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Vermont Blitz

June 2022

June 17-19, 2022

June 17, 2022

Tom Swochak and Janice Zepko

Nine participants carpooled in three vehicles and met up at the Vermont Welcome Center in Guilford at 7:00 a.m.  The weather was a mild and breezy, with a dry forecast for the rest of the day.

Our first stop was Allen Bros Marsh in Winchester, where we counted the usual Wood Ducks, Mallards, Red-winged Blackbirds, Song and Swamp Sparrows, Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler and Common Yellowthroat.  Highlights here were an American Kestrel perched high up on a leafless branch, an Alder Flycatcher heard only, and a Great Blue Heron in its nest.

Our next stops were the grasslands that surround the Windsor State Correctional Facility plus the extensive farm fields nearby.  We were treated to Snipe, Bobolink, two Virginia Rails, which gave us stunning views, and Savannah Sparrow on the lower road.  While on the road up the hill, we added several species, as we drove slowly, stopping twice to exit the cars for a longer listen.  We heard Red-eyed Vireo, Eastern Wood Pewee, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Indigo Bunting, Black-and-white and Black-throated Green Warblers, Ovenbird, Redstart, Chimney Swift and House Wren to name a few.

We stopped at a rest area in Bradford enroute to Victory Basin and picked up Pileated Woodpecker, Ravens, and Turkeys.  It was 1:00 p.m. when we began birding the Victory Basin WMA.  We were hoping to glimpse any of the big four boreal species that are permanent residents (Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, Canada Jay and Spruce Grouse).  The elusive northern species escaped us, but we did manage excellent views of Magnolia Warbler, Northern Parula, a surprise Spotted Sandpiper and a Common Merganser with young in tow floating along the Moose River and viewed from Victory Road.

Day 2 began at 5:00 a.m.  We drove north to Moose Bog for another opportunity to garner the prized boreal species.  The weather forecast was for cold temps, rain and wind, but we managed about three hours of dry weather to explore the bog before the rain began to hamper our ef-forts.  We heard Hermit and Swainson’s Thrushes, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, White-throated and Lincoln’s Sparrows, Yellow-rumped, Magnolia, Nashville and Palm Warblers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Blue-headed Vireos, Northern Waterthrush and many more species as we walked the trail to reach the boardwalk into the bog.  Once there, we heard the distinct drumming of the Black-backed Woodpeckers, but we never did get eyes on the bird.

Next stop was at the Silvio O. Conte Visitor Center, a clean and beautiful education center with rest rooms.  We were all impressed!  From the center, we walked on the steep trail leading down to the Nulhegan River and enjoyed views of Blackburnian, Black-and white, and Chestnut-sided Warblers, while other species were heard only.

Rain was setting in, but before we called it a day, we tried in vain to find boreal species on Stone Dam Road and on a second attempt to Moose Bog using an alternate trail.  We did hear many northern nesting species sing their beautiful songs, which is always a treat.

Day 3 brought a return to sunshine and more mild temperatures, though the wind continued.  Our first stop was at the Barton Marsh in Newport.  We walked the railroad bed that dissects the marsh and provides wonderful marsh views on both sides.  There were at least ten Marsh Wrens belting out their songs and keeping us company during the walk.  We spotted an Osprey, a Common Loon, and four Double-crested Cormorants flying by and a Pied-billed Grebe with young swimming close in.  A White-tailed deer and two fawns stood still on the railroad tracks and watched us approach before moving off to safer grounds.

Next stop was the Franklin Municipal Airport located on Route 78 just east of Swanton.  We found it to be less inviting this year, with “No Trespassing” signs and expanded fencing around the facility.  From the adjacent farm field, we were able to hear Grasshopper Sparrow.  Savan-nah and Vesper Sparrows gave us nice views along with the pleasure of their songs, both perched on the fence and atop the maintenance building.  Also there was an American Kestrel flying about and then hovering while hunting over the airfield.

Missisquoi NWR on the northern end of Lake Champlain was next.  We visit here on every trip to northern Vermont to see the nesting Black Terns and this year did not disappoint.  We had wonderful views of a Black Tern flying low and close as it moved from one side of the road to the other, plying the marshy waters in search of little fish.  Five Great Blue Herons were spotted and several Ospreys, two on their nests.  Tabor Road gave us exceptional views and photo opportunities of two Common Snipes and one sharp-eyed member glimpsed two American Bitterns as they flew over the field.  This spot also rewarded us with great looks at Purple Martins, Barn, Tree, and Cliff Swallows, as well as Bobolinks and two Northern Harriers.

Our last birding stop of the day was Colchester Pond, where a Golden-winged Warbler was re-ported to be present near the power line cut.  We hiked the trail north along the edge of the pond, getting pleasantly surprised by the sighting of two Caspian Terns in flight over the pond, and three Common Loons floating mid-way across the pond.  It was a fitting end to a wonderful weekend in northern Vermont.  We ended up with a total of 103 species!

Southwick/Suffield WMA

June 2022

June 12, 2022

John Weeks

Twenty Allen Bird Club members made a three-hour tour of the Southwick Wildlife Management Area on June 12th.  At 200 acres, the Southwick WMA offers an extensive swath of grassland habitat that is increasingly scarce in New England.  Together with the adjacent 150-acre Suffield WMA just across the state line in Connecticut, this site is carefully managed to provide nesting habitat for such sought-after species as Brown Thrasher, Eastern Meadowlark, Bobolink, Orchard Oriole, Grasshopper Sparrow, Prairie Warbler and Blue-winged Warbler.  Our group encountered all but two of these species, missing only Bobolink and Meadowlark.  The trip leader was heartened to see that our party included Jackson, an elementary-school-age boy, with 100 life-birds already under his belt!  He added another seven or eight during our tour.  Here’s a tip for those interested in visiting this unique site:  bring a telescope if you can.  One was surprisingly helpful today for viewing species such as American Kestrel and state-listed Grasshopper Sparrow without having to (or being able to) approach them closely.  The final trip tally was 33 species.

Little River IBA Breeding Bird Count

June 2022

June 3-4, 2022

June 3, 2022

Janice Zepko

The field work for this 19th annual Little River IBA Count was done on a mild, calm evening (temps mid-70s, winds WNW at 2 mph), followed by a mild morning and a warm, but comfortable afternoon (temps low 60’s rising to 84 degrees by mid-afternoon, winds S at 1-5 mph).  

This year Tom Swochak hosted the compilation get-together at his yoga studio in Westfield.  Pizza, salad, and fresh fruit were gobbled down quickly.  Beverages flowed throughout the compilation and a yummy dessert and coffee ended the event.  We bantered while we compiled our individual results and then shared our totals and the day’s adventures.  Great fun!

Altogether, there were 7 teams and 12 observers in the field for a total of 66.5 hours.  The hours of effort were up 2.25 from last year, but still well below the Count’s average of 71.2.  The total number of species counted was 106, falling below our average of 110.7.

Misses of note include, Green Heron, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Woodcock, Whip-poor-will, Acadian Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglet and White-throated Sparrow.  Near misses, with just one individual found, were Hooded Merganser, Ruffed Grouse, Cooper’s Hawk, Killdeer, Blue-winged Warbler and Virginia Rail.

High counts were set this year for Red-tailed Hawk (10), Yellow-billed Cuckoo (7), Red-bellied Woodpecker (21), Downy Woodpecker (18), Tufted Titmouse (63), House Wren (45, average is 21), Prairie Warbler (19, average is 10), and Indigo Bunting (38).  Other species with special interest were Double-crested Cormorant (2, found in only 7 other counts) and Brown Thrasher (1, found in only 5 other counts).

