant dike despite facing a bright sun, and from the small blind despite a crowd of other watchers. Six Golden Plovers grazed on a grassy Island, and among the many peeps in the shallows were 15 Black-bellied Plovers and 2 White-rumped Sandpipers.
We hurried down the dusty road to the Stage Island Pool, where we got good looks at a Baird’s Sandpiper. A Sharp-shinned Hawk and Eastern Kingbird were also spotted. On the other side of the pool was Sandy Point, where we overcame more crowded parking to walk across the sands to the quiet cove. Nothing was moving so we considered leaving. Then we realized that the silent sands before us were not empty at all, but alive with roosting shorebirds. They began to feed in the muddy flats, roused to action by this first evidence of a falling tide. There were hundreds of plovers and sandpipers, including three Western Sandpipers. A small flock of Red Knots and two prancing Snowy Egrets also joined the throng. A Merlin menaced them for a few minutes, and then a Harrier hung in the air close by. A flock of Sanderlings foraged with the few human bathers on flats bared by the now falling tide. Ospreys were hunting over the waves whipped up by the wind. It was time to leave.
On the way off the island we stopped to enjoy four Whimbrels searching for grasshoppers in the meadow near the Forward Pool, and a Pied-billed Grebe at the Wardens. Before long we were pulling off the road near the sea wall in Newburyport and finding the first Yellowlegs in search of the muddy flats of Joppa. The water retreated and the birds landed and advanced, hundreds of both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, soon joined by as many sandpipers, plovers and the regular gulls. Among them were new species for the day, a few Short-billed Dowitchers and a single Hudsonian Godwit. Thirty Bonaparte’s Gulls, a few Common Terns, and two dozen Great Egrets completed the amazing spectacle, a pleasant memory for the long trip back home.
On the last day of the September heat wave, 15 birders gathered at Pondside and Bark Haul Roads. Our walk was a loop along Bark Haul Trail to its end, then north along West Rd Trail to Tina Lane and back to Pondside, where we ended at the culvert. We totaled 35 species during this rapidly warming morning. Warbling Vireos sang from the tree tops in several areas and we stopped to watch a pair of Cedar Waxwings sally out and back to a perch. Not far along West Road Trail we encountered an active flock of birds, and we had a busy few minutes sorting out Chickadees, Red-eyed Vireos, Baltimore Orioles, young Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Downys and some American Redstarts in varying plumages. Further along the trail, a Blue-winged Warbler teased us with only fleeting views, but two Blue-gray Gnatcatchers dropped down to eye level for all to see well. Ponds along our route held Wood Ducks and Great Blue Herons. When we returned to Pondside an Osprey flew low and directly over our heads. At the culvert Least Sandpipers and a Solitary Sandpiper fed in the mud flats. A Green-wing Teal sat on a log with a Mallard companion basking in the hot sun. Already well beyond the listed 2 hours for the walk, the group disbanded to seek out cooler temperatures.
The first fall Wednesday walk at the Stebbins Refuge brought together 10 members who managed to view or hear 24 species. Things were very quiet on a calm morning that turned muggy by 10 a.m. when we quit. There was only a Redstart for warblers, but plenty of Catbirds and a few Bank, Tree and Rough-winged Swallows. Fall migration must be held up by the summer weather so the group turned to botany. We studied true and False Solomon's Seal and one member introduced us to Turtleheads with their showy white flowers.
Four new people joined eight others for some birding along the CT River. The meeting place provided an immediate thrill when a Peregrine Falcon was spotted overhead on the cell tower. Another great sign was that the high water of the previous few days had evaporated, leaving large stretches of mud and sand. Unfortunately few shorebirds had arrived, so we were left with only a few Spotted Sandpipers, a Great Blue Heron, and a handful of Cormorants on the Agawam side.
Things improved in Longmeadow where an adult Bald Eagle stayed perched almost overhead for a long while. Then an Osprey flew past and perched on the island while a Solitary and Least Sandpiper fed close by. Bank Swallows were flying around and the leader walked alone across the sandbar to find a Lesser Yellowlegs and 4 Least Sandpipers hidden on the far side. A distant Great Egret was foraging upstream on the far shoreline. Stops along Pondside produced three more Great Blue Herons and at the culvert there were two Solitary and two Least Sandpipers among the Mallards.
In spite of dire warnings from local weather forecasters, eleven Allen Bird Club members gathered at the corner of Bark Haul and Pondside Rd in the Longmeadow Flats. The predicted showers arrived, and we stood in the rain holding umbrellas aloft. As the rain let up there was a break in the dark clouds, and a group of 45 Common Nighthawks streamed by over our heads. We stood amazed for the next half hour while another 50 birds dropped from the clouds and sheared off toward the river. By the time it had become too dark to count, we had a total of 90 Nighthawks. This count rose to 102 when more were seen further north on Pondside. Although there were 10 other species seen, including a large murmuration of starlings, most other birds seemed to have more sense than the birders, hunkering down out of sight and out of the rain.
The river was low enough for a few intrepid members to try the ten mile long kayak trip, floating by many exposed bars of rocks and sand along the way. The day was superb, warm with a light breeze and a few clouds. We paddled easily with the current and lingered to enjoy the solitude and the brazen birds that ruled the river with hardly a sign of man. At the halfway point, two freight trains chugged slowly back and forth across the only bridge along the way. Six Bald Eagles and three Ospreys flew out to greet us when we got close to them. Great Blue Herons and Killdeers were common and there were about 20 migrant Least Sandpipers and two Semipalmated Sandpipers along with several Spotties. A big surprise was two flocks of Common Mergansers, one with 60 birds. A few Kingfishers, many Cedar Waxwings and a couple of singing Pewees complete the highlights.
The trip was moved up a week due to conflicts, but 13 folks in five cars still answered the bell. People and green-head flies were very few as we arrived at the boat landing at Lot 1 a bit after 9:00 a.m. Marsh Wrens were singing and sparrows flitting and disappearing. We saw a Willet fly past and could hear Purple Martins calling and circling the nesting gourds beside the lot. The Salt Pannes had a handful of shorebirds - a Dowitcher, Least and Semi Sandpipers and both Yellowlegs. At North Lookout we had a Glossy Ibis fly over and a Bald Eagle was hanging around. We met Doug Chickering there who told us to walk down the long Hellcat trail to an area of large trees, and when we got there a single Black-crowned Night-Heron was croaking loudly every few minutes. Only one of us could spot the bird.The Forward Pool had Gadwalls and a few of the same shorebirds plus Semipalmated Plovers. An unusual find there were three Turkeys walking through the shallows.
On the way south we noted a few Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and Willets. We arrived at a crowded Sandy Point Park, but were allowed to park by a friendly attendant. Emerson Beach had Sanderlings, Semi Sandpipers, plus nesting Piping Plovers and Least Terns. It was a treat watching the young birds waiting patiently and then being fed. A raptor flew in and raised the ire of the parents who drove it away. Probably that same bird was at Stage Island where the pool also had Gadwalls, 2 Green-winged Teal, and a few Yellowlegs as well as resting Cormorants and Geese. At one point two Glossy Ibis flew lazily past and a half dozen Snowy Egrets fed in the nearby tidal pools. On the way back we stopped at the Forward Blind and studied an early Dunlin among a handful of Least Sandpipers. In the overhanging pine trees there, we noticed some close feeding songbirds, a Pine Warbler, two Yellow Warblers and a Yellowthroat. Also there was a nesting House Wren that scolded us. Scanning the ocean from Lot one gave us nothing and the harbor was already flooded by the high tide, not to mention the oppressive sultry air, so we decided to call it a day.
The day was as lovely as the view was stunning when we gathered around the picnic tables in the shade of the tall trees. An Indigo Bunting sang from the woodland edges and hawks soared overhead, first a pair of Broad-winged Hawks, then a Redtail, and finally a Redshoulder. Most of us wandered into the woods on the well-marked trails, listening to the summer songs of upland breeding birds like the Blue-headed Vireo and the Hermit Thrush. We enticed a few out for a closer view, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, as well as Blackburnian Warblers. The table was set and ready on our return, so we all sat down and enjoyed the feast and the good company. Those who lingered late got to hear Steve Svec strum his guitar and end the day with a few soft rock classics.
(Day 1) Six club members ventured to the Adirondacks for our biennial trip despite the threat of unsettled weather. Saturday was actually pleasant, not too hot and not wet at all. We were also hardly bothered by the usual bugs along the Moose River Plains Road or in Ferd’s Bog. The birding there offered us the usual woodland warblers, as well as an Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawk, 4 Winter Wrens, 5 Swainson’s Thrush, lots of White-throated Sparrows and some Purple Finches. At McCann’s Farm we had the unique spectacle of a large flock of Cedar Waxwings feeding in the grass. We arrived at Sandy Point Motel in time to clean up, have some pre-dinner cocktails, and look over our list. This motel offers affordable prices, fine location, and a spectacular view of Long Lake.
(Day 2) Sunday dawned with steady rain showers, so we ate a real breakfast at the Long Lake Diner and planned a visit to the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain. Then the rains let up and we changed our plans, heading over to Tupper Lake Marsh in a light drizzle. We did not see or hear the expected marsh birds, like Sora, Bittern and Rail, but it could have been because the water was very high. Instead we added Kingbird, Bobolink, and Snipe to our list. The rain continued to be light, so we headed on to Floodwood Road. Here we stopped when we heard a Blackpoll that did not reveal itself, but we did have nice looks at a Northern Parula. At the first pond we had lovely, long scope views of a family of Common Loons just where we had seen them in previous years.
We ventured further north and east to the Bigelow Road/Bloomingdale Bog area hoping for boreal species. At first only the Lincoln’s Sparrows were quite abundant. A local birder we met told us Gray Jays appeared for him “almost every day,” but we did not hear or see any. One of the group saved the day by spotting a Woodpecker in action on a tree trunk. She asked doubtfully, “is that a Hairy?” all eyes turned in the direction she was looking to see a Black-backed Woodpecker. We don’t see them every year, so this was a nice treat.
