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!.
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.
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!
Sue Burk & Bobby Olsen
We had a very nice bird walk today in the McDonald Nature Preserve. There were 16 participants, 14 from the ABC and 2 from the Wilbraham Hiking Club.
The list of birds seen included two Robins, a Red-winged Blackbird, Crows, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, Blue Jays, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, a Cardinal, 3 Flickers, a Towhee, two Field Sparrows, Titmice, 2 Bluebirds, 2 Cowbirds, 2 Chickadees, 2 Broad-winged Hawks, a Black-and-white Warbler, 4 Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Hermit Thrush, 2 Canada Geese, 12 Mourning Doves, a Cooper’s Hawk, one Goldfinch, one Song Sparrow, and a Great Blue Heron flyover.
The field trip was cold and windy, but seven members braved the weather to see how many arriving migrants we could find. At the gate, two Creepers sang. After the gate, the woods and ponds had Sapsucker, Pileated, Red-breasted Nuthatch and 2 singing Pine Warblers. There were 2 Palm Warblers close in the small ponds and four swallow species were feeding over the calmer waters, mostly Tree and Bank, a few Rough-winged, and at least one Barn Swallow.
From the walking road along the main pond we had 2 Common Loon, quite a few Canada Geese, a pair of Ring-necked Ducks, 2 Wood Duck and Mallards, almost all along the far bank. Along the bank of the reservoir, near the road, there were two Spotted Sandpipers, who blended well into the rocky edge of road as they foraged. In flight there were two Great Blue Herons, an Osprey, and an accipiter. We walked a short way across the railroad tracks and into the woods to find Black-and-white Warbler, both Kinglets, and Yellow-rumped Warbler. The tally was 34 species for the day.
Al & Lois Richardson
The trip turned out to be a very wet walk at Stebbins. One hardy soul braved the wet trails with the leaders until the rains became torrential. In spite of the weather, we managed 30 species, including many Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers, eye level Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and good views of a very soggy Swamp Sparrow.
Pondside was quiet after weeks of hosting many migrating ducks. Today, eight DC Cormorants proved to be the most exciting migrant to be seen. One other highlight was the three coyotes that ran in the opposite direction as soon as they spotted us.
Howard Schwartz & Seth Kellogg
After the usual wonderful breakfast at Sylvester’s Restaurant in Northampton, we drove to Montague. Most of the ice was gone and there were 150 Ring-necked Ducks, 3 Mute Swan, 42 Common and 7 Hooded Merganser, 6 Bufflehead, 4 Goldeneye, a pair of Wigeon, a few Black Ducks, 2 Wood Duck, and a dozen Mallards. We were shocked and surprised by a Coyote tip-tip-toeing across the thin ice near far shore. Two Bald Eagles flew over with one close carrying a long twig to the nest. From the park we could see one eagle on the nest and one perched nearby. We saw two Great Blue Herons fly over from there and the lingering Snow Goose.
The Rod & Gun Club was next with 8 Bufflehead, plus hordes of ducks migrating north high overhead. Also there, was a Phoebe and few more Common Mergansers. We stopped at the airport next and heard a Killdeer calling and flying past, eventually seeing it close and unmoving. A Meadowlark was more unmoving and distant. After a rest top at usual spot, we drove down along canal, where only a few Ring-necked Ducks were gathered. At the turn-off, a Pine Warbler sang constantly and came into good view. Two others were heard farther away. It was a calm day with temps of 50-60.
It was a cloudy day with some rain and temps of 45-50. The Pynchon Point area had 5-6 Wood Ducks in trees near an apparent nesting hole. We drove to Eastern States, passing 2 Turkeys strutting on the landfill. A Peregrine flew off as we arrived. There were several Common Merganser pairs on both sides of entrance road and many Common Crows were gathered there and calling along with some Fish Crows. A Kestrel flew south and a Red-shouldered Hawk circled. Two Pileated Woodpeckers were in the trees. With some brush clearing along the road, the old riverbed marsh was more visible with several more Common Mergansers. There were only 2 Wood Ducks spotted on the swollen river from the dike.
In Longmeadow, the Pondside waters were busy with ducks, and we counted 2 Wigeon, 12 Wood Duck, 60 Ring-necked Duck, 5 Goldeneye, 10 Bufflehead, a male Shoveler, 4 Hooded and 30 Common Merganser, a Pied-billed Grebe, and 3 Great Blue Heron. A Sharp-shinned Hawk flew over and a hundred Tree Swallows flew and perched along with 10 or more Rough-winged Swallows.
Kathy & Myles Conway
Eight participants enjoyed a sunny day on the North Shore with light northwest winds. No birds showed themselves at our meeting spot in Gloucester, but when we arrived at Jodrey Pier, we found many Common Eiders, some Red-breasted Mergansers, 4 Common Loons, a Goldeneye, a Black Guillemot, and six Surf Scoters, but no white-winged gull. We had heard about a Dickcissel coming to a feeder nearby at the home of Paul Hackett, but two visits failed to get it, though we waited a long time with others on the second visit. A Sapsucker and Red-breasted Nuthatch were the best feeder birds there.
After lunch, while at Foley Cove we had 2 Eiders and some Black and White-winged Scoters. At Andrews Point, we had 50 Buffleheads, 50 Harlequins, 30 Black and a few White-winged Scoters, 25 Eiders, 20 Goldeneyes, and 20 Great Cormorants. Less common were 2 Oldsquaw, 2 Gadwall and 2 Purple Sandpipers, 4 Common and a Red-throated Loon, many Black and a few White-winged Scoters, a Razorbill, and a Horned Grebe. Cathedral Ledge had 50 Harlequins, 25 Eiders, an Oldsquaw, Razorbill, 4 Bufflehead, and 3 Common Loons. Granite Pier had 3 Brant, 32 Buffleheads, 14 Surf and 12 White-winged Scoters, 6 Common Loon, and 2 Great Cormorant.
At Brace Cove we got a Great Cormorant, all three Scoters, Buffleheads, Goldeneyes, and Eiders. At the Elks Club we found an adult King Eider, 3 Black Guillemots, Buffleheads, Scoters, and Eiders. At Eastern Point there were 300 Eiders, numerous Bufflehead and Red-breasted Mergansers, 15 each of Surf and White-winged Scoters, 9 Oldquaw, 2 Gadwall, and 2 Purple Sandpipers. We went to the ocean side of Niles Pond and got good views of a flock of Greater Scaup with one Lesser Scaup. In the pond there were two Gadwall, 2 Bufflehead, 12 Red-breasted Mergansers, 6 Surf Scoters, swans and a flying Iceland Gull. A wonderful day of birding!
It was a very windy morning, but nine eager members met at the Atkins farm in Hadley for a ride along the upper Connecticut River lowlands north to Turners Falls. The nearby fields proved sparse, except for a couple of Cowbirds in a pack of many hundred Starlings crowded among the cows at the South Maple Street farm. From there, we headed east and north, spotting our first Red-tail Hawk perched low in the trees, but the East Meadows was bereft of birds.
Crossing the river into Northampton, we got close looks at a single Common Merganser plus a Mockingbird and an adult Bald Eagle perched in a tree along the shoreline. We hurried toward Arcadia and found cars parked along the way beside a weedy meadow. Others were waiting there for a reported Redpoll flock and we eventually got good looks at a single one munching contentedly at the top of a weed. A few Canada Geese, another Redtail and Bald Eagle were also present. Here and at Arcadia itself there were sparrows and Chickadees, Nuthatch, Titmouse and a Carolina Wren.
We decided to head north as scheduled and arrived at Turners Falls, counting up to eight Redtails along the way. A small area was unfrozen in the river above the dam, where four Mute Swans and about 30 of the three common gull species were bathing and resting. We continued through town to the Canal, where hordes of Mallards and Canada Geese plus a dozen Mute Swans were keeping the near side along the road free of ice. We waited for some time, hoping that the reported rarer ducks would arrive from the river. Finally, we spotted a lone Goldeneye and 6 Black Ducks, as well as two Bald Eagles. There were a few gulls among them and more gulls joined them, including a sparkling Iceland Gull.
One car had to leave, but the others continued to the river above the dam and the Airport, where they found 40 Snow Buntings and another Bald Eagle. Some more Black Ducks and a Kingfisher were in the Montague center pond. In the Plains were found two Bluebirds and a Red-breasted Nuthatch.
April Downey & Bambi Kenney
Seven members enjoyed dry, calm, but cold conditions on the hotline trip in Amherst, Hadley and Northampton. We began by checking the UMass campus Pond, finding a single Snow Goose among the many Canada Geese and about 50 Mallards. In the nearby Hadley fields there were many more geese, three Red-tailed Hawks, a Harrier, and several Robins. A few Tree Sparrows and a Grackle were in the Honeypot and a single Common Merganser was spotted in the river.
We crossed the river into Northampton, to find a flock of a hundred Horned Larks and a possible Sharp-shinned Hawk on Aqua Vita Road. There was a good variety of the usual land birds at Arcadia, including a couple of Robins. The West Meadows was our final destination, where we could find no Longspur among a flock of 50 more Horned Larks, but we did spot a Merlin and a Peregrine Falcon and two more Bald Eagles.
Janice Zepko & Seth Kellogg
Three cars and nine brave birders drove through the cold and into the sun to Falmouth, at the first stop finding 600 Scaup, mostly Greater, sleeping in a tight flock on Salt Pond. Also scattered about the pond were a Common Loon, Buffleheads, Red-breasted and Hooded Mergansers, and Goldeneyes. A Great Blue Heron labored slowly across the sky. We drove to the beach road and found only a few Goldeneyes and Eiders offshore with bright light from sun and water in our eyes. We made our first visit to nearby Peterson Farm for reported landbirds, but found few. Then we stopped at Siders Pond for a few Buffleheads, a Common Loon, and a Red-breasted Merganser pair close. A few landbirds were there and a Carolina Wren sang. Then it was north to Crane reserve, where only a couple of Redtails were seen. A circuit of Ashumet Pond gave us no good access to find some reported ducks.
We hurried north to Town Neck Road in Sandwich, where the canal had a flock of 23 Brant go over low and close just as we arrived. Among the 900 eiders there were eight Common Loons, a few Black and White-winged Scoters, and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers. At the end of the road, the bay was scattered with 500 more Common Eiders, 50 Black and White-winged Scoters, a few Red-breasted Mergansers, a Red-throated Loon and another flock of Brant. One of us spotted four Razorbills riding the more turbulent waves far out and two Great Cormorants were there. We drove the short way to Sandwich center and turned onto the road next to Shawmee Lake, which was mostly frozen. At the lower end, open water had 17 American Wigeon and one male Eurasian Wigeon plus 3 Gadwall and 2 Hooded Mergansers.
We drove over the bridge and stopped for break and sandwich at McDonalds. Then we drove to Scusset Beach, where Common Eiders fed at the point and toward the bridge, estimated as another 1500 birds. Other birders walking from the west along bike trail told us of the King Eider, and we drove down to look for it. We got great looks at it from a wooden walkway fishing pier there. Two more Razorbills were spotted and a few Red-breasted Mergansers were also there.
On to Bourndale where we found Herring Pond open, but without birds at the south end. Eagle Hill had a flock of Goldeneyes close with one beautiful male Barrow’s Goldeneye. Most of us spotted it, but an adult Eagle swooped in and flushed the flock northward, where we could barely pick it out. We drove to the north end, where there were small flocks of Bufflehead, and Common Merganser with a few Hooded and Red-breasted Mergansers. Some of us heard a Kingfisher call.
We were running late, so decided to skip Manomet and Plymouth Beach. We found Jenny’s Pond drained, but the Harbor had Surf and White-winged Scoters, and Buffleheads far out with Black Ducks close by. We spotted a small flock of Dunlin resting on a small weedy sandbar close-by. Then two Sanderlings also flew in and landed close to check out the shore edge for food. Then it was time to leave the coast and drive inland on Rte. 44 to the Grasslands in Halifax, still known by birders as Cumberland Farms. We found the small parking spot and outlook on the east side where we had repeated looks at several Harriers and two Short-Eared Owls. Also there was a Cooper’s Hawk that attacked blackbirds in a low tree. These were some of hundreds that were flying in and landing as they prepared to roost.
Seth Kellogg & Janice Zepko
Click below to view or download complete count results.
George Kingston, Compiler & Seth Kellogg, Report
The wind was calm, the air mild, and the ground free of snow, but fog hung overhead and on the river. The 15 teams included an eager 34 birders in the field for 117.2 hours, both slightly above the average. They traveled almost 429 miles, with a whopping 96 miles on foot and 333 miles by car. Owling time was only 3 hours. Many of the low common species counts to follow perhaps reflect a lack of snow to concentrate the land birds.