Species with the lowest, or close to the lowest, numbers in count history were Blue-headed Vireo (9, only lower in 2014), Winter Wren (5, only lower in 2015), Hermit Thrush (9, only lower in 2019), Louisiana Waterthrush (3), Magnolia Warbler (5), Chestnut-sided Warbler (65), Black-throated Blue Warbler (47, only lower in 2019 and 2020), Yellow-rumped Warbler (5), Black-throated Green Warbler (21, only lower in 2019), Canada Warbler (6, only lower in 2021), Dark-eyed Junco (6, only lower in 2012 and 2013), and Bobolink (26).

To end this summary on a better note, Myles and Kathy spotted two Sandhill Cranes, found for the very first time in our Little River IBA count.

Click below to view or download complete count results.

2022 June Count Results

Hadley Hotspots

May 2022

May 28, 2022

Harvey Allen

Seven birders gathered many species for the list right from Moody Bridge Road in front of Fort River WMA.  Bank, Barn and Tree Swallows, Red-winged Blackbird, Robin (and 1 in nest), Song and House Sparrows, Cedar Waxing, Green Heron, Bobolinks, Mallard, Mourning Dove, Flicker, Great Blue Heron, Cardinal, Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Catbird, Pewee, Kingfisher, Kestrel (pair plus one), Brown Thrasher and Turkey Vulture were all present there.

In the refuge itself we had House Wren, Yellowthroat, Blue Jay, Baltimore Oriole, Yel-low Warbler, Catbird, Wood Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, Chickadee, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Brown Thrasher, Carolina Wren and Grackle.

Quabbin Reservoir

May 2022

May 22, 2022

Beth Spirito and Tim Carter

We started our walk in the parking lot of the Visitors Center at Quabbin Park at 7:00 a.m. with eight members. When we approached the viewing area to the reservoir in front of the building, there was a heavy fog over the water. Looking through it, we saw a beautiful Common Loon and a Double-crested Cormorant. We walked over to the Rainbow Garden area and then on to the Windsor Dam for some views as well. We saw Chipping and Song Sparrows, Chimney Swifts, Rough-winged Swallows, Cedar Waxwings, Robins, Goldfinches, Cardinals, Blue jays, Catbirds, and flyovers from a Pileated Woodpecker and a Great Blue Heron.

We then headed back to our cars, drove to the second entrance to the Quabbin. We parked on the right not too long after entering the gate, walked around here and towards the bridge leading to the dam. We had great views of a few Prairie Warblers. Also at this spot were Phoebes, Pewees, a Great Crested Flycatcher, a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and some Eastern Bluebirds. On the concrete bridge here along the cliffs, we saw the resident Ravens.

We got back into the cars and headed up the road, pulling over onto the left, just before the rotary heading towards the tower area. This was a great spot, pointed out to us by Tim S. Magnificent views of a Magnolia Warbler, a half dozen Chestnut-sided Warblers, and a few more Prairies justified his suggestion. Also spotted in this area, were Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, and a Hummingbird.

The next area to explore was the Tower. Due to construction on the tower, we were not able to get into that exact area, but we did manage to see Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadees, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and a few Brown Creepers. We also walked into the apple orchard, finding this area very quiet. Next was a brief stop at the Enfield Lookout, and then we finished off the morning at Hank's Meadow. Two giant Turkeys were strutting their wares when we arrived at the meadow and provided us quite a display! Flyovers included some Turkey Vultures, Crows, and a Red-tailed Hawk. On the shore by the water, we heard a Common Loon, but didn't see it.

The rest of the list of birds in no exact order of where we saw them include, Hermit and Wood Thrushes, Eastern Towhee, Cowbird, Grackle, and a White-breasted Nuthatch. Warblers were Black-and-white, Blue-winged, Ovenbird, Pine, Parula, and many Redstarts. The morning of birding ended around 11:00 a.m., with sunshine and temps that had climbed into the low 90's.

Great morning, great weather, great group and a total of 53 species!

Mt Tom Morning Walk

May 2022

May 21, 2022

Al and Lois Richardson

It was a very foggy morning and good visibility was a problem, but 16 participants managed to hear and sometimes see 32 species on the mile walk along the road.  Redstarts, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Blackpoll, and a Worm-eating Warbler were singing very close to the entrance.  Further along, Ravens flew above us, croaking in the mists.  We were able to see pairs of Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.  As the weather cleared, Black-and-white Warblers, Chestnut-sided, and Prairie Warblers showed their colors.  A cooperative Pileated Woodpecker was a treat for many.  On our way back, Winter Wrens sang in three different areas.

South Hadley Falls below the dam

May 2022

May 19, 2022

Harvey Allen

It was raining lightly as four of us gathered to look for birds.  The water level was high, which prevented us from spotting any shorebirds that normally lurk on the mudflats at the water’s edge. We did enjoy 200-300 Chimney Swifts swarming above us.  There were around 20 Double-crested Cormorants, a couple of Common Mergansers, Great Blue Herons, and Canada Geese.  We got eyes on two Rough-winged Swallows and an immature Bald Eagle too.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

May 2022

May 18, 2022

Al & Lois Richardson

The nine birders on the walk had a perfect spring day weather-wise.  We started off by hearing a newly arrived Willow Flycatcher; then found a Common Grackle feeding young in a nest hole.  Bird song was everywhere, especially Warbling Vireos, Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Redstarts, Orioles, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.  Other warblers found were Northern Parula, Magnolia, Canada, and Northern Waterthrush.  

Overhead, keen eyes spotted Chimney Swifts, a Peregrine Falcon, an adult Bald Eagle and later three immature eagles circling in the thermals as well as a Red-shouldered Hawk.  We watched a female Yellow Warbler for several minutes as she collected webbing and flew back to a nest that she was constructing at eye level.  Ending on a high note, an Orchard Oriole sang high in a tree in the parking area, but well hidden in the leaves.  It took a while, but eventually everyone was able to see this first year bird.  A great morning of birding and good company to enjoy a total of 51 species.

Mt. Holyoke - Skinner State Park

May 2022

May 15, 2022

Beth Spirito and Tim Carter

Five of us started off our walk with cool weather and a very light rain. The primary route for the Skinner Mtn walk is the service road, which is approximately one mile to the top of the mountain, where the Summit House is located.

The “Hot Birds" to get on this walk are the Worm-eating and the Cerulean Warblers. We were able to see multiples of each species. Other warblers spotted were Pine, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Ovenbird, and Black-throated Blue. We missed out on the Blackburnian, which can normally be spotted at the midway point up the mountain. Three species of vireos spotted were identified, Red-eyed, Warbling, and Blue-headed. The latter provided us with a nice show of it eating at a caterpillar's nest!

The two other birds you always hope to see on this walk, and we did, are the Scarlet Tanager and the Indigo Bunting - beautiful views! Our list also included: Blue Jay, Cardinal, Robin, Mourning Dove, White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Brown Creeper, Goldfinches, Phoebe, Pewee, Cowbird, Carolina and Winter Wrens, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a Great Crested Flycatcher. Our flyovers were Pileated Woodpecker, Raven, a couple of Crows, and some Turkey Vultures. By the time we reached the Summit, the weather had cleared, and it was starting to get a little warmer.

Great morning birding, with a fun group and a total species count of 35.

