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.
Bambi Kenney and April Downey
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.
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.
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.
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.
Al and Lois Richardson
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.
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.
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 in-cluded 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.
Al and Lois Richardson
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.
Al & Lois Richardson
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!
Myles and Kathy Conway
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.
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)
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)
Kathy and Myles Conway
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.
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.
Tim Carter and Beth Spirito
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!
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.
Tim Carter and Beth Spirito
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!
Howard and Marcy Schwartz
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 GrasshopeerSparrows. As a bonus, we also saw a Savannah Sparrow and a Killdeer sitting on her nest in the gravel.
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. Infact, 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.)
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!
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.
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!
Howard and Marcy Schwartz
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.
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-wingedHawks (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.
Beth Spirito and Tim Carter
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.
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.
Beth Spirito and Tim Carter
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!
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.
Al and Lois Richardson
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.
Al and Lois Richardson
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.
Howard and Marcy Schwartz
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-40's in the morning and hi-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. Eventual-ly, 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 imma-ture 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 al-ways 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.
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.
Kathy and Myles Conway
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!
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!
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.
Bambi Kenney and April Downey
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.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Janice Zepko and Chris Blagdon
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!
Kathy and Myles Conway
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.
Beth Spirito and Tim Carter
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!
Beth Spirito and Tim Carter
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!
April Downey and Bambi Kenney
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!
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.
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.
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.
Al & Lois Richardson
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.
Janice Zepko and Tim Carter
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.
Tim Carter and Beth Spirito
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.
Tom Swochak and Janice Zepko
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!
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.
Kathy & Myles Conway
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.
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.
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.
Beth Spirito and Tim Carter
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!
Al and Lois Richardson
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 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.
Al & Lois Richardson
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.
Beth Spirito and Tim Carter
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.
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.
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:
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.
Tim Carter & Beth Spirito
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!
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.
Howard & Marcy Schwartz
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.
Tim Carter & Beth Spirito
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.
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.
Al & Lois Richardson
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.
Bobby Olsen and Sue Burk
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).
Al and Lois Richardson
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.
Howard and Marcy Schwartz
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.
Myles & Kathy Conway
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)
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.
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.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Chris Blagdon and Janice Zepko
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!
Kathy and Myles Conway
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
Beth Spirito and Tim Carter
Eleven participants gathered to enjoy a sunny day of birding the Quabbin, It was cool and windy where we started our walk in the observation area right in front of the Quabbin Headquarters. There we were graced with a sighting of a flyover by a Bald Eagle. On the water we spotted many Ring-billed Gulls, Common Loons and Canada Geese. We then set off to the 2nd entrance of the Quabbin, where we encountered Crows, Ravens, multiple species of sparrows and more Blue Jays than we could count! Next stop was the tower area, and then on to Hanks Meadow, where we walked along the shore. Here we saw a pair of Horned Grebes, and three White-winged Scoters, along with some more Common Loons. All told we identified White-throated, White-crowned, Song, and Chipping Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Goldfinches, Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Turkey Vultures, along with five species of woodpecker, Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, Pileated and Northern Flicker. Special songbird highlights were Hermit Thrush, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Our total for the four hours of birding was 31 species – a great day!
Below is the list of birds seen on the trip. There were 12 participants.
Domesticated Duck (Swedish Blue)
Great Blue Heron
Mockingbird (Seen in the parking lot by Rachel and I as we were leaving)
Beth Spirito and Tim Carter
We set out at 8:00 am with six participants, two of which were brand new members. The weather was sunny, but cool with temps in the low 50s. We walked to the 1 ½ mile marker, and then headed back.
We counted a total on 17 species on the walk, with Blue Jay being the most plentiful bird of the day. Most exciting was the Common Loon family of three. Other birds on the water were Canada Geese, Double-crested Cormorants, a couple of Great Blue Herons, and a Belted Kingfisher. While walking we observed three different species of woodpecker, Red-bellied, Hairy and Pileated. There were also Golden-crowned Kinglets, White-breasted Nuthatches, Red-tailed Hawk, Blue-headed Vireo, and two species of warbler, American Redstart and Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Bambi Kenney & April Downey
We had a really nice birding morning at Arcadia. It was a beautiful sunny day. Nine people attended, including Olivia, a nice young woman from England. This was her first birding trip. Many of our normal birds such as Cardinals and Blue Jays were new to her, so that was fun. The highlight birds were a Meadowlark and a couple of Kestrels. Tim and April got on a Tennessee Warbler, too!.
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!
Six members gathered at Stebbins Refuge to find a total of 29 species. Highlights included close-up views of Swamp Sparrows and a Snowy Egret, and witnessing a Great Blue Heron eat a VERY large fish!
Pied-billed Grebe 2
Double-crested Cormorant 2
Solitary Sandpiper 2
Great Egret 1
Snowy Egret 1
Great Blue Heron 6
Canada Goose 100
Black Duck 3
Green-winged Teal 4
American Widgeon 1
Wood Duck 25
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Eastern Phoebe 2
Mourning Dove 10
Blue Jay 7
Red-winged Blackbird 200
Common Grackle 1
American Robin 5
Cedar Waxwings 4
Brown Cowbird 1
White-throated Sparrow 10
Song Sparrow 1
Swamp Sparrow 4
Our club had its first ever field trip to Shatterack Mtn yesterday to watch for migrating hawks. Tom Swochak led us up to a rocky outcropping with wonderful views of the valley below. The weather became quite warm in the afternoon, with temps ranging from upper 60s F at the start, to low 80s F by the end of the watch. The skies were part-ly cloudy, light to moderate haze, good conditions for spotting migrants.
Eight members scanned the skies all or part of the 6 total hours of observation, spotting a variety of migrating raptors, including Osprey (5), Kestrel (1), Sharp-shinned (1), Cooper's (2), and Broad-winged Hawks (292). Though variety was good, it was a slow day for migrating raptors except for a ten-minute period from 1:45pm to 1:55pm, when 265 Broadwings kettled and streamed past just before and during a steady, but light, rain shower that lasted only 10 minutes.
We enjoyed some non-migrating raptors as well. Turkey Vultures were quite active with a maximum at one time of 8. There were several sightings of Black Vultures, with a maximum at one time of two. We were also treated to sightings of adult Bald Eagle, and the fun that is had when gathered with a group to scan the skies with the single mis-sion of spotting a migrating hawk, or better yet a kettle of hawks!
Al & Lois Richardson
Ten members participated in the 2nd fall Wednesday morning bird walk. Bark Haul Trail, usually good for migrating warblers was quiet - though not the mosquitos! We did manage to see a few Parulas, Redstarts, Yellow-rumps and a Magnolia Warbler flitting about in the leaves. Best bird here was a Black-billed Cuckoo. Pondside produced an American Wigeon and an American Coot, both swimming with the Wood Ducks.
The farm field ponds on West Road were still productive and we had very close views of Stilt Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpipers, Least, and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Killdeer. The trip concluded with a view of a Great Horned Owl sitting on the ground less than 25 feet from our cars. We ended with 41 species in all on the trip list.
Thirteen members in total visited the hawkwatch site to help spot and count migrating hawks. The weather was mostly sunny, with temps ranging from 64-73 F, and winds from the WSW 5-10 mph. We did not have the push of Broad-winged Hawks that we hoped for today, maybe the wind was just not right. No accipiters were counted at all, but we did count Osprey (3), Bald Eagle (2), Northern Harrier (1), Broad-winged Hawk (46), American Kestrel (2), and one unidentified raptor.