(Day 3) Monday brought more showers on and off. We stopped at Tupper Lake marsh again just in case the sought-after marsh birds were more vocal, but again missed them. We drove through Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, taking the River Road on our way to Keene Valley and adding a few more species along this route, including a huge mass of loafing Mallards and a Spotted Sandpiper. We stopped along the gorge next to Cascade Brook where we had heard a Mourning Warbler one year, and instead saw two Peregrine Falcons and two magnificent waterfalls. We checked out a few roads at higher elevations for a last attempt at our boreal species, but did not come up with any except a Gray Jay seen only by two lucky ones in the group.
Finally, we hit the grasslands near Fort Edward and finished off our trip with the addition of some lowland species, including Wood Duck, Green Heron, Kestrels, Meadowlarks, Marsh Wren, Carolina Wren, and Field Sparrow. Our final total of 99 species was on the low side, but not too shabby given the rain on Sunday and high water everywhere. It was an enjoyable trip with no sign of the escaped convicts that were being hunted not much farther north.
The trip through the Westover grasslands had to be pushed back to June 26 due to an elevated security level. Our normal walk location had too much other activity so we ended up going to a large field on the opposite end of Westover. When we arrived, there were Upland Sandpipers flying and calling all over and everyone enjoyed watching the show. We even had decent looks at Upland young in the grass. Further back along the same field we found more Uplands during a stay of about 45-60 minutes. We were then moved to the other end of the field where we have gone in the past. There we saw the rest of the target birds: Bobolink, Meadowlark (including young) and a few Grasshopper Sparrows. Still, the habitat we visited this year was not as varied, lacking any hedgerows, wet areas and large trees. That made the total number of species less than in previous years, though we did have a Kestrel, 2 Killdeers, 2 Great Blue Herons, and a Kingbird among the 20 species. The Upland Sandpipers provided better looks than on previous trips, and all 13 participants had a good time.
The Williams Woods had ten folks up for the long walk and all ten had a fine time, getting nice looks at almost all the 44 species. For the first time Ravens had nested nearby, and we saw and heard three of them many times during the morning. In the meadow and small ponds were 2 Kingbirds, a Great Blue Heron and 4 Swamp Sparrows. In the woods were 2 Red-breasted Nuthatch, a Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, 4 Creepers, 6 Blackburnian, 2 Yellowrumps, Black-throated Blue and Black-throated Green Warbler. Ovenbirds seemed to be everywhere and many were seen well. The long walk led to the back porch of Judy’s lovely farmhouse. Here, overlooking feeders where purple finches and hummingbirds dined, she served up a variety of home-cooked goodies and refreshments, a treat not to be missed. Two gentle yellow labs kept us company.
Six early morning risers met two more on Roaring Brook Road in Conway, all eager to begin exploring a new hill town area of western Massachusetts. An enormous open tract of meadows lay before us and over it many swallows flew and fed. A few of them were rare Cliff Swallows, and we found three active nests under the eaves of the huge barn complex. It took more than two hours to travel this one road through some beautiful countryside and we identified 56 different species. Hummingbirds perched on dead tree spires and a pair of Red-tailed Hawks sat side by side on a telephone pole. The sharp eyes of Al Richardson discovered a Yellow-billed Cuckoo perched at the edge of the forest.
We visited other roads in the Poland Brook Area and around Conway, finding a few Sapsuckers and two Pileated Woodpckers as well as ten species of warblers, including many Yellowthroats, Redstarts and Ovenbirds. Also noted were some Alder Flycatchers, two more Hummingbirds and a yellow-throated Vireo. The distant notes of a Barred Owl were heard as well. After a delightful lunch at Elmer’s Store in Ashfield we headed up Hawley Road to Bear Swamp Preserve and Watson Spruce Corner. Special birds here were singing Winter Wrens and Hermit Thrushes, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Magnolia, Prairie, Canada, and Blackburnian Warbler, Junco, White-throated Sparrow, and Purple Finch. Yet another Hummingbird bade us farewell from the top of its spire above a brushy hillside. Our species count was a whopping 79.
A stalwart six were unfazed by the sprinkles that lingered in the higher hills on the way to the Lee Exit of the Pike. Two more were added to the crew at the first stop in Lee where the hayfield was cut clean and covered with many dozens of blackbirds and starlings. Our early surprise was a pair of Meadowlarks that a pair of sharp eyes found among them. More stops here and at Breakneck added 3 Willow Flycatcher, 2 Yellow-throated Vireo, a Raven, a Gnatcatcher, 4 Swamp Sparrow, and Purple Finch, but unfortunately no American Bittern or Snipe. Going over a small brook in the center of town, someone noticed a family of Common Mergansers paddling in the shallows and heading for the larger brook, where they lingered for a longer view. The west barns just past the center of town had quite a few swallows, including one Cliff Swallow that came quite close. A short walk on the Appalachian Trail gave us a Kingfisher and Alder Flycatcher.
We turned back to Lee and headed east until turning off for the climb up to October Mountain State Forest. The usual first stop by the new beaver pond gave us two Great Blue Herons and a Purple Finch that gathered food on the gravel road almost at our feet, then rose to the trees to serenade us. Driving slowly with open windows and stopping often, we filled our ears and eyes with high country songbirds. We savored the looks and sounds of Black-throated Blue, Magnolia, Blackburnian, and Canada Warblers, as well as Hermit Thrush, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and 4 White-throated Sparrows. We drove all the way to the lookout, but few birds were now singing at this late hour in the morning.Most unfortunately, there was no Mourning Warbler seen or even heard. The Northern Waterthrush singing at the swamp on West Branch Road was little consolation. It was past noon when we returned to the valley and there was little interest in heading for the Post Farm Marsh in Lenox, so our species total was a modest 58.
There were 13 counters in 8 teams for the 12th year of counting birds in the Little River IBA Area. Saturday coverage faced clouds and a north wind with a shower in the morning. Sunday was clear and warm with a light south wind. The 66 hours of coverage was one below the 12-year average. The 110 species recorded was seven above the average. We gathered for the compilation at the home of Joanne Fortin for wine, pizza, and the telling of our birding tales. Highlights of the compilation, including rare or unusual species and high species counts:
Northwest Blandford: Kathy and Myles Conway, 70 species, 7.5 Hours - 4 Wood Duck, 4 Common Merganser, Double-crested Cormorant, Green Heron, Sora, Kingfisher, Willow Flycatcher, Carolina Wren (only one), 18 Black-and-White Warbler, 23 Chestnut-sided Warbler, 51 Catbird, 54 Yellow Warbler, 8 Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, 50 Baltimore Oriole
Russell & Northeast Blandford: Al and Lois Richardson, Bambi Kenney, 67 species, 9 Hours - 2 Wood Duck, Cooper’s Hawk, 3 Sora, Downy Woodpecker (only one), 2 Yellow-throated Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Rough-winged Swallow, 3 Red-breasted Nuthatch
West Blandford: Tom Swochak, 60 species, 11.25 Hours - Common Loon, Hairy Woodpecker, Raven, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatch, Winter Wren (only one), 2 Northern Waterthrush, Nashville Warbler, 6 Canada Warbler, 2 White-throated Sparrow
Northwest Granville: John Weeks, 61 Species, 10.5 Hours - 2 Wood Duck, 3 Hooded Merganser (+5 young), Green Heron, 2 Black-billed Cuckoo, 3 Barred Owl, Hairy Woodpecker, 2 Willow Flycatcher, 72 Red-eyed Vireo, 7 Hermit Thrush, 63 Ovenbird, 15 Blackburnian Warbler, 22 Black-throated Blue Warbler, 3 Canada Warbler, Junco
Eastern Granville: Doug James, 48 species, 5 Hours - 3 Warbling Vireo, 4 Prairie Warbler, Field Sparrow, 3 Savannah Sparrow
Northwest Southwick: Elethea Goodkin, Joanne Fortin, 55 Species, 7.5 Hours - Barred Owl, 2 Bluebird, Northern Waterthrush
North Granville: John Hutchison, 53 Species, 3.25 Hours - Snipe, Black-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Acadian Flycatcher, 16 Phoebe, 2 Yellow-throated Vireo, 25 Redstart, 9 Magnolia Warbler
Northeast Granville & Western Southwick: Janice Zepko, Seth Kellogg, 79 species, 12 Hours - Sharp-shinned Hawk, Barred Owl, Whip-poor-will, Willow Flycatcher, 8 Yellow-throated Vireo, 90 Red-eyed Vireo, Rough-winged Swallow, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatch, 46 Veery, 21 Wood Thrush, Mockingbird (only one), 64 Ovenbird, 5 Louisiana Waterthrush, Blue-winged Warbler, 24 Black-throated Blue Warbler, 9 Pine Warbler, 18 Towhee, 26 Tanager, 12 Baltimore Oriole, 2 Pine Siskin
Species counted in higher than normal numbers were Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Kingbird, Yellow-throated Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Wren, Catbird, Scarlet Tanager, and Baltimore Oriole. Significantly lower numbers were tallied for Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Wild Turkey, Turkey Vulture, Mourning Dove, Sapsucker, Hairy Woodpecker, Robin, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Canada Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Song Sparrow, Grackle, and Cowbird. Five usually found species entirely missed were American Bittern, Killdeer, Bank Swallow, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Gnatcatcher.
Uncommon or rare species found with # of years found out of 12: Common Merganser 8, Hooded Merganser 7, Common Loon 8, Cormorant 6, Sora 1, Bald Eagle 4, Sharp-shinned Hawk 5, Snipe 1, Rock Pigeon 5, Black-billed Cuckoo 7, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 6, Acadian Flycatcher 8, Marsh Wren 1, Mockingbird 8, Pine Siskin 4.