Allen Bird Club May Count

May 2022

May 13-14, 2022

May 13, 2022

Janice Zepko

There were 17 teams and 34 observers out in Hampden County territories for the count held on May 13-14.  Thankfully, once again, the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases did not prevent we birders from doing our thing!  The weather was quite good for birding.  Friday evening temps were high 70s and winds were calm.  Saturday brought us more of the same, starting off with comfortable temps in mid-60s rising to 84 by mid-day, with winds 2-6 mph from the south.  Together the teams recorded 134 species, which was about average over the last ten years, and coincidentally, also average for the entire 60 years of May Counts.  

As is typical, most of the common species were near their recent or long-term average, but some were noticeably high.  In parentheses is the number for 2022, followed by the 10-year average.  There were several species whose totals were highest ever in our count history, including Canada Goose (545-411), Red-shouldered Hawk (11-3), Barred Owl (9-4), Red-bellied Woodpecker (157-118), Pileated Woodpecker (26-16), Carolina Wren (60-30, the last 3 years numbers doubled those of previous years), Louisiana Waterthrush (30-13), and Pine Warbler (89-51).  Other high, but not record breaking, counts were Downy Woodpecker (82-55), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (72-55), Eastern Phoebe (72-53), Great Crested Flycatcher (75-55), Rough-winged Swallow (92-55), Brown Creeper (21-10), Wood Thrush (197-144), and Ovenbird (265-144).  We did not add any new species to the May Count this year, but Harvey and Craig Allen did get Horned Lark (4), which had not been recorded since 1999.  They also came face-to-face with two Moose, which should be a first for the Count, if we kept records of mammals.

Low species counts this year were Solitary Sandpiper (5-19), Wood Pewee (1-21), Least Flycatcher (2-14), Veery (46-60), Swainson’s Thrush (2-19), Magnolia Warbler (3-26), Yellow-rumped Warbler (13-70), and Black-throated Green Warbler (20-43).  Misses include Common Loon, Ruffed Grouse (recorded every year up until the 2012 and only once since then), Black-billed Cuckoo, Brown Thrasher (first miss on this species in Count history), Blackpoll Warbler (first miss since 1970), Wilson’s Warbler (which was recorded each year for the last 6 years), Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cape May and Bay-breasted Warblers.

Participants seemed to be in agreement that numbers were low, especially for migrants.

Thanks to all who spent many hours in the field, especially Steve Svec’s team, who again put in a tiring 20 hours of effort, and Dave McLain’s team who racked up 109 species for the day.  Nice job everyone!

Click below to view or download complete count results.

2022 May Count Results

Robinson St Park Mother's Day Walk

May 2022

May 8, 2022

John Hutchison

About of 16 joined the annual Mother’s Day walk in Robinson St Park to rack up a total of 43 species.  The weather was chilly and warbler numbers comparatively low, but we did enjoy seven warbler species.  Other migrants were Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Veery and Baltimore Oriole.  Eagles were circling overhead, giving everyone great looks.  The morning ended at Steve and Madeline’s house, a stop made very special by their gracious hospitality, delicious cookies and beverages.  Complete bird list below.

Lake Wallace, Belchertown

May 2022

May 7, 2022

Tim Carter & Beth Spirito

Started at 7:30 in the morning at our usual meeting place for the Lake Wallace walk, the Dunkin’ on State St in Belchertown. The weather was sunny, cool, and very breezy. Seventeen members gathered and then we headed across the street to Lake Wallace, which is located hidden behind the Belchertown Police Station.

Lake Wallace has had some new improvements this past year. The Lake Wallace Sensory Trail is a fully accessible education and recreation trail. It is still in the process of being constructed, however we were able to utilize some of it. One of it being the new dock and observation point. It is a large wooden platform that overlooks the side of the lake. It provides a beautiful view, and at the start of our walk this morning, provided a wide variety of birds and other wildlife as well. The swallows were plentiful - Tree, Barn, and Northern Rough-winged. Also seen from this point were Great Blue Herons, a Great Egret, Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, Mallards, 3 Hooded Mergansers, and a Belted Kingfisher. Walking along the new trail, we observed a variety of sparrows: Chipping, White-throated, House, Swamp, and Song. We had beautiful views of Eastern Bluebirds, Yellow, Palm, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Phoebe, and a Warbling Vireo.

We then drove into the Foley Field area, parked out cars along the fence outside the soccer fields, and just walked along the edge of the lake. The first few minutes gave us some great views of a Chestnut-sided Warbler, along with some Black-and-White's. Woodpecker’s spotted were the Northern Flicker, Red-bellied, Downy, and Pileated. Eastern Phoebe, Warbling Vireo, Mourning Doves, Robins, Blue Jays, Tufted Titmouse, and White-breasted Nuthatch's were all seen in the shrubbery along the edge as well.

While we continued to walk along the edge, in the trees and looking out onto the lake, we saw Red-winged Blackbirds, a Brown-headed Cowbird, Grackles, Starlings, Cardinals, and Catbirds. We also had a wonderful view of the Great Blue Heron's nest. At the end of the soccer field area, in the backside of the lake, we walked into the woods along the trail, that follows the other side of the lake. We were hoping to see the resident Virginia Rail and Sora, but they were not home at the time. This area did provide us with Ovenbird and Northern Waterthrush.

Flyovers that topped off our list at 42 species included Crows, a Raven, a Red-tailed Hawk, and a few Turkey Vultures. It was a great day with a great group of birders, a first time at Lake Wallace for many of them.

More information can be found about the Lake Wallace Sensory Trail on their Facebook Page. It truly is a great place to bird any time of day!

Rail Trail Evening Walk, Amherst

May 2022

May 5, 2022

Harvey Allen

Thirteen Birders gathered to enjoy sights and sounds while strolling along the rail trail.  The birds were few, with highlights being a Yellow Warbler and a Canada Goose with eggs and nest.  Other birds included Great Blue Heron, Kingfisher, Robin, Mourning Dove, Red-winged Blackbird, Tree Swallow, Swamp and Song Sparrows, Flicker, Titmouse and Baltimore Oriole.  Four beavers kept the group entertained, as did a muskrat, and snapping turtles were swimming with just heads poking above the surface of the water.  Spring peepers and pickerel frogs provided atmospheric backdrop with their enchanting calls.

Ludlow Reservoir Morning Walk

May 2022

May 3, 2022

Howard & Marcy Schwartz

Seven members counted a total of 37 species.  Temperatures ranged between hi-40s and mid-50s on an overcast, damp and somewhat windy day.

The best bird of the trip was a pair of Common Loons that, I am going to assume, are the same loons that have been nesting at the reservoir for a few years. We did see six species of warbler the most common being the Pine, which were singing up a storm all along the walk.  The others that we saw include Prairie, Yellowrump (in certain places they almost filled the trees), BT Green, Ovenbird and Redstart.  We did have a quick pass overhead of two immature Eagles which quickly flew out of site since we saw them through the pine trees overhead.  We could have added two additional mallards to the bird list, but when we got a scope on them, we discovered that they were actually Ring-necked Ducks, a species we don't see much on the reservoir this late in the season. Even though this trip is scheduled for only 2 hours, we stayed for a much longer time (about 3 1/2 hours) since everyone was having such a pleasant time enjoying each other’s company and trying to get as many birds as possible on such a dreary day.

Fort River Refuge Walk

May 2022

May 1, 2022

Tim Carter & Beth Spirito

The trip started on a high note as everyone got to see two Black Vultures feeding on some roadkill on Moody Bridge Rd as they drove up to Silvio O. Conte NWR - Fort River Division.  First, we got to see a good number of Barn and Tree Swallows from the parking lot along with a number of the usual species there and a quick fly-in of a Brown Thrasher.  As we headed in, we got our second good find of the day in the form of a male Orchard Oriole.  We continued on the trail and as we reached the western end of the trail, we got a Black-throated Blue Warbler, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a Swainson's Thrush.  We then continued along the northern part of the trail, finding two Northern Parula, a Palm Warbler, a Wood Thrush and a Kingfisher flyby.  As we approached the large fields, we had a Ruby-crowned Kinglet calling along with a House Wren and a late Junco.  