In addition to the migrants, we saw some non-migrating hawks and vultures, including Black Vulture, Turkey Vultures (2), Bald Eagles (2; adult and sub-adult); Red-tailed Hawks (2). Other notable sightings were Mourning Dove, Chimney Swifts (5), Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (6), Northern Flicker, Blue Jay (who tried to trick us by imi-tating call of Red-shouldered Hawk), American Crows (2), Common Raven, Tree Swallows (4), Tufted Titmouse, Cedar Waxwings (20), warbler species (~6, none landed where we could see them). Red Admiral. Monarchs: 102 (clearly an under-count). Dozens of dragonflies, including at least 17 green darners that were likely migrants.
Eleven people showed up for today’s trip to bird Stebbins Refuge and the flooded flats on West Road. The weather was sunny and temps in the 70s with a light breeze, or most would say, PERFECT!
We picked up the usual species of songbirds along Pondside and 18 Mallards feeding in the road, until our approach pushed them back into the pond.
West Road gave us the highlight birds. There were Lesser Yellowlegs feeding apart from a sole Greater, two Pectoral Sandpipers, many Least Sandpipers and someone spotted a Semi. We counted eight Killdeer and one or two Semi-palmated Plover. There were three Great Blue Herons and one Green, as well as Great Egret and Snowy Egret. A small pool on the river side of West Rd held a couple of Solitary Sandpipers, and from the adjacent tall, wet grasses we heard the call of a Virginia Rail. The leader caught what would be the best bird of the day by ear, the call of a Golden Plover flying over, but it did not land for us to scope him out.
Al & Lois Richardson
On a very hot summer morning six Allen Bird Club members met to seek out shorebirds, egrets, and herons. Pynchon Point Park, our meeting place and first stop, proved disappointing as very high water from days of rain had eliminated shorelines for feeding migrants. After seeing a few land birds, Mary spotted our first egret. We enjoyed seeing a Great Egret fly majestically over our heads as we returned to the parking area.
Because of the high river water, we went directly to the farm field ponds on West Road in the Longmeadow Flats. Here we found the shorebirds - Solitary, Spotted, Least, and Pectoral Sand-pipers, Semipalmated Plovers, and Lesser Yellowlegs. Also found was a Snowy Egret and sever-al more Great Egrets feeding with Mallards, Wood Ducks, and Green-winged Teal. Moving on to Pondside Road and the viewing platform, we scanned the skies and trees to add Broadwing, Red-tailed, and Sharp-shinned Hawk, Osprey, Bald Eagle, and Double-crested Cormorant to our list. We finished the morning with 42 species.
Just four members gathered to enjoy a good, but very hot and humid, day on Plum Island. The insects were heavy at times, both mosquitoes and biting flies (I don’t think they were green heads) annoying half of us badly and the other half mildly. Our total species count for the day was only 36, but quality counts too, and we did have a stellar view or two to add to our memory banks!
We had great looks at Wilson's Phalarope in the salt pannes, hunting Ospreys and a Peregrine Falcon, and thousands of Tree Swallows swarming from Lot 1 and at every stop all the way to Sandy Point State Park. There were also the usual peeps, several Greater Yellowlegs, a Willet, Great and Snowy Egrets, DC Cormorants, a Great Blue Heron, and a variety of songbirds.
It was just great to be in the company of birders again, scanning the marshes and the skies for birds!
Kathy & Myles Conway
We gathered at McDonald’s in Lee and headed to our first stop on Meadow St in Lee, from there we went down Breakneck Rd, also in Lee and on to the Tyringham Cobble. Highlight birds included Alder and Willow Flycatchers, Yellow-throated-Vireo, Cliff Swallows (6), Brown Thrasher, Bobo-link, Indigo Buntin, and Scarlet Tanager. Warblers were Ovenbird (4), Black-and-white (2), Common Yellowthroat (11), American Redstart (11), Blackburnian (1), Yellow (13), Chestnut-sided (8), and Black-throated Green (1).
We ended the morning with a walk into Post Farm in Lenox, where we had a nice Rose-breasted Grosbeak pair at the parking lot and Marsh Wren heard and seen from the little bridge down at the marsh.
The field work for this 18th annual Little River IBA Count was done on a mild evening (temp mid-70s, mostly cloudy, winds S at 8 mph), followed by a mild, foggy morning and a steamy, hot afternoon (temps of low 60’s rose to 92 degrees by 3:00 pm, light winds becoming stronger in the afternoon).
The compilation get-together was accomplished electronically using Zoom, due to continuing COVID-19 concerns, and though just a few participants took part, we enjoyed the usual spirited conversation about the day’s adventures.
Altogether, there were 7 teams and 12 observers in the field for a total of 64.25 hours. The hours of effort were down 6.5 from last year, and well below the Count’s average of 72. The total number of species counted was 103, falling below our average of 111.
Misses of note include, Common Merganser, Common Loon (limited access to reservoir), American Bittern, Cooper’s Hawk (first time missed since 2007), Killdeer, Whip-poor-will (found every year up until 2017), Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (missed only two other years in history of count), and especially White-throated Sparrow (first miss ever). Near misses, with just one individual found, were Hooded Merganser, Green Heron, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Virginia Rail, Woodcock, Acadian Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Nashville Warbler, and Purple Finch.
High counts were set this year for Great Crested Flycatcher (25), White-breasted Nuthatch (24), Carolina Wren (6) and Rose-breasted Grosbeak (32, twice the Count average of 16). The Yellow-billed Cuckoo (4) was a second high, with a high count of five individuals in 2007. And finally, a Screech Owl was identified for the first time since 2010.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Nine people showed to enjoy this morning’s walk. There were no migrants, but great views of Orchard Oriole and Willow Flycatchers. Photographers were busy! Tim and Christine got a nice ones of the Orchard Oriole, and Christine also captured Willow Flycatcher, Great Blue Heron with a fish, Green Heron in the branches of a tree, and a stunning shot of our signature bird, the American Goldfinch. More photos of this trip on our Facebook members page!
Ten members gathered for the morning walk at Stebbins, with many interested in photography as well as birding. We identified a total of 49 species. The following is the complete list of birds we identified:
Canada Goose -20
Rock Pigeon -2
Mourning Dove -6
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 1
Virginia Rail -1
Great Blue Heron -1
Eastern Screech-Owl -1
Red-bellied Woodpecker -7
Downy Woodpecker -4
Eastern Wood-Pewee -1
Willow Flycatcher -2
Eastern Phoebe -1
Great Crested Flycatcher -3
Eastern Kingbird -1
Warbling Vireo -10
Red-eyed Vireo -3
Blue Jay -5
Black-capped Chickadee -12
Tufted Titmouse -2
Tree Swallow -5
Brown Creeper -3
Carolina Wren -4
European Starling -10
Gray Catbird -8
Eastern Bluebird -1
Wood Thrush -6
American Robin -12
House Finch -3
American Goldfinch -3
Chipping Sparrow -1
Song Sparrow -2
Swamp Sparrow -4
Baltimore Oriole -12
Brown-headed Cowbird -3
Common Grackle -3
Northern Waterthrush -4
Blue-winged Warbler -1
Black-and-white Warbler -1
Common Yellowthroat -12
American Redstart -8
Northern Parula -2
Magnolia Warbler -2
Yellow Warbler -12
Chestnut-sided Warbler -2
Canada Warbler -2
Wilson's Warbler -1
Scarlet Tanager -2
Northern Cardinal -4
Rose-breasted Grosbeak -8
Four joined in on the walk up the road and enjoyed 17 species of birds. The prize warblers being the Cerulean and the Worm Eating, were not found, unfortunately.
We did see some beautiful Indigo Buntings and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. A hummingbird was our first bird of the day, feeding on some flowers next to the sign in the parking lot. The American Redstarts and the Red-eyed Vireos were plentiful! We did see a Scarlet Tanager, however it was the female and not the male. She’s still pretty though. It was a sunny start at 55 degrees when we set out around 8:00 a.m., but it was getting hot when we ended close to 11:30. All in all a good day, but would have been even better had we seen our target species!