Timing and weather were the primary factors in nearly ruining this trip, but there were still plenty of highlights. The sea was a bit rough on the crossing and the fog hung not far away, but Guillemots, Eiders, Cormorants, and loons were still visible to the stalwart riders. We found the village empty of migrants except for the tame and spectacular Yellow-crowned Night-Heron that was waiting at the old ice pond. Along the trail out to the cliffs we stopped to see birds nesting in the forest, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Black-throated Green Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, and Yellow-rumped Warbler. Approaching the cliff, we were startled and fortunate to find an Olive-sided Flycatcher, posing at the spire tops of dead trees. The views from the top of the cliff were spectacular. Back in town, Sora called incessantly in the marsh and flocks of noisy waxwings were everywhere. Later in afternoon we walked to Lobster Cove, enjoying a Brown Thrasher along the way. Some super-scoping picked out two Cory’s Shearwater, three Great Shearwater, and two Sooty Shearwater for some of us, but everyone got to see the Common Loons, Eiders, and Guillemots as well as a Red-throated Loon. With the south wind and a prediction of rain, we hoped for a late-season fallout the next morning.
It was not to be. A Hummingbird and Indigo Bunting were the new early singers in town and Lobster Cove had nothing special. We decided to make it a go to Eastern Egg Rock for Puffins. It was a rough passage, but the target birds were numerous and close, in the water and on the cliffs. As we approached the island, Captain Al spotted our first good bird, an immature Gannet. As we circled the island he kept picking our target bird, as well as a few Arctic and Roseate Terns among the Common Terns and gulls. A small flock of Purple Sandpipers landed on the flat rock ledge exposed by the falling tide. Even the wild rock-and-roll ride back to the big island would not dim our fond memories of the Puffin Colony. The four new species brought our total to 44 for the entire trip. We celebrated that evening with eight huge lobsters that Captain Sherm had caught for us, though the shells needed the strong arm and smashing skills of John, our Shining Sails host. Breakfast was the first highlight the next morning as the rain moved in and the birds still did not show up. We took the early boat back to the mainland through waves raised by the whistling east wind. The second highlight was shopping and lunch at Patagonia and L. L. Bean. The rain did not stop until evening’s arrival in the Connecticut River Valley.
There were six participants on the Bird Club Tour of East Longmeadow, and we garnered 38 total species. Announcing themselves with plenty of noise were a Black-billed Cuckoo and a Pileated Woodpecker. A Ruby-throated Hummingbird tarried long enough to be seen and a Rough-winged Swallow went back and forth in search of flying insects. Always a delight was the voice of a Wood Peewee from the forest depths and the cries of an Indigo Bunting at the forest edge. Pine Warbler and Black-throated Green Warbler were the best of that family of woodland birds, while a brushy area boasted a Towhee and a bush among the tall grasses was the perch for a singing Field Sparrow.
The substitute leaders met seven other participants on the final walk of the spring season. Cool, breezy weather kept the bugs to a minimum, but left the birds clinging to the branches and hiding behind the leaves. It took some hard work to entice them out, but we managed 44 species on the loop from Bark Haul to West Road, then down Tina Lane back to Pondside. When casting our eyes to the sky, we spotted quite a few Chimney Swifts as well as an adult and 2 immature Bald Eagles. A Common Loon also flew overhead. A bit farther along, we came upon the young eagles perched on a dead snag along the trail. The haunting songs of several Veerys were a treat for many, as were good looks by all of an adult male Orchard Oriole. Two of the three Willow Flycatchers were also seen, thanks to Tim Carter. We watched a House Wren pop in and out of a hole and then bring twigs to another hole below the first. Other than a single Black-throated Green, the migrating warblers seemed to have moved on. However, the resident Yellow Warblers, Redstarts, and Yellowthroats loudly proclaimed their presence.
There were nine participants who climbed the road up the mountain and we located 22 species, including a pair of Worm-eating Warblers that everyone heard, and two managed a good look. We missed the Cerulean warblers that had been seen about an hour earlier, but we had a three vireo day, Yellow-throated and Blue-headed Vireo, in addition to the omnipresent Red-eyed Vireos. A migrating Swainson’s Thrush crossed our path and an Indigo Bunting added its song to the cries of a very vocal Raven.
There were 26 counters in 13 teams for the 53rd year of counting birds in the Springfield Area. The first evening the weather was partly cloudy and mild with a light northwest wind. It had switched to south by morning, bringing clouds, but the skies gradually cleared and it warmed to 75 degrees by afternoon. The 152 hours of coverage was close to the 155 average over 42 years, and above the 10-year average. The 137 species recorded was one more than the 10-year average and three less than the 42-year average. We gathered for the compilation and potluck supper at the home of Jim Barnes and John Hutchison.
Longmeadow Flats: Kathy and Myles Conway, 74 species, 7 Mute Swan, 16 Wood Duck, 6 Turkey, Black Vulture, 2 Greater Yellowlegs, 15 Red-bellied Woodpecker, 4 Willow Flycatcher, 33 Warbling Vireo, 110 Tree Swallow, Red-breasted Nuthatch, 51 Catbird, 54 Yellow Warbler, 8 Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, 50 Baltimore Oriole
East Longmeadow: George Kingston and Jean Delaney, 54 species, Cooper’s Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, 6 Woodcock
Forest Park, Turner Park, Bliss Park: Al and Lois Richardson, Bambi Kenney, Deborah Shea and Louis Harm, 73 species, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Barred Owl, Willow Flycatcher, 18 Swainson’s Thrush, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Orchard Oriole
Springfield: Janet Orcutt, 53 species, 6 Mute Swan, 3 Double-crested Cormorant, 7 Killdeer
Hampden: Donna Morrison, April Downey, Mary Felix, 67 species, Bluebird, 2 Savannah Sparrow, 12 Bobolink
Wilbraham: Howard and Marcy Schwartz, 64 species, Bluebird, Brown Thrasher
Ludlow: Bill and Carol Platenik, 66 Species, 2 Black Duck, 2 Common Loon, 16 Rough-winged Swallow, 2 Brown Thrasher, White-crowned Sparrow, 8 Bobolink, 33 Baltimore Oriole
Westover: Harvey Allen, Craig Allen, 69 species, 3 Upland Sandpiper, Woodcock, 22 Nighthawk, 5 Whip-poor-will, 2 Grasshopper Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Meadowlark
Chicopee: Tom Swochak, 72 species, 2 Greater Yellowlegs, 4 Solitary Sandpiper, 8 Least Sandpiper, 50 Chimney Swift, 100 Bank Swallow, 4 Swainson’s Thrush, 3 Northern Waterthrush, 5 Field Sparrow
Holyoke: Dave McLain, 108 Species, Common Merganser, Ruffed Grouse, Virginia Rail, 8 Solitary Sandpiper, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Screech Owl, Great Horned Owl, Whip-poor-will, Peregrine Falcon, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, 4 Fish Crow, Raven, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, 27 Wood Thrush, 5 Louisiana Waterthrush, 3 Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, 17 Pine Warbler, Lincoln’s Sparrow, 20 Scarlet Tanager, 42 Baltimore Oriole
West Springfield: Steve Svec, Hany Aziz, 87 species, 38 Wood Duck, 2 Ruffed Grouse, 2 Black Vulture, Red-shouldered Hawk, 3 Woodcock, 2 Screech Owl, Barred Owl, Nighthawk, 3 Red-breasted Nuthatch, Hermit Thrush, Parula, 4 Louisiana Waterthrush, 18 Pine Warbler, 5 Indigo Bunting, Orchard Oriole
Agawam Southeast: Janice Zepko, Seth Kellogg, 91 species, 2 Common Merganser, 11 Nighthawk, Barred Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Willow Flycatcher, 10 Blue-winged Warbler, 5 Field Sparrow, 5 Savannah Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, 20 Bobolink, Orchard Oriole
Agawam Robinson Park: Steve Perreault and Madeline Novak, 70 species, Sharp-shinned Hawk, 5 Swainson’s Thrush
Some normally found species with high numbers were Common Nighthawk 34, Least Flycatcher 14, Yellow-throated Vireo 18, Warbling Vireo 153, Brown Creeper 15, Veery 95, Swainson’s Thrush 35, Ovenbird 157, and Yellowthroat 165.
Those on the low side were Mallard 101, Flicker 34, Phoebe 38, Kingbird 23, Red-eyed Vireo 125, Blue Jay 140, Crow 81, Barn Swallow 66, Chickadee 108, Titmouse 85, Carolina Wren 6, Bluebird 2, Mockingbird 22, Thrasher 3, Parula 6, Magnolia 11, Blackpoll 6, Black-throated Blue 10, Yellow-rumped 16, Black-throated Green 23, Canada Warbler 6, Song Sparrow 171, House Finch 34, and Goldfinch 160.
Numbers of uncommon or rare species found with # of years found out of 45: 3 Grouse (43), 2 Common Loon (26), 3 Black Vulture (2), 2 Sharp-shinned Hawk (25), 4 Greater Yellowlegs (33), 3 Upland Sandpiper (34), 2 Herring Gull (38), 3 Great-Black-backed Gull (40), 8 Black-billed Cuckoo (40), 2 Yellow-billed Cuckoo (25), 3 Screech Owl 41, one Great Horned Owl (43), 3 Barred Owl (30), 2 Peregrine (27), one Olive-sided Flycatcher (21), one Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (22), 4 Fish Crow (27 - first in 1984), one Raven (23 - first in 1992), 4 Red-breasted Nuthatch (44), one Winter Wren (24), one Gray-cheeked Thrush (20), 2 Hermit Thrush (41), one Worm-eating Warbler (32), 3 Grasshopper Sparrow (34), one Lincoln’s Sparrow (21), one White-throated Sparrow (37), one Meadowlark (43), and 3 Orchard Oriole (37).
Uncommon species missed (with number of years found) were Black Duck (38), Broad-winged Hawk (39), Kestrel (38), Bay-breasted Warbler (36), Wilson’s Warbler (41), and Cape May Warbler (27).