Black Ducks and Mallards continued low and Canada Geese were only average. Common Merganser and Goldeneye numbers were very high, while Hooded Mergansers were average. There were two rare duck species, one Wood Duck and two Bufflehead (6th time). Seven Great Blue Herons was a high number, similar to three other good counts in the last seven years. Ring-billed Gulls were average, while Herring Gulls were few for the third straight year. A single Iceland Gull was the first since 2013. Only four daytime raptor species were noted, but 14 Bald Eagles was one more than the record high set last year. Only two Screech Owls were recorded, but a Barred Owl was a good find. Falcons did well with 2 Kestrel, 2 Merlin and a whopping 5 Peregrines. Open water gave us an impressive 12 Kingfishers.
Blue Jays remained few as in recent years, while Crows took a real dive in numbers. Fish Crows set a high count of seven, and Ravens were a respectable five. No Horned Larks was not too unusual considering so much urban habitat. Chickadees improved after three very poor years, but were still in low numbers. Both Nuthatches were on the low side, but 11 Brown Creepers was the high count in four of the last dozen years. Five Winter Wrens was a good count and Carolina Wrens recovered nicely after three down years. Ruby-crowned Kinglet was missed and Golden-crowned almost was. The 20 Bluebirds was a good total and 404 Robins was excellent. Mockingbirds improved compared to the previous three years, but were still meagre. Cedar Waxwings were better, but still not numerous.
Tree Sparrows were few, as in seven of the last eight years. Three each of Field and Fox Sparrows was not bad. Junco, White-throated and Song Sparrow were again below average, but four Swamp Sparrows was the most since 2006. The Cardinal count was steady. No Blackbirds at all is not that unusual. Two Pine Siskins is not much better than the typical zero. Almost 200 Goldfinches was not far from the recent average. Thanks to all who worked so hard!
We enjoyed the hospitality of George and Jean for the compilation festivities! Take a moment to review highlights from each team in the field.
Team Members and Highlights
Agawam Southeast: Janice Zepko and Seth Kellogg, 8.5 daylight hours plus a half hour owling. 39 species, 3 Great Blue Heron, 2 Bufflehead, 76 Goldeneye, 14 Common Merganser, a Bald Eagle, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, 5 Turkey, a Kingfisher, a Flicker, a Kestrel, a Merlin, 2 Peregrine, a Brown Creeper, a Swamp Sparrow.
Chicopee: Tom Swochak, 9.5 hours, 1.25 owling hours, 38 species, 2 Great Blue Heron, 2 Mute Swan, 23 Black Duck, 133 Mallard, 40 Herring Gull, an Iceland Gull, 3 Kingfisher, a Kestrel, 2 Screech Owl, 5 Hairy Woodpecker, 225 Crow, a Raven, 2 Fish Crow, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatch, a Field Sparrow.
Longmeadow West: Steve Svec, 9 hours, 38 species, 6 Mute Swan, 22 Black Duck, 282 Mallard, 76 Goldeneye, 55 Common Merganser, 446 Ring-billed Gull, a Great Black-backed Gull, 5 Bald Eagle, 13 Turkey, 3 Kingfisher, 15 Downy Woodpecker, 8 Flicker, a Pileated Woodpecker, 31 Blue Jay, 33 Chickadee, a Brown Creeper, 13 Carolina Wren, 2 Winter Wren, 2 Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Fox Sparrow, 2 Swamp Sparrow.
West Springfield: Myles and Kathy Conway, John Weeks, 8.25 hours, 39 species, a Great Blue Heron, 2 Black Duck, 5 Goldeneye, 26 Common Merganser, 2 Bald Eagle, a Cooper’s Hawk, 100 Mourning Dove, a Kingfisher, 11 Downy Woodpecker, 2 Pileated Woodpecker, a Merlin, a Fish Crow, 29 Chickadee, 12 Titmouse, 2 Brown Creeper, 5 Carolina Wren, 34 House Finch, 184 House Sparrow.
Springfield: Janet Orcutt, Tim Carter, Linda. Leed, 7.75 Hours, 35 Species, 665 Canada Geese, 13 Hooded Merganser, 2 Bald Eagle, a Cooper’s Hawk, 7 Red-tailed Hawk, 74 Ring-billed Gull, 341 Rock Pigeon, a Kingfisher, a Flicker, 240 Common Crow, 4 Fish Crow, 788 Starling, a Fox Sparrow, 26 Horned Lark, a Savannah Sparrow, 2 Purple Finch.
Ludlow: Bill and Carol Platenick, 8.2 Hours, 33 Species, 2 Mute Swan, 5 Hooded Merganser, 45 Common Merganser, 3 Bald Eagle, 129 Mourning Dove, a Pileated, 2 Raven, a Golden-crowned Kinglet, 6 Tree Sparrow, 47 Junco.
Longmeadow East: Jim Pfeifer, E. Pfeifer, 5.75 daylight hours and 1.25 night hours, 32 species, 24 Turkey, 9 Red-bellied Woodpecker, 12 Downy Woodpecker, 8 Hairy Woodpecker, 15 Downy Woodpecker, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, 3 Brown Creeper, 5 Carolina Wren, 2 Winter Wren, a Golden-crowned Kinglet, 17 Cardinal, 2 Field Sparrow, 108 Junco.
Forest Park: Al and Lois Richardson, Bambi Kenney, David Moore, Terri Skill, 8.5 hours, 31 species, a Great Blue Heron, a Wood Duck, 9 Goldeneye, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Kingfisher, 8 Red-bellied Woodpecker, a Pileated Woodpecker, the only Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 39 Blue Jay, 33 Chickadee, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, 3 Brown Creeper, 2 Carolina Wren.
Agawam Robinson Park: Steve Perrault, Madeline Novak, 12 hours, 29 species, 2 Black Duck, 18 Common Merganser, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Barred Owl, a Kingfisher, a Flicker, a Winter Wren.
Holyoke: Bob Bieda, 5 hours, 27 species, 5 Mute Swan, 2 Hooded Merganser, 34 Common Merganser, a Bald Eagle, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Fox Sparrow.
Hampden: Mary Felix, Donna Morrison, Patrick Callahan, 8 hours, 27 species, 8 Turkey, 11 Downy Woodpecker, a Raven, 5 Carolina Wren, 13 Bluebird, 3 Cedar Waxwing, 2 White-throated Sparrow.
Ashley Ponds: Tom Gagnon, Blaise Bisaillon, H. Iselin, 6.25 hours, 26 species, 2 Pileated, a Raven, 2 Carolina Wren, 128 Robin, a Swamp Sparrow.
East Longmeadow: George Kingston and Jean Delany, 6 hours, 24 species, 760 Canada Geese, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, a Carolina Wren,
Wilbraham: Howard and Marcy Schwartz, 7 hours, 23 species, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Carolina Wren, 22 Cedar Waxwing,
South Wilbraham: Ben Hodgkins, 4.5 hours, 17 species, 7 Bluebird, 2 Cedar Waxwing
The 62 species recorded was 6 below the 1980-2018 average, and the number of birds was a bit above average. Very above average numbers of regular species were: 161 Goldeneye, 212 Common Merganser, 50 Turkey, 44 Carolina Wren, 20 Bluebird, 404 Robin.
Species now or rarely recorded over the 38 year period were Bufflehead (6 years), Iceland Gull (21 years, first since 2013), Barred Owl (10 years), Sapsucker (17 years, 11 since 2007), Merlin (9 years, all since 1997), Raven (15 years, all since 1997), Pine Siskin (17 years, 5 since 1996)
Number of rarer species in 2018 with average of years seen and number of years found out of 38 were: one Wood Duck 5.5-25, 7 Great Blue Heron 3.2-26, 2 Sharpshin 1.5-22, 5 Cooper’s Hawk 4.5-37, 14 Bald Eagle 4.2-19, 2 Screech Owl 7.2-36, 5 Raven 2.2-15, 7 Fish Crow 1.3-19, one Sapsucker .9-17, 2 Kestrel, 3.3-31, 2 Merlin .4-9, 5 Peregrine .9-18, 5 Winter Wren 3.8-35, 20 Bluebird 14.7-26, 3 Field Sparrow 7.6-29, 3 Fox Sparrow 1.4-24, 4 Swamp Sparrow 5.6-32, 2 Pine Siskin, 26.3-17
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Janice Zepko & Seth Kellogg
There were 6 cars and 16 people on the trip to the North Shore. At the meeting place in Gloucester there were a few distant Bufflehead and a gliding Harrier. After struggling with the back road to Andrews Point, we set up scopes at 9:15, quickly counting good numbers: 170 Eider Ducks, 30 Harlequin Ducks, and about 65 Black Scoters. There were some Surf and White-winged Scoters, ten Long-tailed Ducks, and a few Red-breasted Mergansers, Common and Red-throated Loons. We also spotted soaring Gannets and some Razorbills.
Cathedral Ledge, Granite Pier, and Bass Rocks had more of the same, big Eider flocks, 40 Harlequin Ducks, over 300 Black Scoters, 3 Black Guillemots, Great and Double-crested Cormorants, 3 Gannets, a flock of Bufflehead, over 20 Red-throated Loons, a Goldeneye, a Hooded Merganser, a Red-necked Grebe, and another Razorbill. We got very close to a flock of Snow Buntings and a few Purple Sandpipers on the jetty rocks. The Point and Niles Pond added Ring-necked Ducks and Greater Scaups, 35 Mergansers, 2 Great Blue Heron and many gulls. Jodrey Fish Pier gave us another Razorbill and a Peregrine Falcon.
We headed north to Newburyport, where Joppa Flats added two more Great Blue Herons. It was mid-afternoon for Plum Island, where we added 6 Gadwall, 13 Pintail and a Green-winged Teal. Also, there, were 3 Horned Grebes, and 3 Coot. The only hunting raptor was another Harrier.
Seth Kellogg & Janice Zepko (stepping in for Myles & Kathy Conway)
The trip attracted 12 participants, who met at McDonald’s in Lee before heading out to search for waterfowl. The more common species were found on the water at several locations and included at least 350 Canada Geese and over a hundred Mallards. There were also about a hundred each of Common and Hooded Mergansers and a good number of Ring-billed Gulls scattered on the ponds. We found about 30 common land birds notably a Flicker, two Brown Creepers, 3 Bluebirds, 6 Cedar Waxwings, and 30 Grackles.
Our first stop was the north end of Cheshire Reservoir where there were a Great Blue Heron, 2 Mute Swans, an Osprey and 3 Bald Eagles, one an adult that perched beautifully atop a tall tree at our next stop further south on the Reservoir. There and at other stops we also found a Long-tailed Duck, 2 Lesser Scaup, and a Ruddy Duck. At one stop a sharp-eyed member noticed 3 Bluebirds flying over that eventually landed atop a tree, giving everyone good scope looks.
North Pontoosuc offered another Long-tailed Duck, 3 Common Loons, 2 more Lesser Scaup, 7 Bufflehead, 4 Horned Grebes, plus 3 Bonaparte’s Gulls together on the water. At the south end we picked out a White-winged Scoter, a Goldeneye, and a Herring Gull from the Jeebe St., Lanesboro lookout.
Burbank Park at Onota gave us 2 Red-necked Grebes after careful study and 2 more Common Loons. Richmond Pond had a dozen Greater Scaup, 8 Coot, 8 Ring-necked Ducks, 14 Bufflehead, and another Common Loon. Of course the day would not be complete without a stop at Bartlett’s for some yummy cider donuts, followed by a final stop at Stockbridge Bowl that gave us ten Buffleheads. Our total species count was 51.
The walk was attended by 8 participants and yielded 20 species. The clouds never cleared and it stayed cool and windy, which kept birds low. The raptors held the day - a pair of Eagles, adult and immature, a Cooper's Hawk perched on a bush hoping to extract the hidden birds, and a Sharp-shinned Hawk swooping over us. A flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers hugged Windsor Dam's facade along with Juncos. Sparrows were sparse with only Savannah and White-throated.
Windsor Park held both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, a Creeper, and a Downy.
At gate 52, a cooperative Swainson's Thrush and 2 pairs of Horned Grebes ended another fine autumn birding trip.
Thirteen birders started out on this leisurely walk along the Ludlow Reservoir hoping to find some fall migrants, early winter birds (usually this trip get first of season Juncos for many of us) and perhaps some water fowl and raptors. For the first quarter mile we had eerie silence and no birds. I even joked that I hope we see "A bird." Our luck soon changed as one of our first birds of a the day was a Kestrel on the other side of the reservoir that we could see in the scope and flybys of a Common Merganser and Kingfisher, who landed and also afforded good views through the scope. There was also a grebe farther up the waterway, but we could not make out the type at that distance. A group of 19 Ring-billed Gulls flew by. As we proceeded up the path we were soon surround by chip notes and calls of a number of different warblers, many of whom would not stay still long enough to identify. What we did ID in this group were Pine, Palm, Yellow-rumped and Blackpoll Warblers (we came across another cache of Blackpolls later on as well). A late Phoebe, Red Breasted & White Breasted Nuthatches, Blue-headed Vireo and Ruby-crowned Kinglets were also seen. We were then treated to great looks at a Swainson's Thrush, which was first spotted about 10-12 feet from us on the ground. He stayed visible for many minutes.