There were 17 teams and 33 observers out in Hampden County territories for the count held on May 14-15. Thankfully, once again, the COVID-19 pandemic did not prevent we birders from doing our thing! The weather was quite good for birding. Friday evening temps were low 70s and winds were light, when not absolutely calm. Saturday brought us more of the same, starting off pleasant with temps rising into the upper 70s by mid-day. Together the teams recorded 140 species, which was just above average over the last ten years.
As is typical, most of the common species were near their recent or long-term average, but some were noticeably high. There were several species whose totals were highest ever in our count history, including Common Merganser (21), Red-bellied Woodpecker (151), Pileated Woodpecker (22), Sapsucker (14, matching last year for record high), Carolina Wren (52, matching last year for record high), Eastern Bluebird (26), White-throated Sparrow (122, well past previous high record of 80 birds in 1984), Black Vulture (5), Marsh Wren (4), and Snowy Egret (2, likely a single bird seen by two different teams, however not otherwise counted since 1990). Other high, but not record breaking, counts were Wood Duck (70), Virginia Rail (11, highest since 14 counted in 1995), Chipping Sparrow (143, highest since 154 counted in 1995), Savannah Sparrow (19), Swamp Sparrow (38), Rose-breasted Grosbeak (123), Sora (2, not seen since 2010), and Palm Warbler (1, not seen since 1996). We added three species to the May Count records this year, Northern Shoveler (2), American Coot (1) and Tree Sparrow (1).
There were no notably low species counts this year, a big plus, however, we did have a few notable misses. Those include Cooper’s Hawk, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Common Nighthawk, and Whip-poor-will.
Participants seemed to be in agreement that warbler numbers were low, but this year’s warbler counts were well within the average range for the May Count, excepting the migrants, which were low.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
The group gathered for a morning walk and ended up with 51 species, including twelve warbler species. Some highlights were Wood Duck (2), Chimney Swift (15), Spotted Sandpiper (2), Great Blue Heron (1), Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Kingbird, Tree and Barn Swallows, Chipping, Song and Swamp Sparrows, Baltimore Orioles (7), Northern Cardinal (7), and Rose-breasted Grosbeak (8).
The warblers were Northern Waterthrush (1), Black-and-white Warbler (2), Common Yellowthroat (2), American Redstart (2), Northern Parula (8), Magnolia Warbler (1), Yellow Warbler (12), Chestnut-sided Warbler (1), Black-throated Blue Warbler (1), Yellow-rumped Warbler (6), Black-throated Green Warbler (5), and Wilson's Warbler (3).
Nine people gathered to enjoy the annual Mother’s Day walk and all had great views of the major birds. Even though we counted a total of 46 species, I was disappointed with only nine warbler species. We usually have many more, and for the first time ever, Veery and Tanager were not found. The big highlight of the day was a pair of nesting Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.
Other more common birds included the usual woodpeckers, Red-bellied (8), Downy (4), Hairy and N. Flicker. There were two flycatchers, E. Phoebe and E. Kingbird, a Brown Creeper, and six Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, House and Carolina Wrens, six Gray Catbirds, Chipping, White-throated and Song Sparrows, and five Baltimore Orioles. The warblers were Ovenbird (6), Louisiana Waterthrush (2), Black-and-white Warbler (3), American Redstart (9),
Northern Parula (9), Magnolia Warbler (1), Pine Warbler (5), Yellow-rumped Warbler (8), and Black-throated Green Warbler (8). We also spotted seven Northern Cardinals and two Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.
It was a cool morning, 45 degrees and sunny when six members gathered in the morning. The first 100yards from where we parked at the edge of the field were the best. We had 29 species for the day. We probably would have had a few more if a more experienced birder was with us. I’ll try to get Tim to co-lead next year. I know he would have picked up many more. Highlights were a Chestnut-sided Warbler (so beautiful) and a Wilson’s (one of my favorites)! We saw multiple Great Blue and Green Herons. Trying to point out the Green Herons was a challenge, as Lake Wallace is more like a swamp out of the Shrek movie, and the little Green Herons just like to blend in. There were also a ton of swallows all over the fields and the water; Tree, Barn, and Rough-winged (maybe?).
Six members gathered at Stebbins and garnered a total of 31 species.
We saw many Black-and-white Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Other warblers were Yellow, Parula, Yellow-rumped,and a Black-throated Green, which was a lifer for a few of us. MJ was able to capture a beautiful photograph of it as well.
We attempted to see the Screech Owl, but he was not having it. I was able to point out his usual location though for those that did not know.
The star of the day was the beautiful Rose-breasted Grosbeak,who was singing away in the top of the tree with the sunlight hitting it just right! Perfect view.
The walk finished up around 10:30, but some continued on,birding Pondside Rd for another hour. An additional 12 species were seen here, including a Belted Kingfisher, a few Great Blue Herons, a Great Egret, and a beautiful Blue-Headed Vireo!
It was a good day, some lifers, as well as some FOY’s. Everyone seemed happy!
Beth Spirito and Steve Svec
The trip went great! The weather was cool, sunny, and probably around 48-50 degrees when we set out. We had a total of 41 species! Might have even had more, but Steve was calling them out really quickly. In the parking lot where we met, we spotted 4 Killdeers. The highlight birds on the walk at Ashley were the many Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. We saw a Blue-Headed Vireo, 3 Brown Creepers, and a pair of beautiful Ospreys. The warblers for the day were Palm, Pine, and Yellow-rumped. We ended the walk with a Carolina Wren singing its little heart out.
Steve also showed us what pishing can do, a ton of birds came down, it was quite funny. He was actually laying on the ground doing the sounds. We less experienced birders all learned a lot, and throughout the walk he was doing bird sounds, talking about how to pick out binoculars, just all kinds of stuff.
This was our 30th year of participation as Cobble Mtn Circle in National Audubon’s Christmas Count. Many thanks for all those counters who have stayed the course, braving the early morning cold temperatures and a myriad of weather conditions over the years.
The following is a brief rundown of how we did this year compared to past years, though it will not be as eloquent as when Seth was at the helm. There were several species found in higher numbers than usual. Any averages mentioned are 30-year averages. Canada Goose (2621) was the second highest number of individuals recorded in any year. Hooded Merganser (31) was well above the average of 10 birds. The year 2004 was the last and only other time the number for Raven reached as high as 19 individuals. Field Sparrow was identified in 20 of 30 years, but only topped this year’s number (7) by one bird in 1991 on our first Cobble Mtn Count.
There were more species found in lower than usual numbers. Black Duck (4), with an average of 54, was a disappointment. There were only two other years that the total was in the single digits. We only counted 9 Ring-billed Gulls, and while the average is 136, the numbers are all over the place year to year. Also, low was Downy Woodpecker at 35, where our average is 70. Golden-crowned Kinglet had several years of very high numbers swinging the average up to 30, but we almost missed it altogether this year, counting only one. Waxwings (3) and Goldfinch (44) had the lowest counts in 30 years. Tree Sparrow at 19 was the second lowest count ever.
We had many extra good finds this year. Green-winged Teal (1) was only seen in two other counts. Black Vulture (1) was identified in only one other year, 2009. Winter Wren (1) only shows up in three other years. The first time counted in the last five years were Savannah Sparrow (1), Swamp Sparrow (2) and Purple Finch (6). Finally, White-crowned Sparrow (1) has not been on the list since 2006.
Unfortunate misses this year were Cooper’s Hawk, counted each previous year going back to 1996, Herring and Great Black-backed Gull, Screech, Barred and Great Horned Owls (more effort needed predawn), and Horned Lark, which we counted in each of the previous six years.