A small, but persistent, group of five birders spent four hours surveying the trees and shrubbery, garnering 36 species. Barn and Tree Swallows pursued insects over our heads and a pair of noisy Kingbirds flew from tree to tree. Overhead we had a Great Blue Heron and a surprising Green Heron. Along with the numerous Robins, a total of eight Mockingbirds were testament to the fact that these southern birds are still around.
A lucky 13 was the number of evening walkers that found the wetlands and fields most fruitful for birds singing their daily farewells. Nest building was in process, and walkers witnessed the efforts of Red-winged Blackbirds, Warbling Vireos, and Baltimore Orioles. Green Heron and Great Blue Heron were found in the marshes. A Hummingbird zipped past, a Pileated Woodpecker made an appearance, and two Woodcock called and danced as dusk fell. Most pleasant were the voices of two Black-billed Cuckoos. Also among the 28 species were Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and a Great Crested Flycatcher.
It was cool and windy for today's walk with 12 participants and 39 species. We had good looks at a Magnolia Warbler and a pair of Solitary Sandpipers. A Yellow-throated Vireo and a pair of Bobolinks were our other notable birds. The Great Blue Herons seem to have taken reservations for dinner at Pondside, and the Tree Swallows were especially numerous near the boardwalk on the old Meadow Road.
This easy walk along trails and roads through woods rich with migrants and residents at the peak of the spring season always attracts a large following. This year 38 walkers came out to enjoy the 53rd annual Mother's Day stroll through the park. Halfway through the morning, Madeline Novak and Steve Perrault provided the group with the traditional snack break! We logged 63 species, including one obliging Barred Owl that provided everyone great, long views. Bird song was at its best, and some of the tanagers, orioles, thrushes and grosbeaks also provided great views. A big surprise was a migrating Sharp-shinned Hawk that flew through, giving a few of us a quick glimpse. Among the usual warblers were 3 Blackburnian Warblers and a Tennessee Warbler, one of the northern boreal nesters that have become quite scarce in the valley during migration time.
The day warmed, the clouds cleared and the wind was light - perfect conditions for a prime time walk through the forest for 12 participants. The birding began when a Ruffed Grouse flew in front of the leader’s car as he arrived at the meeting spot. At the rookery there were 16 Great Blue Herons counted. A Kingfisher called and circled and a Pileated Woodpecker and a Raven each announced itself. A Kingbird was at the pond, a Yellow-throated Vireo sang slowly in the woods and several Gnatcatchers were active. Along the brook two Louisiana Waterthrushes sang, but the only migrant warblers were 4 Parula and 3 Yellow-rumped. Early Ovenbirds, Redstarts, Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Baltimore Orioles were in residence. The total count was 48 species.
Twelve walkers showed up to enjoy the water birds and forest birds on this easy, casual stroll on the bike trail at water’s edge. The nesting pair of Common Loons made their presence known as expected, but the Red-necked Grebe was a big surprise, part of a fall out of this species in the valley this spring. Spotted Sandpiper, Least Flycatcher and Scarlet Tanager were some of the other species that offered their pleasant voices and good looks to all.
There were 20 participants on the final walk and 42 species were found. A Green Heron was added to a couple of Great Blue Herons and Double-crested Cormorants. Seven lovely Wood Ducks and a perky Solitary Sandpiper were a sight to see. A Great Crested and a Least Flycatcher made their presence loudly known. Most plentiful were Catbirds and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Other warblers were singing and/or seen, a Blue-winged, a Parula, two Magnolia, a Palm, a Northern Waterthrush, and 5 Yellowthroats. A couple of singing Baltimore Orioles were celebrating spring with strong, clear voices, and the luscious notes of two Rose-breasted Grosbeaks completed the morning.
Nine participants joined the leader for a ride and stop visit to Quabbin Park in Ware. Highlights were a Ruffed Grouse (drumming), Hooded Merganser, Common Loon, and a Bald Eagle on a low flyover. Warblers were 4 Black-and- white Warblers, Black-throated Blue, Palm, Overbird, and Yellow-rump. We saw four Pileated Woodpeckers, one very close, Raven, Red-shouldered hawk and Cooper's Hawk. There were two Gnatcatchers, 5 Purple Finches, and Rough-winged Swallows that swooped around the spillway, landing right in front of us for excellent views.
On this day our familiar group of 10 birders visited the tiny secluded floating swamp for which this area is named. Sunshine and seasonal sixties made it a perfect May Day for leisurely birding, and our usual species did not disappoint. There was a Pileated Woodpecker, abundant Towhees, and good views of the usually shy Swamp Sparrow, as well as Savannah and Field Sparrows. Also found were Bluebirds, Kingbird, Baltimore Oriole, Gnatcatcher, and Prairie Warbler. The Northern Waterthrush kept to the trees and called, as did the Great Crested Flycatcher. There were 38 species in all.
For the 18 participants on the first Stebbins walk of the season the ponds still held a few water birds. On this bright sunny morning there were 42 species, including a pair of late Ring-necked Ducks, a Green-winged Teal, and a shocking Great Egret. A Cooper's Hawk made its presence known and a conservative count of 12 Gnatcatchers entertained us everywhere. Also found were House Wren, a singing Wood Thrush, three Yellow Warblers and a Common Yellowthroat. Five Savannah Sparrows were noted and Swamp Sparrows were singing in every marsh with 12 as a very conservative count. After the group disbanded the leaders went back along loop to try for the American Bittern, but without luck. Instead we had Osprey and Warbling Vireo.
Ten people came out to join the leader for a walking tour at Ashley Ponds. Right from the start the Pine and Palm Warblers with many Yellowrumps were present. A Double-crested Cormorant was lurking in the northeast corner of the main pond and a Great Blue Heron and two Wood Ducks flew over. In the back pond there were many geese pairs, 4 Ring-necked Ducks, a few Mallards and one huge surprise, a pair of Northern Shovelers. Also found were Pileated Woodpecker, Tree Swallows, Red-breasted Nuthatch, many Ruby-crowned Kinglets, some Brown Creepers, a Towhee, and 2 Gnatcatchers. At the end we were serenaded by two Louisiana Waterthrushes that also offered great looks.
There were 13 participants gathered at the Meadowbrook School grounds for the spring dance of the Woodcocks. The birds started peent calling at dusk from their hidden launch points and they soon were in the air widely circling on loud fluttering wings. They climbed higher and higher in ever smaller circles until their sweet twittering voices could be heard at the apex of their flight. They shot down swiftly to earth and repeated the process until true dark descended. A total of ten different birds were counted in various places on the singing grounds.
After a hot, fancy breakfast at Sylvester's in Northampton, eleven people in four cars crossed over river to Hadley and checked below the bridge, finding no ice and no waterfowl at all. It was snowing lightly, so we went straight to Turners, where the snow abruptly stopped. There was still plenty of ice at Barton Cove, but there were 4 Bufflehead, six Ring-necked Ducks, six Hooded Mergansers, two Common Mergansers, and only three Mute Swans. The trees were picked clean of fruit in town but a feeder at the Rod and Gun had Pine Siskins among other land birds. A young Bald Eagle sat in a tree near the shore at the deserted club yard.
The power canal had only two close Mallards and 30 Ring-necked Duck far to the south. Then the snow started, so we returned to Hadley. Aqua Vita Road only had a few birds at Pete Yeskie's feeder and a flyover adult Bald Eagle. We took Moody Bridge Road to the Fort River Refuge but abandoned any idea to walk the trail. After the fields we spotted a few Cedar Waxwings eating fruits close to the road. Lois had told us about a nest site of a Great Horned Owl pair at the back of the meadow east of Maple Street, so we risked stopping and did manage to see the bird's head tufts. A large blackbird flock was off East Hadley Road behind the farm on Bay Road. The run through Honey Pot gave us 6 Green-winged Teal lounging at the back of a melt pool, but nothing else.
The trip began at Pynchon Point with four cars and nine people. Some land birds sang despite the hardened snow beneath our feet and light snow falling on our heads. A Wood Duck and Green-winged Teal were found at the mouth of the Westfield on the Ice free water with the Blacks and Mallards. The first Common Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers and Goldeneyes were also here. A flock of mostly Ring-billed Gulls dabbled close to shore, spooking for a minute when an immature Bald Eagle flew south. Our first of four Red-tailed Hawks perched in the trees on the farther shore. The north end of the bike trail had a Ring-necked Duck and the island end had 2 more, where we worked to find a Horned Grebe. There was nothing new in the water at Bondis, but 12 Turkeys foraged at the edge of the underpass. After a break we visited Longmeadow, where the west meadows had deep snow and no birds. The ponds were frozen except for the culvert where the action was frantic with feeding geese, Mallards, Blacks, and many sparrows. Another Wood Duck was there in the back along with the three resident Mute Swans. A short walk down Bark Haul brought us a few sparrows, a pair of Bluebirds and two low, circling Great Blue Herons. At the Pynchon Point parking lot the Peregrine was spotted by a pair of sharp eyes at the very top of the tall cell tower, the last of 41 species. Some of us had to leave, but the remnant walked down to the point again to add two Killdeers to an impressive 42 species.
Three cars and 10 people went to the Northampton bridge, where the Peregrines were perching and flying. Also there were 3 Pintail, 2 Hooded Mergansers, and Mallards. A brief run throughout the Honey Pot had distant flying Bald Eagles. Then we went west into hills and met a near blizzard of wind and flurries, spoiling all chance for the Shrike at Moran and Bohemian Waxwings on North Street. Lunch in downtown Northampton at a small Tibetan restaurant called Lhasa Café was excellent.
