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in person in the Tolman Wing of the Springfield Science Museum
Five members turned out for the annual trip to the lakes. Although the waterfowl were not too numerous, we did end up with 41 total species. The weather was pleasant, but on the cool side. In addition to numerous geese and mallards, we saw quite a large number of both Common and Hooded Mergansers. Two species of grebes were spot-ted - a distant, hard-to-id Pied-billed at Cheshire and later, from the fishing pier on Ono-ta, a Horned. The pier also gave us our only Long-tailed Duck. A Wigeon and two Pin-tails were seen at Cheshire, Green-winged Teal at Pontoosuc, and a pair of Wood Duck at Onota causeway. Loons delighted us more than once - first a distant Red-throated from the Bull Hill stop on Pontoosuc and then from Narragansett, 3 more Red-throated and 3 Common. Richmond Pond did not disappoint. There we had two Less-er Scaup (which were close enough to study well), three Bufflehead, and 18 Ruddy Duck, in addition to two flyover Red-tailed Hawks, and two Ravens. A Bald Eagle was seen by some, and a Merlin gave a brief but good view to one attentive participant. Other land birds of note included a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, only one Cedar Waxwing, and a Pileated seen by the leaders after we departed our last stop at Bartlett’s Orchard. See complete species list below.
Plum Island gave our group of nine members a full day of birding. The temps were in the low 70’s with winds from the east 10-15 mph, some sun early on, but clouds increased to total overcast by late afternoon.
Our first thought was to head straight down to the end of the island, because we were shut out of the parking there by beach goers last summer. On the way, it was hard to miss the large numbers of Tree Swallows gathering for migration. We had to make a stop to enjoy the spectacle of them rising from the low shrubs to cover the sky. One member, who was keen to see the congregating Tree Swallows, described it as THRILLING! It was exciting for the entire group and for the hunting Merlin, too.
Other raptors observed during the day were Northern Harriers flying low over the marsh, Osprey “treading air” above a kettle pond for at least 15 minutes while fishing, and three Peregrine Falcons performing aerial feats over the salt pannes. We got great views of Least Terns on the beach at Sandy Point, but our long walk to the tip was not rewarded, finding only boats and people and not the hoped-for shorebirds. The parking area used to access Emerson Rocks was full by the time we got there, so we began heading back towards Lot 1 with many stops along the way.
Other highlights of the day included Black-crowned Night-Heron (immature), Black-bellied and Semi-palmated Plovers, Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted, Least, and Semi-palmated Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitcher, Snowy and Great Egrets and Great Blue Heron. We picked up a few songbirds, too, including Least Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, Black-capped Chickadee, a striking Eastern Bluebird, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwings, Yellow Warbler and American Goldfinch.
There were some misses as well, but a day of birding with friends never fails to provide a good bird sighting or two, some lovely scenery, and a good dose of camaraderie.
There was a trip today to Ashley Reservoir, sort of. The military had closed the area to the Elks Lodge and the road to the neighborhood. So, we went to the next best and closest place, Bear Hole - north. Eight members attended and we saw or heard 26 species. See list below.
Members participating were 6.5. The 0.5 being our youngest family member (age 3).
It was a cool and cloudy start and continued to be on the verge of rain the whole walk.
Starting in the parking lot, waiting for members to arrive, we spotted our first birds being Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Blue Jays (the most popular bird of the day).
On the water we found Canada Geese, Mallards, Double-crested Cormorants, and a single parent Common Loon with their one chick. A Great Blue Heron was spotted flying away as we approached the area it was in.
Other birds spotted on our 2-mile walk included Mourning Dove, Tufted Titmouse, Phoebe, Catbird, Pileated and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Robins, and the first of the fall season for many of us, the Dark-eyed Junco. The star bird of the day was a Swainson’s Thrush.
The total species count was 17. Always a good day to be out birding, almost no matter the weather!
A group of five birders/photographers gathered on this chilly morning, with temps in the low 40s as we began our loop walk at Stebbins. We encountered beautiful spider webs, a deer running off deeper into the woods, and quite a few good birds as well. The Red-winged Blackbirds were surprisingly numerous, as were Wood Ducks, Flickers, Phoebes, Chimney Swifts and Catbirds. The warblers were few, but the two we encountered were seen well by all, Palm Warblers and Common Yellowthroat. The bird we most enjoyed finding was the beautiful Blue-headed Vireo. We had wonderful looks as it bounced from one shrub to the next in the few shrubs that towered over the tall grasses in the field. Another special sighting for us was Swamp Sparrow, though he tried to evade us by burying himself in the low vegetation, we got glimpses enough to clinch the identification. In the end we got great tips on bird photography as well as 21 total species. See species list below.
Eleven members gathered to walk the loop at Stebbins. The weather was cloudy, with some humidity and surprisingly the mosquitoes weren't bad! We had a total of 30 species, among the highlights were Warbling Vireo, juvenile Baltimore Oriole, Great Crested Flycatcher and numerous Wood Ducks. We concluded our trip at the Longmeadow Flats with Savannah Sparrows, juvenile Bobolinks. All in all, a good start to the fall migration.
Five Allen Club members chose to ignore the weather forecasts of thunderstorms and heavy rain predicted for the morning. As we were grouping up, so was a huge flock of Red-winged Blackbirds. We started out along the Bark Haul Trail hearing Warbling Vireos and Carolina Wrens. Several Gray Catbirds and a House Wren added some chatter. Wood Ducks and Mallards, and a Flicker were spotted by the ponds near the RR tracks. Soon after hearing thunder, one of our group wisely turned back, and before leaving Stebbins, checked the north pond on Pondside Road to add American Wigeon and Green-winged Teal. Meanwhile we continued on, but turned back at the T, after watching a Common Yellowthroat try to evade us. The sprinkles turned to heavy rain. By the time we returned to Pondside, no one wanted to subject their optics to the rain, and we called it a morning, with a total of 21 species.
The day dawned cool, clear, and calm, perfect conditions for mid-September birding. Even though the trails were wet (and sometimes submerged) our group of seven enjoyed the common species at this time of year: the high-pitched squeaking of the Wood Duck, the “churring” note of the Red-bellied Woodpecker, the seemingly constant mewing and squawking of the Gray Catbird, and the overhead “checking” of the Red-winged Blackbird. These and other familiar species, such as Canada Goose, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Carolina Wren, were our feathered companions as we explored the refuge. But the definite stars of the day were the wood warblers. Along one short stretch we encountered a warbler wave that included five different species: Tennessee, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, American Redstart, and most abundantly, Northern Parula. This last warbler seemed to be everywhere we looked -- we sometimes had multiple individuals in sight simultaneously. Chestnut-sided Warbler and Common Yellowthroat were also observed elsewhere in the refuge.
Our last stop was the northern-most pond off Pondside Road, and we were rewarded with views of a small group of Blue-winged Teal mixed in with the more common waterfowl, bringing out total for the day to 35. A nice ending to a beautiful day for birding!
A complete list of species observed is below.
Seven members gathered for the trip through Arcadia. We managed to miss the rain until the end, when it was starting to rain lightly. The star birds were the Sandhill Cranes. The warblers were not plentiful, and we suspected it might have been too cold. Two of us got a nice and unexpected surprise when a Ring-necked Pheasant ran out of a shrubby area and into the corn field. All together we identified 30 species. See list below.
Four members gathered to walk a loop at Stebbins. The temps were pleasant, as were the lack of mosquitoes all along the walk. Recent rain left a few areas more difficult to pass, but there was no stopping the brave birders on this morning. We enjoyed many of the usual birds for this location, a total of 28 species, and shared interesting conversation along the way. The species list is below.
Members gathered to enjoy a day of hawkwatching and catching up with each other, while taking in the vistas that Blueberry Hill has to offer on a beautiful day in mid-September. We counted a total of 499 migrating raptors - Osprey 6, Bald Eagle 1, Sharp-shinned Hawk 12, Broad-winged Hawk 474, American Kestrel 4, Merlin 1, Unknown raptor 1!
Weather - Nearly cloudless skies in the a.m.; clouds increasing all afternoon, from 5% to 90% at the end of the watch. Annoying haze throughout. Wind NW/WNW shifting late to W and subsiding from maximum 11 mph to maximum 3 mph. Temperature 61-71 F.
Observation Notes - Broadwings passed through all day, usually in small groups but with a few larger kettles (65, 30, 60 and, at the very end, 146). A smattering of other raptors rounded out the total. Not counted as migrants: Turkey Vultures (2), immature Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk.
Non-raptor Notes - Rock Pigeons (ca. 20), Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker (spectacular flyby), Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay, American Crows (5), Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Cedar Waxwings (ca. 20), American Pipit, American Goldfinch, Eastern Towhees (2), Palm Warblers (2), Prairie Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Monarchs: 11.
On a warm sultry late summer morning six hearty participants ventured the trails at Fanny Stebbins in search of the elusive resident and migratory birds. Signs of the season change were evident in the leaf coloration as well as the perineal scent of the wild grapes on the vine. There was a total of 34 different species recorded by the group with varied representation. Of the warbler species there were a total of 3. With the concerted efforts of the team, Andrea locating and Al picture taking skills and analysis from the collective we identified the Northern Parula followed by discussion on the proper pronunciation 😁. Representatives from the flycatcher realm included the Great Crested and the Eastern Phoebe. As is typical, many Wood Ducks are seen at various pond locations. Conditions along the trail were wet due to recent and summer long rains with a concentration where beaver activities resulted in a blockage in the drainage near the infamous "Warbler Corner" of the past. Mosquitoes were ever present in the wooded sections, though there was relief from their constant attack in the open field sections.
All in all, a great time was had by a fun group of like-minded fellow bird lovers.
Twenty-two Allen Bird Club members gathered at the viewing platform on Pondside Road in Longmeadow to search the sky from 6:45 until dark. We watched, and watched, and watched.
There was good news and bad news this evening. The good news was that everyone had a great time catching up with long time members and meeting our newer members. During all the conversations the members managed to spot 17 species.
Swifts, Cedar Waxwings, and a couple of Tree Swallows flew over the water hawking insects. We watched several Mallards and Wood Ducks fly by to their nightly roosting spot. Two large groups of grackles perched for a time across the pond in the treetops. On the other side an even larger group of blackbirds, mostly Red-winged, flew out from the trees to disappear in the nearby swamps. Two cormorants were perched in their favorite snags, soon joined by a third. A Green Heron flew across, and then a second. Also spotted were a flicker, robin, kingfisher, and a couple of Great Blue Herons.
And now for the bad news -- only one Common Nighthawk was seen and unfortunately many in the group missed it, including one of the leaders.
Let's hope that next year the nighthawks will cooperate!
Eleven birders spent a pleasant late summer morning checking local areas for shorebirds and herons. We did a quick check of the confluence of the Westfield and the Connecticut River. Here found a couple of Spotted Sandpipers and a few of the common year-round resident birds. The big surprise was a mink that scurried out of the water and up the bank in front of us.
Because a Stilt had been seen in Longmeadow Flats the day before, we drove to West Road to try for it -- unsuccessfully as it turned out. However, we did find Yellowlegs, as well as Pectoral, Least, Semipalmated, and Solitary Sandpipers, and Semipalmated Plovers in spite of a Peregrine Falcon that was keeping watch from its perch in a tree behind the puddles. Red-shouldered Hawks made an appearance, chased by crows. Add a few ravens to this raucous mix. There were Bobolinks starting their migration perching up in the cornfields along with a huge flock of Red-winged Blackbirds. Two lucky people spotted a Northern Waterthrush - our only warbler for the morning.
Thanks to Beth Spirito, we got a mid-morning energy boost from her delicious lemon-blueberry mini-cakes that she shared with us before heading to Pondside Road. Here we found Great Blue Herons, a Great Egret, Mallards, Wood Ducks, Green-winged Teal, a lone Canada Goose, Kingbirds, Phoebe, and Cedar Waxwings.
Although it was now nearly 11:00 am, we decided to return to West Road for one last try for the Stilt. Only minutes after we joined a group of other birders to scan the puddles once more, Michele Moore spotted a Buff-breasted Sandpiper. A perfect way to end the trip. We had 41 species.
Most of the field work for this 20th annual Little River IBA Count was done on an evening of cloudy weather then rain with thunder (temps in the 70s, winds N at 2 mph), followed by a cool day with periods of misty precipitation (temps hovered around 60 degrees all day, winds ENE at 5-8 mph). High humidity made birding less comfortable than usual on both days.
Altogether, there were 7 teams and 12 observers in the field for a total of 61.5 hours. The hours of effort were only down 0.5 from last year, but still well below the Count’s average of 71.2. April and Bambi splitting the territory of Al and Lois for the first time added to the hours of effort, but we missed hours usually birded in West Granville by John. The total number of species counted was 104, falling below our average of 111. The number of individuals at 2491 was the lowest ever, which might be due in part to the weather, but the past five years of counts have produced significantly lower numbers in several families of birds as you will read below.
Misses of note include Hooded and Common Merganser, Bald Eagle, Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, Acadian Flycather, Bank Swallow (holes in bank seen in usual spot, but no sign of the swallows), White-throated and Savannah Sparrows, and finally, Virginia Rail that had been identified in 5 of the previous 6 years.