Count week birds added by Dorrie Holmes were Evening Grosbeak and Saw-whet Owl in Granville, and Bufflehead on Congamond. Hermit Thrush was identified by Katie Doe (nonmember) in Stanley Park.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
The field work for this 17th annual Little River IBA Count was done on a mild, windy evening, followed by a cool, windy morning. The compilation get-together was accomplished electronically using Zoom, due to social distancing requirement for COVID-19, but all who took part enjoyed the usual spirited conversation about the day’s adventures.
There were 7 teams and 12 observers in the field for a total of 70.75 hours. The hours were up 13 from last year, and just below the Count’s average hours of 72. The total number of species counted was 109, slightly below our average of 111.4.
Notably low species counts compared to average, with lowest count ever being noted with an asterisk, were for Sapsucker 18* (33.5), Least Flycatcher 5* (14.2), Veery 93 (142.2), Yellow Warbler 32* (47.1), BT Blue 40* (82.9), Yellow-rumped 6* (16.8), BT Green 26 (53.6), Canada 6 (11.9), Indigo Bunting 8* (18.9), and Purple Finch 1* (8.1). Misses of note include, Common Loon, Green Heron, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Blue-winged Warbler and Savannah Sparrow, along with Barred Owl (first time) and Whip-poor-will (only missed one other year). High counts were set this year for Yellow-throated Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Raven, Bank Swallow, Carolina Wren, House Wren and House Sparrow. For the first time in several years, Double-crested Cormorant, American Woodcock and Northern Mockingbird were counted. Ring-necked Pheasant, Least Bittern and Northern Harrier were reported for the first time ever!
Click below to view or download complete count results.
There were 16 teams and 33 observers out in Hampden County territories for the count held on May 15-16. Thankfully, the COVID-19 pandemic did not prevent we birders from doing our thing! The weather was generally good for birding, except for a severe storm that rolled in just after 8:00 pm on Friday evening. Together the teams recorded 142 species, which was above average over the last ten years and bested last year’s total by 4 species.
As is typical, most of the common species were near their recent or long-term average, but some were noticeably high or low. There were several species whose totals were highest ever in our count history, including Turkey Vulture (66), Osprey (17), Red-tailed Hawk (56), Hairy Woodpecker (46), Sapsucker (14), Least Flycatcher (66), Carolina Wren (52, twice last year’s count of 26), Gnatcatcher (58), Parula (93), and Winter Wren (5, also count of 5 in 2001). We had the highest count of Yellow-rumped Warblers (174) in the past 15 years, and everyone will be happy to hear that Craig and Harvey Allen had our first Pied-billed Grebe since 1982 and Steve Svec’s team found the first Kentucky Warbler since 1983. Also prized finds, without setting records, were Great Egret, Semi-palmated Plover, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Olive-sided Flycatcher, White-crowned Sparrow, Whip-poor-will, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Fish Crow, Black-backed Gull, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Hooded Merganser, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Woodcock.
A few species were notably low, including Green Heron (4), Killdeer (17), Woodcock (2), Bank Swallow (20, only lower year was 1970 at 17), Brown Creeper (3) and Mockingbird (17) both species low for the last few years. Cape May (13) was down from last year’s big wave of 22, but held second high count since 1984. Bay-breasted Warbler (11) was also down from last year’s unusually high count of 57. Unfortunately, because we don’t keep a record of count week birds, as with the Christmas Counts, we missed a White-eyed Vireo, seen and photographed the day before the Count in the Longmeadow Flats. Misses this year also include Screech Owl, first time since 1972 and Great-horned Owl, only other miss was in 2014 since 1973. Also missed were Common Loon, Black-billed Cuckoo, Greater Yellowlegs, and Black Duck.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Kathy & Myles Conway
Fourteen members gathered in Gloucester for a weekend of birding on the North Shore. We saw some great birds, but only wish we had better views of some of them (especially for the newcomers). However, the weather was with us, and we had an enjoyable time. We ended up with 64 species, 52 on Saturday and additional 12 on Sunday.
Many locations gave us looks at Long-tailed Duck, Surf, Black and White-winged Scoters, C Eider, Bufflehead, C Goldeneye and Harlequin, as well as Common and Red-throated Loons, RB Merg, Black Ducks, Mallards and Brant. It was a good year for alcids. A Thick-billed Murre was the highlight at Jodrey’s Pier, Blk Guillemot at Brace Cove and Atlantic Ave, and Dovekie and Razorbill at Cathedral Rocks, plus four more Razorbills at Lot 1, Plum Island. Rapters were aound too, Red-tailed Hawk and Bald Eagle at a several spots, a Harrier near Good Harbor Beach, and Peregrine Falcon and Rough-legged Hawk at Plum Island.
Other highlights were an Iceland Gull at Niles Pond, five Red-necked Grebes at the Elks Club, a Snowy Owl in good light at Hellcat, and two Short-eared Owls from the tower before the end of the road at Plum.
The trip was originally schedule to go from Amherst to Turners Falls, but was rescheduled to walk along the CT River for a mile in South Hadley and spend time at the Hadley Cove. The day was clear, dry, windy and very cold as seven die-hard birders scanned the river to find 48 Canada Goose, 6 Common and 1 Hooded Merg, 225 Mallard, 2 Black Duck, 3 Bald Eagle, 3+ Redtail, and 8 RB Gulls. Landbirds were 3 Red-bellied and 1 Pileated Woodpecker, 1 Robin, 10 Crows, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Cardinal, 1 Titmouse, 3 Carolina Wrens, 1 House and 2 Goldfinch and 2 Song Sparrows. Being out birding beats almost any other activity, even in the winter cold!
The Rhode Island trip was postponed one week to this first weekend in February due to harsh weather forecasts for the previous weekend. Six members counted 73 species in total, including several infrequent visitors to the area. Extra special highlights were a Barrow’s Goldeneye, a Eurasian Wigeon, a Glaucous Gull, an Iceland Gull, a dozen Redhead Ducks, a Tufted Duck, a male King Eider, and a Catbird.
Day 1 - We began the birding at Watchemocket Cove, getting 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, two dozen Black Ducks, 8 American Wigeon, 6 Gadwall, 7 Bufflehead, 6 Mallards, 14 Mute Swans, and a few songbirds.
Next stop was Colt State Park, where we found the target Barrow’s Goldeneye before we even exited our cars, and as we were leaving the Park, we spotted 300+ Brant and 28 Horned Larks. Also noted in between were 6 Common Goldeneye, 9 Red-breasted Mergansers, 10 Black Ducks, a Bufflehead, a Common Loon, 2 Horned Grebe, a Great Black-backed Gull, 30 Herring Gulls, 30 Ring-billed Gulls, 10 Crows.
From there we headed to Boyd’s Lane Marsh and easily picked up Eurasian Wigeon, among over a dozen American Wigeon, a half dozen Black Ducks, our only Green-winged Teal, 1 Carolina Wren and 25 Robins.
After all this excitement, it was time to head to our favorite spot, Coastal Roasters, for R & R and some refueling. Next stop was Ruecker Wildlife Refuge in Tiverton. We walked through the trail system, adding many songbirds to the list. We saw or heard 2 Goldfinch, 2 House Finch, 4 Chickadees, 10 White-throated Sparrows, a Downy and a Red-bellied Woodpecker, 2 Cardinals, 6 Titmouse, 3 White-breasted Nuthatches, 10 Robins, 2 Blue Jays, 12 Starlings, a Red-breasted Merganser and a Red-tailed Hawk.