Two cars and 7 observers settled for a one-day trip to Gloucester when the overnight forecast threatened a storm for Sunday. The new snow held off, but the old stuff was piled high, the cold was deep and the south wind ferocious. The snow piles at Jodrey Pier gave us looks at about 70 Iceland Gulls and 2 Glaucous Gulls along with rafts of many Eider, some White-winged Scoters, a Surf Scoter, and a Common Loon. A lone Bald Eagle was a fly over.Brace Cove was more protected from the wind, though the snow banks were still enormous. There we had a Horned Grebe, a Black Scoter, a flying Sanderling, a few more Iceland Gulls and one Glaucous Gull. We also studied 2 Thick-billed Murres, one close and another a bit farther out. Two quick stops along Atlantic Avenue produced our first Great Cormorant and a poor look at a Black Guillemot. The snow was pushed up high at the Elk’s Club and we climbed on it to give us a clear scan of the Bass Rocks area. All three scoters were there plus regular ducks. The next stop was the narrow, snow-banked road through the houses opposite Salt Island, where we blocked the road for a few minutes to get a good view of the north end. Right away we spotted the male King Eider preening with a group of Common Eiders while six Purple Sandpipers were on a nearby ledge. We toasted the good birds with coffee and quiche, and then headed for Rockport.
The first stop was Whale Cove, where three Brant were swimming peacefully. Seven Great Cormorants were resting on a ledge and one of two Horned Grebes was close right below us. Our first Harlequins were here among a good variety of species, including some landbirds. We headed north into the village, where an American Wigeon was spotted from the cars among the Mallards at the Town Beach. A bit further along, there were more Surf and White-winged Scoters, Buffleheads, Red-br mergansers, and 3 Common Loons. The Granite Pier had huge snow piles and enormous boulders, making it hard to set up the scopes. We managed more of the same species, including a few Harlequins. Our last stop was Andrews Point, where two Razorbills passed together slowly in front of us not far out, diving for long periods, then resurfacing for a short period. A third one was seen by itself. We could only look from the end of the street that looked to the east, since a mountain of snow blocked the north parking area and lookout. As usual the Harlequin Ducks were numerous and a huge swarm of 200+ Purple Sandpipers was far out at the end of the jetty before they quickly disappeared behind it. We circled through Annisquam to the meeting spot and left early, but still got caught in moderate snow that slowed us from Worcester onward.
Three cars and 13 people gathered at the mall in West Springfield, where there was a shy Iceland Gull and a many other bolder gulls that ate french fries. Many Redtails were on the roadsides and in Hadley, where a Kestrel posed on a wire and was watched as it caught a rodent that it ate on a brush pile. Later, 14 Horned Lark flew in to land on a manure pile. The river had 5 Common Mergansers and some geese. We ended at Great Pond in Hatfield where 13 Black Ducks and one male Gadwall dabbled in a small open patch of water and cattails.
Three cars and eight people braved the cold on River Road in Agawam, finding 2-3 thousand geese packed on the ice and in open water close to west side of island and south of it. With help from eastern visitor Audrey Young, we eventually got decent looks at the 2 Barnacle Geese on the ice, then swimming in the water. A few Common Mergansers were among them. In the trees a Golden-cr Kinglet and Robin called. A flock of 10 Turkeys were at Bondis, and two Bald Eagles were perched along the river in West Springfield. After a break we drove to Hadley, where below the bridge we had two Goldeneye, 5 Common Merganser, and four flying Pintail. Aqua Vita had sparrows only, but Honeypot had a Harrier, a Merlin, Kestrel, Savannah Sparrows, a few Snow Buntings and Horned Larks.
Two cars with nine observers braved the cold and light snow. Siders Pond had no ice and few birds, only distant Pied-billed Grebes, a Lesser Scaup, Buffleheads, and Hooded Mergansers. On Main Street, six Turkeys were scrounging seed from a flower/tree box and a flock of Waxwings were in the trees above the Dunkin Donuts where we stopped. From the parking lot at Falmouth beach there were many Eiders, some Goldeneyes and a Loon. Flying shorebirds offshore were found to be four Turnstones and a Sanderling. We got closer them when they landed on one of the jetties. Many Scaup were scattered on the south end of Salt Pond and a massive pack of birds was at the north end. From the corner parking lot we found the Tufted Duck easily as it fed by itself not far out. Estimated Scaup total was 4,000 birds. Other birds were Kingfisher, Coot, Goldeneyes and Buffleheads. A young woman with a camera told us about some good birds at Maravista, so we headed there to find many Sanderlings and 4 Purple Sandpipers at the bridge jetty. We went west to see the reported Barrow’s Goldeneye in the distance nearer Great Pond. Also there were a flock of 30 Brant.We hurried north to Town Neck in Sandwich, where there were 400 Eiders plus Great Cormorant, several Common Loon, and both Black Scoter and WW Scoters.
On the mainland we first visited the north end of Great Herring Pond in Plymouth, finding the birds scattered, mostly Scaup with fewer Goldeneye and Bufflehead plus three Pied-billed Grebe, 4 Ring-necked Duck and a Kingfisher. In a close tree where a Kingfisher was and left, a Red-shouldered Hawk appeared. We went to Plymouth Beach, where Surf Scoter and White-winged Scoters, plus Eiders were numerous. A Red-throated Loon was also present as well as Common Loons, Buffleheads, Mergansers, and Goldeneye. The last stop was Jenny’s Pond, where the ice had closed off the upper end and Mallards were crowded below the bridge with 40 Gadwall and a male Wood Duck. A Great Blue Heron was huddled at the ice covered end. We quit early, but the snow started soon after we got on the pike.
There were 21 birders in the field in 9 teams, one team fewer than normal and the average number of observers for the 24- year history of the count. The day was cloudy and cool with light winds and no snow on the ground. Ponds were partly iced, rivers were flowing. The 64 hours was below average, as it has been the last six years. Joanne Fortin’s welcoming kitchen was our compilation site. We sat around the large table and nearly laughed ourselves silly with wild comments about the new report sheets, the odd adventures, and the unusual sightings.
Teams and Highlights
Southwick: Joanne Fortin, Elethea Goodkin, 26 species, a Bald Eagle, a Barred Owl, a Sapsucker, a Winter Wren
Blandford and Westfield: Kathy and Myles Conway, 35 species, a Mute Swan, 10 Black Duck, 14 Turkey, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Kingfisher, a Raven, 74 Blue Jay, 60 Chickadee, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, a Brown Creeper, a Red-winged Blackbird
Russell and Westfield: Tom Swochak, 38 species, 16 Black Duck, 4 Hooded Merganser, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Screech Owl, 2 Winter Wren, 10 Carolina Wren, a Hermit Thrush, a Catbird, 31 White-throated Sparrow
North Granby and Granville: John Weeks, Chris Chinni, S. Fowler, and B. Miller, 37 species, a Great Horned Owl, 2 Barred Owl, 11 Red-bellied Woodpecker, 3 Red-breasted Nuthatch, a Brown Creeper, a Winter Wren, a Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Hermit Thrush, a Yellowthroat, a Swamp Sparrow, 5 Red-winged Blackbird, a Cowbird
Southwick: Janice Zepko, Seth Kellogg, 41 species, 3 Mute Swan, 3 Pintail, 3 Lesser Scaup, 3 Goldeneye, a Ruddy Duck, 5 Hooded merganser, 5 Common Merganser, 9 Coot, 2 Kingfisher, 84 Junco
Westfield: Doug James, 29 species, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Barred Owl
Southwick and Westfied: Steve and Rachel Svec, Kyle Capistrant-Fossa, 39 species, 412 Canada Geese, a Gadwall, 2 Ring-necked Duck, 3 Hooded merganser, a Harrier, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Peregrine, 13 Carolina Wren, 3 Hermit Thrush
Westfield and Montgomery: Al and Lois Richardson, Michele Keene-Moore, 36 species, a Great Blue Heron, 2 Red-shouldered Hawk, a Kingfisher, 2 Raven, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, 33 Cedar Waxwing
Westfield: George Kingston, Jean Delaney, Janet Orcutt, 21 species, 126 Canada Geese, a Carolina Wren, a Mockingbird, 10 Cedar Waxwing and 30 Junco
The 67 species recorded was 3 above the 24-year average. Almost all common species showed significantly lower numbers, partly due to spotty coverage. We desperately need more dependable observers. The only species above average were Canada Goose 1310, Red-tailed Hawk 36, Hooded Merganser 12, Red-bellied Woodpecker 33, Pileated Woodpecker 12 (new high), Carolina Wren 44 (new high). Low numbers were the norm and even too numerous to list, but most shocking was the record low counts of Crow and only ONE Golden-crowned Kinglet. Even the House Finch has collapsed again. Missed entirely were Wood Duck, Ruffed Grouse, Kestrel, Horned Lark, Grackle, Purple Finch, Redpoll and Pine Siskin.
The uncommon and rare species were in good supply, mostly because of the warm, dry December weather, keeping the ground bare and Congamond Ponds unfrozen. New to the count was the Gadwall, bringing the all-time species total to 122. Other rare species (with # of years found out of 24): Pintail 6, Ring-necked Duck 5, Lesser Scaup 5, Goldeneye 5, Ruddy Duck 3, Harrier 3, Peregrine 4, and Yellowthroat 2. The more common species were Great Blue Heron 14, Bald Eagle 13, Red-shouldered Hawk 11, Coot 12, Sapsucker 10, Catbird 12, Swamp Sparrow 13, Red-winged Blackbird 12.
There were 34 birders in the field in 15 teams (two new) and two only at feeders, an improvement over recent years. The day was cold, but clear with no snow on the ground. Ponds were partly iced, rivers were flowing. The 121 hours was the most coverage since 2006, and 5 hours above the 1980-2014 average. The evening meal and compilation was graciously hosted by George Kingston and Jean Delaney. There were plenty of surprises to report and hurrahs to be handed out.