A group of Blue Jays crossed the path and a few minutes later we hear their calls mixed with the croaks of a Raven that they must have stumbled across. We finally reached the farthest point that we were going to and found a number of great birds, including two Bald Eagles, one fishing and the other that landed in a tree and allowed us to scope him. We also spotted 3 Turkey Vultures and distant Peregrine Falcon along with the grebe which turned out to be a Pied-billed Grebe, a Great Blue Heron and a Common Loon that eventually did a swim-by pretty close to us, affording great looks. At this point we headed back and found another Swainson's Thrush, a Song sparrow (our only sparrow of the day) and a group of Black-throated Blue Warblers, as well as our third immature Bald Eagle.
All in all we ended up with 31 species, not counting the unidentified warbler species that were just moving around too quickly to ID. Not a huge number, but we did get some really nice birds and some great looks at them.
April Downey & Bambi Kenney
We had 14 participants and totaled 29 species. The highlight of the morning was at Arcadia, where we had a kettle of raptors, including Red-tailed, Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks and a Northern Harrier.
It was difficult seeing much of anything when we first started as it was quite foggy. Once it burned off it became warm and clear. We did the Northampton Meadows, Aqua Vitae Rd, Honeypot Rd and Arcadia last. There was a folk festival at Arcadia that day which brought in many people, but it did not affect where we were headed so that was good.
Kathy & Myles Conway
There were nine participants in all for this annual fall trip south. We were happy with our number of 108 species until I came home and looked at previous years. It is the lowest we've recorded! Part of it was that weather was not in our favor. It rained on Sunday, so we didn't return to Higbee at all. We just did Nummy and the Wetlands Institute that day. Although we added some good species at those places (Wilson's and Blackpoll, Willet, Rb Nut), we still lacked some that we usually get. Brig was okay, with low tide, so we saw Clapper, etc., in the channels, but the water in the pools had already been raised, so there were few shorebirds, and numbers of ducks had not come in yet. The hawkwatch was good, with good looks, but I don't think migration was at its peak. Highlights by day are included below.
Sept 21 – Brig had 12 Wood Duck, 2 Gadwall, 10 American Wigeon, 75 Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, 8 Pied-billed Grebe, 3 Clapper Rails, 5 Pectoral Sandpiper, 100 Semipalmated Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, 2 Long-billed Dowitcher, Greater Yellowlegs, 1 Caspian Tern, 120 Black Skimmer, 20 Glossy Ibis, Black Vulture, Peregrine Falcon, 1 White-eyed Vireo, 1 Marsh Wren, 1 Seaside Sparrow, 20 Boat-tailed Grackle, and 5 Savannah Sparrow.
Sept 22 – Higbee gave us 1 Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Osprey, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Eastern Wood-Pewee, 1 Yellow-throated Vireo, Carolina Chickadee, Brown Thrasher, 3 American Pipit, 2 Bobolink, 2 Baltimore Oriole, 1 Black-and-white Warbler, 1 Dickcissel, American Redstart, 1 Magnolia Warbler, 2 Prairie Warbler, 5 Blue Grosbeak, 7 Indigo Bunting, and 1 Nashville Warbler.
Cape May Hawkwatch Platform and the Cape May Meadows had 15 Blue-winged Teal, 6 Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, American Oystercatcher, Pied-billed Grebe, Peregrine Falcon, Black Vulture, Osprey, Sharp-shinned Hawk, 3 Cooper's Hawk, Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, 5 American Kestrel, Merlin, and Little Blue Heron.
Sept 23 – Nummy’s Island provided looks at American Oystercatcher, 2 Least Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, 1 Spotted Sandpiper, 1 Green Heron, 12 Black-crowned Night-Heron, Red-eyed Vireo, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatch, 1 House Wren, Brown Thrasher, American Redstart, Palm Warbler, 1 Wilson's Warbler, and 1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Finally, Stone Harbor Blvd – Wetlands Institute added 1 Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, 6 Northern Flicker, and 1 Blackpoll Warbler to our trip list.
Six birders came for the walk on a warm, sunny day. We saw a total of 25 species. Noticeably absent were migrating birds and warblers, with a Redstart and a Common Yellowthroat being our only warblers. However, it was a nice day to be walking in the woods and near the end we were able to get good looks at a pair of Scarlet Tanagers, not in breeding plumage.
The annual Allen Bird Club/Hoffmann Bird Club hawk watch and picnic was held today on Blueberry Hill in Granville. We were also joined by several members of Massachusetts Audubon from Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton.
We had hoped for a big push of raptors today after the week's dreary weather, but it was not to be (at least not at our site). Nevertheless, we enjoyed many good looks at an assortment of raptors, and several of the newcomers commented that they learned a lot about the identification of these often confusing birds.
The watch ran from 8:45 AM to 3:00 PM, on a mostly sunny day with balmy, late-summer temperatures. Species counts are below.
COUNTED AS MIGRANTS:
Bald Eagle 3
Northern Harrier 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 18
Broad-winged Hawk 98
American Kestrel 7
Blue Jays 25
Monarch Butterflies 10
Turkey Vulture 2
Red-shouldered Hawk 2
Northern Flicker 3
Blue-headed Vireo (sang briefly)
Common Raven 2
Common Yellowthroat (only warbler tallied!)
Purple Finch 4
American Goldfinch 2
Seth Kellogg & Janice Zepko
We met in Ludlow at McDonald’s at 6:30 and five of us headed for Plum Island. We had Red-tailed Hawk, Osprey and 15 DC cormorants en route and arrived at the Salt Pannes at 9:15. The water greeted us with two Great Egrets, a Merlin, a Kingfisher, one Lesser Yellowlegs a dozen or so peeps and 30+ Tree Swallows.
The Warden’s gave us Cooper’s Hawk, two Harrier, Pewee, Phoebe and Mockingbird. Off to North Pool, where we added more Great Egrets, a Great Blue, 5 Semi-Sandpipers, an Eagle and more Tree Swallows. The Bill Forward Pool at Hellcat landed us the best bird of the day, good looks at American Bittern, as well as a laundry list of sandpipers, 25 White-rumped, 150 Semi-palmated, 20 Least, 1 Solitary and 1 Spotted. Also there were 100 Semi-palmated Plovers, 1 Long and 6 Short-billed Dowitchers, 2 Great Blue Herons and a Little Blue, 40 Great and 4 Snowy Egrets, 20 each of Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, 4 Black Ducks and 6 Mallards, 50 DC Cormorants, a Harrier sitting on the beach, a Savannah Sparrow, more Tree Swallows and 2 Barns.
A half after noon we arrived at Emerson Rocks to find 40 Sanderlings, 12 Semi Sandpipers, 12 Semi Plovers, 2 Scoters, 10 Gannets, and a beautiful Baird’s Sandpiper close and seen well. We headed across the way to Sandy Point, where we got 2 Whimbrel, 3 Red Knots, 20 BB Plovers, 75 Semi Sandpi-pers, 50 Semi Plovers, 12 Sanderlings, a Ruddy Turnstone and three species of gulls.
The first fall walk at Stebbins Refuge was attended by 8 participants and we tallied 32 species. It was warm at 7:30 a.m. and got more humid by the time we left at 11 a.m. It was a slow meander and quiet for the most part.
We had no warblers - a Warbling Vireo and a pair of Phoebes were present and we tallied 5 Green Herons (they were almost as ubiquitous as the calling Catbirds). The ponds held many Wood Ducks, Mallards, Swans, Great Egrets (2), Rough-winged Swallows, and DC Cormorants. We were treated to a Cooper's Hawk being dive-bombed by a Sharp-shinned Hawk. We could observe well the overall size, head and body pattern differences between the two hawks. It was a pleasant, if slow, start to fall migration and a chance to see the changes happening at the Refuge.
Al & Lois Richardson
Four Allen Bird Club members checked the CT and Westfield River and various ponds and lagoons in Agawam and Longmeadow for late summer shorebirds, egrets and herons. High water, resulting in a scarcity of mudflats, kept shorebirds to a lone Spotted Sandpiper and a Killdeer. A Black-crowned Night-heron was perched out in full view at one of the Big E lagoons in spite of the many huge buses passing by every five minutes, shuttling visitors to the casino in Springfield. The other lagoon produced Green Heron and a Great Blue. When we reached the dike area, families of Song Sparrows were popping out of the grass. The wires held Mourning Doves - not the usual Kestrel so often seen here.
A quick check at Bondi's gave us two Great Egrets to add to the morning's list. By the time we reached Pondside Road in the Longmeadow Flats, the morning was heating up. We found more Great Egrets, Green Herons, and Great Blue Herons here. Total species for the morning was 43.
Al & Lois Richardson
Ten Allen Bird Club members met at Pondside for the annual Nighthawk Watch. The first Nighthawks were not spotted until nearly 7:30, giving everyone plenty of time to catch up on birding adventures and other news from over the summer. As dusk fell, the nighthawks began to fly over, and from our standpoint at the Tina Lane pullout we tallied 47 nighthawks. Not as many as some years, but giving all participants good satisfying looks as several swooped down low just above our heads.
Earlier in the evening there was a Peregrine and an Osprey that showed up. A nearly full moon shone down on a cluster of 7 Great Egrets as they gathered for their night roost. Green Herons flew across the ponds and Great Blues fed nearby. Ducks - Wood, Mallards, and a nice surprise of Blue-wing Teal (3) flew in from wherever they had spent their day feeding. By the time it had become too dark to see and the mosquitoes had come out in full force, we had tallied 31 species on a very pleasant evening.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Twelve participants enjoyed a morning of birding at the Fort River WMA and the Honey Pot, finding 51 species in all. Our list included Great Blue Heron 1, Mallards 6, Turkey Vulture 1, Bald Eagle 1, A. Kestrel 1, Turkey 14, RT Hummingbird 1M, Red-bellied WP, Flicker 1, Wood Pewee 1, Alder and Willow Flycatchers 1 of each, Pheobe 1, Kingbird 1, Tree and Barn Swallows 2 and 15, Blue Jay, Crow, Chickadee, Titmouse, WB Nut, House Wren, Woodthrush 1, Robin, Catbird, Mockingbird, Waxwings, Starlings, and Warbling and Red-eyed Vireos. Warblers included Blue-winged, Yellow, Pine, Redstart, and Common Yellowthroat. Then there were also Scarlet Tanager, Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Chipping, Field, Vesper, Savannah, and Song Sparrows, Bobolink, Red-winged Blackbird, Meadowlark, Grackle, Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, Goldfinch, and House Sparrow.
Five people participated in this walk at Laughing Brook (Hampden) and Hollow Road (Hampden and Wilbraham). The morning was cool, mid to upper 50's, and overcast. We covered about 2 to 2 1/2 miles. A total of 44 species were observed and/or heard.
Highlights included a good look at one Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, hearing one Alder Flycatcher, a small flock of about 19 Cedar Waxwings, one male House Finch with 3 begging young, hearing a number of Veeries and getting a good look at one. Warblers were also spotted, including two Blue-winged, one Prairie, one Common Yellowthroat and a few Yellow Warblers to round out the group. Notable on the trip was the lack of Wood Thrushes, none heard or seen, and the lack of Bobolinks. Two of us extended the trip by going to South Road in Hampden to observe 4 Bobolinks.
There were 5 participants at the Skinner State Park walk and we recorded 28 species. As what seems to be a pattern on this walk, the morning was damp, misty and slow (both walking and birding). We heard things including a Worm-Eating Warbler and a very vocal Raven, but didn't see much. It was getting foggier and dark when we met John Green and company near the big S curve, but passed them to reach the Summit House. It was now 11 a.m., the dense fog cleared and the sun came out. Then the miracle of birding occurred.
Standing on the deck of the Summit House, a pair of Indigo Buntings, a Scarlet Tanager and a pair of Great Crested Flycatchers cruised back and forth. The lighting was excellent and we were level or above the birds. Tim then spotted the Worm-eating Warbler below us and then at eye level. We left to see if John Green had the Cerulean, only to have the pair of Worm-eating Warblers stop us at the parking area along with a Yellow-throated Vireo. As we wandered down past the parking area, we were motioned by John's group to hurry. The female Cerulean was seen just above our heads and the male was calling. We hung around as the bird continued to sing and it finally came into view. Gone were all the misgivings about missing the targeted birds. Guess that's the way birding is, but it sure feels good to have such a finale.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
There were 13 people on the walk and we recorded 45 species. The fields were muddy from the prior day's rain and the road crossing was flooded more than usual.