To give more detail to the decline in individuals of some species, recorded in parentheses after each species is the count for this year, followed by last year’s count and finally the 20-year average. Let us begin with Red-tailed Hawk (2, 10, 5.5) and Yellow-billed Cuckoo (1, 7, 2.5). Also low in number this year were the woodpeckers, with Downy (5, 18, 7.9), Hairy (5, 11, 10.7) and Pileated (5, 14, 9.9). Next is the hard-hit flycatcher family, Pewee (26, 52, 48.6), Willow (2, 6, 4.3), Least (7, 9, 14.1) and Eastern Kingbird (9, 20, 17.9). The family of thrushes follows, with Veery (67, 102, 139.5), Hermit (6, 9, 22.6), Wood (16, 40, 45.9) and Robin (88, 172, 136.4). Also having a low count this year was Catbird (49, 74, 73.8). Then comes our prized songbirds, the warblers, with Ovenbird’s second low count ever (146, 175, 238.8), Louisiana Waterthrush (3, 3, 6.3), Black-and-white (43, 61, 77.7), Blackburnian (24, 30, 53.7), BT Blue (32, 47, 80.3), Yellow-rump’s lowest count ever (4, 5, 15.6) and BT Green (26, 21, 50.7). The numbers for most of these warbler species have been lower in the last five years and more numerous in the preceding 15 years, so the averages, even as high as they seem, are masking the actual decline we are seeing on our count in recent years.
High counts were found in just one species, Wild Turkey (57, 16.7). Even so, we did have several good finds this year. Myles and Kathy recorded a Kestrel for the first time since 2017 and only found in 6 other counts over the 20 years. Whip-poor-will made the count again after missing for 3 years. Spotted Sandpiper was a lucky find by me and Gail at Cobble Mtn Reservoir. Tom identified two Ruffed Grouse nearby Miller Swamp in Blandford, and I needn’t say that this species is always welcome. He also gave us a reasonable count of Canada Warbler, finding 5 of the 6 counted this year. John and Joanne contributed the only Woodcock on the count and Doug had the only Barred Owl (there were 8 counted last year). One last piece of good bird news, the Brown Cowbird count was just 15, after 36 were counted last year and the 20-year average is at 29. Woo-hoo!
Joanne Fortin graciously hosted the compilation get-together at her home in Westfield. Appetizers, pizza and salads were feasted upon by all, not to mention beverages. Lois treated us to home-made cookies for dessert. Joanne gave us a sought-after tour of her lovely perennial gardens and provided gardening tips as well. The compilation detail and sharing of birding adventures was as interesting as always. Great fun was had by all!
Click below to view or download complete count results.
The weekend of June 16-18 carried predictions of rainy skies and thunderstorms each day. Did we dare continue with our plans to bird the north woods and lakes? Of course we did. Seven members opted to defy the odds and venture to New York. (We also didn’t want to lose our room deposits!). The trip proved to be a success; any trip where life birds (and mammals) are added is a success, after all! Two participants saw life birds on this trip, and others had a life sighting of a Fisher.
On Friday we drove the 12-mile entry road into the Moose River Plains area, and then out to the town of Inlet. We made many of the stops we have done before, but also added a short walk to very pretty Lost Ponds. We heard or saw many woodland species including Magnolia, Blackburnian, and Nashville Warblers, Northern Parula, and several Swainson’s Thrushes (al-ways nice to hear). We did not linger in Inlet since the skies were threatening, but instead made our way to Ferd’s Bog. We always hope for at least a glimpse of boreal species here, but this day we only heard a couple of specialties - Olive-sided Flycatcher (maybe 2) and Lincoln’s Spar-row - before distant thunder was heard and we made our way back to our cars. We ended the afternoon at Raquette Lake marsh as an Osprey flew over.
Saturday was overcast and the views at Tupper Lake marsh were not great, but we did add some Ring-necked Ducks to our list. Next stop was Massawepie Mire. Highlights on the drive through the Boy Scout camp gave us Tanager, Yellow-rumped and Pine Warblers, Hermit Thrushes, and Winter Wrens. The mosquitoes at the Mire were as bad as we’ve ever seen them, especially through the woods. But once the terrain opened up to the bog, they weren’t as fierce and we were able to have good looks at Nashville Warblers, and fleeting looks at Lincoln’s Sparrow. The highlight here was a family of Gray Jays. What turned out to be the high-pitched whiny calls of the juveniles confused some of us at first as we thought they were Waxwings. Then the mob came into view and there was no mistaking the jays!
Rains began as we left the mire and headed back to Tupper Lake where we made a lunch stop eating in our cars. It continued to rain as we headed to Bloomingdale Bog, but by the time we arrived, the rain had stopped. Skies still threatened but we walked along the flat trail. This time we had really nice looks at Olive-sided Flycatcher and Lincoln’s Sparrow as well as Nashville and Palm Warblers. Some also had a glimpse of a Green Heron as it took off over the bog.
Floodwood Road was next where our leaders promised a look at Common Loon with babies (“we always get them here…”). It wasn’t until we were on our way back out that we did finally see one adult loon! The best birds here, though were seen by only two, who lingered in the last car. They saw a Hooded Merganser, then heard and had great looks at Canada Warbler. At least this time it was best to be in the last vehicle!
Sunday also began drizzly and overcast. A drive up Whiteface was not in our plan this year, so rather than make the long drive back up through Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, we decided to simply head east on 28N out of Long Lake toward our afternoon destination of the Fort Edwards grasslands. First, we spent some time at Shaw Pond scanning and listening for any marsh birds and waterfowl. We had Mallard, Black and Wood Ducks, some saw a Kingbird, then we all saw a cooperative American bittern, and a close Virginia Rail. A great start to the day. We hoped for some specialties on a walk on the Northfield-Lake Placid Trail, but only had more of what we had been seeing and hearing - Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, vireos, and woodland warblers.
The Adirondacks Visitor Center in Newcomb provided not only a bathroom stop, but also a very nice trail walk. Here we added Ruffed Grouse, heard by two, a Sharp-shinned Hawk which seemed to be guarding a nest, and a Hairy Woodpecker, which we had hoped would have been a Black-backed instead.
This trip always ends with car birding through the grasslands and farms near Fort Edwards. The skies turned sunny for us as we neared and we were rewarded with some very nice birds. In addition to those we expected such as Catbirds, Kingbirds, Finches and Swifts, we had Bobolinks, Meadowlarks, and Harrier. Our hoped-for Grasshopper Sparrow appeared at the “usual location” and gave us the “best looks ever.” Just before that we also had an active Baltimore Oriole family including a just-fledged youngster with its downy feathers still showing. The trip that was supposed to be a wash-out seemed to get better with each stop, and with a total of 107 species, we were not disappointed.
2023 May Count Summary
There were 16 teams and 31 observers out in Hampden County territories for the count held on May 12-13. The weather was pleasantly warm in the 80s on Friday evening with hardly a breeze. Saturday early morning was cool, temps were in the 50s, reaching mid-80s by late day—wind was negligible—a good birding day all the way around. Together the teams recorded 144 species, which was 9 more than the average counted in the last ten years. At 11,166 individuals, we brought in the highest number of birds since 2011 and 1,700 birds above the ten-year average.
As is typical, most of the common species were near their recent or long-term average, but some were noticeably higher. In parentheses is the total for 2023 followed by the past 10-year average: Solitary Sandpiper (28-19), Least Sandpiper (63-28), Northern Waterthrush (22-12), Black & White (92-55), Tennessee (35-10, more than half of the 35 for this year counted in same location), Parula (118-51) and RC Kinglet (9 – only one other seen in last 10 count years and it was in 2020.
Those species having the max count for the last ten count years include, DC Cormorant (70-41), Broad-winged Hawk (7-3), Kingfisher (18-11), Warbling Vireo (163-118), Rough-winged Swallow (105-55), Barn Swallow (108-67), RB Nuthatch (23-1), Scarlet Tanager (91-70), Indigo Bunting (29-18), Grackle (573-430), and Fish Crow (16-6).
There were several species whose numbers were highest ever in our 61-year count history, Canada Goose (547), Bald Eagle (20) and Lesser Yellowlegs (14).
We did not add any new species to the May Count this year, but we did have several species that had not been seen for quite a while. The date following the species is when it was last recorded on the May Count. Steve S had Philadelphia Vireo (2001) and Michele and Chris M spotted Green-winged Teal (2008) and Wigeon (2002, and only ever seen one other time in 2000).
Low species counts this year were Downy Woodpecker (45-55), Chickadee (105-143) and House Wren (35-59).
We did have some misses this year that would have been nice to include. We did not get Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and itis the 5th time we miss it in the past 10 years and no Nighthawks either, 4th time for this species. Gulls are hit or miss at this time of year in our area, but we did miss on Herring and Great Black-backed Gull.
Thanks to all who spent many hours in the field, especially Steve S’s team, who put in a tiring 18 hours of effort, and Dave M’s team, who racked up 111 species for the day. Though these teams stand-out and deserve recognition, every team that participates contributes to covering a piece of the pie and all efforts are sincerely appreciated.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Highlights of the Dec 17, 2023 - Springfield Christmas Count
Total Species: 67
Total Individuals: 13,750
1 Rufous Hummingbird
5 Eastern Towhee
3 Red-Shoulder Hawk
1 Barrow's Goldeneye - Ct River from Longmeadow
3 Fish Crow
1 Iceland Gull - Ct River from Longmeadow
1 Merlin - Springfield
2 Yellow-rump Warbler - West Springfield
10 Ravens - all over
106 Horned Larks - most West Road Longmeadow
123 Hooded Merganser - all over
16 Bald Eagles
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Tyringham Valley is always a beautiful area to bird, and our half-day trip there in June did not disappoint, giving us a total of 63 species. Eight members spent some time walking a short way on the AT and at the Tyringham Cobble (a Trustees property), and again at Post Farm Marsh in Lenoxdale. Otherwise, we did roadside birding. Highlights included two Bald Eagles, a Kestrel, 3 Ravens, and 2 Black Vultures (seen by one who tried in vain to call attention to the rest of the group). At the Cobble we had nice looks at Indigo Bunting and Prairie Warbler. We also heard a Blue-winged Warbler and one astute member heard and called our attention to a singing Yellow-throated Vireo. On Breakneck Road we saw about a half dozen Cliff Swallows, but did not hear or see any Snipe.
Post Farm Marsh did not disappoint either. We all heard, and one person saw, Marsh Wren, and we all had very nice looks at a close Virginia Rail. Both locations are easily accessible, easy to bird, and never fail to produce something interesting.
We began our walk under overcast skies with a light mist and temps in the mid-50s. All 13 members who gathered for the trip were anxious to see the target species for Skinner Mtn—namely, Worm-eating and Cerulean Warblers. Both were seen multiple times with great views! Other warblers spotted this morning walk include Tennessee, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, Ovenbird, Northern Parula, American Redstart, and Black-throated Green. On the way down the mountain, almost at the end of the walk, we heard a Mourning Warbler.
Other Skinner Mtn colorful specials spotted were Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Three different vireos were identified: Red-eyed, Blue-headed, and Yellow-throated. Soaring birds were Black and Turkey Vultures, Ravens, Crows, Red-tailed Hawk, and 3 beautiful Bald Eagles.
Other birds spotted included Wood Thrush, Carolina and Winter Wrens, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Pewee, Phoebes, Hummingbird, Veery, Great Crested Flycatcher, and many more! The total species count by the time we were back at our cars was 49. It was a great morning of birding—Skinner Mtn did not disappoint!
Thirteen members participated and started birding right in the parking lot of the Quabbin Headquarters. First spotted was a group of Chimney Swifts flying overhead. Other birds seen at this location were Robins, Chipping and Song Sparrows, Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, American Redstart, Gray Catbirds, and a White-breasted Nuthatch. At the lookout area of the reservoir, we saw a pair of Common Mergansers, and a Great Blue Heron flying by.
We then got in our cars and headed to the 2nd entrance to Quabbin. We parked on the right soon after entering. In this area we saw Goldfinches, Cedar Waxwings, many Red-eyed Vireos, a Raven, Crows, Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Pewee, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a half dozen Turkeys grazing in the grass on the dam.
Continuing down the road to a lookout on the left-hand side of the road, a favorite spot of Tim’s each year, we saw Prairie and Chestnut-sided Warblers, more Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Bluebirds, Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, Great Crested Flycatcher, Phoebe, Black-capped Chickadee, Wood Thrush, and Yellow-throated Vireo.
We then got back in our cars and headed toward the Tower Area, The Apple Orchard, and the Enfield Lookout. Birds spotted in these areas were Pine Warbler, Northern Parula, Blue-headed Vireo, Northern Flicker, Tufted Titmouse, and Hairy Woodpecker.
Next, we made our way over to the Artillery Area and walked down to the water. We were unable to walk much of the shore because the water was very high. Here we saw a Fish Crow, and a couple of Common Loons.
Running out of time, our last stop was just around the parking area at Hanks Meadows where we saw a Blackburnian Warbler to finish off the day!
Seventeen participants gathered for the walk around this beautiful grassland habitat. The list below is in taxonomic order and comprises 44 species. For certain birds, I noted the WMA they were found in. The numbers for some of the usual grassland birds were on the low side (for instance, a single Song Sparrow). During multiple visits to the WMA, however, I’ve noticed that the number of singing birds can fluctuate dramatically from one day to the next. The two Blue Grosbeaks, together with the excellent views we had of species like Prairie Warbler, made for a great morning of birding on a beautiful June day.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Suffield, at the parking lot)
Great Blue Heron (flyby, Suffield)
Broad-winged Hawk (immature)
Willow Flycatcher (2; one in Suffield, one in Southwick)
Yellow-throated Vireo (Chris heard)
Tree Swallows (2)
Eastern Bluebird (4)
American Robin (4)
Gray Catbird (2; one in Suffield, one in Southwick)
Brown Thrasher (3)
Northern Mockingbird (3)
American Goldfinch (4)
Grasshopper Sparrow (2; one in Suffield, one in Southwick)
Field Sparrow (2; one in Suffield, one in Southwick; a low count there for this species)
Eastern Towhee (2)
Orchard Oriole (2; both adult males; one in Suffield, one in Southwick)
Baltimore Oriole (heard)
Brown-headed Cowbird (3)
Blue-winged Warbler (heard by Janice and others [names?])
Common Yellowthroat (2)
Prairie Warbler (3)
Scarlet Tanager (2; one in Suffield, one in Southwick)
Northern Cardinal (2)
BLUE GROSBEAK (2; both first-summer singing males; they exhibited discernibly different plumage patterns).