Teams and Highlights
Longmeadow Flats: Steve and Rachel Svec, Kyle Capistrant-Fossa, 41 species, 2500 Canada Geese, a Gadwall, a Bufflehead, a Screech Owl, 3 Kingfisher, 17 Downy Woodpecker, 6 Flicker, 2 Golden-crowned Kinglet, 5 Bluebird, 25 Red-winged Blackbird, and a Grackle
Upland Longmeadow: James Pfeifer, 32 species, a Harrier, 8 Red-bellied Woodpecker, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatch
East Longmeadow: George Kingston and Jean Delaney, Chris Volker, 30 species, 2 Cooper’s Hawk, 8 Red-tailed hawk, a Raven, 6 Bluebird
NE Enfield: Gerald Belanger, 22 species, 2 Great Horned Owl
Forest Park: Al and Lois Richardson, Deborah Shea and Louis Harm, 38 species, 4 Mute Swan, 201 Mallard, a Ring-necked Duck, a Bald Eagle, a Kingfisher, 2 Winter Wren, 5 Carolina Wren, 6 Golden-crowned Kinglet
Springfield: Janet Orcutt, Alan White, 29 Species, 7 Mute Swan, 17 Hooded Merganser, 485 Ring- billed Gull, 3 Great Black-backed Gull, 2 Peregrine
Hampden: April Downey, Donna Morrison, 22 species, 53 Chickadee, 23 White-breasted Nuthatch, a Bluebird, 26 White-throated Sparrow
Wilbraham: Tim Carter, Linda Leed, 28 species, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Kingfisher, a Kestrel, a Red-breasted Nuthatch
Ludlow: Bill and Carol Platenik, 28 Species, 2 Ring-necked Duck, 60 Common Merganser, 2 Bluebird
Chicopee: Tom Swochak, Kevin Mealey, 42 species, 2 Mute Swan, an American Wigeon, 45 Black Duck, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Coot, a Screech Owl, 3 Kingfisher, a Fish Crow, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, 5 Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Catbird, 22 Tree Sparrow, 42 House Finch
Holyoke Ashley Ponds: Tom Gagnon, Blaise and Linda Bisaillon, Deborah Oeky, 36 species, a Bald Eagle, 2 Great Black-backed Gull, 2 Great Horned Owl, 7 Bluebird, a Hermit Thrush, 15 Pine Siskin
Holyoke Center: Bob Bieda, 32 species, 7 Mute Swan, a Bald Eagle, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Sapsucker, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet
West Springfield: Kathy and Myles Conway, 34 species, a Common Loon, a Bald Eagle, a Red-shouldered Hawk, 5 Flicker, 50 Blue Jay, 21 Titmouse, a Golden-crowned Kinglet, 145 Robin, 260 Junco, 30 Cardinal
Agawam Southeast: Janice Zepko, Seth Kellogg, 44 species,a Bufflehead, 100 Goldeneye, a Barrow’s Goldeneye, a Common Loon, 2 Bald Eagle, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Cooper’s Hawk, 100 Herring Gull, a Glaucous Gull, 2 Screech Owl, a Kestrel, 2 Golden-crowned Kinglet, 25 Song Sparrow, 2 White-crowned Sparrow
Agawam Robinson Park: Steve Perreault and Madeline Novak, Bambi Kenney, 30 species, 2 Golden- crowned Kinglet, 2 Bluebird
The 71 species recorded was 4 above the 1980-2014 average. Some normally seen species in good numbers were Canada Goose 4726, Mute Swan 25, Goldeneye 163, Hooded Merganser 53, Common Merganser 151, Great Blue Heron 7, Bald Eagle 9 (since 1998), Red-tailed Hawk 57, Cooper’s Hawk 8, Red-bellied Woodpecker 67, Flicker 23, White-breasted Nuthatch 169, Carolina Wren 35, Bluebird 23, Robin 510, and Junco 1145.
Those on the low side were Herring Gull 190, Great Black-backed Gull 6, Rock Dove 804, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, Screech Owl 4, Blue Jay 298, Crow 1620, Chickadee 423, Titmouse 172, Golden-crowned Kinglet 18, Brown Creeper 11, Mockingbird 28, Tree Sparrow 111, Song Sparrow 92, House Finch 99, and Goldfinch 197. Almost all of these have been trending low for 5-10 years, a few longer than that.
Uncommon or rare in small numbers were the following species (with # of years found out of 34): Gadwall 14, American Wigeon 5, Ring-necked Duck 11, Bufflehead 4, Barrow’s Goldeneye 3, Common Loon 5, Harrier 12, Red-shouldered Hawk 16, Glaucous Gull 10, Coot 6, Screech Owl 32, Great Horned Owl 31, Sapsucker 14 (every year in last 8), Kestrel 11, Peregrine 14, Fish Crow 16, Raven 11 (first in 1997), Winter Wren 32, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 20, Hermit Thrush 29, Catbird 16, Red-winged Blackbird 25, Grackle 22, and Pine Siskin 16.
Missed in this category (with years found) were Snow Goose 12, Wood Duck 21, Pintail 13, Grouse 22 (none in last 8 years), Goshawk 14, Iceland Gull 20, Merlin 24. The most amazing was Cedar Waxwing, which makes it missed only twice in 34 years, with the other miss only two years ago in 2012.
The trip again had six people in two cars. The weather turned cloudy when we got there and a brisk northwest wind blew all day. Going over the Bourne Bridge we noticed a huge raft of birds. When we detoured and worked our way down to the bike trail we found 1500 Common Eider close to the west bank. At our usual starting point Siders Pond held only 130 distant scaup, a few Bufflehead, 2 Pied-billed Grebes, and one Great Blue Heron. Salt Pond had groups of scaups that came together in a large raft of 2000 mostly Greater Scaup near us on the northern bank. About 50 were Lesser Scaup and, as we tried to get a count, I noticed a bird with a tuft. With careful searching we were thrilled to all get long looks at this rare Tufted Duck that we called in to Grinleys. Many observers subsequently saw it until the pond froze. Also in the pond were 20 Goldeneye, 30 Bufflehead, 40 Red-breasted Merganser, and a Black Scoter. Along the edges were a Kingfisher and Flicker.
We drove north, then east past Crane WMA to Ashumet Pond, where there were a few Goldeneye and Bufflehead, a Common Loon and a Bald Eagle. We got to Mashpee Pond, but the only lookout was at the south end where the wind and waves were rough. There were two more flying Bald Eagles, a Great Blue Heron, Dc Cormorant and a few Goldeneyes and Buffleheads. The reported Eared Grebe was not found. We fought traffic on Rte 28, stopped for a quick break, and got to Marston’s Mill Pond to be greeted there by close looks at Pintail, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Pied-billed Grebe, and Hooded Merganser. One odd diving duck had the shape of a Ringneck, but a brownish head and patchy grey and white body. Town Neck Road was windy and the tide was high, so there were only the diving Common Eiders, 8 Common Loon, a Red-throated Loon, Horned Grebe, 30 Black Scoters, 12 Surf Scoters, and a flying Sanderling.
The sun broke out when we got to Great Herring Pond, where little was on the rough water of the south end. We stopped at the end of Eagle Hill Road and the lady came out to invite us onto their lawn for better views to the north. From there we saw groups of Goldeneye, some Coot, Bufflehead, Hooded Mergansers and scaup. I heard Fish Crows calling steadily and supposed a few were on the western shore until we looked overhead and saw a massive flight of them streaming and kettling south right above us. We missed many, but in 10-15 minutes we counted 700 going over and continued to hear them when we got to north end. I had never even heard of such a thing. Was it migration or going to roost? At north end we had calm water and good numbers of all the previous species, plus a large count of 190 Coot. Then it was north to Plymouth Beach where we saw lots of Surf Scoters some White-winged Scoters, and three Oldsquaw. The last stop was at the Nelson Park area, where we had nine Brant grazing on the lawn and some Surf Scoters in the harbor. The setting sun lit up the sand dunes opposite us with a gorgeous glow.
There were only two cars and six observers. We started at Gloucester, where the air was cold, seas were calm, tide was low and the birds easy to see. The harbor area near the statues had 4 Surf Scoter, 3 Red-throated Loon, plus the first of many Buffleheads and Eiders. There were only regular gulls, Eiders, and Red-breasted Mergansers at Jodrey Pier, with no Peregrine on the towers. There were dozens of pigeons showing their beautifully colored plumages while strutting about the parking lot.
Eastern Point was better with 7 Gadwall feeding among the rocks and mud, gorgeous in the bright sun. A flock of restless Horned Larks were almost at our feet in the tall grasses lining the beach, and with them were three Lapland Longspurs. From the ledges at the base of the jetty we saw our first two Guillemots, and 10 Sanderlings flew past. On the way out, Niles Pond had 14 Greater Scaup and 2 Lesser Scaup, 2 Ruddy Duck, 5 Coot, and two Ring-necked Duck. We stopped along Atlantic Ave for short looks and a longer look from the Elks Club. The stops gave us good views of Surf Scoter, 40 White-winged Scoter, 12 Red-throated Loon, a Red-necked Grebe, and one Black Guillemot, plus 25 Purple Sandpiper flying past.
After lunch at Stop & Shop we drove through Rockport to Andrews Point and Cathedral Ledge. At the point a flock of 120 Black Scoter, 20 Gannet, and a Pomarine Jaeger flew by, while on the water there were 20 Harlequin Duck, 4 Surf Scoter, 6 White-winged Scoter, 14 Red-throated Loon, and 2 Black Guillemot. A large alcid toyed with us for quite a while before it came close enough to determine it was a Thick-billed Murre. We drove past the impressive homes to Folly Point, where we had more Murres, a Razorbill, 2 Red-throated Loon, 2 Red-necked Grebe, and 2 Gannet. Farther south the Field Station gave us 12 Red-necked Grebe, 2 Red-throated Loon, a Long-tailed Duck, and a large mixed flock of all three scoters, mostly White-winged. Five Turkeys were grazing the lawn in a yard on shore, and one was on a fence picking fruit. We ran out of time and headed home, skipping the planned visit to Plum Island.