We recorded 7 warblers - great views of the Canada Warbler and a Magnolia Warbler, plus a Wilson's. We walked the Eliot Trail, which was a first for many, and had Wood Thrushes and a Swainson's Thrush there. A Solitary Sandpiper probed a muddy pool, a Willow Flycatcher was in the Withgott Meadow (!) and a pair of Orchard Orioles hung around the tracks. Bluebirds are nesting in the bird boxes in the large fields, ignoring the ongoing tree plantings and a Great Crested Flycatcher cruised the area. It was a fun morning and good companionship.
Twelve participants spent 3 hours covering about a half mile of the Norwottuck Rail Trail starting at the Station Rd entrance.
Birds seen or heard included Great Blue Heron 1, Canada Geese 4 adults with 5 goslings, Turkey Vulture 1, Woodcock 2, Nighthawks 2, Chimney Swifts 3, Downy 1 and Hairy 1 Woodpecker, Barn 2 and Tree 2 Swallows, Blue Jay 2, Bluebirds 2, Robins 6, Woodthrush 1, Brown Thrasher 1, Catbird 4, and Warbling Vireo 1. Warblers, one of each, included Yellow, Common Yellowthroat, Black-and-white, Northern Waterthrush. There were Red-winged Blackbirds 6, Grackles 4, Cowbird 1, Bobolink 3, Swamp and Song Sparrows 2 of each, Rose-breasted Grosbeak 2, and Baltimore Oriole 4.
The weather was sunny and in the 50s as 14 participants enjoyed three hours of birding the Refuge.
Birds seen or heard included Bald Eagle, Raven, Red-tailed Hawk, Mute Swan 4, Mallard 2, Wood Duck 4, Canada Goose 20 including goslings, Great Crested Flycatcher 1, Eastern Kingbird 2, Flicker 4, Red-bellied Woodpecker 10, Catbird 10, Robin 30, Warbling Vireo 2, Yellow Warbler 10, Common Yellowthroat 4, Canada Warbler 2, Goldenwing Warbler 1 (J.Hutchison), Blackpoll 2, Yellow-rumped Warbler 2, Parula 3, Magnolia Warbler 1, Chestnut-sided warbler 1, Tree swallow 40, Red-winged Blackbird 50, Grackle 50, Rose-breasted Grosbeak 2, Baltimore Oriole 2, Crow 4, Blue Jay 5, Titmouse 6, White-breasted Nuthatch 2, Gnatcatcher 1, Northern Waterthrush 3, and Black-throated Blue Warbler 1.
We started the trip under a rainy sky, but it let up some so we proceeded with light rain for most of the trip. Six people showed up and when we parked, we were delighted to and hear and see plenty of birds.
We started with a group of around a dozen Yellow-rumped Warblers and in this group were also our first Black-and-white Warbler of the day and a Yellow Warbler. The water also had some action, as we had a brief look at a Kingfisher, who then seemed to disappear for the rest of the trip, and a pair of Hooded Mergansers.
The field was filled with swallows that darted right around us (you could almost reach out and grab them) and we were able to easily see the differences between the Tree, Northern Rough-winged and a lone Barn Swallow that were flying so close. As we worked our way along the shore, we spotted a pair of Canada Geese with 4 goslings and had a Baltimore Oriole singing over our heads. We saw Great Blue Herons fixing up their nests and occupying at least one of them. We also had a low flyby of a single Raven.
As we reached the small concrete bridge, we got so see a pair of Bluebirds and a Hermit Thrush. The woods did not yield a ton of birds, but we got good looks at some Black-and-white Warblers and flushed a pair of Wood ducks. No sign of the Sora or Virginia Rails. As we headed back to the cars, we caught sight of our lone sparrow of the day, a Chipping Sparrow.
I think the rain kept some of the birds quiet, as usually I would expect some vireos, gnatcatchers, more variety of sparrows and a number of flycatchers all of which seemed absent (ie staying out of the rain), but still an enjoyable trip with some good birds. We walked a little over a mile and ended the day with 32 species (usually a trip at the end of April/start of May would yield 40-50 species in this area).
The morning began with an Osprey flyover. We were just four members to enjoy a quiet walk through one section of the Bear Hole area. All the usual species were present, though some only heard, and not seen. We counted nine species of warbler, 3 Parula, 1 BT Green, 2 BT Blue (excellent views of both perched very close to us on a bare branch), 2 Black-and-white, 2 Pine, 3 Ovenbird, 3 Yellow-rumped, 2 Redstart, and 2 Lousiana Waterthrush (also good views).
There were birds of all sizes, from the little Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers to Redtails and Great Blue Herons. We even caught looks at Mallards and Wood Ducks, and heard a turkey call in the distance. There were Tree Swallows and Chimney Swifts, Grackles and Red-wings, Great-crested Flycatchers, an Oriole, and one lone Yellow-throated Vireo singing from across a small pool of water. We got several species of woodpecker; 4 Downy, 2 Red-bellied, 1 Flicker, 2 Pileated, and ended the walk with 2 Crows flying overhead.
The trip started in the rain at 7:30 when Janet joined me at the meeting point. No one else showed up, but since the rain seemed to be letting up we decided to give it a shot. We headed in by the Elks Club and our first treat was a pair of FOY Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. The pair was flitting around the trees as they often do, but then settled on a branch next to each other, where it appeared the male did a courting display by cocking it's head straight up and tail down. The female watched for a moment or two and then they both started flitting about again. This was the first time either of us had seen this behavior from Gnatcatchers. They were very vocal as well.
The next notable sighting was a group of warblers made up of mostly Yellow-rumps, but also included a FOY Black-and-white. We also had a palm and a pine warbler in the same area. We then proceeded down to the ponds where we saw a number of the usual suspects and got a little sparrow group as we reached the area by the water tanks. This consisted of Chipping, White-throated and Song sparrows. We had fly overs of a Common Merganser, a Double-crested Cormorant and a pair of Osprey. By this point the rain started to pick up again so we headed back to the cars and cut the trip short. While the weather was not the greatest by any means, we still had a good time and had good looks at some good birds. Our species count was low for the end of April at 27, but that was to be expected with the weather and shorter trip duration.
Kate Hale Barnes
Today was a fabulous day, weather, birds, people and all!!! We had 40 species. There were nine participants including myself. How does one choose most notable species? Our list included Wood Duck, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Shoveler (Brewer Pond), 3 Red-tailed Hawks, Belted Kingfisher, Pileated Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Brown Creeper, Eastern Bluebird, Carolina Wren, Northern Mockingbird, Black-and-white Warbler, Pine Warbler, Northern Waterthrush (clearly heard by all at two locations), Eastern Towhee (good population over there), Field Sparrow (same), and Swamp Sparrow (heard but not seen). Notably absent were the usual abundant Prairie Warblers.
We started by breaking my personal streak of it raining on every trip I lead. While it started out a little cold, it ended up being a beautiful sunny and warm day. A total of 7 members were there for the walk and got many of the usual suspects.
The Brown Thrasher showed up, perched high on a tree and sang for a good hour. We scoped it so everyone got good looks. Field Sparrows were there in numbers and singing their hearts out along with Song, White-throated, Swamp and Savannah. We had great looks at a Hermit Thrush and probably the biggest surprise was an early Blue-headed Vireo. We only had a few Palm Warblers and a single Pine. Barn and Tree Swallows were both present. We left, deciding to take a look for the Meadowlark on Moody Bridge Rd and, while we did not see him, we did get to see 2 male Kestrels in the fields and on one of the nest boxes. There were 35 species in total. All-in-all, it was a really nice morning of birding with a total of 35 species.
Howard Schwartz & Seth Kellogg
There were 12 who met for a yummy breakfast in Northampton. We then drove to Turners Falls starting at the dam, and then to Barton Cove for 5 Mute Swan, 3 Cormorant, 75 Common Merganser, 4 Ring-necked Duck, a few Tree Swallows. We drove over to the Sportsman’s Club to find 10 Mute Swans, 10 Common Mergansers, 1 Hooded Merganser, Bald Eagle and 3 Kingfishers.
At the airport, we found 2 Kestrel, 3 Meadowlarks, and 2 Killdeer. We met a couple who got their spotting scope back from Airport attendant who had it for a year. He gave me directions to a place where Crossbills had been spotted on Montague Plains, but they did not help much and we went to the west side to come in on Plains Road, which was no picnic. No Crossbills, but we had Palm and Pine Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Sapsucker, Towhee and Field Sparrow, plus Hermit Thrush by some.
There were 10 people on the trip to Longmeadow and West Springfield. The water was high at Pynchon Point, but we found 8 Wood Duck, Carolina Wren singing, and a Field Sparrow.
Pondside in Longmeadow had Harrier, 2 Green-winged Teal, 3 Ring-necked Duck, Goldeneye, 4 Wood Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, swans chasing geese, 150 Tree Swallows, mostly perched on bushes. We drove to Eastern States to find water very high and muddy in the marsh. The field had Killdeer, Kingfishers in the marsh and along river with Common Merganser. The dike area had 2 Kestrel and a Bald Eagle. Bondi’s had 2 Turkey.
The trip to the coast was postponed a week, but went on the 24th with five people. We headed to Scusset Park and found the adult King Eider close to the rocky dike just below us. Also there at 9:00 am were Oldsquaw, Red-breasted Mergansers, some Brant, and many Eiders, which slowly flew in groups farther out to sea and over to Horizons Beach.
After getting very cold, we drove south to Falmouth, where few ducks were in ponds except a nice Red-throated Loon, with Goldeneye, Eiders, and Buffleheads in the bay. We drove though congestion slowly along Rte. 3 until Marston’s Mills, where there was only a Gadwall. A short ride on Rte. 6 took us back to Horizons, where there were many Black Scoters, with fewer Surf and White-winged Scoters. Other ducks were scattered among them, including possible Razorbill.
Plymouth Beach had only a few things plus some Brant, and a strong cold wind again. We did not try for Tundra Swan at Atwood Reservoir in Carver. Maybe we should have driven to the outer Cape, where alcids were found by others on that day.
Kathy Conway & Chris Blagdon
February 24-25, 2018 - There were 16 participants on this weekend trip. We birded a total of 13.5 hours, 8 on Saturday and 5.5 on Sunday, getting 53 species in all. It was a lovely day on Saturday, temps in the 50’s, mostly sunny. Dry in the morning on Sunday, changing to rain and cooler temps later. We visited several locations in Cape Ann on Saturday, including Jodrey’s Pier, Niles Beach, Eastern Pt., Niles Pond/Brace Cove, Atlantic Ave., Cathedral Rocks, Granite Pier, Andrew’s Point, Plum Cove, and Nelson’s Island. On Sunday we covered the Newburyport area, including Salisbury State Park, Chapman Park, Joppa Flats, and Plum Island.
Waterfowl listed were Canada Goose, Brant 20, Gadwall 30, American Wigeon 1, Black Duck, Mallard, Pintail 1, Gtr and Lesser Scaup, C. Eider, Harlequin Duck, Surf, White-winged and Black Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Bufflehead, C. Goldeneye, Hooded and Red-breasted Mergan-ser, Red-throated and C. Loon, Horned and Red-necked Grebe, and DC (at Chapman Park)and Great Cormorant. Hawks were Northern Harrier 2 and Red-tailed Hawk. The only shorebird was Purple Sandpiper 50+. Rarer gulls found were Iceland 1 and Glaucous 1. Seabird special-ties were Thick-billed Murre 4, Dovekie 4 (1 at Eastern Pt., 3 more at Granite Pier, including one very close look with Thick-billed Murre), Razorbill 1, and Black Guillemot 1. We had 8 Snowy Owls, 1 at Nelson’s Is., 4 at Salisbury Park, 3 at Plum Island. Land birds included Mourning Dove, Rock Pigeon, Blue Jay, Crow, Chickadee, Carolina Wren, Mockingbird, Song Sparrow, Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Grackle, House Finch, and House Sparrow.
The meeting spot at Friendly’s gave us looks at 20 Bufflehead. First stop was at Jodrey Pier and we found a Razorbill right away. We also were treated to a Thick-billed Murre for a while and quite close by. Glaucous Gull was close on raft. Regular birds were Oldsquaw, White-winged and Surf Scoter, Eiders, Bufflehead, Common Loons and Red-breasted Merganser. Niles Beach had White-winged and Surf Scoters, Eiders, Oldsquaw, Buffleheads close and many Eiders. Also there were a Goldeneye, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Common Loons. Eastern Point parking lot had good looks at Dovekie, with many Oldsquaw, Eiders, White-winged and Surf Scoters, plus a few Gadwall, Goldeneye, and Red-breasted Mergansers. Niles Pond was next and our car drove all the way out to brace Cove, where there was 15 Brant, Glaucous Gull, Goldeneye, White-winged Scoters and a Red-necked Grebe. On Niles Pond, we had a flock of mostly Greater and two Lesser Scaup, plus 50 Red-breasted Merganser. Atlantic Avenue had 10 Great Cormorant on rock, 40 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Black Guillemot, 2 Red-necked Grebe, Bufflehead, White-winged and Surf Scoter, Eiders, and a Surf Scoter.