Then we took a slow drive with several stops along the Sepowet Marsh Loop. We spotted a few raptors, including a Red-shouldered, a Red-tailed, and a Cooper’s Hawk, and one Harrier. Waterfowl present were 35 Canada Geese, 6 Brant, 25 Goldeneye, a Common Loon, 8 Red-breasted Mergansers, 12 Bufflehead, and 2 American Wigeon. We spotted a Great Blue Heron, 10 Ring-billed, 11 Great Black-backed, and 30 Herring Gulls and several land birds, including a Red-bellied Woodpecker and a Flicker, a Carolina Wren, a Rock Pigeon, and last, but not least, 40 Horned Larks. At feeders we added a Brown-headed Cowbird, another Red-bellied Woodpecker, a Chickadee, and 12 House Sparrows.
Pardon Gray was the next stop, giving us a Harrier, 2 Crows, 30 Ring-billed Gulls, 15 Starlings, and 500 Canada Geese. Unfortunately, we did not spot any Meadowlarks, which we often get in the fields.
St. Mary’s Pond in Middletown we spotted 3 Great Cormorants, 100 Canada Geese, 25 Hooded and 12 Common Mergansers, 2 Ruddy Ducks, 15 Gadwall, 50 Mallards, a Great Blue Heron, 12 Ring-billed Gulls, 3 Crows and a Flicker.
Green End Pond/Easton Pond on the Middletown-Newport line gave us a bright white Glaucous Gull. Other sightings included 2 Mute Swans, 5 Cormorants, 45 Red-breasted and 12 Hooded Mergansers, 16 Ring-necked Ducks, 4 Ruddy Ducks, 95 Coot, 6 Great Black-backed Gulls, a Great Blue Heron and a Cardinal. At the south end of Easton Pond, which we reached driving around to the west side and turning right off the main road, we were lucky enough to spot a dozen Redhead Ducks and a Tufted Duck, along with 14 Greater Scaup and 100 Robins.
Third Beach gave us 25 Brant,12 Surf Scoters, 2 Goldeneye, 4 Bufflehead, 2 Horned Grebe, 2 Common Loon, 12 Red-breasted Mergansers, and a Harrier.
Always our last stop on the first day of the trip, Sachuest. We walked the loop, turning left where the trail Ts, and along the way found 32 Brant, one Red-throated and 3 Common Loon, 3 Horned Grebes, 22 Common Eider, a Goldeneye, 16 Bufflehead, 25 Harlequins, 25 Black, 12 White-winged, and 6 Surf Scoters, 12 Black Ducks and 7 Red-breasted Mergansers. Land birds included 1 Mourning Dove, 1 Carolina Wren, 2 Mockingbirds, 5 Tree and 3 Song Sparrows, and our only raptor, a Harrier. We missed on Short-eared Owl, which had not been spotted there recently, but we always hope for one.
Day 2 – At Beavertail State Park we spotted 4 Red-throated and 8 Common Loons, 100 Eider, 100 Black, 20 Surf, and 6 White-winged Scoters, 1 Horned and 1 Red-necked Grebe, 15 Harlequin, a Gannet and a possible Razorbill. Land birds were 3 Mourning Doves, 20 Blue Jays, 2 Chickadees, 2 Cedar Waxwings, 43 Robins, a Crow, 2 Cardinals, a Carolina Wren, 13 White-throated Sparrows and a Merlin!
We spent just a few minutes at Zeek’s Creek Bait Shop overlooking the Sakonet Bridge on Rte 24, we picked out 3 Bufflehead, 1 Goldeneye, 1 Black Duck, 2 Great Blue Herons, 1 Kingfisher, a Herring Gull and in the farm field beyond the water were 500+ Starlings.
Point Judith gave us over 2,000 Black, 2 White-winged and 50 Surf Scoters, over 200 Eider, 2 Horned Grebes, 1 Red-throated and 3 Common Loons, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Black Ducks, 1 Great Cormorant and 100+ Starlings. At Galilee we picked up Iceland Gull (and other common gulls). Also there were 2 Turkey Vultures, a Common Loon, an Eider, and 12 Red-breasted Mergansers.
En route to Weakapaug Breachway we saw 12 Common Loons and a Red-tailed Hawk. When we arrived, we found what we sought, a male King Eider. The water was rough but we still got solid views. Also there were 40 Common Eider, 6 Black Scoters, a Common Loon and 1 Herring Gull.
The Trustom Pond feeders gave us a variety of land birds including, 2 Downy Woodpeckers, 4 Titmouse, 2 Chickadee, 3 Mourning Doves, 3 Cardinals, 2 Robins, 4 Junco, 5 White-throated Sparrows and 1 Goldfinch.
April Downey & Bambi Kenney
Six members met at Pynchon Point Park then headed to the River Rd bike path to comb the river for a Barrow’s Goldeneye that had been seen there recently. Though we missed the target bird, we found seven Common Mergansers and three Common Goldeneye, along with a couple of hundred Canada Geese and a pair of Mallards.
From there we headed to Hilltop Farm in Suffield, CT. Thanks to a sharp-eyed member, we were able to spot two Red-headed Woodpeckers and get good scope views without disturbing the birds. We also picked up a Red-bellied Woodpecker, another 100 Canada Geese, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, 6 Mourning Doves, 3 Blue Jays, 20 Crows, 4 Song Sparrows, 4 Juncos, 5 House Finch, and our second-best bird of the day, a Merlin, perched atop a tree along the far edge of the field. We ended the day before noon with a total of 16 species, but quality beats quantity every time and this was no exception.
Janice Zepko & Craig Allen
The trip originally scheduled for January 4 was postponed to the 5th due to rain in the forecast. Thirteen members braved windy weather, and racked up 46 species, while hitting nine key birding spots. We started off the trip by heading to a new eBird hotspot, the Rte 105/Vaughn Hill Rd fields in Rochester, where White-fronted Goose and Snow Goose had been observed mixed in with a large flock of Canada Geese. While we missed on the White-fronted Goose, we all had wonderful scope views of the immature Snow Goose and a smattering of Bufflehead, Hooded Mergansers, Black Ducks and Mallards. A Bald Eagle was spotted overhead and a flock of 40 Horned Larks flew over and disappeared when they landed in the field. Next stop was Sider’s Pond in Falmouth which added 30 Greater Scaup, Great and Double-crested Cormorants, 9 Ring-necked Ducks, 5 Red-Breasted Mergansers and a Mute Swan. Also there, were several land birds, including a Flicker and a Sharp-shinned Hawk. On down the road to Salt Pond, we found 300 Greater Scaup and 35 Lesser Scaup, and added 6 Goldeneye and a Great Blue Heron.
After a rest stop at McDonald’s we headed to Town Neck Rd, Sandwich where we counted over 200 Common Eider, 1 Surf Scoter, 6 Black Scoters, a possible alcid, 3 Common Loons and a Red-throated Loon. A short walk from the parking area added 2 Golden-crowned Kinglets and a Yellow-rumped Warbler. Our next destination was Scusset Beach State Reservation for 150 Common Eiders, 4 Common Loons, and 4 White-winged Scoters, but King Eider was not to be found.
We then drove to Plymouth and Great Herring Pond, where we did our usual stop at the end of Eagle Hill Drive. There were no specialties this year, but we did count 25 Goldeneye, 25 Bufflehead, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers and a few Mallards and Black Ducks, plus a wonderful view of two Bald Eagles flying together overhead lit by the sun. From there we headed to Plymouth Harbor where we had more Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Black Ducks, Eider, Surf and White-winged Scoters. The Jetty added 200 Brant to our list and from there we headed off to Cumberland Farms for the day’s last light. We missed on Short-eared Owl and Rough-legged Hawk, but got 2 Harriers and a Red-tail from the north end of the fields, and from the east side on Fuller Rd we added a Cooper’s Hawk, 100 Robins and 100 Red-winged Blackbirds.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Janice Zepko & Chris Blagdon
Twelve members joined up to enjoy 43 species on the North Shore. We began the day at Jodrey’s Fish Pier with a Peregrine Falcon, a Horned Grebe, 2 C. Loons, 8 C. Eider, White-winged Scoters far out, a DC Cormorant and a Red-tailed Hawk. The next location was Rocky Neck, where we added 17 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 C. Goldeneye, 2 Bufflehead, and a Red-necked Grebe. On to Niles Beach, where we added Black and Surf Scoters and a Canada Goose. Next up was Eastern Point, where a few lucky members got good looks at Black Guillemot in winter plumage at the point beyond the dog bar. We also added 5 Gannets to the list there, as well as several landbirds.