On our second trip here this fall we had 5 cars and 19 people with snow on the ground in the high Berkshires. In the Housatonic Valley, the weather was clear, dry, and sunny all day with only a light wind. Laurel Lake in Lee had only geese and a few Mallards, but Stockbridge Bowl had 5 Wigeon, a male Goldeneye and some Hooded Mergansers. At Richmond Pond there were 88 Coot close to us in the southwest cove. Much farther out were 55 Ruddy Ducks among the many Ring-billed Gulls scattered everywhere and evenly. A perched Bald Eagle was spotted in a distant tree toward the public beach and two of us caught sight of a single Wood Duck in the brook behind the gate leading to the beach. At Mud Pond the Ring- necked Duck count was a modest 650 birds, with one Common Merganser and another Bald Eagle soaring overhead.
After a rest stop at McDonald’s we went to Burbank Park on the east side of Onota. Looking from the fish pier, there was nothing to our south, but a good amount of distant activity was on the far side to our north. The closer pavilion gave us better looks at quite a few Hooded Mergansers, 4 Horned Grebe, a Red-necked Grebe, two Pied-billed Grebes, a Common Loon and a Double-crested Cormorant. Overhead, a Sharp- shinned Hawk circled among a flock of Starlings. At the causeway there were a dozen each of Green-winged Teal and Hooded Mergansers working the edge of the reeds, and everyone got on 2 Rusty Blackbirds feeding on the mudflat and some fallen logs. Next was Pontoosuc, where some Green-winged Teal were feeding in the mudflats on the causeway side. The light was terrible at Bull Hill Cove, but from the lookout at Matt Reilly’s pub, the viewing was much better, with flocks of both mergansers plus 6 Gadwall, a Red-throated Loon, 3 Bufflehead, several Goldeneye, and a dozen Coot. Noreen’s house was close, and she kindly invited us down to sample her feeder birds, notably two Fox Sparrows.
(Day 1) We met at Sandbar State Park about 10 AM, finding over a 135 Green-winged Teal dabbling in the middle of the northern pond along with 7 Wigeon, some Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers, and a Great Blue Heron. The southern pond was filled to the brim with 2300 Ring-necked Ducks shimmering under a half light from the east. The flock was broader and denser than any we had ever seen, and several hundred had flown off before the careful counting, likely bringing the total to nearly three thousand. A Kingfisher was heard here as well. Farther along in the marsh behind the big parking lot there were Red-winged Blackbirds and a Tree Sparrow. The water there was very choppy with whitecaps everywhere, the norm all weekend where areas were open to the north.
The route through South Hero brought us to vantage points where there were 3 White-winged Scoters and a flock of 30 Common Mergansers along with Common Loons and Horned Grebes. Then it was north to the ferry crossing where only a few gulls and Mallards hung out with a Pied-billed Grebe. North Hero had our luncheon spot at the store, and then on the east shore more Common Loons and Horned Grebes as well as a Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, and the first few Bonaparte’s Gulls.
Isle La Motte offered another west shore drive where from the Shrine there was a raft of birds far off at Fiske Point. The road took us close to the raft of 60 Red-breasted Mergansers, 7 Goldeneye, and 6 Common Mergansers. A Greater Yellowlegs flew by along the beach below us and also in view were more Common Loons and Horned Grebes, plus 3 Double-crested Cormorants. Farther out, several tight flocks of feeding Bonaparte’s Gulls put on quite a show. There still were no raptors around.
Next was the West Shore Road in Alburgh, where another close flock of birds were settled in. This group contained 33 Greater Scaup, all apparently females, and with them were 3 Lesser Scaup, two males and a female. Loons, grebes, and gulls were again found on this road and at subsequent spots. Mud Creek had no birds of any kind this time, nor was there much north of the bridge. We turned south on Lakewood to Robitaille Road and drove to the west side of Maquam Bay. Few birds were here and a duck hunter was present, but the marsh edge to the north held 9 Pintails while straight out there were a mere 2 Bufflehead and 2 Goldeneyes. The last stop was on the east side of Maquam Bay, where a flock of about 90 Double-crested Cormorants awaited, along with the final Common Loon and Horned Grebes for the day. The trip south to Shelburne was through showers, but led to a safe landing at the Days Inn. Dinner was at the Bearded Frog, a new spot that served excellent fare.
(Day 2) The time had changed and the wind was stronger, so we delayed our departure. Shelburne Beach had some hunters close by, cutting the visit short. Charlotte beach had a large, rocky, sandbar, where a flock of 30 Snow Buntings fed and flew back and forth below us, stopping for brief feeding sessions. At the ferry cove there were 12 Bufflehead, 7 Hooded Merganser, and one Goldeneye. Farther along, there was a flock of at least 60 Pipits in a field beside the road. Otherwise the countryside was almost empty of land birds and raptors. We had to be content with big flocks of crows, a Redtail, a Vulture and 5 Bluebirds.
Finally our path came to Addison on Rte 22, affording a higher approach and view of the Dead Creek area. In the distance was a swath of bright white in the green fields. The first turnoff offered the best view of 2000+ Snow Geese lowering their heads to feed and raising them high for a look around. They were distant, but clear in the scopes. The pools at the west end of the area were mostly empty, but a group of Mallards were accompanied by a Wood Duck, an American Wigeon, and 4 Green-winged Teal plus a Great Blue Heron farther south. Under the bridge to New York the southeast cove was calm enough to attract 4 Hooded Mergansers, 4 Lesser Scaup, a Common Loon, and Horned Grebe, plus the final flock of Canada Geese. The winds finally put an early end to the trip, giving us an arrival home well before the light faded. The 51 species was very low, but highlights were many and memorable.
It was a cool and breezy day with 6 participants out for 4 hours. The highlight was the flocks of Pine Siskins - 4 or 5 groups totally 259 birds. One group perched low in the trees in front of us after bathing in a stream and preening. Two Horned Grebes were also close and easy to study. Our super-scoper continued to find groups of loons (14 in total) and felt he could have found a "100" if we had just let him scope longer. The Sparrows were few - only one White-throated, 3 Song and 7 Juncos. We had two Golden-crowned Kinglets and two Red-breasted Nuthatches but they were hard to see. The dominant bird was the Blue Jay. They were very vocal and seemed to think they were the Quabbin police as they continued to cruise all around. We had no Ravens but 72 Crows was a record for this walk (usually only 4 or 5). We ended up with 22 species.
On the first visit to the lakes this fall, there were 11 members, with cloudy weather at first, then clearing with a brisk wind from the northwest. We assembled late at Cheshire to find the Berkshire folks had already found a Great Blue Heron close in the reeds. Out farther near the western point there was a Pied-billed Grebe. To get a better look at three Ruddy Ducks, we moved to the weigh station and walked a short way through the woods to the bike trail. Nobodys Road had only hunters and decoys. The Lanesboro Springs had 6 Wood Ducks. We moved on to Pontoosuc, starting at the Rte 7 lookout. We hit a jackpot with three American Wigeon feeding straight out while a Gadwall hung around not far away. We saw five Red-necked Grebe toward the south end along with a Red-throated Loon. A distant flock of 30 Common Mergansers were near the small island and 10 more were along the far shore. Near us at the north end a male Greater Scaup swam and dove with two Ring-necked Ducks. At Bull Hill causeway sharp eyes picked out a single relaxing Green-winged Teal and a White-crowned Sparrow lurked in the brush.
The water level was high at Onota Lake, so it took time for even two birds to come out of hiding at the north causeway, a Hooded Merganser and a Wood Duck. At the south end it was similar; a single Pied-billed Grebe on the water and a Bald Eagle perched in an evergreen across the way. After a rest stop we visited a new place next to the airport called Wild Acres, a mostly open area of grasslands with a pond and a grove of trees. There we found a late Phoebe, Bluebirds, White-crowned Sparrow, 3 Hermit Thrush, Yellowrump, and four Palm Warblers among the common sparrows. Overhead was a circling Osprey. The walk to Mud Pond ended in difficult viewing due to the glare of a bright sun and some tall reeds.Despite this, we made a careful count of 900 Ring- necked Ducks. The last stop was Richmond Pond, where 33 Coot fed in the cove close to the road. Many Ring-billed Gulls were scattered on the water and a flock of about 35 Ruddy Ducks flew back and forth far out over the water before finally landing in a long, stretched-out string. Cider donuts and other goodies were the last treat of the day.
The morning sun lit up the fall colors on the far shore and the Canada Geese were in big numbers, but we were even more thrilled to watch 7 Black Scoters circle the main pond and land in the center, then slowly swim quite close. Also found in the small ponds were a Ring-necked Duck, 30 Wood Duck, 5 Pied-billed Grebe, 2 Great Blue Heron, and an Osprey. The pine woods held Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.
On a cloudy, drizzly day, 11 people still made the walk along the Ludlow Reservoir bike trail. An Osprey took a fish right in front of us and the Common Loon was in residence. Three Wood Ducks were also in view, but land birds were few, with only a Red-breasted Nuthatch notable. There were barely more species (14) than walkers.
Dabbling ducks were plentiful at the Salt Pannes and the Bill Forward Pool. Highlights were 6 Gadwall, 10 Wigeon, 3 Blue- winged Teal, 1 Shoveler, 40 Pintail, 2 Green-winged Teal. The east winds and surf were rough, so only one Black Scoter and 2 Gannet were seen on the ocean. Great and Snowy Egrets were spread widely throughout the marshes with some in resting groups. Raptors were only two playing Peregrines and one Harrier. Shorebirds were surpassingly many, especially just before the refuge entrance gate. There were lots of plovers, yellowlegs, and dunlins, fewer Semi Sandpipers and Dowitchers. From the blind we did pick out 5 White-rumped Sandpipers and a Pectoral Sandpiper. A few Least Terns were around. Special land birds found at the Pines trail were a Red-breasted Nuthatch, 4 Golden-crowned Kinglets and a Creeper. Elsewhere we found a Marsh Wren, a Thrasher, some Waxwings, and a few regular sparrows.