After lunch went to Rockport, where Granite Pier gave us 2 Dovekie and a Thick-billed Murre in close, perhaps a view of a life-time. Also there were 20 Harlequins, 20 Purple Sandpipers, Iceland Gull, some Brant, many Common Loons and a Red-throated Loon. We had flocks of Eiders, White-winged Scoters, and Bufflehead and a few Red-breasted Mergansers and a Black Scoter. Cathedral Rocks had another Dovekie, 25 Harlequins, plus Eiders, Black and White-winged Scoters. Andrews Point was rough and crowded, but got more Harlequins, Eiders, and Black and White-winged Scoters. Also, we had a two Horned Grebe, one Red-necked Grebe, 8 Common Loons, and a Great Cormorant.
We stopped at Plum Cove, where most had brief looks at Razorbill and Dovekie, plus some White-winged and Black Scoters and Red-breasted Mergansers, but only one Common Loon. We drove north to Stackyard Road where Chris spotted a distant Snowy Owl. We checked in at Fairfield with 7 of us going to the Indian Food place again.
At 6:00 am we braved the wind and cold under threatening skies in Salisbury. Our reward was close looks at four Snowy Owls. Other good finds were 2 Harriers, 2 Guillemots, a few Red-throated and Common Loons, a Hooded Merganser and Black Scoter. There were 200 Eiders, 30-40 Oldsquaw, Red-breasted Merganser, and White-winged Scoters. We also had 20 Goldeneyes and Bufflehead. We returned for the breakfast buffet and checked out at 8:30 am. No Screech Owl was found in Newbury at Kent and Washington Streets. Cashman Park at 9:00 am had Goldeneyes and Buffleheads. We started down Plum Island in moderate rain, finding 2 more Snowy Owls. The Salt Pannes had Pintail, 15 Gadwall, 2 American Wigeon, Mute Swan and 4 Red-breasted Mergansers. The Bill Forward blind had 2 Pintail and Iceland Gull.
The Rhode Island trip had 5 cars and ten people, leaving Ludlow at 6:30, arriving at Watchemocket Cove at 8:30 a.m. The wind was strong and cold most of day, but the sky was clear. The cove itself was mostly iced over, except at the far inlet, but the bigger arm on south side was covered with large flocks of Ring-billed Gulls, Geese, and 150 Brant. There was a mixed flock of 20 Lesser and 30 Greater Scaup, and a flock of 60 Wigeon. Scattered around and mixed in were 12 Red-breasted, 12 Hooded Mergansers, 20 Gadwall, 25 Mute Swan, and a few Blacks and Mallards. There was a single Coot and one Horned Grebe. A Kingfisher perched on a stick at the back edge of the smaller cove and a Peregrine flew in and spooked resting gulls, stopping to perch for a while on a stick in middle of ice.
We drove the long way to Tiverton. Just before turning off Rte. 77 we spotted a Black Vulture soaring with 2 Turkey Vultures. Chris spotted a Cooper’s Hawk on way. We arrived at Ruecker Sanctuary at 10:00 and noted a large flock 75-100 of Horned Larks whirling and then feeding on the plowed field across the street. Walking through brush and woods, we had Yellowrump, Robins, Catbird, Gc Kinglet, and 3 Titmice, then we stopped at the house for more feeder birds. The fields before the marsh had 2 hunting Harriers, and the coves around the bridge held Oldsquaw, Common Loon, 60 Brant and gulls. We went further south this time to Sakonett Point, but parking was difficult both there and at Round Pond, which did have some open water with 2 pairs of Redheads, 12 Gadwall, 6 Red-breasted and 6 Hooded Mergansers, 20 Bufflehead, a Coot, 2 Wigeon, 2 Goldeneye, 3 Great Cormorant and 8 Mute Swans, but no Tundra Swan. Stopped briefly at Pardon Gray on the way back, but only 2 Black Vultures were there. Coastal Roasters was very crowded, though still needed for a bathroom stop.
Nearing Sachuest, we had a Coyote, and near the very crowded parking lot were some deer. We began the walk to lookouts at 2:00 pm finding two huge flocks of 600 Black and Surf Scoters mixed and 350 Greater Scaup and 50 Lesser Scaup together. Eider flocks were smaller and scattered. Other species were widely scattered, 6 Harlequins, 20 Bufflehead, 12 Goldeneye, 20 Red-breasted Mergansers, and a Horned Grebe. Shorebirds were on one of the big rock islands, but took off and split up, returning occasionally in smaller numbers. Peak counts were 35 Purple Sandpipers, 80 Sanderlings, and 4 Ruddy Turnstones. Checked in to Howard Johnson Motel at 5-5:30, bird log was at 6 pm, and dinner was at Rheas just south on Rte. 138. It was casual and not crowded. Food was very good, but they were out of most seafood.
We ate a good breakfast at 6:00 am in the motel and we left at 7:00, stopping for gas at Shell on rotary. We crossed the bridge and then went south to Beavertail. Chris got another Cooper’s Hawk. We attempted to do Beavertail in light rain 7:45-9:00 am. We were able to study a smaller flock of scoters just off point, 200 Black with 20 White-winged and 50 Surf. Scattered were 30 Harlequin Ducks, 100 Eiders, 25 Oldsquaw, 10 Horned Grebe, 6 Common and one Red-throated Loon, 5 Bufflehead and a Guillemot flyby from Chris. We studied a Merlin that flew in and perched on pole behind main building.
On the way north we counted 50 Brant. The marsh at Zeek’s Creek had a close Red-necked Grebe we all studied plus Red-breasted Merganser and Kingfisher. There were plenty of blacks and Mallards plus huge flock of 500 geese landing in the close cove with a loud chorus of honking. One car left us here. Rain persisted as we crossed second bridge and took Rte. 1 south to Rte. 108 through Narragansett, arriving at Point Judith where another large mixed Scoter flock of 500 awaited. Two hundred Eider and 6 Goldeneye were nearby. Two more cars left us after a rest stop at Dunkin, but we continued to Trustom as the rain slowed and the fog increased. It was just too much, so at noon we headed west on Rte. 1 to Rte. 95, then Rte. 85, then the deserted Rte. 11 and Rte. 2 to Hartford. We got to Springfield at 12:15 pm. We ended with 65 species on the list, including 39 waterbirds and raptors.
Seth Kellogg and Janice Zepko
This trip, originally scheduled for January 6th, finally got off the ground two weeks later. We met at McDonald’s in Ludlow at 6:30 am and eleven of us left for the South Shore. Doing the reverse of our usual route, we stopped at Cumberland Farms first to pick up Rough-legged Hawks (4) that had been reported. Also there were 4 Redtails, 3 Harriers, 30 Cowbirds and 200 Canada Geese. Next stop was at a park overlooking Duxbury Harbor, where we picked up 25 Surf Scoters, 20 Eider, 3 Black Duck, 5 Bufflehead and a Horned Grebe. On to Duxbury Beach by Gurnett Road. It did not disappoint with a close in Snowy Owl.
North Plymouth at the pumping station of Chuck Carroll Investment Pond we got 2 Gadwall, 2 Hooded Mergs, 30 Mallards and a Black Duck, as well as 3 Mute Swans, 25 Ring-billed and 6 Herring Gulls. Plymouth Harbor added 150 Black Ducks, 40 Surf and 12 White-winged Scoters, 100 Eider, 1 Oldsquaw, 1 Horned Grebe, 1 RB Merg and a Great Blue Heron. By1:30 we were at Jenny’s Pond for 2 Turkeys, a Mute Swan, 10 Gadwall, 25 mallard, 3 Bufflehead, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker. Plymouth Long Beach added Oldsquaw, 5 RB Mergs, 30 Eider, 25 Surf Scoters, 3 Common and 1 Red-throated Loon, 1 Horned Grebe and 1 Bonaparte’s Gull.
Manomet Point was our next stop, where we found 60+ Harbor Seals and birds too, including 10 Oldsquaw, 2 Great Cormorants, 50 RB Mergs, 6 WW Scoters and 3 Bufflehead. On to Long Pond and a second stop at its south end for 7 Bufflehead, 4 Goldeneye, 3 RB Mergs and a Great Cormorant.
An overlook of Great Herring Pond from Eagle Hill Rd gave us a Bald Eagle, 13 Lesser and 7 Greater Scaup, 35 Red-breasted and 10 Common Mergs, 25 Goldeneye and 80 Crows probably going to roost.
Finally, we arrived at Horizons Restaurant on Town Neck Rd in Sandwich, where the parking lot and beach give us close up views of waterfowl. There we counted 300 White-winged 20 Black and 6 Surf Scoters, 500 Eider, RB Merg, Horned Grebe, Blk-backed Gull, and a Common Loon. Also, Holly added 4 Sanderlings and a Song Sparrow to the list, after we sent her, by accident, to Scusset Beach where we spotted her with scope from our position across the sea water.
There were again 10 teams but only 17 observers, two fewer than in 2016 and the fewest in 20 years. Conditions and numbers were not quite ideal after a legacy of late December storms and cold snaps probably drove a lot of wintering birds farther south. The morning was very cold, but it warmed to just above freezing by mid-day. Skies were partly cloudy with snow showers and light wind with a layer of ice and snow still covering the ground.
Teams and Highlights
Westfield-SW: Joanne Fortin, five hours, 29 species, including feeder report from Elethea Goodkin: 4 Turkeys, 3 Sapsuckers, 85 Chickadees, a Carolina Wren, 8 Bluebirds, 7 Robins, 15 Waxwings, 110 Juncos
Blandford and Westfield: Kathy and Myles Conway, 7 hours, 26 species, Mute Swan, 8 Turkeys, a Red-shouldered Hawk, a Raven, a Brown Creeper, 4 Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Raven, a Purple Finch 15 Cedar Waxwing
Russell and Westfield: Tom Swochak, 8 hours plus 1.5 owling, 35 species, 4 Snow Geese, a Barnacle Goose, 1500 Canada Goose, 14 Black Duck, a Hooded Merganser, 2 Common Merganser, a Screech Owl, a Sapsucker, 2 Flickers, 3 Carolina Wren, 4 Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Hermit Thrush, and a Catbird
North Granby and West Granville: John Weeks, Chris Chinni, 5 hours plus 1.5 owling 28 species, 4 Turkeys, a Cooper’s Hawk, 2 Great Horned Owl, 3 Barred Owl, a Raven, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, a Brown Creeper, 2 Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a Carolina Wren, 5 Bluebird, a Hermit Thrush
East Granville: Mary Felix, 6.5 hours, a Red-shouldered Hawk, a Pileated Woodpecker, a Raven, 3 Bluebird
Southwick: Janice Zepko, Seth Kellogg, 8 hours plus 1.2 owling, 37 species, 17 Black Duck, 30 Turkeys, a Bald Eagle, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Red-shouldered Hawk, a Great Horned Owl, a Pileated Woodpecker, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, a Brown Creeper, 2 Carolina Wren, 19 Robins, 20 Cedar Waxwings, 2 Cowbird
Westfield and Montgomery: Al and Lois Richardson, 5 hours, 32 species, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Sapsucker, 3 Raven, 2 Carolina Wren, 16 Bluebird, 20 Cedar Waxwing, a Merlin
Westfield: Dave McLain, 8 hours plus 2.5 owling, 41 species, 7 Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, 10 Screech Owl, a Barred Owl, a Flicker, a Brown Creeper, 4 Carolina Wren, 6 Golden-crowned Kinglet, 6 Bluebird, 38 Cedar Waxwing a Cowbird
Westfield: George Kingston, Jean Delaney, 2.5 hours, 20 species, a Ring-billed Gull, 12 Horned Lark 8, Bluebird
Southwick-SW: Bambi Kenny and April Kenney, 6 hours plus 1.25 owling, 24 species, 2 Flicker, 2 Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Robin
The 63 hours was the fewest ever and well below average. The 58 species recorded were below the 26-year average of 63 and the fourth fewest ever. No species showed significantly high numbers. There were above average counts of Mallard, Turkey, Mourning Dove, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Sapsucker, Carolina Wren, Song Sparrow, Junco, and Cardinal. The Snow Goose and Barnacle Goose were species new to the count. It was the third year for Merlin and the fourth for Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Compiler: Geroge Kingston - Report: Seth Kellogg
The wind was brisk and the cold was deep, but there were only a few inches of near-fresh snow on the ground. The 14 teams included only 26 birders in the ﬁeld for 103.5 hours, well below the average, but far above the disastrous 67 hours for the 2016 count. They traveled almost 430 miles, with 47 miles on foot and 375 miles by car.