Indigo Bunting (4)
Spring migrants, Winter Wren, and possible Worm-eating Warbler
Four birders showed up for this walk, on a cool, overcast, and foggy, morning, although the rain that had been forecast (which probably depressed our attendance numbers) never really descended on us. In fact, visibility improved as the morning wore on, even though it never became truly clear. I want to call immediate attention to the sub-headline to this trip: Yes, we did get a Worm-eating Warbler. Altogether, we got 22 species, including the highlight bird, along with Black-and-white Warblers (4, one for each of us), 3 American Redstarts, 2 Magnolia, 1 Chestnut-sided, and 4 Prairie Warblers (which seemed to like the altitude). We had a baker’s handful (6) of Wood Thrushes, all the Red-eyed Vireos anyone could want (7), 4 Great Crested Flycatchers, plus Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees (but no Carolinas or Boreals), and a couple of Tufted Titmice, although in the Carolina department, we had two Carolina Wrens and one Winter Wren (see sub-headline again). We had Gray Catbirds, Eastern Towhees, Baltimore Orioles (but no Orchards), a couple of Ovenbirds, and four each of Scarlet Tanagers, Northern Cardinals, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. To top the list, we had a flyover by a dinosaur-like Great Blue Heron. (The conditions were not suitable for photography, so we were out of luck on that front.)
About a dozen members joined in the Stebbins morning walk and together had a total of 50 species. Some highlights are listed below.
Twelve birders showed for a trip around Hadley in search of good birds and were not disappointed. A pond on Moody Bridge Rd gave us one highlight bird, a Sora. We saw Orchard Orioles carrying nest building material. On Aqua Vitae Rd, we spotted Baltimore Oriole on its nest, a Bluebird and 3 Red-tailed Hawks. In the Honey Pot, we got views of Willow Flycatcher, 4 Common Mergansers, 2 Killdeer, a Great Blue Heron, 2 Flickers, 2 Warbling Vireo, 8 Tree Swallows, a Brown Thrasher and two Mockingbirds.
We had just 7 members along for the walk at Stony Brook, but we got great birds and a total species count of 61.
After a few years hiatus due to COVID, three bird clubs (Allen, Hampshire & Brookline) were once again able to take a tour of Westover ARB. The weather was cloudy and misty for the trip, but we managed to score 21 species. The “hoped for” species include grassland species of birds, particularly Upland Sandpipers, Bobolinks, Meadowlarks and Grasshopper Sparrows. All were seen by various people. We were lucky concerning the weather since the forecast was for rain during the day, but the rain held off until the end of the trip when we were all back at our cars and ready to head home. Westover supplied a bus to drive us to a few different areas where we might see our target birds.
We had a lot of eyes to search the grasslands and many Upland Sandpipers were seen at various stops. We saw at least 5 Upland Sandpipers. Most people, if not all, had Bobolinks and some had a Meadowlark. Despite the short grass, we saw a few Grasshopper Sparrows. As a bonus, we also saw a Savannah Sparrow and a Killdeer sitting on her nest in the gravel.
Ten birders participated in a 3 hour walk at Stebbins refuge this morning. The weather was cool and breezy, starting in the 40s and raising to the 50s by the end of the walk with clear skies. The trails we walked were wet in spots, but considerably drier than the previous week.
Bird activity was good resulting in a total bird species count of 55. There were a significant number of warblers species seen with a highlight on the Magnolia, which presented great views in multiple locations. Other birds seen include the Scarlet Tanagers, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird and Solitary Sandpipers. Great joy was experienced by many with a lengthy viewing of a Green Heron located in the marsh at the southeast corner of the refuge.
All in all, it was an enjoyable walk amongst like-minded folks.
Six members gathered to enjoy the birds at a few spots near the dam. Above the dam, at the Canal Park platform, we spotted 4 Mute Swans, a Wood Duck, and two Bald Eagle babies in the nest.
Below the dam were 5 Common Mergansers, 5 Bald Eagles flying about, mostly immature but one was an adult, 15 Double-crested Cormorants, a half dozen or so Rough-winged Swallows, two Great Blue Herons, a Mallard and about a dozen Canada Geese. There were no gulls, but they will come to feed on Shad eggs in the beginning of June. We also eyed a Spotted Sandpiper on the riverbank.
One member, who has been checking Peregrine Falcon nests, had permission to pass through a private yard, down to an area where we could see under the Muller Bridge. There, in a metal box sitting atop the bridge abutment, we spotted the Peregrine Falcon sitting on the nest. Hard to beat that for a trip highlight!
Five of us intrepid birders gathered to see what the evening would hold on our 2-mile walk down the Norwottuck Rail Trail and back. A good amount of interest and conversation was had with finding five species of frogs and counting 4-5 Beavers. The birds were interesting too and we saw Song, White-throated and Swamp Sparrows, Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Canada Geese, a Mallard and two Tree Swallows. The usual suspects were there too, Tree Swallows, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, Red-eyed Vireo, Catbirds and Robins. Highlight birds include a Turkey found in the large field on the left-hand side about a third of a mile down the trail, two Great Blue Herons, Wood Thrush, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and four warbler species, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow, Black-and-white, and Blue-winged Warblers. Though we waited past dark, no Woodcock were heard, but despite that small disappointment, everyone seemed quite happy with the walk!
On this sunny day with temps near 60 degrees, ten participants gathered to enjoy a very casual walk on a flat, paved road along a very beautiful body of water. The weather was very cooperative, since it was neither too cold when we started in the morning nor too warm when we finished about 4 hours later. Many birds were singing, so we were able to identify them just by their song. A few people had Merlin on their cell phone and were able to verify a bird first by its song and then by site. This trip is scheduled early in migration so, depending on conditions, we can get many early warbler arrivals or very few. This year we only had 5 warblers, a low count for the trip. Many participants had a few first-of-year birds, which are always a delight to see. We saw many of the regulars along the path as we walked a little over 2 miles and gathered a total of 35 species. Everybody seemed to have a good time, which is most important of all.
Bird Highlights include two Broad-winged Hawks that were having a tete-a-tete with a Red-tailed Hawk. This is the first time we have had Broadwings on this trip. Also special were the sightings of two Common Loons and the five warbler species, Ovenbird and Pine, Palm, Yellow-rumped and Black-and-white Warblers.
On a beautiful, sunny and cool morning, 12 members gathered to start our walk on one of the new wooden platforms at Lake Wallace. We had good views of Tree and Barn Swallows, Great Blue Herons (1 on a nest), and a few Green Herons. Also present were Wood Ducks, Mallards, many Red-winged Blackbirds, Robins, Mourning Doves, and Canada Geese. We decided to walk the new trail to the back platform, before setting out for the soccer playing field area. Along this trail, we spotted Red-tailed Hawk, Cardinal, Blue Jay, Carolina Wren, and Goldfinches.
Then we got in our cars and headed for the field area on the back side of the lake. There we saw a variety of sparrows; Song, Swamp, White-throated, and Chipping. Dark-eyed Juncos were still present, and we had great views of Eastern Bluebirds posing in the sunlight. Goldfinches, House Finches, and a Warbling Vireo were all seen as we walked the perimeter of the lake. We saw three families of Canada Geese with their goslings. Woodpeckers seen were Red-bellied, Downy, and a few Northern Flickers. Warblers were minimal, seeing only a Yellow, Pine, and hearing an Ovenbird.
We walked the trail into the woods. Not too much was seen in this area, but we did get Phoebe, Black-capped Chickadees, and a Tufted Titmouse. Some of the group heard a Virginia Rail before we made our way out. During the rest of our walk, before reaching our cars, we saw a Belted Kingfisher, two pairs of Brown-headed Cowbirds, and an Osprey. It was a great day, though we had hoped for more warblers.
We started the cloudy, cool morning with six participants in the parking lot. The first birds seen were Tree and Barn Swallows, Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles, Starlings, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Mallard, Bluebird, and the following sparrows: Song, Swamp, Savannah and Field. We walked the 1.2-mile trail and saw five different woodpecker species: Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Northern Flicker.
Also seen were House Wren, Crow, Mourning Dove, Tufted Titmouse, Goldfinch, Brown-headed Cowbird, Catbird, Phoebe, Kingbird, and White-breasted Nuthatch. Our highlight birds of the morning were Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Screech Owl, just 20 yards away, and Virginia Rail, which was seen from the platform in the parking lot at the end of the walk and when it started to rain! The warbler count was low, we only saw one Yellow and about nine Yellow-rumped.
All in all, a great walk gathering 38 species before the rain really started!
We had a nice turnout (18 persons) on a beautiful day. Warblers continued to be scarce, but we had some excellent looks at many of the birds on the list. I personally observed 45 species (seen and/or heard), including a pair of Mourning Doves at their nest, high up in a crook of a tulip tree by the pond. Others in the group added a few more: Broad-winged Hawks (2, flew over quickly and disappeared behind trees), Wood Ducks (2), Hooded Merganser (female), Chimney Swift and White-breasted Nuthatch. A couple of ducks were either Mallards or Black Ducks; we couldn’t be sure, so I have left them off the list. Only three of us were still in the parking lot at the end of the walk when an obliging male Black-throated Blue Warbler appeared. It sat placidly on a low branch of a hemlock tree near my car.
My eBird report is below; it lists only the birds I observed.
Under cloudy but dry skies, nine of us birded the trails and fields of Longmeadow Flats. We saw a total of 48 species, including some relatively new spring arrivals, including Yellow and Black-and-white Warblers, Warbling Vireo, Wood Thrush and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. The highlights were the shorebirds off West Rd, Spotted, Solitary and Least Sandpipers, and the Cliff Swallow, seen well by two members.
The weather was overcast with some rain. We missed quite a few species that we ordinarily would have seen, but we still saw 42 species. The best birds of the day were the Virginia Rails that we saw and heard, but second to that were a host of others, including Green Heron, Rough-winged Swallow, Northern Parula, Pine Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Towhee and Cedar Waxwing. See full list below.
A very bundled-up group (will we ever be able to shed our down coats and boots?) of 16 birders met on a very cool spring morning to look for early migrants. Ruby-crowned Kinglets were abundant, as were Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers. Some participants got good looks at a newly arrived Yellow Warbler after hearing others at a distance. It sometimes is an advantage to be at the back of a group.
A first-of-year bird for everyone was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. It perched and sang its lovely song almost directly above us - a special treat. Other new arrivals were a Green Heron flyover as the group was gathering, a Gray Catbird chattering in the tangles, a couple of Eastern Towhees, and several Chimney Swifts.
A lingering Hermit Thrush popped up along the Natti Trail as did several White-throated Sparrows.
Checking the skies, we had a Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawk, and a Broad-winged Hawk.
In spite of the chill, there was warm sunshine and plenty of birdsong giving us a total of 39 species.
Janice Zepko, with help from Bill and Carol Platenik, Jim Wang, and Andrea Bugbee, had the enviable pleasure of introducing new birders to the pleasant pastime that’s been bringing Allen Bird Club members together for 111 years. This was the club’s first Family Bird Walk. Thankfully, our merry band of leaders was outnumbered by the field trip’s eight participants, most of whom were non-members simply curious about birding.
Our guests’ initiation began in Forest Park’s Longmeadow/Route 5 parking lot, where leaders shared tips for successful binocular use. As if on cue, a Brown-headed Cowbird lit atop the highest feather on the park’s Whispering Giant statue so participants could practice finding him in their borrowed optics. This was the first Cowbird some had seen.
Binoculars now adjusted and ready, the group headed into the park.
A damp chill chased most birds under cover, but we did spot 22 species on this two-hour field trip, and our new birding friends made satisfying discoveries. For instance, they delighted at the male Red-winged Blackbirds’ bravado in declaring parts of the park their own. They praised Phoebes’ skill in nabbing insects midair, and they paused to watch a pair of tree swallows who had claimed a nesting box as their summer home. Guests also admired the grackles’ easily overlooked iridescence, a cardinal, brilliant against spring’s golden-green backdrop and a male Wood Duck, showing off his colorful plumage as he paddled across the pond.
Needless to say, the day’s highlights didn’t come from spotting a parade of unusual birds. Instead, the best moments rose from watching new birders experience common birds for the first time. For example, a twelve-year-old boy described a Tufted Titmouse as having a “backward mohawk,” and he grinned as he identified his first Canada Goose.
Upon learning we had passed a turtle, two grown participants said, “Wait. There was a turtle? We want to see the turtle!” The group pointed excitedly when a pair of mallards braked feet-first on the pond in front of us. They listened attentively for American Goldfinches to call, “Potato chip, potato chip” as they flew nearby.
Then a dad, enjoying a morning at the park with his kids, wandered over to peek at the tree swallows in our spotting scope.
“Oh, I’m not a birder, I just love birds,” this father said. “Any time I see something like an eagle or a hawk I have to stop and watch.”
“Then you’re a birder!” our leaders laughed - because we know.
“Having” to stop and watch a bird is where this wonderous hobby begins.
This field trip was rescheduled from the day before due to inclement weather. We also had to change breakfast locations since the restaurant we had been going to for years, Sylvester's, closed during this past summer. The new restaurant is not as fancy as Sylvester's was, but the service was good and the food was filling. We had 10 people who attended breakfast and four more joined up later for birding. The weather was sunny, with low-40s in the morning and high-40s in the afternoon.
Our first stop was along the CT River on Riverview Drive, where we were greeted by bunches of swallows, both tree and rough wings. For many of us they were first-of-year birds. We had a very good scope view of a rough-wing swallow preening, who landed on a branch near us. Since all of the ice was gone from the river, we did not have many gulls as we usually do when there are huge chunks of ice floating on the river. Other waterfowl seen from there include Canada Geese, Common Merganser, Mute Swan and Bufflehead. The usual early spring songbirds were heard and seen from there also. The next stop was at the boat ramp where we saw similar birds as we did on Riverview Drive.