Niles Pond added 25 Ring-necked Ducks, 2 Ruddy Ducks and a N. Harrier. We searched Ramparts field (across from the tennis courts on Fort Hill Rd) in vain for a reported Western Flycatcher, and only came up with a few song birds for our reward. Stop and Shop was adequate for a rest stop and a short lunch before moving on to the Elks Club, which did not give us any new species for the day, but did offer good looks at 200 Black Scoters, 12 White-winged Scoters, 3 C. Loons and 2 Gannets. Granite Pier was the next destination, where we spotted 2 Harlequins, 21 Surf Scoters, 30 Eider, 2 Bufflehead and a DC Cormorant. Our last stop was Andrews Point, delivering to us the usual large flocks of Eider, 20 Harlequins, 3 Gannets, one C. Loon and the only new species, 6 Purple Sandpipers. It was breezy, but good day of birding!
Eleven participants saw 25 species. First, let it be known that our 3-hour walk started at 8 a.m. and end-ed at 1:45 p.m. Only Tim, Terrie and I were left at the end; ticks popped up at our last wooded stop and the birders fled. Nice day, nice company and treats provided by Beth Spirito and Lisa kept us fed and happy.
Scott Surner had 4 Scoters at the Visitor's Center and got the black dots in our scopes; I did not include them in my list. Common Loon was close, as was a Red-necked Grebe, Hooded Merganser, and Wood Ducks. Beth found us 4 Rusty Blackbirds which were within 50 feet, providing an excellent study in plumages. Hermit Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Killdeer were other highlights. No warblers and no Chickadees in the old orchard to hand feed. My mistake in making such a promise. Sparrows were sparse and I was surprised at the large number of Ring-billed gulls on the water. For sanitation reasons, DCR will try to control this problem. All in all, I'll come again to Quabbin for this walk, but won't promise anything.
We started out on a sunny fall morning with 10 people and luck was with us as our 1st bird of the day was a Rusty Blackbird sitting on a dead tree in the first marsh area. We were able to get great scope views, because he stayed in one spot the whole time. As we headed in we had some Yellow-rumps and Wood Ducks. We approached the Ponds and had our next surprise as a low flying Osprey flew by scanning the water for breakfast. Along the next path we got a pair of White-throated Sparrows, more Yellow-rumps and some Palm Warblers, a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers, a Blue-headed Vireo and a Swainson's Thrush along with a number of other birds. We then headed towards the back ponds, but first saw a pair of Savannah Sparrows and flushed a Killdeer that was feeding pondside.
The raptor show was next as we saw 5 Redtails, a Cooper's Hawk and a pair of Turkey Vultures along with who we assume was the same Osprey making numerous flights up and down the ponds. When we got into the wooded area, we asked the warblers to come down a little lower and they obliged, giving us some great looks at Palms and Yellow-rumps along with scoping a number of Wood Ducks. As we headed back, we got splendid looks at another Swainson's Thrush that was along the side of the road. We then headed back to the parking lot thinking we were done, but instead saw a number of raptors climbing the thermals. There were some Redtails, but also a Bald Eagle that was circling with a Raven. A good day with good birds. Our total species count was 41.
We started out on a cool but sunny morning with 11 people. Our first interesting bird, and perhaps the best of the day, was a very low flying Pileated Woodpecker. As he moved from tree to tree, he stayed mostly under 6 ft off the ground and occasionally was even on the ground. We had a number of near ground woodpeckers that day mainly Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers. The warblers however stayed mostly high in the trees and confounded our ability to ID the majority of them. The other highlights included a Brown Creeper and Red-breasted Nuthatch. We had a late Phoebe and a Red-eyed Vireo. Our only sparrows were a trio of Songs and the water was bereft of fowl other than a few mallards accompanied by a pair of Double-crested Cormorants and a Great Blue Heron. It was a nice day for a walk, but not a great number of birds. Our total species count for the day was 23.
Bambi Kenney & April Downey
We had a beautiful sunny day to bird today, with 9 participants in total. We started at the Northampton meadows driving along the runway and later through and around the fields. The star bird of that area was the Peregrine Falcon. We had a total of 16 bird species for that area. Then we headed over to Arcadia and had a total of 24 species there so then 40 species in total for the trip. We saw many Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers flitting around. We had a nice view of a Coopers Hawk as well.
Myles & Kathy Conway
September 20-23, 2019 - There were 5 participants and we listed 114 species on this trip. The weather was perfect, sunny and warm to hot, 70's to high 80's. No rain. We went to the typical spots.
Brigantine was low on shorebirds because they had already started flooding the impoundments. Additionally, we hit it as the tide was rising, so we missed Rails.
On Saturday, Higbee started out promising at the tower and below the dike, but the fields were sparse, although we did have some notable species, including a Red-headed Woodpecker flyby and a brief glimpse at Yellow-billed Cuckoo. The hawk watch was very good despite clear blue skies.
Nummy's and Stone Harbor gave us the usual suspects - both Night-herons, Little Blue, and Oyster-catchers.
Our add-on to the Delaware side was well worth it, and we will probably do it again. We might plan to take a ferry early enough on Sunday in order to bird at Prime Hook that afternoon/evening. Then we could get to Bombay Hook early in the day on Monday in order to leave there by noon and try to miss some traffic in NJ going home.
Additional highlights were Tri-colored Heron, Moorhen, Golden Plover, Brown Pelian, White-rumped and Pectoral Sandpiper, Black Skimmer, and Stilt Sandpiper.
There were 12 people on a mostly cloudy, chilly morning. The day started off very quiet, with little sign of the migrating warblers that we were all hoping for. We did see a Black-and-white Warbler, a Redstart and a first fall Prairie Warbler. Another highlight was a good view of a Broad-winged Hawk circling overhead. In all we saw 37 species.
Visitors: Members of the Allen Bird Club and the Hoffmann Bird Club held our joint annual hawkwatch and picnic today. Also observing with us were visitors from Granby, CT, who attended Seth’s "hawk talk" at the Granby Public Library earlier this week. Two staff members from Massachusetts Audubon brought some guests as well. Approximately three dozen persons in all.
Weather: Mostly sunny; cloud-cover never exceeded 15%. Temp 60s-70s F. Wind NW~WNW 5-10 mph, becoming W 0-5 mph late.
Raptor Observations: Largest kettles of Broad-wings: 106, 95, 66, 50 (twice). Birds were often hard to see, flying high and against blue sky. Non-migrants: Turkey Vultures, Bald Eagles (3), Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawks (2), Red-tailed Hawk.
Non-raptor Observations: Rock Pigeons (flock of 50), Chimney Swift, Hummingbirds (4), Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Blue-headed Vireos (2), Red-eyed Vireos (2), Blue Jay, American Crow, Common Ravens (2), Black-capped Chickadees (3), Tufted Titmice (2), House Wren, Cedar Waxwings (4+), Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, American Redstart (m), Pine Warbler, Common Yellowthroats (2), Field Sparrow. Monarchs: 18. Viceroy.
Al & Lois Richardson
Seven birders were on the walk on this humid September morning. Activity and songs were few, but we did manage Black-and-white, Redstarts, and a Parula for warblers. The sandbar was empty except for Ringbill Gulls, but Pondside Rd did not disappoint. Both Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal were present, along with many mallards and Wood Ducks. Two Great Egrets were lurking in the grasses, and an osprey and four D-C Cormorants perched in the dead snags.