Black Ducks did very well, but Mallards ﬂoundered. Both Mergansers were very high, while Goldeneyes almost matched their highest total ever. There were four rare duck species, one each of Wood Duck, Greater Scaup (only second time since 2000), Bufﬂehead (4th time), and Ruddy Duck. The only heron was a half-dozen Great Blue. Among the six species of day-raptors were a record high count of 13 Bald Eagles and three Red-shoulders. All three owls and two of the three falcons were barely recorded. There was enough open water to please a decent count of eight Kingﬁshers. Jays and especially crows were below average, but the usual few Fish Crows and Ravens were noted. Only one modest ﬂock of Horned Larks was found. Red-breasted Nuthatch continued scarce, though one was better than last year’s none. Also at that meager level were Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Catbird. Creeper, Winter Wren, Bluebird, Mockingbird, Waxwing, and Robin were in low numbers, but Golden-crowned Kinglets were numerous. Among the sparrows, Tree, Junco, White-throated and Song were well below average, though Field and Savannah showed well, but typically few. One Fox and one Swamp Sparrow completed a dreary picture. The Cardinal matched the 114 of last year, still few. Twenty Redwings, 7 Cowbirds, and two Grackles were also meager. Goldﬁnch and House Sparrows were near the eight-year average, much fewer than the long-term level. Hours of coverage were 103.5, not too much lower than the average of 115 since 1980. Despite the dreary results there was much to enjoy and celebrate at the home of George Kingston and Jean Delaney.
Team Members and Highlights
Chicopee: Tom Swochak, 8 hours, 1.5 owling hours, 42 species, a Great Blue Heron, 25 Black Duck, 3 Hooded Merganser, 31 Common Merganser, 3 Bald Eagle, a Cooper’s Hawk, 2 Kingﬁsher, a Kestrel, a Screech Owl, 5 Hairy Woodpecker, 613 Crow, a Fish Crow, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, 23 White-throated Sparrow, and 20 Red-winged Blackbird.
Longmeadow West: Steve and Rachel Svec, 6 hours, 41 species, 6 Mute Swan, 92 Mallard, 39 Black Duck, 49 Goldeneye, 6 Hooded and 18 Common Merganser, 284 Ring-billed Gull, 2 Bald Eagle, a Harrier, 11 Red-bellied and 12 Downy Woodpecker, 3 Flicker, 2 Pileated Woodpecker, a Raven, a Creeper, 57 Robin, 15 White-breasted Nuthatch, a Brown Creeper, 5 Carolina Wren, 57 Robin, a Catbird, 2 Cedar Waxwing, and a Fox Sparrow.
Agawam Southeast: Janice Zepko, Seth Kellogg, 8.5 hours plus 1 owling hour, 41 species, a Ruddy Duck, a Bufﬂehead, a Greater Scaup, a Great Blue Heron, 9 Mute Swan, 830 Canada Goose, 90 Goldeneye, 7 Hooded and 30 Common Merganser, 11 Turkey, 2 Bald Eagle, a Cooper’s Hawk, 6 Red-tailed Hawk, 20 Turkey, 2 Great Black-backed Gull, a Pileated Woodpecker, 2 Screech Owl, 2 Carolina Wren, 14 Robin, 2 Tree Sparrow, and 14 Song Sparrow.
Longmeadow East: Jim Pfeifer, 7.5 hours, 1.25 night-hours, 39 species, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, 2 Red-shouldered Hawk, 7 Red-tailed Hawk, a Great Horned Owl, Kingﬁsher, a Barred Owl, 2 Turkey, 2 Flicker, 23 Chickadee, 15 Titmouse, a Brown Creeper, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 13 Cardinal, 4 Field, 3 Savannah, and a Swamp Sparrow, 183 Junco, 2 Grackle, 7 Cowbird, and 72 House Finch.
Forest Park: Al and Lois Richardson, G. Saulmon, 7.5 hours, 33 species, a Wood Duck, 2 Black Duck, 2 Kingﬁsher, 2 Flicker, 35 Blue Jay, 2 Winter Wren, 22 White-throated Sparrow, 127 Junco, and 64 Goldﬁnch.
Springﬁeld: Tim Carter & L. Leed, 8 Hours, 32 Species, 14 Hooded Merganser, a Kingﬁsher, a Flicker, 26 Horned Lark, a Savannah Sparrow, and 2 Purple Finch.
West Springﬁeld: Myles and Kathy Conway, 7.5 hours, 31 species, 2 Cooper’s Hawk, 95 Mourning Dove, a Merlin, and a Kingﬁsher.
Hampden: Mary Felix, Janet Orcutt, Donna Morrison, 7.5 hours, 27 species, 21 Turkey, 25 Chickadee, 19 Titmouse, 6 Bluebird, 23 Cardinal, and a Savannah Sparrow.
Wilbraham: Howard Schwartz and Marcy Schwartz, 7 hours, 25 species, a Peregrine Falcon, 2 Raven, and a Mockingbird.
Ludlow: Bill and Carol Platenik, 3 hours, 21 Species, 2 Hooded Merganser, a Common Merganser, a Cooper’s Hawk, 25 Turkey, and a Robin.
Holyoke: Bob Bieda, 7 hours, 25 species, 5 Mute Swan, 78 Black Duck, 15 Goldeneye, 3 Hooded Merganser, 22 Common Merganser, 3 Bald Eagle, a Cooper’s Hawk, 7 Great Black-backed Gull, and a Raven.
Agawam Robinson Park: Steve Perrault, Madeline Novak, 6 hours, 24 species, a Great Blue Heron, 2 Hooded Merganser, a Bluebird and 12 Robins.
East Longmeadow: George Kingston and Jean Delany, 5 hours, 21 species, a Golden-crowned Kinglet and 31 Robins.
South Wilbraham: Ben Hodgkins, 4 hours, 17 species, a Pileated Woodpecker, 2 Brown Creeper, 16 Golden-crowned Kinglet, and a Cedar Waxwing.
The 71 species recorded was 3 above the 1980-2017 average, and the number of birds was about average. Species rarely recorded were Greater Scaup (2 years), Bufﬂehead (5 years), Ruddy Duck (6 years), Harrier (13 years), Barred Owl (9 years), Kestrel (13 years), Raven (14 years), and Savannah Sparrow (11 years). Well above average numbers of regular but uncommon species were: 154 Goldeneye, 21 Mute Swans, 154 Black Duck, 43 Turkey, and 48 Red-tailed Hawk. Uncommon species in below average numbers with number of years found out of 37were: Wood Duck 24, Red-shouldered Hawk 17, Raven 13, Sapsucker 16 (every year in last 10), Kestrel 13 (absent until 1997), Peregrine Falcon 16 (missed only in 3 years since 2002), Fox Sparrow 22, and Purple Finch 18.
Click below to view or download complete count results.
Six people in two cars arrived at the rotary, where high tide gave us 50 Bufflehead, 2 Common Loon, and 4 Red-breasted Merganser. We then drove right out to Rockport where the Granite Pier had 5 Harlequin Ducks, 12 Surf Scoter, 50 Eider, 4 Gannets in the distance, 2 Red-necked Grebes and a Cormorant. At Andrews Point we saw some distant Razorbills, 3 flying and one on the water. Much closer were 75 Harlequin Ducks, 2 Red-necked Grebes, 3 Common Loons, a Black and 6 White-winged Scoters, 2 Eiders, an Oldsquaw, and 4 Red-breasted Mer-gansers. The next stop was Cathedral Ledge, where we noted 60 Purple Sandpipers on the point, while close to us on the water were 6 Bufflehead, 2 Common and a Red-throated Loon, 20 Black and 12 White-winged Scoters, 50 Harlequin Ducks, 10 Red-breasted Merganser and 80 Eiders. Halibut Point, after a long walk, had only 2 Long-tailed Ducks, 5 Eiders, and 2 Common Loons. There was a beautiful close adult Gannet working right off shore.
We returned to Gloucester and stopped at Bass Rocks to view the scattered Eiders, along with Black and White-winged Scoters, 20 close Bufflehead, 2 Common Loons, a Red-throated Loon, and a Red-breasted Mergan-ser. Further along the shore we found 5 Great Cormorants, many Eiders, a few Red-breasted Mergansers, and one Purple Sandpiper. At Niles Pond the road was narrow, but we stayed long enough to find 12 Coot, 6 Hooded and 20 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Greater Scaup, 5 Ring-necked Ducks, 15 Bufflehead and a Ruddy Duck. We stopped at Jodrey Pier, which was crammed with parked cars. The Glaucous Gull was opposite us on a laden pier in a small open area with other gulls, a very bright individual. On the water were 40 Eiders and 20 Cormorants, a Red-breasted Merganser, and 5 Common Loons. We stopped for a food break, then went on to Plum Island, arriv-ing at 2 pm.
The first salt pannes had 25 Gadwall, 25 Wigeon, and 4 Mute Swans mixed in with the many Black Ducks. Also there were 2 Dunlin and a Greater Yellowlegs. A flock of Dunlin with one large likely Black-bellied Plover flew overhead to the ocean. At North Pool overlook we got a flyover Harrier, while Hellcat Pool had 12 Pintail, 6 Green-winged Teal, 15 Hooded Merganser, 8 American Wigeon and a Bufflehead among the many Black Ducks. Two more Harriers flew over farther along the road. Emerson Rocks at low tide had 6 Red-throated Loons, 12 Common Loons, a Black Scoter, 2 White-winged Scoters, 10 Bufflehead, and many Eiders. On the way back north a Cooper’s Hawk flew close in front of us. Joppa Flats was just starting to open and we had 20 Bufflehead, many gulls and Mallards, many Black Ducks, 50 Canada Geese, 3 Great Cormorants, and 50 Dunlin.
The second trip to Berkshire Lakes had 5 cars and nine people ready to go despite a strong, cold northwest wind. We started at the north end of Cheshire Lake, where some birds were too distant, but we did get 3 Hooded and 3 Common Mergansers plus a Kingfisher. The south end had sheets of thin ice, but we still got 3 Pied-billed Grebe and a low-flying immature Bald Eagle. A Common Loon was close to us at Pontoosuc from Matt Reilly’s pub. There was an expected flock of 60 Common and 15 Hooded Mergansers there, plus two more Bald Eagles, one an adult that landed and loitered in a treetop. The Bull Hill causeway was mostly iced, but a few more mergansers were at the far edge in some open water. There were land birds and some warm rest and relief at Ann’s house, but no Fox Sparrow. We continued south along Pontoosuc’s west shore to the end of road, where we found 12 Pied-billed Grebes, six of them in an unusual mid-lake flock.
The Onota south causeway had 6 Green-winged Teal at the edge of the ice covering the lagoon, as well as two Great Blue Herons and 3 Hooded Mergansers. From the park at central Onota we picked out a Red-necked Grebe, a Common Loon, and Hooded Mergansers with the geese huddled on the far side. The gulls were every-where. At the south end we spotted a Red-throated Loon and a raft of 14 Black Scoters, mostly male. Richmond Pond was open and well stocked with birds, including 28 Coot, 7 Common Goldeneye, a Horned Grebe, and 5 Hooded Mergansers plus an array of Black Ducks, Mallards and geese. We finished the trip with donuts at Bartlett’s, though one car then went to Mud Pond, where the rafts of Ring-necked Ducks numbered about 800 birds.
Kathy & Myles Conway
Together we had 5 cars and 16 people for this traditional first trip to this mecca of migrating waterfowl. We met two cars in Lanesboro, where the deep water, northern end of Cheshire Reservoir had few ducks. The shallower, south end had Osprey, Cormorant, 2 Great Blue Herons, Kingfisher, 4 Pied-billed Grebes, 2 Ring-necked Ducks, and a Hooded Merganser. At the very south end we had Wood Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Greater Yellowlegs. Pontoosuc was barren, with only a few Waxwings in the tree. The nearby cove did have 12 Common Mergansers. Onota causeway had 5 Black Scoters, but we skipped the center and south end. Nothing was on Cheshire Reservoir, but 12 Green-winged Teal were feeding in a small pond off Reservoir Road. Stockbridge Bowl had flock of geese close and one was small enough to be a Cackling Goose.
Fourteen birders gathered for a quiet day of birding amid the beautiful surroundings of Quabbin. What we lacked in perching birds (having only 1 Chipping Sparrow, although a White-throated sang for us) we made up with the big guns. A nice flock of Turkeys on the Winsor Dam, 3 Eagles (in varying ages), 2 Pileated Woodpeckers, 3 Common Loons and a Belted Kingfisher were within close view for observations. For the new birders it was a good introduction to spotting birds and for all of us, a nice walk on a pleasant fall day.
Al & Lois Richardson and Janet Orcutt (filling in for Steve Svec)
Eight members joined in for a slow walk around the Ashley Ponds. Birds seen by participants included a DC Cormorant flyover, Canada Geese, Mallards, scope views of Wood Ducks, a very close immature Bald Eagle that was startled up from the shore, and a feeding group of Yellow-rumped Warblers.