From the boat ramp we went to the far end of Barton's Cove to find more ducks. On the way down the entrance road, about 25 feet up on a dead tree, an immature bald eagle was sitting and not paying any attention to us as we passed by in our cars or stopped to take pictures. Eventually, it did fly off after we all had a good look. On a rise overlooking the cove, we spotted a large raft of ducks which turned out to be Ring-necked Ducks. Along the shore, we also spotted a pair of Wood Ducks. A keen-eyed observer noticed a 'ringneck' that didn't look quite like the others. It turned out to be the only Greater Scaup we saw on the trip.
Our next stop was across the bridge that goes into Turner's Falls to a large parking area on the river. We stayed only a short time because there wasn't much different from the previous stops. One new sighting, though, was a Double-crested Cormorant.
We left the river at Turners to go to another river viewing area at the Rod and Gun Club. The river here was also sparse on bird species. We did however, after a little discussion, agree that a duck at the far end of the river was a Pied-billed Grebe. From here we headed off to the Turners Falls airport about a mile down the road.
We go here to check for early arrival Killdeer and the possibility of getting a Kestrel. We were not disappointed. We did see two Killdeer running around on the grassy strip of land next to the runway. We also had our best looks at a few low flying eagles here. There was a little excitement in the sky above the airport for a while. There was a little discussion about one particular immature eagle which had a different looking plumage other than the 'normal' pattern of a juvenile that we see. Some thought it could be a Golden Eagle, while others just an immature Bald Eagle. We did have a member who was able to take some pictures of the bird. This discussion continued a few days after the trip was over when we checked the internet for pictures of immature bald eagles. At that point, the concensus was that the bird was an immature Bald Eagle. We also had two eagles performing acrobatics with one another above our heads at the airport. It was quite interesting to watch them weave around one another.
Our final stop was the power canal. It was, unfortunately, very quiet on the water. There is always something, though, and here it was, a beautiful male Ring-necked Duck in perfect light and close to the road. While the trip was coming to a close, a few people took a little walk to try and find a tree in which a Screech Owl was previously seen. While they were gone, those remaining heard then saw a pine warbler a short distance down the road up in a pine tree. This was a fine ending to a wonderful trip on a very nice early spring day. We all should be proud of the fact that we didn't lose any of the cars in our caravan except when someone decided to leave of their own volition. The total species count was 32 and the birding highlights were eight Bald Eagles (two different instances of two eagles playing with one another), Pine Warbler, scope view of a Rough-winged Swallow, Pied-billed Grebe, and Killdeer.
Mother Nature provided what turned out to be a glorious spring morning for the 13participants on the scheduled "Ducks and Early Arrivals Trip". There was no wind, blue skies, and temperatures that continued to rise from nearly freezing when we started out at Pynchon Point Park to the mid-50's when we finished at Stebbins at noon.
Highlights were watching a pair of Ravens busily nest building on the cell tower visible from the Pynchon Point Park parking lot. Later there were Wood Ducks flying down to the river from their perches in the trees. Near the Big E Lagoon, a single tree had a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a Downy and Hairy Woodpecker, and a Flicker. From a treetop high above the Westfield River, a Northern Mockingbird belted out songs of nearby birds. Moving on to Longmeadow and Stebbins there was an Osprey on the cell tower nest and a mate nearby. The Bald Eagle pair has two chicks in the nest at Pondside. Pine and Palm Warblers flitted about on Pondside and Bark Haul Trail, as did both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets. Another spring treat was a Hermit Thrush and also a life bird for some in the group - a Wilson's Snipe resting in the warm sun on top of a beaver house.
Total species for the morning was 49 - a cooperative effort.
Sixteen people were present for the bird walk to observe American Woodcock flight displays in the north end of Burt Field at Fannie Stebbins. The weather was clear and cold, but not too cold to discourage woodcock activity. Approximately six woodcock were heard and took flight in this part of the refuge during the observation period. Other birds included multiple ducks that flew over after dusk (with one female wood duck vocalizing), Canada Geese on bodies of water nearby (also evident by vocalizations), at least two American Robins (also vocalizing), and one Song Sparrow that was singing on our way into the field. Large mixed flocks of blackbirds, Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds (possibly other blackbird species) were observed along Pondside on our way in and were seen from our meeting spot.
Eleven members gathered at Atkins Farm to begin our adventure to Hadley Cove and then north to the Turners Falls area. Two sharp-eyed members spotted six Black Vultures while on Bay Rd enroute to the cove. The cove gave us looks at Common and Hooded Mergansers and Wood Duck. There were a couple of Red-tailed Hawks noted enroute to Turners, while highlights there included Common Goldeneyes, Greater Scaup, Bald Eagles, and an Iceland Gull. Next stop was the power canal, which gave us a Bufflehead, a Common Merganser, and an Eagle. The Rod and Gun Club has not been as productive on this trip for the past couple of years, but it is always worth checking out! This year we picked up four Mute Swans, a Common Merganser, a few Ring-billed Gulls and an empty Bald Eagle’s nest. Two more Red-tailed Hawks, 47 Robins and one European Starling finished our day up on Lake Pleasant Rd (Rte. 63) near Montague. Special thanks to Mary Felix for keeping track of the birds we spotted. Getting out to bird is always rewarding!
Twelve members made our way to the North Shore of Massachusetts February 25-26 for one of the Club’s longest-running field trips. A total of 64 species were seen or heard. We never know if New England winter weather will even allow us to make the trip. This year the weather was cold, but conditions were not brutal. Winds were not as strong as predicted and seas were relatively calm, so we were able to enjoy scope and binocular views off the coast. Snow squalls met us while we were at Nelson’s Island on Saturday afternoon and again at Plum Island on Sunday, but we managed some great sightings.
Some highlights were many Long-tailed Ducks, including a large raft of around 50right below the cliff at Halibut Point; a virtual Harrier show at Plum Island and again at Salisbury; two Rough-legged Hawks together in the snow squall at Nelson’s Island (and a reward of two Short-eared Owls for two of the group who stayed until dusk); an immature White-throated Sparrow scratching in some pebbles at our feet, seemingly oblivious to our gaze; a surprise Barred Owl just off the side of the road at Plum which drew a crowd of birders and photographers; and some Pipits feeding along the wrack at Brace Cove. Looking for these birds, which had been reported, led us to a new location for us - the back side of Niles Pond accessed from Bemo Rd. The path not only gave us looks of the beach at Brace Cove, but also a view of the pond, without dealing with the hazard of the narrow road we typically parked on.
Of course, we always search for alcids on this trip, and we were treated to several Razorbills, one close at Jodrey’s Pier in Gloucester and then later 4 in a row off Cathedral Rocks. The views were wonderful since the seas were calm. No Murres or Dovekies, but one of us had a Guillemot as well. We also had a distant view of an Eared Grebe off of Niles Beach and about a half dozen Turkeys which we don’t usually see on Cape Ann. In addition to missing other alcids, we also did not pick up any white-winged gulls nor Red-necked Grebes, and we did not see the reported Red Crossbills at Salisbury. That simply means there is more to be seen on our next trip to the North Shore!
Nine members joined in to enjoy a full day on the Rhode Island coast. It was a mild, but breezy day.
Our first stop was Colt St Park in Bristol, where two members, who arrived early to meet up with the group, had excellent views of the reported Barrow’s Goldeneye (3 photos) before they flew and were not to be spotted again that day. The rest of us had to be pleased with a few Common Goldeneye, 8 Brant, 4 Common Loons, Bufflehead, and a Bonaparte’s Gull.
From there we headed directly to Sachuest NWR in Middletown, hoping to spot a reported Green-tailed Towhee. It was not to be found, unfortunately. However, we did see a Horned Grebe, a Red-throated and two Common Loons, a dozen Harlequin, a dozen Common Eider, a Razorbill, 14 Black Scoters, a couple of Long-tailed Ducks and several Great Cormorants.
Next Stop was Beavertail St Park (photo) in Jamestown, where we hit a Razorbill bonanza, finding a group of four and another four as singles. Also there were a Common and 6 Red-throated Loons, 5 Horned Grebe, 60 Black and 6 Surf Scoters, 3 Long-tailed Duck, 40 Harlequin, and two Gannet, and a Red-tailed Hawk that put on an aerial show for us.
After a rest stop at the Village Hearth & Bakery, we left Jamestown for a visit to a new location, Bass Rock in Narragansett. There we added White-winged Scoters and Peregrine Falcon to our list.
Next stop was Perry’s Mill Pond (photo) in South Kingston on Moonstone Beach Road. Here we found three Eurasian Wigeon mixed in with over a hundred American Wigeon, 6 Gadwall, 6 Hooded Merganser, 3 Shoveler, a dozen or so each of Mallard and Black Duck. From there we hurried to Perry (aka Firehouse) Pond in Charlestown, another new location for us. It was filled with ducks and geese, including 7 Redhead, 7 Pintail, 6 Gadwall, 4 American Wigeon, Black Duck and Mallard.
After a brief stop to look at an empty feeder area at Trustom Pond NWR, we headed back to Moonstone Beach Rd, where we stopped on the way to Mud Pond for great looks at a Barred Owl (photo) perched in a roadside tree. The pond held 50 Hooded Merganser, which flew off as a group just before dark, some Blacks and Mallards and a Great Blue Heron sitting at the pond’s far edge. We made our way out to the beach, enjoying the fuchsia-colored sunset sky over the ocean and finding 3 Sanderling to add to our list. The last bird of the day was Woodcock, the familiar notes heard first, followed by several overhead flights. We ended the birding day with a total of 54 species.
Eleven members joined today’s successful hotline trip, identifying our target bird and a total of 25 species. We met up at 8:00 a.m. and birded in some pretty cold and windy weather until 11:30 a.m. Thankfully, we birders are hardy and enthusiastic!
We began with a visit to Mt Holyoke College campus pond, giving us wonderful, close-up views of the reported Greater White-fronted Goose, along with almost 300 Canada Geese, 13 Mallards, a Black Duck, and a Bluebird calling as we exited our vehicles.
Next, we headed to Hadley’s Honey Pot, where we missed a continuing Smith’s Longspur. We were rewarded, however, with very nice views of several raptors, including a beautiful male Northern Harrier, a cooperative Merlin, a perched and puffed-up Red-tailed Hawk and a Cooper’s Hawk. Also seen were several flocks of Horned Lark totaling over 200 birds, along with at least 3 Snow Buntings. Alone male Common Merganser was all to be found on the river.
Aqua Vitae Rd was our last stop, and after some searching, we got on a couple of large flocks of Horned Larked that landed in the field on the riverside of the road. They were quite active on the ground, but we were able to pick out three more Snow Buntings in their midst. Other land birds there were Mourning Dove, Downy, Red-bellied and Pileated Woodpeckers, Blue Jay, Tree Sparrow, Junco, and a pair of Cardinals.
Five members participated and racked up 52 species, including some special finds. I’ll share our birding spots and some highlight birds we identified.
Sider’s Pond, Falmouth – 60 Red-breasted and 20 Hooded Mergansers, a Red-throated Loon, and a Great Blue Heron
Salt Pond and ocean viewing across the street – 32 Bufflehead, 6 Goldeneye, 1 Surf Scoter, 2 Razorbills, 15 Long-tailed Ducks, 30 Common Goldeneye, 250 Common Eider, 1 Horned Grebe, 1 Common Loon
Ashumet Pond, Falmouth – 75 Ring-necked Ducks, 60 Coot, 5 Ruddy Ducks, 60 Bufflehead, 75 Common Goldeneye and a Barrow’s Goldeneye hybrid
Mashpee Pond-Attaquin Park, Mashpee – 1 Western Grebe, 2 Common Loon, 35 Bufflehead
Marstons Mills Pond, Marstons Mills – 15 Northern Pintail, 1 Ring-necked Duck, 2 Hooded Merganser, 3 American Wigeon, 20 Gadwall and a Kingfisher
Shawme Lake, Sandwich – 1 Eurasian Wigeon (close and excellent views) and 95 American Wigeon
Town Neck Rd, Sandwich at the Treehouse Brewery parking lot – 8 Razorbills, 75 Common Eider, 1 Black, 25 White-winged and Surf Scoters, and 2 Common Loons
Cape Cod Canal – Added 8 more Razorbills at close range, 1 Gannet, 75 Common Eider, 15 White-winged Scoters, 2 Red-throated Loons, and 8 Common Loons
Skipping Plymouth altogether in hopes of getting a reported Barrow’s Goldeneye at Little Quitticus Pond in Lakeville, we headed straight there. The bird was not to be found, nor did we get the Short-eared Owls hoped for at our last birding spot, Cumberland Farms in Middleborough. Despite ending the trip with missed birds, we did enjoy a great day of coastal birding!
This was our 32nd year of participation as Cobble Mtn Circle in National Audubon’s Christmas Count. Here’s a rundown of how we did this year compared to past years. We brought in a total of 69 species, the second highest species count ever and the highest since 2001. Observer number and hours in the field were on the high side of average, and miles covered was a bit lower than average. Water was unfrozen for the most part. The temperature ranged between 45-49 degrees F, but clouds prevailed and the winds were almost constant out of the NW at 10-25 mph.
There were several species found in higher numbers than usual. Of these, three species that continue to extend their winter range, an all-time high of 8 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and 45 Carolina Wrens, and the second high count of Red-bellied Woodpeckers at57. Also high were counts of American Tree Sparrow at 89, highest count since 2006, and Swamp Sparrow at 4, highest count since 2004.
There was just one species found in notably lower numbers than usual. The Cedar Waxwing count of a single bird this year was the lowest ever in count history.