The highlight of the morning was when two birders asked if we could ID two strange chicken-like birds. We were delighted to scope out two immature Common Gallinules feeding in the weeds. There were 38 species recorded for the morning.
Al & Lois Richardson
With fingers crossed, we scanned the early evening sky for nighthawks. Eighteen birders had gathered in the parking area for this annual ritual. Birding got off to a very slow start. We watched flocks of blackbirds fly into the reeds and heard a chickadee call. When we moved on up to Tina Lane and the open area there, the first nighthawks began to pop up over the tree tops. Not the best count, but we did see 31 nighthawks before it became too dark to count.
Also getting our attention were the many green herons (9) flying to roost, and the trees at the back of one of the ponds that had attracted 9 Great Egrets and 4 Double-crested Cormorants. Another highlight was a Peregrine Falcon that perched long enough for everyone to enjoy close views in the scope. The watch ended as we listened to the call of a nearby screech owl for a total of 27 species.
Janice Zepko & Seth Kellogg
The weather was cool when six members met up at the Pynchon Point parking lot, but warmed later, providing a beautiful sunny weather field trip. The Point gave us Carolina Wren, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Warbling Vireo, and other usual landbirds, as well as C. Merganser (6), Bald Eagle, DC Cormorant, Spotted Sandpiper, Great Blue Heron. The special species for this spot was A. Kestrel (3). We made a quick stop at Bondi’s and added Semi-palmated Plover, Least and Semi Sandpipers.
From there we headed to the Eastern States grounds where over 150 Canada Geese were grazing in the fields. It must have been a good day for A. Kestrel, because we found another two here. Also along the river bank, we picked out two Solitary Sandpipers and a Spotted Sandpiper. Last stop I recorded was on River Rd in Agawam. Somehow I do not have notes from the Longmeadow portion of the trip. Sorry about that… Anyway, River Rd gave us Bald Eagle (2), Cooper’s and Red-tailed Hawks, C. Merganser (6), Great Blue Heron, and a few landbirds, including Chimney Swift (4).
Seven people attended in seven kayaks. We started at the Sunderland bridge and kayaked north to the Montague town line and back again. It was cloudy and calm, perfect conditions for a beautiful and peaceful paddle on the river. The sun popped out, and in our eyes just 15 minutes before we got off the river. It reminded us of how easy on the eyes it was to kayak during the overcast, but warm morning. The trip took four hours. We observed 17 species in all.
There were eight Common Mergansers taking turns resting on a sandbar and then taking a swim in the slight current. We counted six Bald Eagles. There were 50+ Bank Swallows perching along the wire that stretches across the river on the approach to the Montague line and flying high and low with acrobatic moves. We had a Pileated and two Red-bellied Woodpeckers. Seen in groups of two or three, we counted ten Spotted Sandpipers, plying the muddy flats along the banks of the river until we got too close, and then we watched as they flew off with their telltale stiff wing beats. Two Kingfishers were seen and heard. Two Carolina Wrens, a White-breasted Nuthatch, a Red-eyed Vireo, and three Goldfinch were spotted, a Raven was heard, and 5+ Cedar Waxwing were heard and seen sallying out over the river for insects, and then returning to their perches, high on bare branches that lined the river. Other than bird species were Monarch Butterfly and Gray Tree Frog.
Kathy & Myles Conway
It was a great trip. The weather was nice all weekend, with mostly sunny skies, warm temperatures during the days and a slight breeze in the afternoons. By the time we reached the Fort Edward grasslands on Sunday, it was actually hot.
Mosquitoes were as bad as we've seen them at the Massewepie Mire, but most of us wore head nets and long sleeves, so they weren't too annoying. A breeze kept them from bothering too much.
We added 4 birds to the total trip list, including 2 Sandhill Cranes north of Saranac Lake on the way to Bloomingdale Bog! We also heard 2 Cape May Warblers on a new trail we took.
We changed the itinerary a bit this year. Instead of going to Moose River Plains the first day, we started the trip by hiking on the Roosevelt Truck Trail, off of 28N north of North River. We continued to the Visitor Center in Newcomb, then the Northville-Lake Placid Trail near Long Lake (which we have done in the past), and finally the Shaw Pond marsh (3 Virginia Rails).
Saturday we followed the regular itinerary - Tupper Lake marsh (Cliff Swallow), en route to the Mire (Mourning Warbler), Massewepie Mire (2 American Bitterns, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Gray Jay, 12 Palm Warblers, Canada Warbler, and 6 Lincoln’s Sparrow), Bloomingdale Bog (Olive-sided Flycatcher). We skipped Floodwood Road.
Sunday we drove to Tupper Lake and had coffee and breakfast at the McD's there (decided Stewart's coffee was not worth even stopping). Enroute to Whiteface we stopped along Wilmington Notch to look for Peregrines along the cliffs there. Didn't get any, but did see 2 Spotted Sandpipers. We planned to get to Whiteface to drive up the highway as soon as the road opened at 8:45. The views at the top were amazing! Whenever we have been up there before it has been misty and cloudy, but on Sunday we could see for miles. Bicknell's was a life bird for some, and, after several attempts at trying to see it, and only hearing it, we got a great look at the last place we tried for it. We were all very pleased.
We continued to the grasslands near Fort Edward and added the usual species there, except no Grasshopper Sparrow this year. And no Orioles.
Nine members gathered to find birds in the Berkshires. Our first stop was on Monterey Rd in the beautiful Tyringham Valley. Sighting a Chimney Swift, two Alder Flycatcher and two Bobolink got our day started. From there we headed to McCarthy Rd, where we added a Turkey, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 2 Pewee, a Yellow-throated Vireo and 5 Redeyes, a Barn Swallow, a Winter Wren, 2 Baltimore Orioles, and warblers, 2 Ovenbird, 3 Yellowthroat, a Redstart, 2 Blackburnian, 2 Chestnut-sided, and two Black-throated Green. Off now to Jerusalem Rd for seven more Turkeys and a Least Flycatcher.
The Cobble was next where we added a Red-tailed hawk, a Flicker, a Kingbird, 10 Tree and 2 Barn Swallows, 4 Cedar Waxwings, 2 Field and 2 Song Sparrows, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and an Indigo Bunting. Continuing onto Meadow St, we picked up a Great Blue Heron, 2 Willow Flycatchers and a Brown Thrasher. Next came Fernside/Jerusalem Rd which gave us our first RT Hummer, a Blue-headed Vireo, and a Blue-winged Warbler. On to Breakneck Rd where we spotted 2 Turkey Vultures, 2 Cliff Swallows, and a Black-and-white Warbler.
We then headed out of town to Post Farm Marsh. The only new species to add from this location were one Rough-winged Swallow, two Marsh Wren, which were very vocal, and two Swamp Sparrow. Our final destination was October Mtn. We picked up a Broad-winged Hawk, a Raven, a Purple Finch, a Black-throated Blue, a Yellowrump and 2 Scarlet Tanagers.
The field work for this 16th annual Little River IBA Count was done with comfortable temperatures ranging between 50˚-78˚F, breezy at times. The compilation was hosted by Joanne Fortin, gracious as always, and all who attended enjoyed the spirited conversation about the day’s adventures.
There were 7 teams and 11 observers in the field for a total of 57.75 hours. This was the lowest number of total hours since the inception of the Count, with average hours coming in at 72. So, it was no surprise that the total individuals counted was well below average, 2,587 compared with the average of 3,562. However, the number of species counted at 112 was slightly higher than the average of 111.6.