Eight members of the Allen Bird Club, including two new members, enjoyed a beautiful fall morning while birding at the Springfield reservoir in Ludlow. Highlights were 3 Common Loons, 6 Ruddy Ducks, a Great Blue Heron, a Phoebe, a Black-and-white Warbler and many Yellow-rumped Warblers.
Kathy & Myles Conway
Day 1 - The Allen and Hoffmann Bird Clubs joined together for this trip, which began with 15 of us meeting at Brigantine on Friday, Sept. 22. After two years of upgrades at this wildlife management area that caused the loop road to be closed, the entire drive was open this year, and we were rewarded with good looks at shorebirds, ducks, and waders. At one point, in one field of view in our scopes, we saw Tri-colored Heron, Snipe, White-rumped Sandpiper, and Wilson's Phalarope (the latter, a first ever on a fall Cape May trip). Near the end of the loop, one of us with sharp eyes in the lead car spotted the reported Yellow-headed Blackbird while driving by. All other cars were then able to creep forward in turn so that everyone was able to get the same eye-level view. Having heard reports of a Roseate Spoonbill at Heislerville WMA on the Delaware Bay side, we decided to head there before checking in at our hotels. There, after some searching across a large impoundment, one of us spotted the telltale pink and all were able to get a decent scope view.
Day 2 - Saturday morning we made the requisite trip to Higbee at first light, but were not impressed with the numbers or species. We saw very few warblers, but quite a few Flickers and Sharpies. The hawk watch site at Cape May Point proved to be a better stop; in fact, all agreed it was one of the best we had witnessed there. Sharpies were almost constantly flying over, and Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Pere-grines, and a few Broad-wings added to the mix. We checked the beach there and at St. Mary's and added Lesser Black-backed Gull and a pair of Black Scoters. Some of the group checked the shore in town later and counted close to 200 Black Skimmers.
Day 3 - On a tip from another birder we decided to try Cape May Meadows early on Sunday rather than return to Higbee and it proved to be a nice time of day to be there. We added some species to the list including Wilson's Warbler, Least Flycatcher, and 4 sparrows - Field, Savannah, Song, and Swamp. After checking out of the hotels, we rendezvoused at Nummy's Island. Tides were high, but we saw many more Tri-colored Herons and Black-bellied Plovers. Less than a handful of night-herons were present where we usually expect double-digit numbers. At the Wetlands Institute where we ate lunch, we added a few more night-herons, along with many Willets and an adult Little Blue Heron. By then the heat of the past few days was beginning to take its toll on some of us, so we wrapped up the trip there and added House Finches and Mockingbirds just before we departed. A respectable 129 species were totaled, which is about average for the 14 years this trip has been run.
The weekend was busy in Cape May and our group was split between 3 hotels. Rather than try to arrange a dinner reservation for our large number, we tried something different and ate "in" at the hotel both nights. On Friday we ordered pizzas, and on Saturday we grilled steaks and salmon in the hotel backyard. The consensus from the group was that this was much easier (and cheaper) than eating out during a busy weekend in Cape May; something to keep in mind for future trips.
On this Wednesday morning, five members of the Allen Bird Club walked the loop trail at the Stebbins Wildlife Refuge in Longmeadow. We saw one Magnolia Warbler, one Red-eyed Vireo, two Pileated Woodpeckers, six Phoebes, eight Flickers, three Green Herons, two Great Blue Herons, one Belted Kingfisher, four American Widgeon, four Green-winged Teal, and about 40 Wood Duck along with several catbirds and a number of more common birds. Temperatures were in the low 70's under overcast skies and a light drizzle towards the end of the walk.
The low fog and clouds had already begun to clear when the first watchers arrived at 9:15 on Blueberry Hill. Others quickly joined us, most of them from the Hoffmann Club, including Chris Blagdon and Holly Higinbotham. They made up the group of 10-12 for the early-day walk through the woods in search of warblers. The pishing and low trees worked well, providing close looks at 2 Ovenbird, Black & White, 5 Redstart, 6 Parula, 3 Magnolia, 2 Chestnut-sided, Blackpoll, 4 Bt Blue, 3 Bt Green, and 2 Yellow-rumped Warblers. We also had Philadelphia, Blue-headed, and Red-eyed Vireo. While at the lookout we had Phoebe, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Sapsucker. Raptors not migrating were 3 Bald Eagle, 2 Cooper’s Hawks, and a Red-shouldered Hawk, plus Turkey Vultures and 2 Black Vultures. Migrants were 4 Osprey, a young Harrier, 23 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 2 Cooper’s Hawks, 92 Broad-winged hawks in small groups, 3 Merlin, and 9 Kestrels. Two of the Merlins were having a dog fight and 5 Kestrels came at one time late in day. There were 135 total raptors seen. Oh yes, the spread of food brought by all was amazing.
John's official count included:
Harrier 1 juvenile
Kestrels 9 (5 came in together at 4:30 PM) Merlin 3 (including the two that put on the spectacular dog fight) TOTAL RAPTOR MIGRANTS: 135
Black Vultures 2
Bald Eagles 3
Phily, Red-eyed and Blue-headed Vireo
Nine warbler species (no numbers were given):
We were an hour late after hitting a long delay caused by an awful accident on Rt. 495 just before Lawrence. By that time Joppa had flooded with the incoming tide so nine of us headed for the island. We checked the airport without success, except for a hunting Harrier that was close for some time. The only bird at the first large Pannes was a Pied-billed Grebe that flew in and began diving for its lunch. Not far along, 18 Great and 2 Snowy Egrets were lined up close to road. The Wardens was packed with cars and people, but we found spaces and then discovered that a Lark Sparrow had been present in the area all morning. We soon had long, amazingly close looks at that bird and a Clay-colored Sparrow, perched closely together in bushes or feeding at edge of the bare ground of the car lot.
We stopped at Hellcat to study shorebirds in a small area of North Pool and Forward Pool, where the sunlight was all too bright. The shallows held about 200 each of Semipalmated Plovers and Sandpipers and 75 Greater Yellowlegs, 15 Lesser Yellowlegs and quite a few Least Sandpipers. Good shorebirds we picked out were 7 Red-knots, a few Dunlin, two Stilt Sandpipers, a dozen White-rumped Sandpipers, 2 Golden Plovers and 20 Short-billed Dowitchers along with 4 Long-billed Dowitchers. Also, there was a Blue-winged and a Green-winged Teal, as well as a Glossy Ibis feeding with 20 Snowy Egrets. A great sight was a passing Peregrine Falcon that drove all the birds into the air in panic.
We moved on to find almost nothing at Emerson Rocks at high tide. Breeding season was over, so there were no Piping Plovers to be found. We did get very close to many Semipalmated Sandpipers and Plovers roosting in the dunes, along with a few Black-bellied Plovers and Sanderlings. Off shore, there were only 2 Eiders and one White-winged Scoter. We returned to walk through the Hellcat woods, but found no herons, though a Long-tailed Weasel chased us along the boardwalk before zipping away.
Four eager birders arrived for the first fall walk at Stebbins Refuge and recorded 27 species. There was little migration and the trails were still wet from the earlier morning rain so we walked the length of Pondside Road. Best birds tallied there were Green-winged Teal, Gadwalls and a Belted Kingfisher. We did manage a pleasant walk along Tina Lane and down to the riverfront beyond the fields, and then the rains came. Thankfully it was warm, so getting drenched almost made us sing in the rain. We laughed it off and hoped the weather would bring in some migrants.
Al & Lois Richardson
It was a poor nighthawk migration through the region overall, but a good group managed to count a flight of 91 Common Nighthawks. We would have had more if we had moved up to the Tina Lane intersection with Pondside earlier. Most of the nighthawks seemed to feed over the ponds there and then veer off toward the river.
The trip had ten people, starting at Pynchon Point, where we found 2 Great Blue Heron and many Waxwings. At the Big E, we had Great Blue Heron and 2 Green Heron, 2 Cormorant, and a Kingfisher. Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers were in the western pool and many Geese and a Killdeer were in the field. The south pool had two Black-crowned Night-Herons, two Green Herons, and an Osprey. Up over the dike, the river was low with a large sandbar where we found a Great Egret, some Killdeer, a Lesser Yellowlegs, four Common Mergansers, and a Pileated Woodpecker. The wires over the dike had a family of three Kestrels dropping to the grass for prey. After a break we went to Longmeadow, where the large sandbar had Semi-palmated Plover, Least and Semi-palmated Sandpiper, two Fish Crows, and a big flock of Geese. The leader spotted a Baird’s Sandpiper briefly. Pondside had 10 Wood Ducks, two Great Blue Herons, 2 Green Herons, a Great Egret, and the Mute Swan family.
The Kayak trip down the Connecticut River in Sunderland had a third boat with Harvey’s nephew, who was a welcome companion. The water was high, so there was not much sandbar habitat or shorebirds. We had an Olive-sided Flycatcher, a flock of nine Common Merganser, only 3 Spotted Sandpipers, 2 Kingfishers, 4 Great Blue Herons, 2 Cormorants, 2 Ravens, 2 Pileated Woodpeckers, 3 Bald Eagle, and a young Peregrine Falcon. A flock of 150 swallows were on a high wire across the river, mostly Bank, but a few Tree and Barn. Feeding Cedar Waxwings were everywhere, launching out from trees on banks. There was no wind and a strong current, so effort was fairly modest until the last half mile when the water slowed and the wind picked up. We tallied 29 species, and also got a close, long study of a Greater Swallow-tailed Butterfly on the island where we stopped to eat and swim.
Only one car made the trip, others missing the rich early shorebird migration that passes over the island in August. The low tide kept shorebirds far out at Joppa Flats, but we still picked out a dozen Laughing Gulls among the hordes of peeps feeding in the mud with a few lesser Yellowlegs, Bb Plovers, an Osprey and a Snowy Egret. At this date and time, the island was not busy with people and cars, so we drove slowly and studied the marshes for the white egrets. First, we stopped at Lot One, still home to several Purple Martins. Here also were the visiting Tree Swallows perched by the hundreds on nearby brush, often surging into the air in clouds, eager for the day to warm and the insects to rise and offer themselves for food. The Salt Pannes had near and distant Great and Snowy Egrets, a surprise Little Blue Heron, plus a Great Blue Heron and hunting Osprey, Merlin, and Peregrine. The Wardens appeared quiet after an American Bittern and eight Glossy Ibis flew away at our arrival. Then we emerged from our car and were amazed to find 2 Least Bitterns hunting the muddy edge of the nearby pond. None of us had ever been able to study them so closely in the open, especially for so long.
We headed down the island, and the first look at the Hellcat Pool was from the blind, giving us looks at plenty of Semipalmated Plovers and Sandpipers, some Least Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plovers, Dowitchers, both Yellowlegs, a flock of 25 White-rumped Sandpipers, 2 Dunlin, a Killdeer, and 2 Gadwall with young. We paused for a short time along the main road beside Stage Island Pool and spotted a Black Tern flying past, plus some Least Terns, Yellowlegs, and more sandpipers. It was a short way to the parking lot at the point, where we walked to the beach behind the ropes that protected the Piping Plover and tern nesting area. Inside this area of young reeds, we could see flocks of Semi-palmated Plovers and Sandpipers circling and settling into the sparse dune grass to rest protected during high tide. Five Piping Plovers were there among the many Least and Common Terns, a few Ruddy Turnstones, and some Black-bellied Plovers. On the ocean’s edge there were Sanderling flocks feeding where the waves washed up their food. On the ocean side of the point, Emerson Rocks were covered by the high tide, leaving only a few Cormorants on the ocean’s surface and a few more Sanderlings on the beach. We left the point and headed back north to Hellcat, this time walking out on the dike, where we enjoyed closer looks at a few Pectoral and Spotted Sandpiper. In the Forward Pool behind the dikes there were even bigger flocks of the same species we watched from the blind on the opposite side. Also there, were 2 Least Terns and 4 Snowy Egrets. On our way out of the refuge we stopped at Lot one and walked down to the boat pullout, where we “pished” a bit to entice a Salt-Marsh Sparrow to fly out of hiding several times and close to us.
The Plainfield trip only had 4 people plus Judy, and we had two Alder Flycatchers to start out from marshes on both sides of street and two Kingbirds. A Common Merganser flew overhead, before we plunged into the trail, over a new bridge, and through the evergreen woods to the pond. The woods had Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pine Warbler, and Brown Creeper, plus Bt Green, Bt Blue, Yellow-rumped, and Blackburnian Warblers. A Raven called somewhere close, but was never seen. At the pond a Broad-winged hawk circled, and then caught a young Kingbird, as we noted a parent in chase. Sapsuckers and Purple Finches and Rose-breasted Grosbeak called. Winter Wrens were at the waterfall and farther along the trail. Other birds on the walk back were Hermit Thrush, Blue-headed Vireo, and Veeries. At the house we had 2 Hummingbirds and more Purple Finches, plus good treats as always on the comfortable screened-in porch.