We headed back to the parking lot picking up a Swamp Sparrow along the way.  This ended the trip for most though a few of us decided to head up the road to the grass fields as a Bobolink was reported at Fort River that morning.  As we walked to the road, we had an Osprey fly over and as we got up to the fields, we spotted a lone Bobolink which was singing from the top of a tree and then flew off to join another one and when they flushed from another tree, they were a group of three.  We also had a pair of Kestrels which appeared to be staying on or near one of the kestrel boxes.   We had 11 participants, perfect weather and saw a total of 51 species.

ABC Annual Meeting/Picnic at Heritage Park, East Longmeadow

May 2022

May 1, 2022

George Kingston

Beautiful weather graced the day!  The bird walk was relaxing and, though our species count was not high, we enjoyed a few highlights, including Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Warbling Vireo, and Killdeer.

The annual meeting was short and sweet, and we were able to vote on the slate of new officers for the 2022-2023 season: President-Jim Platenik, Vice President–Andrea Bugbee, Secretary–Terri Skill, Treasurer-George Kingston, and Executive Committee members-at-Large, Tim Carter, April Downey and Bobby Olsen.  Welcome all and thank you in advance for your service to the Club.

Once business was complete, older and newer members got to know each other better over a delicious picnic lunch from Frigo’s Gourmet Foods. It was just plain fun!

Ashley Ponds, Holyoke

April 2022

April 30, 2022

Steve Svec

We had 42 species and 15 participants.  Highlights were Pine, Palm, Yellow-rumped, and Black-and-white Warblers, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Chimney Swifts, Osprey, Bald Eagle, as well as Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Brown Creeper, Spotted Sandpiper, Wood duck and Hooded Mergansers.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

April 2022

April 27, 2022

Al & Lois Richardson

Though the end of April, the weather felt more like early March. Ten birders braved the chill and gusting winds to look for arriving migrants. Highlights of the morning were: Yellow-rumped Warblers - everywhere - high in the treetops and foraging on the ground.  A Northern Waterthrush announced it had arrived with lusty song, as did the Gray Catbirds.  The famous Stebbins Eastern Screech Owl was in residence, always a treat to see.  A Yellow Warbler sang, and a bright yellow spot revealed where he sat high up in a tree.  Chimney Swifts joined Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows hawking insects over the ponds.  A Piliated Woodpecker flew from tree to tree on the Natti Trail, where later a House Wren revealed its presence down by the river.  As we looped back on the West Road Trail, we added Palm Warblers, more Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.  A Rusty Blackbird doing its squeeky rusty hinge call got our attention and then flew down almost in front of us.  We were nearly back to our starting point when a Brown Thrasher was spotted high up in a tree.  The trip came to a conclusion with a drive along Pondside Road to view the Mute Swan, Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, and Osprey.  All at, or on, a nest.  There were 43 species on the trip list.

McDonald Nature Preserve, Wilbraham

April 2022

April 24, 2022

Bobby Olsen and Sue Burk

We had 10 birders and we saw a total of 24 species, primarily but not exclusively "the usual suspects.” One highlight was an American Kestrel which "posed" for us on top of a transmission line. Although we have seen a number of warblers at this location in past years, alas there were very few today.

We counted four different woodpecker species, Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy, and Northern Flicker.  Other birds of particular interest included Eastern Phoebe (2), a Brown Creeper, a Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebirds (5), a Field and four White-throated Sparrows, and Eastern Towhee (2).

Longmeadow and Agawam

April 2022

April 2, 2022

Al and Lois Richardson

It was a very cool early spring morning when 10 birders met to search for ducks and early spring migrants. We were very happy to meet 4 new birders and also happy to see 6 other familiar faces.

The trip got off to a slow start at Pynchon Point.  The high water from recent rains and snow melt had forced ducks and gulls to other places, and so the confluence of the Westfield River and the Connecticut River failed to produce.  We moved on to another view of the Westfield River at the end of Hunt St.  After checking out the whimsical wood sculptures near the parking area, we began to get bird activity.  Downy woodpeckers were drumming, a Carolina Wren (with feathers fluffed from the chill) belted out his song, juncos trilled, and House Finches and a Northern Cardinal added a flash of color.  An adult Bald Eagle circled low over our heads, and then an early American Kestrel flew in to perch, immediately chased off by a scolding Blue Jay.  

Our next stop was to check the lagoons of the Big E, also flooded, but we did find a Great Blue Heron hunting for breakfast.  Here we also added Mallards, a pair of Wood Ducks and a calling Killdeer to our list.  We then moved on to the dike and another view of the Westfield River where a fast-flying Sharp-shinned Hawk was spotted.

The day was warming up and it was time to see what could be found along Pondside Road in Longmeadow.  This was the place to find ducks.  The first pond held Green-wing Teal, Black Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, and more Wood Ducks.  As we walked along from pond to pond, there were opportunities to scope out Pied-billed Grebes, Common Mergansers, and Hooded Mergansers, to see Goldfinch coming out of winter plumage, and to watch early Tree Swallows feed over the water.  We also found that Canada Geese and Mute Swans were sitting on nests, as was a Bald Eagle (the first to do so at Pondside).  As we reached the next to last pond there were more new species of ducks - Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, and Blue-winged Teal. Though the morning started slowly, the birding ended on a high note.  The tally for the trip was 37 species.

Breakfast & Upriver to Turners Falls

March 2022

March 26, 2022

Howard and Marcy Schwartz

We all met at Sylvester's in Northampton for a nice social get together and breakfast as we always do on this trip. It's a nice way to meet all the people going on the trip: catching up with lives of old friends and getting acquainted with new that don't come to many of the bird trips. We left at about 9:00 to head up to Turner's Falls. The weather started off sunny, nut clouds came in as the trip progressed and just a little after the trip ended it started to rain. The temps ranged from high 40s to mid-50s.                

Fifteen members counted over 27 species. Most species were what we expected to see on this trip: a variety of ducks and land birds. There was virtually no ice in Barton's Cove, so there was no expectation of seeing any concentration of ducks there, since they could have flown anywhere with all the lakes in the area free of ice. Normally, if there were ice on the river, we could have seen a variety of gulls sitting on the ice rafts. Unfortunately, there were none, so we missed out on seeing a few more gulls for the species count for the trip. We did see a nice concentration of ring neck ducks there, though. Spotting a Bald Eagle’s nest with a pair of eagles nearby was a thrill for most of us. In addition to those two, we did see many more eagles of various ages during the trip from other locations. Many of us enjoyed our first-of-the-year Tree Swallows from the boat ramp and first-of-the-year Killdeer at the Turner's airport.

Woodcock in East Longmeadow

March 2022

March 18, 2022

George Kingston

Over 25 members gathered to try to catch a glimpse of a Woodcock.  All heard the peenting of at least five woodcocks.  Some were lucky enough to see one or two rise up into the air in a courting dance display.

Cape Ann & Plum Island

February 2022

February 19-20, 2022

February 19, 2022

Myles & Kathy Conway

Allen Bird Club members made our annual trip to the North Shore on February 19-20.  Fifteen of us braved the frigid and blustery conditions in order to catch sight of some of our winter coastal species.  We were not disappointed.  The trip was off to an auspicious start when we arrived at our first stop - Jodrey fish pier in Gloucester - and saw a Common Murre that had been reported.  It was a first state bird for several of us.  Despite its name, this species is not as “common” as the Thick-billed Murre.  Even the Thick-billed is not always seen, and we did not see any this weekend.  The only other alcids we saw were three Razorbills.  