We were fortunate to find some rarer species. An American Coot and a Ruddy Duck were spotted on Congamond. The last time these species were recorded was in 2014. The Ruddy Duck is very sporadic on the count and the Coot has been sporadic over the last 20 years. Two Pine Siskins were spied on a feeder in Granville. It is only the second time this species was counted in the last ten years. We also got Eastern Towhee for the first time in 11 years. The count for towhee has been sporadic throughout. Merlin was counted by two teams and has been spotted only three other times in the Cobble Mtn Count. Saw-whet Owl was heard in Granville for the first time since 2015. Finally, a Killdeer was found for the first time ever in count history.
Unfortunate misses this year were Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, Horned Lark, and Eastern Screech Owl.
One count week bird was added by Dorrie Holmes, and that was Bufflehead.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Eleven members faced a stiff, cold breeze all day in hopes of finding some good birds on the north shore. The surf was up in the ocean and choppy waters ruled the day, making siting birds more difficult, but we managed all three Scoter species, Common Loon, Bufflehead, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser and Common Eider at many locations, and a total of 44 species.
Jodrey’s Pier gave our first anticipated bird of the day, a close-up look at a Razorbill. Next, we went to Rocky Neck and picked up three Horned Grebes. At Niles Beach, Chris got looks at a Black Guillemot flying, and we spotted our first Long-tailed Ducks. Eastern Point added 7 Purple Sandpipers out on the dog bar, 7 Gadwall up close, and 7 Gannets off the point. We were welcomed by calm waters at Niles Pond and good views of 4 Hooded Mergansers, 3 Lesser Scaup, 6 Ring-necked Ducks and a Pied-billed Grebe. At the Elks Club on Atlantic Ave, we spotted five more Gannets and our first White-winged Scoters. We got good looks at Harlequins from Granite Pier and Cathedral Rocks. We were lucky enough to find ample parking at Andrews Point and were rewarded for our walk to the lookouts with a Purple Sandpiper, 20 more Harlequins and another Long-tailed Duck. More Gannets and Harlequins were spotted at Halibut Point, and on the last stop of the day we found a Red-throated Loon at Plum Cove. Great day of birding was had by all, despite the weather!
Fourteen members gathers at Quabbin Reservoir in very cool and foggy weather conditions. We started the walk at the Headquarters, but we also visited the Tower Area, the Enfield Lookout, and ended the morning at Hank’s Meadows with a total of 36 species.
On the reservoir, Common Loons, a Horned Grebe, a few Surf Scoters, and a couple of Common Mergansers were spotted. It was a slow day for warblers, only seeing the Yellow-rumped, Black-and-white, and Blackpoll. Sparrows seen included White-throated, Song, and Tree. Flying high were Bald Eagle, Turkey Vultures, Crows, and a couple of Red-tailed Hawks. Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers were present, as well as White and Red-breasted Nuthatches, Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper, Eastern Towhee, Phoebe, Dark-eyed Juncos, Blue Jay, Cardinal, Robin, Eastern Bluebird, Goldfinch, Catbirds, a Hermit and a Swainson’s Thrush. Great day, great group!
Ten adults and two junior birders, ages 5 and 2, started out in very cool weather with a light rain. We walked to the 1-mile marker, then headed back, because the weather was not improving. We spotted a total of 18 species.
On the reservoir, we saw Canada Geese, Mallards, Double-crested Cormorant, a Great Blue Heron and a Common Loon. Along the way, we got Black-capped Chickadees, Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Phoebes, White-breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Juncos, a Blue-headed Vireo, Red-bellied Woodpecker and a Song Sparrow. Warblers for the day were Yellow-rumped, Black-and-white, Black-throated Blue, and Palm. The most popular bird of the morning was the very vocal Blue Jay. They were everywhere!
At least 19 members gathered to glimpse a peek at a mass migration of Broad-winged Hawks and they were not disappointed. The weather was sunny and hazy, with skim-milk clouds that were often no help at all. It was a tough sky for hawkwatching. Despite this, for Blueberry Hill, it was a spectacular day, one of the best we’ve had in years. The Broadwings came in many kettles, but were often far away and difficult to count. Dan Burt and Kathy Conway can be singled out for their amazing ability to spot and tally so many of these swirling poppy seeds in the distance. They easily doubled the count we would have reached without them. Thanks also to Tom Swochak on Shatterack Mountain northeast of us; he alerted us that 900Broadwings were possibly headed our way.
In all, we counted six different raptor species, with Broadwings giving us the high count of 1409, followed by Sharp-shinned Hawk at 13, Northern Harrier at 5, Osprey and Bald Eagle at 3 each, American kestrel at 1 and just one unknown raptor species. We also counted a long list of non-raptors, including Canada Goose (1!), Rock Pigeons (3), Northern Flickers (2), PHILADELPHIA VIREO, Blue Jays (ca. 125 migrants), TREE SWALLOWS (500+ in a single swarm), Red-breasted Nuthatch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Goldfinches (3), Purple Finch. Warblers spotted were American Redstart, Black-and-white, Northern Parulas (2), Magnolia, Black-throated Green, and Yellow-rumped. Last, but not least, seven Monarch Butterflies floated by overhead.
The mild fall weather we've experienced lately brought 13 members out for the Berkshire Lakes trip on November 5. However, that same mild weather may also have contributed to low numbers of waterfowl seen. Many geese were seen especially on Pontoosuc, and there were moderate numbers of both Hooded and Common Mergansers, but other species were in short supply. We saw only one Common Loon, from Burbank Park, and only one Gadwall, Pintail (a female), and Ring-necked Duck. One Pied-billed Grebe was seen well and one other by only one person. One Coot made the list, and we were surprised to see it first standing amid Mallards in shallow water. Handfuls of Green-winged Teal and Wood Ducks, another small handful of Great Blues were added. We also saw nine Ruddy Ducks, but the views were distant. Migrating Robins dominated our land bird sightings, and Cedar waxwings were also around in good numbers. Three Bald Eagles were seen, one adult from Nobody's Road, and two juveniles flying together at the causeway on Pontoosuc. Probably our best species was a scope view of some Rusty Blackbirds feeding on the ground in a marshy area seen from a spot we had never been to. Overall, it was a pleasant day to be in the field looking for fall migrants.
Eight members took advantage of this sunny and pleasant day to bird Arcadia. It was a really good walk that garnered a total of 47 species. Highlights were a White-crowned Sparrow and a flock of American Pipits. There was a good variety of warblers found, including Pine, Magnolia, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, Common Yellowthroat and Northern Parula. We also scored on raptors, siting Sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks and Northern Harrier. Great day!
Six members gathered at the refuge this morning to enjoy clear weather, with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees. A total of 33 species were counted, see below for trip list. Beautiful photos of Wood Thrush, House Finch and Northern Flicker taken by Christine might add three more species to that list. Always nice to have a good photographer with the group!
Fourteen birders participated in a 3-hour walk at Stebbins Refuge this morning. The weather was foggy for the 1st hour or so, with intermittent rays of sunshine throughout the remainder of the field trip. Temps were in the mid-60's and made for a comfortable walk.
The birding was also intermittent, but we had some nice finds along the way, which included Scarlet Tanager female, Warbling and Red-eyed Vireo, N. Parula, and Cedar Waxwing. Pondside had numerous Wood Ducks, Mute Swans, and Green Heron. It was a good start to the fall birding season with a total count of 45 species.
A handful of Allen Bird Club members enjoyed a lovely morning in the Tyringham Valley in June. We made stops on Meadow Street, Jerusalem Road and Breakneck Road before taking short walks at both Tyringham Cobble and a short distance along the Appalachian Trail. On Jerusalem Road we were surprised when a Yellow-billed Cuckoo flew in and sat in the open long enough for all to have a nice look. And throughout the morning we heard at least three Black-billed Cuckoo. We always hope for Snipe along Breakneck Road, but none were found that day. At the Cobble we heard and saw Field Sparrow and Bobolink and a very vocal House Wren. In a wet meadow area along the Appalachian Trail we tried for American Bittern but had no response, but we did see and hear several species of Flycatchers. Throughout the valley we heard or saw 10 species of warblers. We moved on to Post Farm marsh in Lenox where we saw an Osprey and heard the friendly chatter of Marsh Wren. All in all, it was a pleasant morning and we ended up with 74 species.
Great morning of birding in Hadley with 11 members. We started the morning under sunny skies and temps in the low 60’s.
While driving into the refuge area, first birds of the morning were two female Turkeys and about 18 chicks crossing the road. In the parking lot while we were waiting to set out, we saw many Tree and Barn Swallows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Robins, Grackles, Goldfinches, and House and Song Sparrows. We also witnessed an American Kestrel go after a Red-tailed Hawk. Due to the lack of rain, the pond area where the new platform lookout is, was rather dull, and there was nothing to report in this area. Even the frogs were quiet.
On our way into the trail, we saw a Green Heron flyover, and then eventually settle into a tree. While walking the one-mile trail, we encountered the following species: House Wrens, Catbirds, Starlings, Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, Northern Flickers, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Carolina Wrens. We also spotted an Eastern Kingbird, a Great Crested Flycatcher, a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, a Pewee and a Veery.
After exiting the trail, we walked for just a bit on the road that leads to the fields on each side. We saw numerous Bobolinks, a Baltimore Oriole, a Belted Kingfisher, a Downey Woodpecker, and a few Northern Mockingbirds.
Warblers seen on our walk included Yellow, Common Yellowthroat, and American Redstart.
Six individuals participated in a 3 hour walk at Stebbins Refuge. The weather was cool and comfortable in the mid-60s with mostly cloudy skies and occasional rays of sunlight. The trails we walked were relatively dry considering the amount of rain we had days previous.
Bird activity was sporadic, appearing to coincide with the occasional rays of sun. There were a significant number of Wood Ducks in the water body on the south side of the trail at the east side of the railroad track crossing. Just beyond this location again on the left there was activity amongst the grapevines that were abundant with ripe grapes as indicated by the aroma that surrounded us. We saw various warblers at this location including Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided, and American Redstarts. Throughout the walk the Carolina Wrens were letting their presence be known. All-in-all it was an enjoyable walk amongst like-minded folks.
There were eight members who enjoyed the trip this morning, and we saw a total of 60 species. Highlights were great looks at 2 Upland Sandpipers, 2 Grasshopper Sparrows and an Eastern Meadowlark from the fence. Nashville, Parula, Magnolia, and Canada Warblers were additional highlight species. We had 13 species of warblers in all. The trip ended at about 12:00 with the Canada Warbler. Click below to see complete list:
The last scheduled trip for the 2021-22 birding year occurred on another 90-degree day in August - fortunately not that hot earlier in the day. Listed as a trip for shorebirds, egrets, and herons, we checked Pynchon Point, the Big E Lagoon, the dike along the Westfield River, and the Longmeadow Sandbar. For shorebirds, we found Least Sandpipers, Semi-palmated Sandpipers, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers, 3Lesser Yellowlegs, Semi-palmated Plover, and Killdeer. There were also several Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and Green Herons. Best bird of the morning was when Bambi Kenney spotted an adult Black-crowned Night-heron fly into the shade of the trees along the lagoon and then found a juvenile lurking nearby. The juvenile Black-crowned Night-heron finally left his shady area and came out in full view. Four participants and a total of 45 species.
Eight members took advantage of the forecast for good weather and were not disappointed, with temps in the 70’s and a light breeze all day long. Bugs were not a problem at Parker River either, to our surprise and delight.
Our first stop was the boat launch across the street from Lot 1. We spotted 4 Least Sandpipers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, a Least Tern, two Osprey and our first glimpse of Seaside Sparrows and the thousands of Tree Swallows we would encounter throughout the day. A Black Guillemot had been reported at Lot 1, unfortunately we did not get it, but Tim picked up a Northern Harrier hunting over the dunes. On the water, we saw just 4 White-winged Scoters and one DC Cormorant, though we panned back and forth in search of the Guillemot.
The Salt Pannes were quite bare as well, giving us only 9 Semi-palmated Sandpipers and one Great Egret. The Wardens gave some of us good scope views of Seaside Sparrow, as well as a GreatBlue Heron, six Barn Swallows mixed in with the constant motion of the Tree Swallows. At the North Pool Overlook, Craig picked up a Virginia Rail calling for the group.
Hellcat gave us two each of American Wigeon and Green-winged Teal, Great and Snowy Egrets, Semi and Least Sandpipers, 150 Semi-palmated Plovers, 7 Greater and one Lesser Yellowlegs, two Short-billed Dowitchers and an Osprey.
Stage Island Pool was next, and we approached with anticipation. This hotspot did not disappoint, but rather delivered on the promise of American Avocet. We did not see it at first, a couple of us thought we were looking at a strange white duck with its head tucked, until it moved and turned out to be the sought-after Avocet with the stunning bill. After studying what we could find from the trail, we moved on to the platform, where two birders said they had been watching two Black Terns. Luck was with us again and we all got views of the tern flying about.
The lots at the end of the road were full, leaving us unable to visit Emerson Rocks or Sandy Point. We’ll keep that in mind for next year and head there at the start of the day. On the way out we stopped at the Pines Trail and Lookout, where there was an Osprey nest with four Ospreys on it, all large and seemingly the same size. We took another chance at spotting the Black Guillemot at Lot 1, but no luck there, where we called it a day. It was a beautiful day on Plum Island, all seemed happy, and we ticked off 53 species.
Nine participants carpooled in three vehicles and met up at the Vermont Welcome Center in Guilford at 7:00 a.m. The weather was a mild and breezy, with a dry forecast for the rest of the day.
Our first stop was Allen Bros Marsh in Winchester, where we counted the usual Wood Ducks, Mallards, Red-winged Blackbirds, Song and Swamp Sparrows, Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler and Common Yellowthroat. Highlights here were an American Kestrel perched high up on a leafless branch, an Alder Flycatcher heard only, and a Great Blue Heron in its nest.