Kathy & Myles Conway
Six members headed to the Adirondacks for this year's Northern New England trip. Weather was predicted to be overcast and showery, but we enjoyed two full days of good weather (80's, hot, humid, sunny), and most of a third day before heavy rains fell. We visited some of the usual spots - Moose River Plain Road, Ferd's Bog, Raquette Lake marsh, and also added some new sites. We obtained permission from Nature Conservancy for access to Spring Pond Bog just outside of Tupper Lake, and found 3 Gray Jays there.
On a tip from a local birder that it was a good location for Black-backed Woodpecker, we visited the Northville/Lake Placid Trail outside of Long Lake. Though we failed to find a woodpecker, we did add two Merlins to the list there. At nearby Shaw Pond we had great looks at Virginia Rail and American Bittern. Later at Bloomingdale Bog we found Palm Warblers, and at Floodwood Road we found our family of Common Loons.
On the third day, since rain threatened, we took a shorter route to the grasslands in Fort Edward. We tried for Mourning Warbler on Cornell Road in Newcomb, without good result. Then we drove up Tahawus Road into more boreal territory, but did not find our targets. On our way to the grasslands we added Fish Crow as a first on these trips, and the grasslands themselves were productive, with Savannah Sparrows, Meadowlark, Harrier, and "best views ever" of Grasshopper Sparrow. Soon the heavens opened up, and we headed south to home. A Double-crested Cormorant was the last addition to end our list at a respectable 108 species. Since 113 is our high total for the 5 years we've led this trip, we were very satisfied and counted this as a very good trip.
Favorable weather conditions, with clear, warm temperatures in the 80's and light to moderate winds, brought out six birders plus the trip leader. Roadside birding, focusing on stops at five upland marshes, yielded 72 species. The trip began at 6:45 a.m. at a large marsh adjacent to Fisk Road, located in the northeast section of Chester. An elevated woodland trail running the entire western edge of the marsh affords excellent views of the marsh. Two female Hooded Mergansers, several Wood Ducks, a Virginia Rail and a variety of other expected wetland species were observed. Unfortunately no American Bittern was located here or at the other marshes we visited.
Next, a leisurely three-mile drive down Kinnebrook Road yielded many of the expected upland species, including a nice view of a Ruffed Grouse. This narrow woodland road is unique in the lack of other vehicular traffic and a general quietness that's hard to find. It is easy to become lost in the overall beauty of the experience. One marsh along this road provided a somewhat uncommon occurrence of the upland Alder Flycatcher singing together with the lowland Willow Flycatcher, which is generally not found in the hills of Western Massachusetts.
Kinnebrook Road ends at the Littleville Fairgrounds where Kinne Brook intersects the Middle Branch of the Westfield River. From here we followed the Westfield River down to the boat launch at the north end of the Littleville Reservoir. Spotted Sandpipers, Yellow-throated Vireo, Warbling Vireo and several Indigo Buntings were added to the species list for the day.
Next, roadside birding along East River Road produced a singing Winter Wren, a Red-shouldered Hawk and a Broad-winged Hawk. Another female Hooded Merganser, this time with 4 young, was spotted during a quick stop at the Lyman Road marsh. A vibrant Bobolink population was observed at an active farm at the corner of East River Road and Skyline Drive. The trip ended at 11:30 a.m. after visiting one last marsh adjacent to Skyline Drive.
The trip to the Berkshire lowlands went with six people, and spent most of the time in Tyringham. There we had a Cooper’s Hawk fly over, a Kestrel in the east meadow along Appalachian Trail, many nesting Cliff Swallows on Breakneck Road along with a perched pair of Red-tailed hawks. A Meadowlark was calling at Meadow Road, where we spotted Great Blue Heron, 2 Wood Ducks, 2 Pileated Woodpeckers, many Bobolinks, Swamps Sparrows, Yellow, Yellowthroats, Blue-winged Warbler, Willow, Alder, and Least Flycatchers, Hummingbird, Bluebird, and 4 Kingbirds. We got good numbers of warblers and other forest birds on Fernside Road. No Bitterns answered the tape at any of our stops. We arrived in Stockbridge on Ice Glen Road, finding Hooded Merganser with one young, 2 Wood Duck, 2 Kingbirds, Yellow-throated Vireo, a Virginia Rail calling, 2 Marsh Wrens, and 2 Bluebirds. We then visited Post Farm in Lenox to watch an adult Virginia Rail foraging with 4-5 black young. We also had 2 Alder Flycatchers and 3 Marsh Wren there.
Eleven participants gathered to enjoy the grassland birds on the fields on Westover Air Reserve Base. They garnered a total of 41 species, with highlights including Upland Sandpiper, Meadowlark, Bobolink, Kestrel, Grasshopper and Savannah Sparrows. Just as happened last year, this trip was attended by three different bird clubs: Allen, Hampshire, and the BBC. Because Westover provides a bus for us to tour the grasslands, all 3 clubs were limited to about 13 participants. Since it has been hot on this trip in years past, an air-conditioned bus is quite welcome. We saw many of the grassland target birds we sought. These include VERY MANY Bobo links, Meadowlarks, Upland Sandpipers, and a few Grasshopper Sparrows. There appear to be less of this last species than we have seen in the past. Normally, we see them on tops of the tall grasses throughout the grassland. This year (due to grass cutting, perhaps) there was less tall grass for them to stand on and, therefore, less obvious sparrows to observe. Our hosts at Westover were very welcoming and seemed very enthusiastic to show us around. One surprise was that the previous person to lead this trip (now retired), who we all grew to admire very much, joined us on this trip.
Most field work for this 14th annual project was done during cool and breezy weather Friday evening and Saturday, with the compilation on Sunday evening, June 4 at the home of Joanne Fortin. There were 9 teams and 15 observers in the field covering hilly, wooded, and sparsely populated parts of Granville, Blandford, Westfield, Russell and Southwick. The counters recorded 115 species, the highest total since 2007. The 85 total hours of coverage was close to the highest ever in 2006 (88.25) and ten higher than the historical average. However, the 3776 total individuals and the 44.4 average of individuals per hour were both well below average.
Notably low species counts compared to average were for Red-eyed Vireo 258 (302), Ovenbird 203 (238), and Veery 121 (142). Other species also lower were Hermit Thrush 9 (24), Wood Thrush 34 (47), Yellow Warbler 34 (46), Yellowthroat 81 (102), Magnolia Warbler 11 (19), Black-throated Blue Warbler 55 (84), Yellow-rumped 9 (17), Black-throated Green 34 (59), and Rose-breasted Grosbeak 11 (16).
The next 27 species average from 47 to 112 individuals per year. The next 33 species average from 10 to 40 per year. There are 56 more species with less than 10 individuals average per year. That adds up to 120 species record-ed over the 13 years of counting. This year, high counts were set for Hummingbird (21), Phoebe (54), Tree Swallow (92), Rough-winged Swallow (10), Red-breasted Nuthatch (12), Eastern Bluebird (22), Gray Catbird (104), Louisiana Waterthrush (9), Pine Warbler (24), Prairie Warbler (15), Bobolink (96), Red-winged Blackbird (138), and Grackle (67). The Common Merganser, Bald Eagle, and American Kestrel were found for only the 5th time, Brown Thrasher for the 4th time, Sora for the third time, and Hooded Warbler for the first time.
The weather was cloudy and cool, never making it out of the 50s, but that did not stop four participants from enjoying this hotspot birding trip. A total of 40 species were found. Highlights include, Raven, Turkey, Olive-sided, Alder and Willow Flycatchers, Kingbird, Wood-Pewee, Blue-headed Vireo, Solitary and Red-eyed Vireos, Field Sparrow, Towhee, Prairie, Blue-winged, Pine, and Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, and Gnatcatcher.
Four observers had a good, close sighting of a Mourning Warbler at Laughing Brook, where we also heard a Louisiana Waterthrush. Five male bobolinks were in the field at the top of North Road, while on Hollow Rd we heard a possible Worm-eating Warbler. We had good looks at a singing Alder Flycatcher, heard and observed several Chestnut-sided Warblers, Redstarts, and various other local species. One observer spotted a Black Vulture.
There were eight members who braved the weather forecast to visit the Island this year, some staying at The Island Inn and others opting for the Shining Sail’s Fish and Maine location. We counted a total of 74 species over the weekend.
Day 1 - The ferry ride over to the island was a bit rough, but calmer than the usual morning departure would have been. On the way we spotted a Common Loon and some Black Guillemots. The Island Inn had their fireplace in the lobby going when we arrived, but the rooms upstairs were quite cold. We ventured out for a late afternoon walk, wandering to the little Ice Pond and then back to the Cove, hearing a Mourning Warbler that only gave us a glimpse. A few other warblers also only gave us brief looks, probably also due to the cold temperatures. A Sora was heard in the marsh and again many times each day. At the two ends of the small Island there were flocks of Guillemots with a total count of about 75. A Perergine was circling overhead, chased by Grackles.
Day 2 – Breakfast was good with variety and quality, and much appreciated after a short morning bird walk. Song-birds came out more easily as the day warmed. Some highlights were a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, a White-eyed Vireo, a Philadelphia Vireo, 2 Wilson’s Warblers, a Canada Warbler, and a Summer Tanager female that another group was looking at near the back of marsh on our return from an afternoon walk to the cliffs of Whitehead. Another big moment of the day was when the Mourning Warbler came out in the open to sing quite a few times. Two Cattle Egrets showed up browsing in the lawn across from the Monhegan House where we search and found the Orange-crowned Warbler with other groups.
Day 3 – The morning walk was on a trail to Burnt Head and back on the trail leading to a grassy hilltop overlooking town. It was our first experience with this trail. From the cliff heads our scoper had two Gannets going by, and 2 Razorbills, and elsewhere 5 Laughing Gulls and 5 Common Terns. A group of 5-6 Kingbirds and a Spotted Sandpiper were on rock levee behind Fish and Maine Inn. The most common songbirds of the trip were 6 Red-eyed Vireo, 20 Yellowthroats, 12 Redstarts, 12 Parula, 25 Yellow Warbler, 6 Magnolia, 8 Chestnut-sided, 20 Blackpoll, and 8 Black-throated Green. There were smaller numbers or singles of Black-billed Cuckoo (heard), Wood Pewee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, House Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Swainson’s Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Northern Waterthrush, Black-and-White, Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Towhee, Chipping and Savannah Sparrow, and Baltimore Oriole. We saw a Green Heron in the marsh and heard a Least Bittern call once.
Two cars and seven people went to the north shore, since more birds were reported there than on the south shore, which was the scheduled destination. It also was a shorter distance to cover and some had to return early. Bob, Howard and Marcy were there along with Peter Gagarin from Sunderland, who took a lot of photos. We went first to Gloucester were Good Harbor Beach was uncovered at low tide. We stopped at Bass Rocks, which was closer to Salt Island than the Elks Club and found the male King Eider close to the point on the east and ocean side. It was preening in the water and eventually climbed up on the low rocks. Also on the edge of the island were a flock of about 40 Sanderlings that flew off and around twice before returning to land in the same spot. Close to us on the rocks right beneath us was a Purple Sandpiper feeding on the seaweed exposed by the low tide. Also close were flocks of feeding Bufflehead, scattered White-winged Scoters and Common Loons. There were only a few Black Scoters and Red-breasted Mergansers. Farther out flying past fairly high was a stream of Gannets.
We made a short stop at the Elks Club, then down Atlantic Avenue seeing 3 Great Cormorants at the south end, then on to the outer Niles Cove. Only had a few things there, so went to Niles Pond, where there was another large group of birders parked and studying birds. We had 4 Coot, 2 Pied-billed Grebe, 6 Ring-necked Ducks, 4 Greater Scaup, and 6 Bufflehead. Rocky Neck had Horned Grebe, 6 Bufflehead, and 8 Red-breasted Mergansers. After a restroom break at Stop and Shop, we went to Jodrey where we had a close Oldsquaw, a big raft of Eiders and a Loon.
We went north and arrived at the Scotland Road area in West Newbury. Cherry Hill Reservoir gave us 115 Ruddy Ducks, 20 Bufflehead and some geese, but no sign of a Pink-footed Goose. Salisbury was very windy, but we managed to see a Harrier, 12 Red-throated Loons, 6 Common Loons, and many scoters. Two Merlins were perched on poles in the campground and near the jetty. We found 2 Yellowrumps and a Bluebird among the campground trees, but no Crossbills. At Plum Island the wind and sun bothered us badly, but among the many Black Ducks and geese at Bill Forward Pool were 7 Gadwall, 6 Hooded merganser, 50+ Pintail, a distant Peregrine, 2 Harriers, and a flock of Horned Larks. We waited at the North Pool Lookout, where others including Brad Winn from Manomet were also stationed, but we only picked up 3 more Harriers. For the day we found 33 water birds and 12 land birds.