However, the wintering ducks we did see gave us a nice show.  We had very good looks at Long-tailed Ducks, Buffleheads, and Harlequins in several places, all three species of Scoters, and close Gadwalls at Eastern Point.  Also, in addition to the three common gull species, we were rewarded with three different Iceland Gulls (a little larger than a Ring-billed and smaller than a Herring) and a surprise Lesser Black-backed Gull at the Granite Pier in Rockport, pointed out by another birder.  Purple Sandpipers hung out on the rocks like ornaments in a few places.

Two more members joined us at Plum Island on Sunday, where we saw several Northern Harriers and more looks at sea ducks.  We could only drive as far as Hellcat.  There, to avoid the wind for a while, we walked on the new boardwalk trail hoping for some land birds, but they were quiet. On our way out of Plum Island someone noticed a flash of white close to the road and we all were treated to close-up views of six Snow Buntings.  And as we all departed from the boat launch, those in one car saw a Bald Eagle rise up out of the marsh.  No Snowy Owls were to be found at Plum so we headed to Salisbury State Park to see what could be found there.  More Harriers and a nice look at a Peregrine from the boat ramp, but still no Snowy.

Our last stop was the beach and stone jetty at Salisbury where we scanned the rocks for our elusive treasure.  There, almost as if it was lit up against the dark rocks, was our Snowy Owl.  Everyone had great scope looks at this last bird of the trip, a trip “bookended” by two hoped for, but not always found, wintering birds.  Windy conditions probably contributed to our slightly less than average 57 species for the trip.

Note: Two members made an additional stop at Hampton Beach State Park, just up the coast in New Hampshire.  They found more Snow Buntings and Horned Larks as well as a couple of Lapland Longspurs.  It might be worth adding it as a stop in the future.

Amherst to Turners Falls

February 2022

February 12, 2022

Harvey Allen

More than a handful of members joined in to enjoy a good birding day.  It was hoped that meeting late morning would get the group to the Turners Falls Power Canal in time to witness the gulls and ducks that gather there as sunset approaches.  Though the group decided not to press on after the first few stops, many birds were spotted along the way, as follows.

Honey Pot Area:

Bluebirds

Bald Eagle (3)

Red-tailed Hawk

Tree Sparrows

Dark-eyed Juncos

Blue Jays

Canada Goose

Ring-billed Gulls

Common Merganser

Northern Harrier (3)

Back entrance to Arcadia:

Crows

Northern Harrier

Ring-billed Gulls

Hadley Cove:

Green-winged Teal

Wood Duck (male/female)

Mallards

Common Merganser

Belted Kingfisher

Tufted Titmouse

Black-capped Chickadee

European Starlings

Common Grackles

Mourning Doves

Downey Woodpecker

Brown Creeper

Northern Cardinals

Red-winged Blackbirds

Turkey Vulture

Red-tailed Hawk

House Finch

Falmouth, Sandwich and Plymouth

January 2022

January 8, 2022

Janice Zepko

There were just three eager birders ready to start the New Year right, despite the new fallen snow and the frigid temperatures.  We began the trip by taking a detour to New Bedford, where a rare Mandarin Duck was reported at The Sawmill at Acushnet River Preserve.  The pond was partially frozen, but we found the graceful duck floating in the outflow river with Mallards, Black Ducks, Canada Geese and several domestic ducks and geese. The preserve is a lovely place, but the clock was already ticking, so we moved on to try for a Snowy Owl reported on the beach along the New Bedford Cove Walk.  We did not find it, but did spot an array of waterfowl, including Red-throated Loon, Bufflehead, Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck, Scaup, Red-breasted Mergansers and Common Eider - and another life place!

Onward to the Cape, we picked up Turkey Vulture and seconds later Black Vulture from the moving car.  We arrived at Siders Pond in Falmouth around 11:25 to find less birds than in previous years. We counted about a dozen each of Hooded Mergansers, Canada Geese and Mallards, and five Double-crested Cormorants.  At nearby Salt Pond, there were less than a dozen Scaup, but two Great Blue Heron were hunting at the back edge of the water.  Other birds were Bufflehead, Red-breasted and Hooded Mergansers, and a Belted Kingfisher.  Off Surf Avenue there were 2 Red-throated Loon, 4 Common Loon, lots more Red-breasted Mergansers, a few Goldeneye and a Long-tailed Duck.

After a break, we headed to Flax Pond and found the reported Redhead Duck with some Canada Geese.  While there we picked up few songbirds and a Flicker.  Next stop was Ashumet Pond, where parking was difficult and most of the waterfowl were distant. There were Scaup, lots of Common Mergansers and Common Goldeneye, and with them was one male Barrow’s Goldeneye.

On to Marston’s Mills, where the newly frozen ice forced the ducks into an area where we could get good views.  We picked out two male Pintail and a Green-winged Teal, as well as Hooded Mergansers, Blacks, Mallards, 5 Mute Swans, another Great Blue Heron and the always cheerful call of the Carolina Wren.  

We accessed Mill Pond in West Barnstable by parking at the end of Gemini Road and walking down a snow and ice-covered trail. The Pond treated us to 50 Wood Ducks, 25 Canada Geese and two Great Horned Owls calling back and forth.  On returning to the car, we spotted six Turkeys strolling in the neighbor’s yard.

It was after 4:00 by now and we still had much to do before sunset.  We headed straight for Town Neck Rd, forgoing a quick look at the Sandwich marina, and parking at the usual spot, but the closed-down restaurant is now the new Tree House Brewing Co.  Over the years, viewing the bay from this spot has given us wonderful close-up looks at hundreds, maybe thousands, of waterfowl and has been a good place to search for alcids, particularly Razorbills.  We did pick up a few new birds for the day, 4 Black Scoter, a Great Black-backed Gull, and a Red-necked Grebe, but even with that and the four lovely Long-tailed Ducks, we were left wanting for alcids and Gannets.

On to Plymouth Wharf, where we hoped a new location would bring us luck.  We quickly found 20 Surf Scoter, more Common Eiders, Bufflehead, Canada Geese and lots of Black Ducks.

It was late, so we rushed west to Cumberland Farms.  Scanning there in the almost-dark, we spotted 3 Short-eared Owls flying together, weaving an imaginary web as they circled in figure eights with the crimson-colored sunset sky as a backdrop. The last bird to make itself known was a Great Horned Owl, perched high up in a deciduous tree on the back edge of the farm fields.  After a few moments it began calling, too.  It was a great end to our day’s adventure.  We garnered a total of 54 species and added many birds to our new year lists.

Cobble Mtn Christmas Count

December 2021

December 26, 2021

Janice Zepko

Here’s a rundown of how we did this year compared to past years.  We brought in a total of 68 species, the fourth highest species count and the highest in the last 15 years.  Observer number, hours in the field, and miles covered were all in the average range.  Water was unfrozen for the most part. The temperature ranged between 35-45 degrees F, but winds picked up in the afternoon and gusts were strong.