Our next stops were the grasslands that surround the Windsor State Correctional Facility plus the extensive farm fields nearby. We were treated to Snipe, Bobolink, two Virginia Rails, which gave us stunning views, and Savannah Sparrow on the lower road. While on the road up the hill, we added several species, as we drove slowly, stopping twice to exit the cars for a longer listen. We heard Red-eyed Vireo, Eastern Wood Pewee, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Indigo Bunting, Black-and-white and Black-throated Green Warblers, Ovenbird, Redstart, Chimney Swift and House Wren to name a few.
We stopped at a rest area in Bradford enroute to Victory Basin and picked up Pileated Woodpecker, Ravens, and Turkeys. It was 1:00 p.m. when we began birding the Victory Basin WMA. We were hoping to glimpse any of the big four boreal species that are permanent residents (Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, Canada Jay and Spruce Grouse). The elusive northern species escaped us, but we did manage excellent views of Magnolia Warbler, Northern Parula, a surprise Spotted Sandpiper and a Common Merganser with young in tow floating along the Moose River and viewed from Victory Road.
Day 2 began at 5:00 a.m. We drove north to Moose Bog for another opportunity to garner the prized boreal species. The weather forecast was for cold temps, rain and wind, but we managed about three hours of dry weather to explore the bog before the rain began to hamper our ef-forts. We heard Hermit and Swainson’s Thrushes, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, White-throated and Lincoln’s Sparrows, Yellow-rumped, Magnolia, Nashville and Palm Warblers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Blue-headed Vireos, Northern Waterthrush and many more species as we walked the trail to reach the boardwalk into the bog. Once there, we heard the distinct drumming of the Black-backed Woodpeckers, but we never did get eyes on the bird.
Next stop was at the Silvio O. Conte Visitor Center, a clean and beautiful education center with rest rooms. We were all impressed! From the center, we walked on the steep trail leading down to the Nulhegan River and enjoyed views of Blackburnian, Black-and white, and Chestnut-sided Warblers, while other species were heard only.
Rain was setting in, but before we called it a day, we tried in vain to find boreal species on Stone Dam Road and on a second attempt to Moose Bog using an alternate trail. We did hear many northern nesting species sing their beautiful songs, which is always a treat.
Day 3 brought a return to sunshine and more mild temperatures, though the wind continued. Our first stop was at the Barton Marsh in Newport. We walked the railroad bed that dissects the marsh and provides wonderful marsh views on both sides. There were at least ten Marsh Wrens belting out their songs and keeping us company during the walk. We spotted an Osprey, a Common Loon, and four Double-crested Cormorants flying by and a Pied-billed Grebe with young swimming close in. A White-tailed deer and two fawns stood still on the railroad tracks and watched us approach before moving off to safer grounds.
Next stop was the Franklin Municipal Airport located on Route 78 just east of Swanton. We found it to be less inviting this year, with “No Trespassing” signs and expanded fencing around the facility. From the adjacent farm field, we were able to hear Grasshopper Sparrow. Savan-nah and Vesper Sparrows gave us nice views along with the pleasure of their songs, both perched on the fence and atop the maintenance building. Also there was an American Kestrel flying about and then hovering while hunting over the airfield.
Missisquoi NWR on the northern end of Lake Champlain was next. We visit here on every trip to northern Vermont to see the nesting Black Terns and this year did not disappoint. We had wonderful views of a Black Tern flying low and close as it moved from one side of the road to the other, plying the marshy waters in search of little fish. Five Great Blue Herons were spotted and several Ospreys, two on their nests. Tabor Road gave us exceptional views and photo opportunities of two Common Snipes and one sharp-eyed member glimpsed two American Bitterns as they flew over the field. This spot also rewarded us with great looks at Purple Martins, Barn, Tree, and Cliff Swallows, as well as Bobolinks and two Northern Harriers.
Our last birding stop of the day was Colchester Pond, where a Golden-winged Warbler was re-ported to be present near the power line cut. We hiked the trail north along the edge of the pond, getting pleasantly surprised by the sighting of two Caspian Terns in flight over the pond, and three Common Loons floating mid-way across the pond. It was a fitting end to a wonderful weekend in northern Vermont. We ended up with a total of 103 species!
Seven birders gathered many species for the list right from Moody Bridge Road in front of Fort River WMA. Bank, Barn and Tree Swallows, Red-winged Blackbird, Robin (and 1 in nest), Song and House Sparrows, Cedar Waxing, Green Heron, Bobolinks, Mallard, Mourning Dove, Flicker, Great Blue Heron, Cardinal, Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Catbird, Pewee, Kingfisher, Kestrel (pair plus one), Brown Thrasher and Turkey Vulture were all present there.
In the refuge itself we had House Wren, Yellowthroat, Blue Jay, Baltimore Oriole, Yel-low Warbler, Catbird, Wood Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, Chickadee, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Brown Thrasher, Carolina Wren and Grackle.
Twenty Allen Bird Club members made a three-hour tour of the Southwick Wildlife Management Area on June 12th. At 200 acres, the Southwick WMA offers an extensive swath of grassland habitat that is increasingly scarce in New England. Together with the adjacent 150-acre Suffield WMA just across the state line in Connecticut, this site is carefully managed to provide nesting habitat for such sought-after species as Brown Thrasher, Eastern Meadowlark, Bobolink, Orchard Oriole, Grasshopper Sparrow, Prairie Warbler and Blue-winged Warbler. Our group encountered all but two of these species, missing only Bobolink and Meadowlark. The trip leader was heartened to see that our party included Jackson, an elementary-school-age boy, with 100 life-birds already under his belt! He added another seven or eight during our tour. Here’s a tip for those interested in visiting this unique site: bring a telescope if you can. One was surprisingly helpful today for viewing species such as American Kestrel and state-listed Grasshopper Sparrow without having to (or being able to) approach them closely. The final trip tally was 33 species.
There were 17 teams and 34 observers out in Hampden County territories for the count held on May 13-14. Thankfully, once again, the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases did not prevent we birders from doing our thing! The weather was quite good for birding. Friday evening temps were high 70s and winds were calm. Saturday brought us more of the same, starting off with comfortable temps in mid-60s rising to 84 by mid-day, with winds 2-6 mph from the south. Together the teams recorded 134 species, which was about average over the last ten years, and coincidentally, also average for the entire 60 years of May Counts.
As is typical, most of the common species were near their recent or long-term average, but some were noticeably high. In parentheses is the number for 2022, followed by the 10-year average. There were several species whose totals were highest ever in our count history, including Canada Goose (545-411), Red-shouldered Hawk (11-3), Barred Owl (9-4), Red-bellied Woodpecker (157-118), Pileated Woodpecker (26-16), Carolina Wren (60-30, the last 3 years numbers doubled those of previous years), Louisiana Waterthrush (30-13), and Pine Warbler (89-51). Other high, but not record breaking, counts were Downy Woodpecker (82-55), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (72-55), Eastern Phoebe (72-53), Great Crested Flycatcher (75-55), Rough-winged Swallow (92-55), Brown Creeper (21-10), Wood Thrush (197-144), and Ovenbird (265-144). We did not add any new species to the May Count this year, but Harvey and Craig Allen did get Horned Lark (4), which had not been recorded since 1999. They also came face-to-face with two Moose, which should be a first for the Count, if we kept records of mammals.
Low species counts this year were Solitary Sandpiper (5-19), Wood Pewee (1-21), Least Flycatcher (2-14), Veery (46-60), Swainson’s Thrush (2-19), Magnolia Warbler (3-26), Yellow-rumped Warbler (13-70), and Black-throated Green Warbler (20-43). Misses include Common Loon, Ruffed Grouse (recorded every year up until the 2012 and only once since then), Black-billed Cuckoo, Brown Thrasher (first miss on this species in Count history), Blackpoll Warbler (first miss since 1970), Wilson’s Warbler (which was recorded each year for the last 6 years), Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cape May and Bay-breasted Warblers.
Participants seemed to be in agreement that numbers were low, especially for migrants.
Thanks to all who spent many hours in the field, especially Steve Svec’s team, who again put in a tiring 20 hours of effort, and Dave McLain’s team who racked up 109 species for the day. Nice job everyone!
Click below to view or download complete count results.
The field work for this 19th annual Little River IBA Count was done on a mild, calm evening (temps mid-70s, winds WNW at 2 mph), followed by a mild morning and a warm, but comfortable afternoon (temps low 60’s rising to 84 degrees by mid-afternoon, winds S at 1-5 mph).
This year Tom Swochak hosted the compilation get-together at his yoga studio in Westfield. Pizza, salad, and fresh fruit were gobbled down quickly. Beverages flowed throughout the compilation and a yummy dessert and coffee ended the event. We bantered while we compiled our individual results and then shared our totals and the day’s adventures. Great fun!
Altogether, there were 7 teams and 12 observers in the field for a total of 66.5 hours. The hours of effort were up 2.25 from last year, but still well below the Count’s average of 71.2. The total number of species counted was 106, falling below our average of 110.7.
Misses of note include, Green Heron, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Woodcock, Whip-poor-will, Acadian Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglet and White-throated Sparrow. Near misses, with just one individual found, were Hooded Merganser, Ruffed Grouse, Cooper’s Hawk, Killdeer, Blue-winged Warbler and Virginia Rail.
High counts were set this year for Red-tailed Hawk (10), Yellow-billed Cuckoo (7), Red-bellied Woodpecker (21), Downy Woodpecker (18), Tufted Titmouse (63), House Wren (45, average is 21), Prairie Warbler (19, average is 10), and Indigo Bunting (38). Other species with special interest were Double-crested Cormorant (2, found in only 7 other counts) and Brown Thrasher (1, found in only 5 other counts).
Species with the lowest, or close to the lowest, numbers in count history were Blue-headed Vireo (9, only lower in 2014), Winter Wren (5, only lower in 2015), Hermit Thrush (9, only lower in 2019), Louisiana Waterthrush (3), Magnolia Warbler (5), Chestnut-sided Warbler (65), Black-throated Blue Warbler (47, only lower in 2019 and 2020), Yellow-rumped Warbler (5), Black-throated Green Warbler (21, only lower in 2019), Canada Warbler (6, only lower in 2021), Dark-eyed Junco (6, only lower in 2012 and 2013), and Bobolink (26).
To end this summary on a better note, Myles and Kathy spotted two Sandhill Cranes, found for the very first time in our Little River IBA count.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
It was raining lightly as four of us gathered to look for birds. The water level was high, which prevented us from spotting any shorebirds that normally lurk on the mudflats at the water’s edge. We did enjoy 200-300 Chimney Swifts swarming above us. There were around 20 Double-crested Cormorants, a couple of Common Mergansers, Great Blue Herons, and Canada Geese. We got eyes on two Rough-winged Swallows and an immature Bald Eagle too.
We started our walk in the parking lot of the Visitors Center at Quabbin Park at 7:00 a.m. with eight members. When we approached the viewing area to the reservoir in front of the building, there was a heavy fog over the water. Looking through it, we saw a beautiful Common Loon and a Double-crested Cormorant. We walked over to the Rainbow Garden area and then on to the Windsor Dam for some views as well. We saw Chipping and Song Sparrows, Chimney Swifts, Rough-winged Swallows, Cedar Waxwings, Robins, Goldfinches, Cardinals, Blue jays, Catbirds, and flyovers from a Pileated Woodpecker and a Great Blue Heron.
We then headed back to our cars, drove to the second entrance to the Quabbin. We parked on the right not too long after entering the gate, walked around here and towards the bridge leading to the dam. We had great views of a few Prairie Warblers. Also at this spot were Phoebes, Pewees, a Great Crested Flycatcher, a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and some Eastern Bluebirds. On the concrete bridge here along the cliffs, we saw the resident Ravens.
We got back into the cars and headed up the road, pulling over onto the left, just before the rotary heading towards the tower area. This was a great spot, pointed out to us by Tim S. Magnificent views of a Magnolia Warbler, a half dozen Chestnut-sided Warblers, and a few more Prairies justified his suggestion. Also spotted in this area, were Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, and a Hummingbird.
The next area to explore was the Tower. Due to construction on the tower, we were not able to get into that exact area, but we did manage to see Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadees, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and a few Brown Creepers. We also walked into the apple orchard, finding this area very quiet. Next was a brief stop at the Enfield Lookout, and then we finished off the morning at Hank's Meadow. Two giant Turkeys were strutting their wares when we arrived at the meadow and provided us quite a display! Flyovers included some Turkey Vultures, Crows, and a Red-tailed Hawk. On the shore by the water, we heard a Common Loon, but didn't see it.
The rest of the list of birds in no exact order of where we saw them include, Hermit and Wood Thrushes, Eastern Towhee, Cowbird, Grackle, and a White-breasted Nuthatch. Warblers were Black-and-white, Blue-winged, Ovenbird, Pine, Parula, and many Redstarts. The morning of birding ended around 11:00 a.m., with sunshine and temps that had climbed into the low 90's.
Great morning, great weather, great group and a total of 53 species!
Five of us started off our walk with cool weather and a very light rain. The primary route for the Skinner Mtn walk is the service road, which is approximately one mile to the top of the mountain, where the Summit House is located.
The “Hot Birds" to get on this walk are the Worm-eating and the Cerulean Warblers. We were able to see multiples of each species. Other warblers spotted were Pine, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Ovenbird, and Black-throated Blue. We missed out on the Blackburnian, which can normally be spotted at the midway point up the mountain. Three species of vireos spotted were identified, Red-eyed, Warbling, and Blue-headed. The latter provided us with a nice show of it eating at a caterpillar's nest!
The two other birds you always hope to see on this walk, and we did, are the Scarlet Tanager and the Indigo Bunting - beautiful views! Our list also included: Blue Jay, Cardinal, Robin, Mourning Dove, White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Brown Creeper, Goldfinches, Phoebe, Pewee, Cowbird, Carolina and Winter Wrens, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a Great Crested Flycatcher. Our flyovers were Pileated Woodpecker, Raven, a couple of Crows, and some Turkey Vultures. By the time we reached the Summit, the weather had cleared, and it was starting to get a little warmer.