Notably low species counts compared to average, with lowest count ever being noted with an asterisk, were for Wood Duck 5* (19), Mourning Dove 20* (49), Sapsucker 18 (35), Red-eyed Vireo 217 (308), Tree Swallow 22* (56), Veery 90* (145), Hermit Thrush 4* (24), Wood Thrush 23* (47), Chickadee 50* (88), Robin 61* (136), Ovenbird 189 (247), Black-and-white Warbler 52* (80), BT Blue 46* (85), Yellow-rumped 7* (17), BT Green 18* (55), Canada 6* (12), Cardinal 22 (44), Song Sparrow 40* (62), Rose-breast Grosbeak 6* (16), and Purple Finch 2* (8). Misses of note include, Common Loon, DC Cormorant, Bald Eagle, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Woodcock, Rock Pigeon, Mockingbird, YB Cuckoo, Kestrel, Mockingbird, Mourning Warbler, and Savanah Sparrow. This year, high counts were set for Canada Goose (143), Green Heron (3), and Olive-sided Flycatcher (3). The Sora and Pine Siskin were found for only the 5th time, Tennessee Warbler for the 4th time, and Common Nighthawk and Blackpoll for the first time. Some of these results might be attributed to the Count being held a few days earlier than usual.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Six participants met at Laughing Brook Audubon Sanctuary in Hampden at 7 am. The weather, in the high 50’s to start, soon rose to the low 70’s under partly cloudy skies. We birded until about 12:15 pm, getting a total of 52 species.
After a brief look around the parking lot, small pond, and bridge area at Laughing Brook, we proceeded to North Road just to check for the bobolinks, then on to Hollow Road, Hampden which continues with the same name into Wilbraham. We spent most of our birding time on this road.
Highlights included good long looks at an Olive-sided Flycatcher, a good look at a Black-billed Cuckoo, two Bobolinks, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and warblers, Canada, Blackpoll, Chestnut-sided, and Prairie. Male and female Scarlet Tanagers paraded and an Alder Flycatcher was heard by most, but not seen. We also had a good looks at a Wood Thrush at eye level. Several Veerys were heard, as well as Pewee and Carolina Wren. Five Cedar Waxwings were both heard and seen. It was a wonderful morning for birding!
Six participants met with an objective to glimpse the Cerulean Warbler. Let me tell you right now, that we briefly heard and saw the bird. Enough for me to tick it off my year list, but I will do the 'moderate' walk up the road with hopes to get a better view next time around.
The Worm-eating Warbler? Best view ever. We stood on the road as the bird picked up nesting material on the opposite side of the road (eight feet away), sprang up to one branch, then another and then dropped to the ground to deposit the material in a hole. It looked like a tiny elf home. We watched it for quite a while and then proceeded to find that Cerulean.
What next? Vivid Indigo Bunting, Baltimore Oriole, Junco and female Scarlet Tanager - all viewed from the porch of Skinner House and looking down. On the walk down, we cruised slowly, hoping to get that Cerulean. We got the brief view, but also saw a Yellow-throated Vireo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Black-throated Blue Warbler and perched Pewee do his thing. Back down at the halfway house, we stopped to review any new birds after briefly watching the Worm-eating and listening to the Winter Wren. The Cape May Warbler had stayed put while we walked uphill (did I forget to mention that?). We watched a madly displaying Redstart (the female just picked up nesting material) and the nesting Phoebes and Chipping sparrows. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird perched on the end of the bare branch looking like a bud. In the end, we six birders recorded 36 species, enjoyed a sunny day and a good workout.
There were 14 teams and 29 observers out in Hampden County territories for the count held on May 17-18. Together they recorded 138 species, which was just above average over the last ten years.
As is typical, most of the common species were near their recent or long-term average, but some were noticeably high or low. There were especially high counts of Red-tailed Hawk, Least Sandpiper, Bank Swallows (also high last year), Black-and-white Warblers, Tennessee (high count since 1991) and Nashville Warblers, Redstarts, Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, Canada, and Wilson’s Warblers. To everyone’s surprise and delight, there were also high numbers of Raven (highest ever on count), Cape May (highest count since 1978), and Bay-breasted Warblers (highest since 1983), first count of Pectoral Sandpiper since 2013 and first count of Mourning Warbler since 2010.
Species found in notably low numbers were many of our more common species, Ring-billed Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Crow, Robin, Grackle, Cowbirds (yay!) and House Sparrows (yay!) and a few less common species, Chimney Swift, Rough-winged Swallow, White and Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creeper, and Brown Thrasher. Misses this year include Common Merganser, Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks, Junco, Black Duck, Bittern, Olive-sided and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers. Never any guarantees on those species.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Nine participants saw or heard 42 species. We had a rain-free day and the sun broke through to warm us. The Natti trail was serene and pleasant. We tallied 9 species of warblers, including good looks at Canada, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Magnolia and Northern Parula. The ubiquitous Yellow Warblers and Catbirds entertained us with their songs and chatter as did the Wood Thrushes and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. One keen-eyed birded spotted a Yellow Warbler nest, which an Indigo Bunting got too close to and was discharged by the mighty Yellow! Good birding, good company and good (rain free) weather.
Al & Lois Richardson
Nine participants met on a cool and windy morning with rain threatening. Walking a total of two miles, we found 35 species. Highlights included several raptors, an Osprey, a Bald Eagle, a Red-shouldered Hawk, and two Peregrine Falcon. Also interesting were a Great Crested Flycatcher, 3 Raven, a Winter Wren, 8 Wood Thrush, 8 Catbirds, 9 Towhees, 6 Baltimore Orioles, warblers, 2 Ovenbird, 3 Worm-eating, a Black-and-white, a Cape May, a Magnolia, a Yellow, a Chestnut-sided, a BT Blue, 3 Yellow-rumped and a BT Green, and four each of Scarlet Tanager and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
Fourteen participants met to enjoy an evening walk of 1.5 miles on the Rail Trail. We garnered 28 bird species, but highlights included a mink and, later, a beaver nearly at our feet. One of the best sightings was a Common Nighthawk that flew directly across the water low over our heads at dusk, with white wing bars clearly visible. The entire group got great looks at that one.
Other highlights included 3 Woodcock, 2 Solitary Sandpiper, a Great Blue Heron, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Great Crest Flycatcher, numerous Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows, 2 Wood Thrush, 3 Catbirds, 2 Swamp Sparrows, a Baltimore Oriole, and warblers, 2 Ovenbird, a Black-and-white, a Yellowthroat, a Parula, a Blackburnian, 4 Yellow-rumped and a Black-throated Green. Last on the list were two Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, always beautiful to behold!
There were 14 birders on a day that quickly turned warm and sunny. The area was still very muddy, so many of the trails continued to be off limits. We did see 47 species in all, the highlights being the warblers: Northern Waterthrush, Black-and-white, Parula, Redstart, Yellow and a Magnolia, which we all had great looks at. There were also good birds in the meadows on West Rd, including both yellowlegs and a least sandpiper.
Showers threatened as our group of 23 began the walk into the trail system at Stanley Park. What was advertised as a two-hour walk turned into a five-hour adventure for some birders, who lingered when they hit a warbler wave on the way back to the parking area. In all, the trip reported 53 species with highlights including five raptor species, Osprey, Sharp-shin, Broadwing, Red-tail and a Barred Owl calling.
Among the usual woodpecker species, we identified two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. There was a Great Crested Flycather “wheeping,” the “che-bek” of a Least Flycatcher, five Blue-headed Vireos, three Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a Veery and a couple of Wood Thrushes. Catbirds were abundant, as were Blue Jays, Black-and-white Warblers, Yellows and Yellow-rumps. Other warbler species were three Ovenbirds, two each of Louisiana and Northern Waterthrushes, a Blackburnian, a Chestnut-sided, two Pine, two Black-throated Greens and an American Redstart. All-in-all a great day with very little rain, and well worth the effort!