There were many species found in higher numbers than usual.  All averages are 31-year averages and an asterisk signifies the highest count recorded for that species over the 31 Cobble Mtn counts.  Canada Geese came in at an all-time high of 6040*, while the average is 1190.  Black Duck at 108 was almost double the average of 56.  Hooded and Common Mergansers were both counted at all-time highs, Hooded 61* with an average of 12 and Common 728* with an average count of 78.  Hawks gave us good numbers, too.  We counted 13* Cooper’s Hawks with a previous average of 4, Red-shouldered Hawk count of 5* was matched in 2019, with at least one reported each year since 2012.  Even Redtails were high at 50* when the average is 28.  We also counted 2 Northern Harriers, only sighted in 4 of the other 31 years.  Our Hermit Thrush count was 5*, which was only matched in 2014. Finally, Red-winged Blackbirds were spotted by three teams, with a total of 603* birds, far above the average of 75.  

There were just a few species found in lower numbers than usual.  We only spotted 3 Turkeys, while the average is 34.  Red-breasted Nuthatch was among its lowest numbers at just 2 birds.  The Northern Cardinal count was just 59, with an average of 97.  We were lucky to count one each of Screech, Great Horned, and Barred Owls, which is more a reflection of effort than a downward trend.

There were many good finds this year, too.  Snow Goose (4*) was recorded on only two other count years.  Wood Ducks (2) were last reported in 2013.  When not frozen, Congamond Ponds can add a number of waterfowl species and this year was no different.  Viewpoints overlooking Middle Pond gave us a highest ever number of Pintail (10*) and Ringnecks (10*), one spot offered a Greater Scaup and 2 Lessers, and South Pond granted one team a Bufflehead.  Great Blue Heron was counted by three teams, one bird each.  Songbirds not found regularly included Catbird (1), Savannah Sparrow (4), Swamp Sparrow (2) and a first-ever Veery, a highly unusual species for this date.

Unfortunate misses this year were Horned Lark, Field Sparrow and Purple Finch.  

Count week birds added by Dorrie Holmes and Al and Lois Richardson were Goldeneye (2), Ruddy Duck (2) and Red-breasted Merganser (1), all at Congamond on December 24th.

It was a good year, thanks to the efforts of all participants!

Click below to view or download complete count results.

2021 Cobble Mtn CBC

Springfield Area Christmas Count

December 2021

December 18, 2021

George Kingston

Click below to view or download complete count results.

2021 Springfield CBC Results

North Shore of Massachusetts

November 2021

November 20, 2021

Chris Blagdon and Janice Zepko

Thirteen members gathered in Gloucester at the parking lot of Sweet Water Grille (the old Friendly’s) at Grant’s Circle.  Right from the parking lot many members were treated to excellent views of the previously reported Wood Stork flying into the marsh.  Also there were 6 Great Blue Herons, 50+ Bufflehead, 6 Black Ducks and a Carolina Wren.  It was a great start to a very nice day of birding.  

Jodrey’s Pier was next giving us 3 Long-tailed Ducks.  Seth was not fond of this duck’s new name and continued to refer to them as Oldsquaw, not because he didn’t identify with the more politically correct name, but just because he was a poet and thought Oldsquaw was a more colorful and poetic name for the beautiful, graceful duck.  Also there were Common Loon (2), DC Cormorant (15), C Eider (75), Surf Scoter (1), our three usual gulls, but no white-winged gulls.  Someone mentioned that the warmer weather might have delayed their migration.

Rocky Neck added Red-breasted Merganser (35), Red-throated Loon (4) and Bufflehead (3), along with Mockingbird.  Also present were C Loon (8), Surf Scoter (10), DC Cormorant (10) and hordes of European Starlings.

At Niles Beach, we added Bald Eagle (1), Black Scoter (1), and Catbird.  

While Eastern Point gave some who ventured out to the rocky precipice two Black Guillemots, a Gannet and three Purple Sandpipers, those that stayed behind, mostly due to the limited parking, were still treated to crows mobbing a Bald Eagle, C Loon (6), Surf Scoter (25), Bufflehead (4), RB Merg, C Eider (75), Long-tailed Duck (15), and another Carolina Wren singing for all.

A brief stop at Niles Pond added Ring-necked Ducks (10).  Also there were Bufflehead (10), RB Merg, Black Duck (12), Mallard (5), Great Blue Heron, Blue Jay and yet another Carolina Wren!

Next stop, and last before lunch, was the Elks Club, where more of us got views of Black Guillemot (3).  This location added 6 Red-necked Grebes, 30 White-winged Scoters, and a Cooper’s Hawk.  Other highlights were eight Purple Sandpipers just below us atop a rock near the water’s edge, three Gannets, six Surf Scoters, 18 Bufflehead and four Common Loons.

Our usual break for lunch at Stop and Shop gave us a Red-tailed Hawk perched in a tree, a Great Blue Heron, Mallards, a Blue Jay, and more Starlings.

The afternoon birding began at Loblolly Cove where we added Harlequin Duck (3).  Other birds were Purple Sandpiper (3), Gannet (3), C Loon (4), RB Merg (6) and House Finch.

On to Granite Pier for our only Savannah Sparrow, who posed for a long time on a large rock lining the parking area.  There were also three Song Sparrows, Gannet (3), Harlequin (4), C Loon (4), C Eider (5), Bufflehead (2), and DC Cormorant (3).

Cathedral Rocks did not add any new birds to our list, but did give us more Gannets (2), Harlequins (12), Buffleheads (6), C Eiders (15), C Loons (5), Surf Scoters (11), RB Mergs (2), DC Cormorants (2) and Herring Gulls.

Andrew’s Point has become a fussy place to park, with multiple “No Parking” signs along the side streets.  We were able to park a couple of blocks away on a small town-owned parcel and walk to our usual birding spots.  Along the walk we picked up Chickadee, Junco, Song Sparrow, House and Goldfinch, and Cardinal.  The ocean gave us C Loon (6), RT Loon (1), C Eider (40), Harlequin (13), a very nice female Black Scoter, White-winged and Surf Scoters (3 each), and Long-tailed Duck (3), but no alcids.

Many of us ventured on to the last stop of the day at Halibut Point, where the only new bird was Downy Woodpecker.  There were also Gannets (10), a male Black Scoter, C Eider (30), a flyby of two Brant and four Common Loons.  The weather had become decidedly colder with a breeze keeping us clutching our coat collars on the walk back to the park area.  All-in-all a wonderful day of coastal birding with a species total of 45!

Berkshire Lakes

November 2021

November 6, 2021

Kathy and Myles Conway

Participants:  M. and K. Conway, A. Downey, M. Felix, D. and L. Haile, T. Skill, B. Spirito, J. Zepko, Ruth Green and Joseph Sefter, the last two being new members

In keeping with what has been typical this season, our Berkshire Lakes trip took place on a day that was mild for early November.  The warmish weather has kept the ducks from moving south, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the eleven participants.  The larger Cheshire Reservoir gave us more land birds than waterfowl (Cedar Waxwings, Red-winged Blackbirds, Pileated Woodpecker, among others) until we came to the "teal hole".  There we found a pair of Bufflehead, a handful of Hooded Mergansers, and a female Lesser Scaup.  At the causeway on Onota we found Wood Ducks as expected along with two Gadwall.  There were Coot in one cove on Richmond Pond, but the first Coot of the day was spotted by Donna H. at the Pontoosuc causeway.  She also located the last bird of the day, a Pied-billed Grebe in the Richmond marsh.  With a total of 32 species, we ended the half-day trip enjoying cider donuts and other pastries at Bartlett's Orchard.  