Great morning birding, with a fun group and a total species count of 35.
Started at 7:30 in the morning at our usual meeting place for the Lake Wallace walk, the Dunkin’ on State St in Belchertown. The weather was sunny, cool, and very breezy. Seventeen members gathered and then we headed across the street to Lake Wallace, which is located hidden behind the Belchertown Police Station.
Lake Wallace has had some new improvements this past year. The Lake Wallace Sensory Trail is a fully accessible education and recreation trail. It is still in the process of being constructed, however we were able to utilize some of it. One of it being the new dock and observation point. It is a large wooden platform that overlooks the side of the lake. It provides a beautiful view, and at the start of our walk this morning, provided a wide variety of birds and other wildlife as well. The swallows were plentiful - Tree, Barn, and Northern Rough-winged. Also seen from this point were Great Blue Herons, a Great Egret, Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, Mallards, 3 Hooded Mergansers, and a Belted Kingfisher. Walking along the new trail, we observed a variety of sparrows: Chipping, White-throated, House, Swamp, and Song. We had beautiful views of Eastern Bluebirds, Yellow, Palm, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Phoebe, and a Warbling Vireo.
We then drove into the Foley Field area, parked out cars along the fence outside the soccer fields, and just walked along the edge of the lake. The first few minutes gave us some great views of a Chestnut-sided Warbler, along with some Black-and-White's. Woodpecker’s spotted were the Northern Flicker, Red-bellied, Downy, and Pileated. Eastern Phoebe, Warbling Vireo, Mourning Doves, Robins, Blue Jays, Tufted Titmouse, and White-breasted Nuthatch's were all seen in the shrubbery along the edge as well.
While we continued to walk along the edge, in the trees and looking out onto the lake, we saw Red-winged Blackbirds, a Brown-headed Cowbird, Grackles, Starlings, Cardinals, and Catbirds. We also had a wonderful view of the Great Blue Heron's nest. At the end of the soccer field area, in the backside of the lake, we walked into the woods along the trail, that follows the other side of the lake. We were hoping to see the resident Virginia Rail and Sora, but they were not home at the time. This area did provide us with Ovenbird and Northern Waterthrush.
Flyovers that topped off our list at 42 species included Crows, a Raven, a Red-tailed Hawk, and a few Turkey Vultures. It was a great day with a great group of birders, a first time at Lake Wallace for many of them.
More information can be found about the Lake Wallace Sensory Trail on their Facebook Page. It truly is a great place to bird any time of day!
It was a very foggy morning and good visibility was a problem, but 16 participants managed to hear and sometimes see 32 species on the mile walk along the road. Redstarts, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Blackpoll, and a Worm-eating Warbler were singing very close to the entrance. Further along, Ravens flew above us, croaking in the mists. We were able to see pairs of Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. As the weather cleared, Black-and-white Warblers, Chestnut-sided, and Prairie Warblers showed their colors. A cooperative Pileated Woodpecker was a treat for many. On our way back, Winter Wrens sang in three different areas.
It was a good trip with 16 participants. We had great views of Virginia Rail and ended up with a total of 56 species. Click below to see complete list below.
The nine birders on the walk had a perfect spring day weather-wise. We started off by hearing a newly arrived Willow Flycatcher; then found a Common Grackle feeding young in a nest hole. Bird song was everywhere, especially Warbling Vireos, Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Redstarts, Orioles, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. Other warblers found were Northern Parula, Magnolia, Canada, and Northern Waterthrush.
Overhead, keen eyes spotted Chimney Swifts, a Peregrine Falcon, an adult Bald Eagle and later three immature eagles circling in the thermals as well as a Red-shouldered Hawk. We watched a female Yellow Warbler for several minutes as she collected webbing and flew back to a nest that she was constructing at eye level. Ending on a high note, an Orchard Oriole sang high in a tree in the parking area, but well hidden in the leaves. It took a while, but eventually everyone was able to see this first year bird. A great morning of birding and good company to enjoy a total of 51 species.
Seven members counted a total of 37 species. Temperatures ranged between hi-40s and mid-50s on an overcast, damp and somewhat windy day.
The best bird of the trip was a pair of Common Loons that, I am going to assume, are the same loons that have been nesting at the reservoir for a few years. We did see six species of warbler the most common being the Pine, which were singing up a storm all along the walk. The others that we saw include Prairie, Yellowrump (in certain places they almost filled the trees), BT Green, Ovenbird and Redstart. We did have a quick pass overhead of two immature Eagles which quickly flew out of site since we saw them through the pine trees overhead. We could have added two additional mallards to the bird list, but when we got a scope on them, we discovered that they were actually Ring-necked Ducks, a species we don't see much on the reservoir this late in the season. Even though this trip is scheduled for only 2 hours, we stayed for a much longer time (about 3 1/2 hours) since everyone was having such a pleasant time enjoying each other’s company and trying to get as many birds as possible on such a dreary day.
About of 16 joined the annual Mother’s Day walk in Robinson St Park to rack up a total of 43 species. The weather was chilly and warbler numbers comparatively low, but we did enjoy seven warbler species. Other migrants were Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Veery and Baltimore Oriole. Eagles were circling overhead, giving everyone great looks. The morning ended at Steve and Madeline’s house, a stop made very special by their gracious hospitality, delicious cookies and beverages. Complete bird list below.
Thirteen Birders gathered to enjoy sights and sounds while strolling along the rail trail. The birds were few, with highlights being a Yellow Warbler and a Canada Goose with eggs and nest. Other birds included Great Blue Heron, Kingfisher, Robin, Mourning Dove, Red-winged Blackbird, Tree Swallow, Swamp and Song Sparrows, Flicker, Titmouse and Baltimore Oriole. Four beavers kept the group entertained, as did a muskrat, and snapping turtles were swimming with just heads poking above the surface of the water. Spring peepers and pickerel frogs provided atmospheric backdrop with their enchanting calls.
Beautiful weather graced the day! The bird walk was relaxing and, though our species count was not high, we enjoyed a few highlights, including Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Warbling Vireo, and Killdeer.
The annual meeting was short and sweet, and we were able to vote on the slate of new officers for the 2022-2023 season: President-Jim Platenik, Vice President–Andrea Bugbee, Secretary–Terri Skill, Treasurer-George Kingston, and Executive Committee members-at-Large, Tim Carter, April Downey and Bobby Olsen. Welcome all and thank you in advance for your service to the Club.
Once business was complete, older and newer members got to know each other better over a delicious picnic lunch from Frigo’s Gourmet Foods. It was just plain fun!
We had 42 species and 15 participants. Highlights were Pine, Palm, Yellow-rumped, and Black-and-white Warblers, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Chimney Swifts, Osprey, Bald Eagle, as well as Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Brown Creeper, Spotted Sandpiper, Wood duck and Hooded Mergansers.
The trip started on a high note as everyone got to see two Black Vultures feeding on some roadkill on Moody Bridge Rd as they drove up to Silvio O. Conte NWR - Fort River Division. First, we got to see a good number of Barn and Tree Swallows from the parking lot along with a number of the usual species there and a quick fly-in of a Brown Thrasher. As we headed in, we got our second good find of the day in the form of a male Orchard Oriole. We continued on the trail and as we reached the western end of the trail, we got a Black-throated Blue Warbler, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a Swainson's Thrush. We then continued along the northern part of the trail, finding two Northern Parula, a Palm Warbler, a Wood Thrush and a Kingfisher flyby. As we approached the large fields, we had a Ruby-crowned Kinglet calling along with a House Wren and a late Junco.
We headed back to the parking lot picking up a Swamp Sparrow along the way. This ended the trip for most though a few of us decided to head up the road to the grass fields as a Bobolink was reported at Fort River that morning. As we walked to the road, we had an Osprey fly over and as we got up to the fields, we spotted a lone Bobolink which was singing from the top of a tree and then flew off to join another one and when they flushed from another tree, they were a group of three. We also had a pair of Kestrels which appeared to be staying on or near one of the kestrel boxes. We had 11 participants, perfect weather and saw a total of 51 species.
Though the end of April, the weather felt more like early March. Ten birders braved the chill and gusting winds to look for arriving migrants. Highlights of the morning were: Yellow-rumped Warblers - everywhere - high in the treetops and foraging on the ground. A Northern Waterthrush announced it had arrived with lusty song, as did the Gray Catbirds. The famous Stebbins Eastern Screech Owl was in residence, always a treat to see. A Yellow Warbler sang, and a bright yellow spot revealed where he sat high up in a tree. Chimney Swifts joined Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows hawking insects over the ponds. A Piliated Woodpecker flew from tree to tree on the Natti Trail, where later a House Wren revealed its presence down by the river. As we looped back on the West Road Trail, we added Palm Warblers, more Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. A Rusty Blackbird doing its squeeky rusty hinge call got our attention and then flew down almost in front of us. We were nearly back to our starting point when a Brown Thrasher was spotted high up in a tree. The trip came to a conclusion with a drive along Pondside Road to view the Mute Swan, Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, and Osprey. All at, or on, a nest. There were 43 species on the trip list.
We had 10 birders and we saw a total of 24 species, primarily but not exclusively "the usual suspects.” One highlight was an American Kestrel which "posed" for us on top of a transmission line. Although we have seen a number of warblers at this location in past years, alas there were very few today.
We counted four different woodpecker species, Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy, and Northern Flicker. Other birds of particular interest included Eastern Phoebe (2), a Brown Creeper, a Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebirds (5), a Field and four White-throated Sparrows, and Eastern Towhee (2).
It was a very cool early spring morning when 10 birders met to search for ducks and early spring migrants. We were very happy to meet 4 new birders and also happy to see 6 other familiar faces.
The trip got off to a slow start at Pynchon Point. The high water from recent rains and snow melt had forced ducks and gulls to other places, and so the confluence of the Westfield River and the Connecticut River failed to produce. We moved on to another view of the Westfield River at the end of Hunt St. After checking out the whimsical wood sculptures near the parking area, we began to get bird activity. Downy woodpeckers were drumming, a Carolina Wren (with feathers fluffed from the chill) belted out his song, juncos trilled, and House Finches and a Northern Cardinal added a flash of color. An adult Bald Eagle circled low over our heads, and then an early American Kestrel flew in to perch, immediately chased off by a scolding Blue Jay.
Our next stop was to check the lagoons of the Big E, also flooded, but we did find a Great Blue Heron hunting for breakfast. Here we also added Mallards, a pair of Wood Ducks and a calling Killdeer to our list. We then moved on to the dike and another view of the Westfield River where a fast-flying Sharp-shinned Hawk was spotted.
The day was warming up and it was time to see what could be found along Pondside Road in Longmeadow. This was the place to find ducks. The first pond held Green-wing Teal, Black Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, and more Wood Ducks. As we walked along from pond to pond, there were opportunities to scope out Pied-billed Grebes, Common Mergansers, and Hooded Mergansers, to see Goldfinch coming out of winter plumage, and to watch early Tree Swallows feed over the water. We also found that Canada Geese and Mute Swans were sitting on nests, as was a Bald Eagle (the first to do so at Pondside). As we reached the next to last pond there were more new species of ducks - Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, and Blue-winged Teal. Though the morning started slowly, the birding ended on a high note. The tally for the trip was 37 species.
We all met at Sylvester's in Northampton for a nice social get together and breakfast as we always do on this trip. It's a nice way to meet all the people going on the trip: catching up with lives of old friends and getting acquainted with new that don't come to many of the bird trips. We left at about 9:00 to head up to Turner's Falls. The weather started off sunny, nut clouds came in as the trip progressed and just a little after the trip ended it started to rain. The temps ranged from high 40s to mid-50s.
Fifteen members counted over 27 species. Most species were what we expected to see on this trip: a variety of ducks and land birds. There was virtually no ice in Barton's Cove, so there was no expectation of seeing any concentration of ducks there, since they could have flown anywhere with all the lakes in the area free of ice. Normally, if there were ice on the river, we could have seen a variety of gulls sitting on the ice rafts. Unfortunately, there were none, so we missed out on seeing a few more gulls for the species count for the trip. We did see a nice concentration of ring neck ducks there, though. Spotting a Bald Eagle’s nest with a pair of eagles nearby was a thrill for most of us. In addition to those two, we did see many more eagles of various ages during the trip from other locations. Many of us enjoyed our first-of-the-year Tree Swallows from the boat ramp and first-of-the-year Killdeer at the Turner's airport.
Over 25 members gathered to try to catch a glimpse of a Woodcock. All heard the peenting of at least five woodcocks. Some were lucky enough to see one or two rise up into the air in a courting dance display.
Allen Bird Club members made our annual trip to the North Shore on February 19-20. Fifteen of us braved the frigid and blustery conditions in order to catch sight of some of our winter coastal species. We were not disappointed. The trip was off to an auspicious start when we arrived at our first stop - Jodrey fish pier in Gloucester - and saw a Common Murre that had been reported. It was a first state bird for several of us. Despite its name, this species is not as “common” as the Thick-billed Murre. Even the Thick-billed is not always seen, and we did not see any this weekend. The only other alcids we saw were three Razorbills.
However, the wintering ducks we did see gave us a nice show. We had very good looks at Long-tailed Ducks, Buffleheads, and Harlequins in several places, all three species of Scoters, and close Gadwalls at Eastern Point. Also, in addition to the three common gull species, we were rewarded with three different Iceland Gulls (a little larger than a Ring-billed and smaller than a Herring) and a surprise Lesser Black-backed Gull at the Granite Pier in Rockport, pointed out by another birder. Purple Sandpipers hung out on the rocks like ornaments in a few places.