(Day 1) The first day of the New Jersey trip was hazy and cool with a light NE breeze. A six-car crew met in the parking lot of Brigantine about 10:30. We first searched in vain for a reported Western Kingbird at the boardwalk, where we did find an entertaining Marsh Wren. A Parula and Philadelphia Vireo were spotted in low trees on the path. At the tower Myles and Chris had the Western Kingbird between the road and pond, but the rest of us missed it. Otherwise, not much was there except 10 Wood Ducks.
It was high tide as we started on the dike road, so the Forester’s Terns were mostly roosting, though many began feeding as the tide fell. Not far along a Clapper Rail appeared briefly at the edge of the marsh. There were a few Great Blue Herons and immature Little Blue Herons, plus many Great and Snow Egrets scattered in the inner and outer marshlands. Several Night-Herons were in the taller bushes as usual, but only a single Yellow-crown Night-Heron. An Osprey, Harrier, Bald Eagle and Sharpshin were added to the list. Two Peregrines perched on the low tower and also were cruising around. Shorebirds were few except for a flock of birds at the southern outlet that roosted very close on the rip-rap there. They were mostly Semipalmated Sandpipers, but we picked out a few White-rumped Sandpipers, a Dunlin, and a Western Sandpiper. Along the ocean leg a few Caspian and 12 Royal Terns, as well as some Greater Yellowlegs, and Ruddy Turnstones were roosting at the usual places. On the north leg Forester’s Tern’s and gulls were roosting and feeding, and at the curve a single Black Skimmer rested on the ocean side while a Sora was lurking at the edge of the reeds inside the dike. A few Boat-tailed Grackles and a Seaside Sparrow were hanging around along the drive.
A four person Hoffmann group that had come a day earlier and had birded Cape May that day joined us for snacks, drinks and the species compilation, which came to a total of 76 for both groups. These four ate at the old church and were unhappy with the noise. Our group ate at Bela Vita and was unhappy with the service, though the food was good and the semi-private room was nice.
(Day 2) The next morning we were all up early at 6:30 for a quick breakfast at Wawa’s, then on to Higbee, where the wind was calm and watchers plentiful. Only a few Red-eyed Vireos were at the dike, so we walked the usual meadow route, breaking into two groups. Flying overhead were quite a few Flickers, a few Sharpshins, and one Cooper’s Hawk. Between the two groups the notable birds found were Black-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Alder Flycatcher, 2 White-eyed Vireo, 2 Thrasher, and 8 warbler species, including Tennessee, Nashville, Blackpoll, and Canada Warbler. A big surprise was a Vesper Sparrow that popped up and gave a good look.
We moved on to the Point, where an American Wigeon, some Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, and a Pied-billed Grebe were in the platform and boardwalk ponds. Hawks were few, but going past low, including, Osprey, Harrier, accipiters, and all three falcons. Also spotted in the boardwalk ponds were a Solitary Sandpiper and a Wilson’s Snipe. Along the boardwalk we had another Philadelphia Vireo, 3 Prairie and a Wilson’s Warbler. On the beach there was a flyby Oystercatcher and some Sanderlings, plus a distant Parasitic Jaeger. We stopped briefly at the CMBO store, but it was crowded.
We headed north to Stone Harbor and the Wetlands Institute, which turned out to be a wise decision. During a picnic, we had good views of many Willets and Gr Yellowlegs roosting at high tide, along with a few Dowitchers, two Black-bellied Plovers, and a Lesser Yellowlegs. With them were two Black-crowned Night-Herons and quite a few Yellow-crowned Night Herons feeding in the open and perched on the boardwalk. We also had Tri-colored Herons, a Little Blue Heron, and a few egrets. On the way back from the dock a Pectoral Sandpiper posed for us. We headed south to Nummy’s Island, but the tide was still too high for many shorebirds. We only had 3 distant Oystercatchers and a Royal Tern. Got back a bit early, had compilation (96 species for the day) and snacks, and then went to Rio Grande for ribs outdoors.
(Day 3) We checked the beach getting a flyby Parasitic Jaeger plus just a handful of Black Skimmers rather than the hundreds Ed Lewis had on his run the evening before. We considered going to Delaware Bay, but instead headed right back to Brigantine for another dike tour. This time we started at low tide and had looks at some Clapper Rails. An American Bittern flew away to deeper cover and hundreds of Tree Swallows were perched on reeds and then in flight. Unlike other years, there were only a few Pintails and few other migrant dabblers. We got decent looks at both Saltmarsh and Seaside Sparrows. Along the route there were several flocks of Boat- tailed Grackles and many Savannah Sparrows. Caspian Terns were with many Black-bellied Plovers and some Dunlin on the north side of sandbar. The final weekend tally was 130 species.
The trip had 9 people in 3 cars. At the first stop in Fair Haven there were nests on the phone poles but no Parakeets. We did see a few Common Terns feeding with gulls and heard a calling Fish Crow. We walked out to Sandy Point and found 20 Sanderling, 4 Black- bellied Plover, many Cormorants, and a surprising out of season Horned Grebe very close. The winds were strong from the south so we skipped Lighthouse on the way to the Audubon Shop in Madison where Bambi bought a Vortex field scope. We drove out to Meig’s Point in Hammonassett for Great Egrets, one Snowy Egret, and 2 female Harrier, but the real surprise was finding two Little Blue Herons, an adult and an immaturefeeding actively and close in the pool. A Greater Yellowlegs fed close in the big marsh, where a very tame Red-tailed Hawk was hunting. It perched on the low posts within a few feet of us. Other birds there were a Spotted Sandpiper and Laughing Gulls. A Wilson’s Warbler, and a Traill’s Flycatcher perched at the edge of the marsh.
Birds were very quiet for the eight walkers in Stebbins on a cool day with ground mist. The ponds had five Blue Winged Teal and a Great Egret as prize species. They also were full of Wood Ducks (45). Three Great Blue Herons, a Cormorant, 3 Kingfishers, and an Osprey rounded out the water birds. Land birds featured three Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, a Bluebird, and an Indigo Bunting among 35 total species.
The club picnic scheduled for Saturday had been moved to Sunday due to threatening weather. However, Saturday turned out mostly high overcast with small areas of blue sky and a bit of sun from 10:30 - 2:30 for the few observers. The winds were light northeast at first, then dropping to almost calm. Hawks were not moving until a little after 11 AM, and then an almost continuous stream of Broad-wings passed through, mostly to the east of the site. Six kettles of 100 or more (up to 325) birds each kettle were seen, along with numerous smaller groups. The official tally is likely an undercount, as many of the hawks moved at the limit of observation towards the east. The flight ceased as abruptly as it began around 1 PM, when the wind died away. To our collective astonishment, not a single Sharp-shinned Hawk was flying. Non-raptors were Canada Geese (18), Great Blue Heron, Ruffed Grouse (4 or 5), Philadelphia Vireos (2), Red-eyed Vireo, Tree Swallows (100+). Warblers were Black-and-white (m + f), American Redstart, Magnolia, Black- throated Blue (3), Yellow-rumped, and Prairie. Also seen were 4 Osprey, 3 Bald Eagle, 5 Harrier, Cooper’s Hawk, 2 Kestrel, but not a single Sharp-shinned Hawk. On Sunday during the picnic many eyes were available to see the flight continue with most of the action (940 Broadwings) occurring before noon; only about 200 more Broad-wings passed through during the afternoon. Other totals were 3 Osprey, 5 Bald Eagles, 4 Harriers, and a Cooper’s Hawk. Non-raptors were Great Blue Heron, Eastern Phoebe, Gray Catbird, Common Yellowthroat (f), and Nashville Warbler.
It was a night to prowl for owls, but the local constabulary rousted the gathered group of listeners for general prowling at the traditional town road to the transfer station where it crosses Great Brook. Before this rude bit of harassment, a distant Screech Owl was heard to call. A longer visit to the safer haven of Munn Brook gave the crew calling Great Horned and Barred Owls.
It was a mild, cloudy morning on the Longmeadow flats for the walk led by Al and Lois, with Bob Staron, Donna Morrison and Carol Shumway. Along Pondside there was a single Blue-winged Teal and a Green-winged Teal with the geese and Wood Ducks as well as the resident Mute Swan family of three. There were four Great Blues and five Green Herons at various places and one Great Egret. Raptors were good, with two Bald Eagles and single of Cooper’s Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk. A pleasant surprise was a low-sailing Harrier. Land birds were scarce with no warblers. Highlights were a Wood Pewee and Great Crested Flycatcher.
It was a warm, muggy day with late showers for the trip to Plum with 20 people and six cars. East of the airport there were tons of shorebirds feeding on a large mowed hay field. We had good looks at 12 Golden Plovers, 3 Buff-breasted Sandpipers, many Lesser Yellowlegs and Least Sandpipers, and a low, hunting Harrier. We drove to the Refuge and continued straight to Bill Forward Pool, where the light was poor from the dike and better from the blind. Shorebirds were abundant, mostly Semipalmated Plovers and Least and Semi Sandpipers plus 15 White-rumped Sandpipers, some Dowitchers, numbers of both Yellowlegs, 2 Stilt Sandpipers, a Dunlin, a Knot, 1-2 Baird’s Sandpipers, 1-2 Western Sandpipers, a Long-billed Dowitcher, and a few Black-bellied Plovers. We stopped at Stage Island, but there were far fewer birds and nothing new. Along the way we noted plenty of Cormorants and Great Egrets along with some Snowy Egrets and Great Blue Herons. Sandy Point had a Piping Plover, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Eiders. We drove straight out and got to Joppa Flats in good time at low tide. There were many Greater Yellowlegs, fewer Lesser Yellowlegs, a Forster’s Tern, and a Wilson’s Phalarope that was pointed out by another birder. We did not check Hellcat so had few land birds. We headed back under threat of bad weather and there were heavy rains and lightning along the highway until well past Lowell.