Trip list:

Pied-billed Grebe 1

Great Blue Heron 4

Turkey Vulture 1 or 2

Canada Goose

Mute Swan 2

Wood Duck 12

Gadwall 2

Mallard 15

Lesser Scaup 1

Bufflehead 2

Hooded Merganser 7

Common Merganser 18

Bald Eagle 1

Red-tailed Hawk 2

American Coot 6

Ring-billed Gull 91

Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Belted Kingfisher 1

Downy Woodpecker 2

Pileated Woodpecker 1

Blue Jay

American Crow

Black-capped Chickadee 2

Tufted Titmouse 1

Carolina Wren 2

Eastern Bluebird 5

Robin

Cedar Waxwing 25

Cardinal 2

Red-winged Blackbird 2

Goldfinch

Quabbin Reservoir

October 2021

October 23, 2021

Beth Spirito and Tim Carter

Eleven participants gathered to enjoy a sunny day of birding the Quabbin,  It was cool and windy where we started our walk in the observation area right in front of the Quabbin Headquarters.  There we were graced with a sighting of a flyover by a Bald Eagle.  On the water we spotted many Ring-billed Gulls, Common Loons and Canada Geese.  We then set off to the 2nd entrance of the Quabbin, where we encountered Crows, Ravens, multiple species of sparrows and more Blue Jays than we could count!  Next stop was the tower area, and then on to Hanks Meadow, where we walked along the shore.  Here we saw a pair of Horned Grebes, and three White-winged Scoters, along with some more Common Loons.  All told we identified White-throated, White-crowned, Song, and Chipping Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Goldfinches, Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Turkey Vultures, along with five species of woodpecker, Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, Pileated and Northern Flicker.  Special songbird highlights were Hermit Thrush, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Our total for the four hours of birding was 31 species – a great day!

Ashley Ponds, Holyoke

October 2021

October 16, 2021

Steve Svec

Below is the list of birds seen on the trip. There were 12 participants.

Pied-billed Grebe
Cormorant
Canada Goose
Mallard
Black Duck
Wood Duck
White-winged Scoter
Domesticated Duck (Swedish Blue)
Great Blue Heron
Ring-billed Gull
Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Chickadee
Titmouse
Blue Jay
White-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatch
American Robin
American Crow
Mockingbird (Seen in the parking lot by Rachel and I as we were leaving)
Brown Creeper
Song Sparrow
Warbler sp.

Ludlow Reservoir

October 2021

October 2, 2021

Beth Spirito and Tim Carter

We set out at 8:00 am with six participants, two of which were brand new members.  The weather was sunny, but cool with temps in the low 50s.  We walked to the 1 ½ mile marker, and then headed back.  
We counted a total on 17 species on the walk, with Blue Jay being the most plentiful bird of the day.  Most exciting was the Common Loon family of three.  Other birds on the water were Canada Geese, Double-crested Cormorants, a couple of Great Blue Herons, and a Belted Kingfisher.  While walking we observed three different species of woodpecker, Red-bellied, Hairy and Pileated.  There were also Golden-crowned Kinglets, White-breasted Nuthatches, Red-tailed Hawk, Blue-headed Vireo, and two species of warbler, American Redstart and Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary

September 2021

September 26, 2021

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!.

Blueberry Hill Hawkwatch

September 2021

September 25, 2021

John Weeks

Several members joined a group from the Southwick Public Library to enjoy nearly cloudless skies, apart from one enormous, but distant, cumulus cloud that hovered motionless for hours far to the east.  Haze along the horizon made spotting a challenge at times.  Everyone contributed valuable help with spotting the birds in a tough sky.  The wind was light during the entire watch, initially NNE, shifting to E towards the end of the watch, with temperatures in the 70s F.

A total of 59 migrating raptors were counted:  Osprey (1), Northern Harrier (1), Sharp-shinned Hawk (16), Cooper’s Hawk (3), Broad-winged Hawk (28), American Kestrel (9) and Merlin (1).  Non-migrating raptors were Turkey Vultures (6), adult Bald Eagle, Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk.  

Other species noted were Mourning Dove, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpeckers (2), Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay (18 migrants), American Crow, Common Ravens (2), Black-capped Chickadee, American Goldfinch, Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler. Non-avian species observed were eight Monarch butterflies and a particular highlight of the day, a bull moose on the cleared hill to the north.  That was a sight we won’t soon forget!

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

September 2021

September 22, 2021

George Kingston

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
Killdeer 1
Great Egret 1
Snowy Egret 1
Great Blue Heron 6
Canada Goose 100
Mallard 60
Black Duck 3
Green-winged Teal 4
American Widgeon 1
Wood Duck 25
Osprey 1
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

Hawkwatch on Shatterack Mtn

September 2021

September 18, 2021

Tom Swochak

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!

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

September 2021

September 15, 2021

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.

Blueberry Hill Hawkwatch & Picnic

September 2021

September 11, 2021

John Weeks

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.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

September 2021

September 8, 2021

John Hutchison

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.

Longmeadow & Agawam

August 2021

August 21, 2021

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.

Plum Island

August 2021

August 14, 2021

Janice Zepko

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!

Tyringham & Post Farm

June 2021

June 12, 2021

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.

Little River IBA Breeding Bird Count

June 2021

June 4, 2021

Janice Zepko

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.

2021 June Count Results

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

May 2021

May 26, 2021

John Hutchison

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!

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

May 2021

May 19, 2021

John Hutchison

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

Mt. Holyoke - Skinner State Park

May 2021

May 16, 2021

Beth Spirito

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!

Allen Bird Club May Count

May 2021

May 14, 2021

Janice Zepko

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.

2021 May Count Results

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

May 2021

May 12, 2021

John Hutchison

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).

Robinson State Park Mother's Day Walk

May 2021

May 9, 2021

John Hutchison

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.

Lake Wallace, Belchertown

May 2021

May 8, 2021

Beth Spirito

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?).

Rail Trail Evening Walk

May 2021

May 6, 2021

Harvey Allen

No members found their way to the Rail Trail for this field trip.  I expect COVID risks are keeping participation down for many of these, usually popular, spring offerings.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

May 2021

May 1, 2021

Beth Spirito

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!

Ashley Ponds, Holyoke

April 2021

April 24, 2021

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.

Cobble Mtn Christmas Count

December 2020

December 21, 2020

Janice Zepko

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.

2020 Cobble Mtn Christmas Count

Springfield Area Christmas Count

December 2020

December 19, 2020

George Kingston

Click below to view or download complete count results.

2020 Springfield CBC Results

Little River IBA Breeding Bird Count

June 2020

June 5, 2020

Janice Zepko

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.

2020 June Count Results

Allen Bird Club May Count

May 2020

May 15, 2020

Janice Zepko

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.

2020 May Count Results

Cape Ann & Plum Island

February 2020

February 22-23, 2020

February 22, 2020

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.

CT River spots in South Hadley and Hadley

February 2020

February 8, 2020

Harvey Allen

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!

Rhode Island Blitz

February 2020

February 1, 2020

Tom Swochak

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.

Local Hotline

January 2020

January 18, 2020

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.

Plymouth, Sandwich & Falmouth

January 2020

January 5, 2020

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.

North Shore of Massachusetts

November 2019

November 16, 2019

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!

Quabbin Reservoir Walk

October 2019

October 19, 2019

Janet Orcutt

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.

Ashley Ponds, Holyoke

October 2019

October 13, 2019

Tim Carter

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.

Ludlow Reservoir Morning Walk

October 2019

October 6, 2019

Tim Carter

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.

Arcadia And Northampton Meadows

September 2019

September 29, 2019

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.

Long Weekend at Cape May

September 2019

September 20, 2019

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.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

September 2019

September 18, 2019

April Downey

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.

Blueberry Hill Hawkwatch & Picnic

September 2019

September 15, 2019

John Weeks

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.        

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

September 2019

September 11, 2019

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.

Nighthawk Watch at Stebbins Refuge

August 2019

August 26, 2019

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.