Two more members joined us at Plum Island on Sunday, where we saw several Northern Harriers and more looks at sea ducks. We could only drive as far as Hellcat. There, to avoid the wind for a while, we walked on the new boardwalk trail hoping for some land birds, but they were quiet. On our way out of Plum Island someone noticed a flash of white close to the road and we all were treated to close-up views of six Snow Buntings. And as we all departed from the boat launch, those in one car saw a Bald Eagle rise up out of the marsh. No Snowy Owls were to be found at Plum so we headed to Salisbury State Park to see what could be found there. More Harriers and a nice look at a Peregrine from the boat ramp, but still no Snowy.
Our last stop was the beach and stone jetty at Salisbury where we scanned the rocks for our elusive treasure. There, almost as if it was lit up against the dark rocks, was our Snowy Owl. Everyone had great scope looks at this last bird of the trip, a trip “bookended” by two hoped for, but not always found, wintering birds. Windy conditions probably contributed to our slightly less than average 57 species for the trip.
Note: Two members made an additional stop at Hampton Beach State Park, just up the coast in New Hampshire. They found more Snow Buntings and Horned Larks as well as a couple of Lapland Longspurs. It might be worth adding it as a stop in the future.
More than a handful of members joined in to enjoy a good birding day. It was hoped that meeting late morning would get the group to the Turners Falls Power Canal in time to witness the gulls and ducks that gather there as sunset approaches. Though the group decided not to press on after the first few stops, many birds were spotted along the way, as follows.
Honey Pot Area:
Bald Eagle (3)
Northern Harrier (3)
Back entrance to Arcadia:
Wood Duck (male/female)
Here’s a rundown of how we did this year compared to past years. We brought in a total of 68 species, the fourth highest species count and the highest in the last 15 years. Observer number, hours in the field, and miles covered were all in the average range. Water was unfrozen for the most part. The temperature ranged between 35-45 degrees F, but winds picked up in the afternoon and gusts were strong.
There were many species found in higher numbers than usual. All averages are 31-year averages and an asterisk signifies the highest count recorded for that species over the 31 Cobble Mtn counts. Canada Geese came in at an all-time high of 6040*, while the average is 1190. Black Duck at 108 was almost double the average of 56. Hooded and Common Mergansers were both counted at all-time highs, Hooded 61* with an average of 12 and Common 728* with an average count of 78. Hawks gave us good numbers, too. We counted 13* Cooper’s Hawks with a previous average of 4, Red-shouldered Hawk count of 5* was matched in 2019, with at least one reported each year since 2012. Even Redtails were high at 50* when the average is 28. We also counted 2 Northern Harriers, only sighted in 4 of the other 31 years. Our Hermit Thrush count was 5*, which was only matched in 2014. Finally, Red-winged Blackbirds were spotted by three teams, with a total of 603* birds, far above the average of 75.
There were just a few species found in lower numbers than usual. We only spotted 3 Turkeys, while the average is 34. Red-breasted Nuthatch was among its lowest numbers at just 2 birds. The Northern Cardinal count was just 59, with an average of 97. We were lucky to count one each of Screech, Great Horned, and Barred Owls, which is more a reflection of effort than a downward trend.
There were many good finds this year, too. Snow Goose (4*) was recorded on only two other count years. Wood Ducks (2) were last reported in 2013. When not frozen, Congamond Ponds can add a number of waterfowl species and this year was no different. Viewpoints overlooking Middle Pond gave us a highest ever number of Pintail (10*) and Ringnecks (10*), one spot offered a Greater Scaup and 2 Lessers, and South Pond granted one team a Bufflehead. Great Blue Heron was counted by three teams, one bird each. Songbirds not found regularly included Catbird (1), Savannah Sparrow (4), Swamp Sparrow (2) and a first-ever Veery, a highly unusual species for this date.
Unfortunate misses this year were Horned Lark, Field Sparrow and Purple Finch.
Count week birds added by Dorrie Holmes and Al and Lois Richardson were Goldeneye (2), Ruddy Duck (2) and Red-breasted Merganser (1), all at Congamond on December 24th.
It was a good year, thanks to the efforts of all participants!
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Participants: M. and K. Conway, A. Downey, M. Felix, D. and L. Haile, T. Skill, B. Spirito, J. Zepko, Ruth Green and Joseph Sefter, the last two being new members
In keeping with what has been typical this season, our Berkshire Lakes trip took place on a day that was mild for early November. The warmish weather has kept the ducks from moving south, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the eleven participants. The larger Cheshire Reservoir gave us more land birds than waterfowl (Cedar Waxwings, Red-winged Blackbirds, Pileated Woodpecker, among others) until we came to the "teal hole". There we found a pair of Bufflehead, a handful of Hooded Mergansers, and a female Lesser Scaup. At the causeway on Onota we found Wood Ducks as expected along with two Gadwall. There were Coot in one cove on Richmond Pond, but the first Coot of the day was spotted by Donna H. at the Pontoosuc causeway. She also located the last bird of the day, a Pied-billed Grebe in the Richmond marsh. With a total of 32 species, we ended the half-day trip enjoying cider donuts and other pastries at Bartlett's Orchard.
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Great Blue Heron 4
Turkey Vulture 1 or 2
Mute Swan 2
Wood Duck 12
Lesser Scaup 1
Hooded Merganser 7
Common Merganser 18
Bald Eagle 1
Red-tailed Hawk 2
American Coot 6
Ring-billed Gull 91
Belted Kingfisher 1
Downy Woodpecker 2
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Black-capped Chickadee 2
Tufted Titmouse 1
Carolina Wren 2
Eastern Bluebird 5
Cedar Waxwing 25
Red-winged Blackbird 2
There were just three eager birders ready to start the New Year right, despite the new fallen snow and the frigid temperatures. We began the trip by taking a detour to New Bedford, where a rare Mandarin Duck was reported at The Sawmill at Acushnet River Preserve. The pond was partially frozen, but we found the graceful duck floating in the outflow river with Mallards, Black Ducks, Canada Geese and several domestic ducks and geese. The preserve is a lovely place, but the clock was already ticking, so we moved on to try for a Snowy Owl reported on the beach along the New Bedford Cove Walk. We did not find it, but did spot an array of waterfowl, including Red-throated Loon, Bufflehead, Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck, Scaup, Red-breasted Mergansers and Common Eider - and another life place!
Onward to the Cape, we picked up Turkey Vulture and seconds later Black Vulture from the moving car. We arrived at Siders Pond in Falmouth around 11:25 to find less birds than in previous years. We counted about a dozen each of Hooded Mergansers, Canada Geese and Mallards, and five Double-crested Cormorants. At nearby Salt Pond, there were less than a dozen Scaup, but two Great Blue Heron were hunting at the back edge of the water. Other birds were Bufflehead, Red-breasted and Hooded Mergansers, and a Belted Kingfisher. Off Surf Avenue there were 2 Red-throated Loon, 4 Common Loon, lots more Red-breasted Mergansers, a few Goldeneye and a Long-tailed Duck.
After a break, we headed to Flax Pond and found the reported Redhead Duck with some Canada Geese. While there we picked up few songbirds and a Flicker. Next stop was Ashumet Pond, where parking was difficult and most of the waterfowl were distant. There were Scaup, lots of Common Mergansers and Common Goldeneye, and with them was one male Barrow’s Goldeneye.
On to Marston’s Mills, where the newly frozen ice forced the ducks into an area where we could get good views. We picked out two male Pintail and a Green-winged Teal, as well as Hooded Mergansers, Blacks, Mallards, 5 Mute Swans, another Great Blue Heron and the always cheerful call of the Carolina Wren.
We accessed Mill Pond in West Barnstable by parking at the end of Gemini Road and walking down a snow and ice-covered trail. The Pond treated us to 50 Wood Ducks, 25 Canada Geese and two Great Horned Owls calling back and forth. On returning to the car, we spotted six Turkeys strolling in the neighbor’s yard.
It was after 4:00 by now and we still had much to do before sunset. We headed straight for Town Neck Rd, forgoing a quick look at the Sandwich marina, and parking at the usual spot, but the closed-down restaurant is now the new Tree House Brewing Co. Over the years, viewing the bay from this spot has given us wonderful close-up looks at hundreds, maybe thousands, of waterfowl and has been a good place to search for alcids, particularly Razorbills. We did pick up a few new birds for the day, 4 Black Scoter, a Great Black-backed Gull, and a Red-necked Grebe, but even with that and the four lovely Long-tailed Ducks, we were left wanting for alcids and Gannets.
On to Plymouth Wharf, where we hoped a new location would bring us luck. We quickly found 20 Surf Scoter, more Common Eiders, Bufflehead, Canada Geese and lots of Black Ducks.
It was late, so we rushed west to Cumberland Farms. Scanning there in the almost-dark, we spotted 3 Short-eared Owls flying together, weaving an imaginary web as they circled in figure eights with the crimson-colored sunset sky as a backdrop. The last bird to make itself known was a Great Horned Owl, perched high up in a deciduous tree on the back edge of the farm fields. After a few moments it began calling, too. It was a great end to our day’s adventure. We garnered a total of 54 species and added many birds to our new year lists.
Thirteen members gathered in Gloucester at the parking lot of Sweet Water Grille (the old Friendly’s) at Grant’s Circle. Right from the parking lot many members were treated to excellent views of the previously reported Wood Stork flying into the marsh. Also there were 6 Great Blue Herons, 50+ Bufflehead, 6 Black Ducks and a Carolina Wren. It was a great start to a very nice day of birding.
Jodrey’s Pier was next giving us 3 Long-tailed Ducks. Seth was not fond of this duck’s new name and continued to refer to them as Oldsquaw, not because he didn’t identify with the more politically correct name, but just because he was a poet and thought Oldsquaw was a more colorful and poetic name for the beautiful, graceful duck. Also there were Common Loon (2), DC Cormorant (15), C Eider (75), Surf Scoter (1), our three usual gulls, but no white-winged gulls. Someone mentioned that the warmer weather might have delayed their migration.
Rocky Neck added Red-breasted Merganser (35), Red-throated Loon (4) and Bufflehead (3), along with Mockingbird. Also present were C Loon (8), Surf Scoter (10), DC Cormorant (10) and hordes of European Starlings.
At Niles Beach, we added Bald Eagle (1), Black Scoter (1), and Catbird.
While Eastern Point gave some who ventured out to the rocky precipice two Black Guillemots, a Gannet and three Purple Sandpipers, those that stayed behind, mostly due to the limited parking, were still treated to crows mobbing a Bald Eagle, C Loon (6), Surf Scoter (25), Bufflehead (4), RB Merg, C Eider (75), Long-tailed Duck (15), and another Carolina Wren singing for all.
A brief stop at Niles Pond added Ring-necked Ducks (10). Also there were Bufflehead (10), RB Merg, Black Duck (12), Mallard (5), Great Blue Heron, Blue Jay and yet another Carolina Wren!
Next stop, and last before lunch, was the Elks Club, where more of us got views of Black Guillemot (3). This location added 6 Red-necked Grebes, 30 White-winged Scoters, and a Cooper’s Hawk. Other highlights were eight Purple Sandpipers just below us atop a rock near the water’s edge, three Gannets, six Surf Scoters, 18 Bufflehead and four Common Loons.
Our usual break for lunch at Stop and Shop gave us a Red-tailed Hawk perched in a tree, a Great Blue Heron, Mallards, a Blue Jay, and more Starlings.
The afternoon birding began at Loblolly Cove where we added Harlequin Duck (3). Other birds were Purple Sandpiper (3), Gannet (3), C Loon (4), RB Merg (6) and House Finch.
On to Granite Pier for our only Savannah Sparrow, who posed for a long time on a large rock lining the parking area. There were also three Song Sparrows, Gannet (3), Harlequin (4), C Loon (4), C Eider (5), Bufflehead (2), and DC Cormorant (3).
Cathedral Rocks did not add any new birds to our list, but did give us more Gannets (2), Harlequins (12), Buffleheads (6), C Eiders (15), C Loons (5), Surf Scoters (11), RB Mergs (2), DC Cormorants (2) and Herring Gulls.
Andrew’s Point has become a fussy place to park, with multiple “No Parking” signs along the side streets. We were able to park a couple of blocks away on a small town-owned parcel and walk to our usual birding spots. Along the walk we picked up Chickadee, Junco, Song Sparrow, House and Goldfinch, and Cardinal. The ocean gave us C Loon (6), RT Loon (1), C Eider (40), Harlequin (13), a very nice female Black Scoter, White-winged and Surf Scoters (3 each), and Long-tailed Duck (3), but no alcids.
Many of us ventured on to the last stop of the day at Halibut Point, where the only new bird was Downy Woodpecker. There were also Gannets (10), a male Black Scoter, C Eider (30), a flyby of two Brant and four Common Loons. The weather had become decidedly colder with a breeze keeping us clutching our coat collars on the walk back to the park area. All-in-all a wonderful day of coastal birding with a species total of 45!
Several members joined a group from the Southwick Public Library to enjoy nearly cloudless skies, apart from one enormous, but distant, cumulus cloud that hovered motionless for hours far to the east. Haze along the horizon made spotting a challenge at times. Everyone contributed valuable help with spotting the birds in a tough sky. The wind was light during the entire watch, initially NNE, shifting to E towards the end of the watch, with temperatures in the 70s F.
A total of 59 migrating raptors were counted: Osprey (1), Northern Harrier (1), Sharp-shinned Hawk (16), Cooper’s Hawk (3), Broad-winged Hawk (28), American Kestrel (9) and Merlin (1). Non-migrating raptors were Turkey Vultures (6), adult Bald Eagle, Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk.
Other species noted were Mourning Dove, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpeckers (2), Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay (18 migrants), American Crow, Common Ravens (2), Black-capped Chickadee, American Goldfinch, Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler. Non-avian species observed were eight Monarch butterflies and a particular highlight of the day, a bull moose on the cleared hill to the north. That was a sight we won’t soon forget!
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.
(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.
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 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 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.
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.