Longmeadow & Agawam

August 2019

August 24, 2019

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).

Kayaking on the CT River

August 2019

August 17, 2019

Harvey Allen

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.

The Adirondacks

June 2019

June 21, 2019

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.

Tyringham, Post Farm & October Mtn

June 2019

June 15, 2019

Chris Blagdon

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.

Little River IBA Breeding Bird Count

May 2019

May 31, 2019

Janice Zepko

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.

2019 June Count Results

Hollow Rd, Hampden

May 2019

May 26, 2019

Donna Morrison

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!

Mt. Holyoke (Skinner State Park)

May 2019

May 19, 2019

Janet Orcutt

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.

Allen Bird Club May Count

May 2019

May 17, 2019

Janice Zepko

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.

2019 May Count Results

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

May 2019

May 15, 2019

Janet Orcutt

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.

Mt. Tom State Reservation

May 2019

May 11, 2019

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.

Rail Trail Evening Walk

May 2019

May 9, 2019

Harvey Allen

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!

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

May 2019

May 8, 2019

April Downey

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.

Stanley Park, Westfield

May 2019

May 4, 2019

Janice Zepko

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!

Wilbraham Hotspot

April 2019

April 28, 2019

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.

Ashley Ponds, Holyoke

April 2019

April 27, 2019

Janice Zepko

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.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

April 2019

April 20, 2019

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.

Breakfast and Upriver to Turners Falls

April 2019

April 7, 2019

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.

Longmeadow & Agawam

April 2019

April 6, 2019

Seth Kellogg

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.

Woodcock in East Longmeadow

March 2019

March 28, 2019

George Kingston

We had our usual good luck at the Meadowbrook School, a dependable spot for Woodcock in spring. Five participants heard about 4-5 Woodcock.

Cape Ann & Plum Island

February 2019

February 23, 2019

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!

Amherst to Turners Falls

February 2019

February 9, 2019

Harvey Allen

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.

Hotline Trip

January 2019

January 19, 2019

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.

Falmouth, Sandwich, Plymouth

January 2019

January 12, 2019

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.

Cobble Mtn Winter Count (CBC)

December 2018

December 22, 2018

Seth Kellogg & Janice Zepko

Click below to view or download complete count results.

2018 Cobble Mtn CBC Results

Springfield Area Winter Count (CBC)

December 2018

December 15, 2018

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.

2018 Spfld Christmas Count Results

North Shore of Massachusetts

November 2018

November 17, 2018

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.

Berkshire Lakes

November 2018

November 3, 2018

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.

Quabbin Reservoir

October 2018

October 20, 2018

Janet Orcutt

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.

Ludlow Reservoir

October 2018

October 7, 2018

Tim Carter

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.

Arcadia and Northampton Meadows

September 2018

September 30, 2018

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.

Brigantine & Cape May

September 2018

September 21, 2018

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.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

September 2018

September 19, 2018

April Downey

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.

Hawkwatch & Picnic on Blueberry Hill

September 2018

September 15, 2018

John Weeks

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:
       Osprey 1
       Bald Eagle 3
       Northern Harrier 1
       Sharp-shinned Hawk 18
       Broad-winged Hawk 98
       American Kestrel 7
       Merlin 2
       Blue Jays 25
       Monarch Butterflies 10
       
       ALSO PRESENT:
       Double-crested Cormorant
       Turkey Vulture 2
       Red-shouldered Hawk 2
       Red-tailed Hawk
       Northern Flicker 3
       Eastern Phoebe
       Blue-headed Vireo (sang briefly)
       American Crow
       Common Raven 2
       American Robin
       Common Yellowthroat (only warbler tallied!)
       Purple Finch 4
       American Goldfinch 2

Plum Island

September 2018

September 8, 2018

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.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

September 2018

September 5, 2018

Janet Orcutt

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.

Longmeadow & Agawam

August 2018

August 25, 2018

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.

Nighthawk Watch at Stebbins Refuge

August 2018

August 23, 2018

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.

Hadley Hotspots

May 2018

May 28, 2018

Harvey Allen

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.

Hollow Rd, Hampden

May 2018

May 27, 2018

Donna Morrison

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.

Mt. Holyoke – Skinner State Park

May 2018

May 20, 2018

Janet Orcutt

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.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

May 2018

May 16, 2018

Janet Orcutt

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.

Rail Trail Evening Walk

May 2018

May 10, 2018

Harvey Allen

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.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

May 2018

May 9, 2018

George Kingston

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.

Lake Wallace, Belchertown

May 2018

May 6, 2018

Tim Carter

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).

Bear Hole, West Springfield

May 2018

May 5, 2018

Janice Zepko

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.

Photo Gallery

Ashley Ponds, Holyoke

April 2018

April 29, 2018

Tim Carter

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.

Wilbraham Hotspot

April 2018

April 28, 2018

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.

Fort River WMA

April 2018

April 22, 2018

Tim Carter

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.

Breakfast & Upriver to Turners Falls

April 2018

April 14, 2018

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.

Woodcock Watch in East Longmeadow

April 2018

April 12, 2018

George Kingston

Three members enjoyed the spirited flight songs of three Woodcock at Meadowbrook School.  Twenty Robins and five Cardinals were also counted.

Agawam & Longmeadow

April 2018

April 7, 2018

Seth Kellogg

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.

Hotline Trip to the MA Coast

March 2018

March 24, 2018

Seth Kellogg

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.

Cape Ann & Plum Island

February 2018

February 24, 2018

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.

Rhode Island Blitz

January 2018

January 27, 2018

Seth Kellogg

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.                                  

Plymouth, Sandwich and Falmouth

January 2018

January 20, 2018

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.

Cobble Mtn Christmas Count

December 2017

December 30, 2017

Seth Kellogg

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.

2017 Cobble Mtn Christmas Count

Springfield Area Christmas Count

December 2017

December 16, 2017

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.

2017 Springfield Area Christmas Count

Cape Ann and Plum Island

November 2017

November 18, 2017

Seth Kellogg

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.

Berkshire Lakes

November 2017

November 11, 2017

Seth Kellogg

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.

Berkshire Lakes

October 2017

October 28, 2017

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.

Quabbin Reservoir

October 2017

October 21, 2017

Janet Orcutt

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.

Ashley Ponds, Holyoke

October 2017

October 15, 2017

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.

Ludlow Reservoir

October 2017

October 7, 2017

George Kingston

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.

Brigantine & Cape May

September 2017

September 22-23, 2017

September 22, 2017

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.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

September 2017

September 20, 2017

George Kingston

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.

Blueberry Hill Hawkwatch & Picnic

September 2017

September 16, 2017

John Weeks

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:
       
       Osprey 5
       Harrier 1 juvenile
       Sharp-shins 23
       Cooper's 2
       Broad-wings 92
       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
       
       Others:
       Black Vultures 2
       Bald Eagles 3
       Red-shouldered Hawk
       Cooper's (local)
       Sapsucker
       Phoebe
       Phily, Red-eyed and Blue-headed Vireo
       Ruby-crowned Kinglet
       
       Nine warbler species (no numbers were given):
       Ovenbird
       Black-and-white
       American Redstart
       No. Parula
       Magnolia
       Blackpoll
       BT Blue
       Yellow-rumped
       BT Green

Newburyport & Plum Island

September 2017

September 9, 2017

Seth Kellogg

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.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Bird Walk

September 2017

September 6, 2017

Janet Orcutt

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.

Nighthawk Watch at Longmeadow Flats

August 2017

August 28, 2017

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.

Longmeadow & Agawam

August 2017

August 26, 2017

Seth Kellogg

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.