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Hadley Hotspots

May 2024

May 25, 2024

Harvey Allen

Seven members took part in today’s field trip in Hadley, identifying a total of 27+ species.  Highlights included nesting Green Herons from the Fort River boardwalk and nesting Meadowlarks and Bobolinks from Moody Bridge Road. Those who stayed longer to try for the reported Prothonotary Warbler in South Hadley were rewarded for their efforts!  Click below to view partial species list.

Explore a Wilbraham Hotspot, the McDonald Nature Preserve

May 2024

May 23, 2024

Bobby Olsen and Sue Burk

Three intrepid birders showed up for birding despite a gloomy weather forecast.  We walked almost 4 miles and identified a total of 38 species.  View complete list by clicking below.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

May 2024

May 22, 2024

Michele Keane-Moore

Eight members participated in the morning walk, identifying a total of 39 species.  Some who were able to stay a little longer were rewarded with a Least Bittern.  Click below to view a complete trip list.

Mt. Holyoke - Skinner State Park

May 2024

May 19, 2024

Beth Spirito and Tim Carter

Six members, plus three birders who joined in on our walk, enjoyed terrific birding on this sunny, but cool morning on Mt. Holyoke.

We can start off this report by stating that we got all of our target birds! The top three being the Worm-eating, Bay-breasted, and Cerulean Warblers. Great views and plenty of photo ops for our members with cameras.

Other warblers that made our list were Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Ovenbird, Black-and-white, Blackpoll, Redstart, Tennessee, and Yellow-rumped.  Other target birds spotted included Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager, and the Rose-breasted Grosbeak. We had close views of 2 Ravens, and a Veery who posed for photos on the road within 10 yards of us.

The surprise bird of the morning was a Nighthawk!

We also had Robins, Catbirds, Phoebes, Eastern Bluebird, Goldfinch, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Winter Wren, Wood and Hermit Thrush, Chipping and Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Tufted Titmouse, Cardinal, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Brown-headed Cowbird.

Seen flying high were Turkey Vultures, Red-tailed Hawks, and Chimney Swifts.

Another surprise awaited us to end our trip. We all headed over to the Batchelor Brook Conservation Area, where the majority of us were able to view the Prothonotary Warbler!  A lifer for a few of us!!  It was a great morning of birding, and great ending of our walk! Click below to view complete trip list.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

May 2024

May 15, 2024

Dan Burt

On a cloudy rain threatening morning with temperatures in the mid-60s, 11 eager birders ventured out on a 3 plus hour trek through the trails of Stebbins. The trail conditions were good for the time of year as well the biting insect level was tolerable. The woods were relatively quiet possibly due to the weather conditions though as the morning progressed and as the clouds showed some brief thinning the bird song and viewing increased. The total count including a couple of shorebirds seen in the West Road fields was 51 which is par for this time of year (IMO). Of note and probably number one on most people's list was the hearing of the Black-billed Cuckoo at the once known "Warbler Corner" to some long time Stebbings birders. Warbler viewing and count was low with sightings of the Canada, Magnolia and Northern Parula along with the more common ones. A variety of thrushes were heard and/or seen including great viewing of the Veery and more notably the Swainson's. Of the aforementioned shorebirds one was seen inside of Stebbins (which offered some debate regarding ID) and was finally settled upon as the Solitary sandpiper based on the keen eyes and detailed picture that Al and Lois provided. The other shorebirds seen on West Road included the Killdeer, Semipalmated Plover and Spotted sandpiper. All in all, everyone enjoyed the time in the woods.

South Hadley Falls below the Dam

May 2024

May 13, 2024

Harvey Allen

The river was quite high, but our small group of three managed to view some interesting bird behavior and garner 28 species.  There were Great Blue Herons and Turkey Vultures feeding on Shad in the river below the dam. We visited Canal Park to take advantage of wonderful views up and down the river.  From this location a Bald Eagle’s nest is visible, but the one young produced this year had already fledged.  Probably the most interesting behavior we observed was an aerial battle between an adult Bald Eagle and an Osprey.  It was quite a sight!  Click below to view complete trip list.

Mother's Day Walk at Robinson State Park

May 2024

May 12, 2024

Steve Svec

Six members gathered under mostly cloudy skies to enjoy the annual Mother’s Day walk at Robinson State Park.  The temps were in the mid-50s, with a light breeze.  We counted a total of 60 species.  Click below to view complete trip list.

Rail Trail Evening Walk

May 2024

May 9, 2024

Harvey Allen

Nine members gathered for a two hour walk on the rail trail.  We identified 38 species with some quite special observations, including great looks at a non-bird species—an Eastern Red Bat. The rarest bird species was a Least Bittern, which flew up from reeds on pond across open water and landed in another reed bed.  The last bird of the evening, a Barred Owl, was spotted for the group by one sharp-eyed birder. Click below to view complete trip list.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

May 2024

May 8, 2024

Bobby Olsen

Five hardy souls showed up at Stebbins this morning.  We gave it the old college try for about 10 minutes and then the rain started in earnest so we all voted to call it.  We did see 1 Great Blue Heron, 1 Swamp Sparrow, 1 Grackle and the usual Red-winged Blackbird suspects (5 or 6).

Ludlow Reservoir Morning Walk

May 2024

May 7, 2024

Howard Schwartz

Weather: Sunny day with low-50's at the beginning of the trip and low-70s at the end.

8 participants  

31 total species

It was a very casual walk on a flat, paved road along a very beautiful body of water.  The weather was very cooperative since it was neither too cold when we started in the morning nor too warm when we finished about 3 hours later.  There were not many birds singing so our species count was a little lower than it could have been if we would have heard more bird song.  This trip is scheduled early in migration so, depending on conditions, we can get many early warbler arrivals or very few.  This year we only had 5 warblers, a low count for the trip. We saw many of the regulars along the path as we walked about 1 1/2 miles.  Everybody seemed to have a good time, which is most important of all.  

Bird Highlights included a Broad-winged Hawk that swooped down over the reservoir and was seen by most of the people on the trip.  There were 2 Common Loons in breeding plumage, a Spotted Sandpiper sitting on a rock, and 5 Double-crested Cormorants on their usual place on some rocks on a small island.  We heard a Pileated Woodpecker banging on a tree and the five warblers were Ovenbird, Pine, Black-throated Blue (heard), Yellow-rumped, and Black-and-white.

Dismal Brook Wildlife Preserve, North Granby, CT

May 2024

May 5, 2024

John Weeks

Despite the chilly temps and occasional drizzle, we had a decent outing today.  We were ten members altogether, walked 1.5 miles during the three-hour adventure, and counted a total of 50 species.  It was a curious mix of birds we found — a Cape May Warbler and a late Palm Warbler, but the resident Northern Flicker, Brown Creeper, Louisiana Waterthrush, American Goldfinch and Scarlet Tanager were all no-shows, as were all three of the buteos and Turkey Vulture.  Nevertheless, everyone seemed to have a good time.  The Virginia Rail gave a nice performance.  Click below to see complete species list.

Lake Wallace, Belchertown

May 2024

May 4, 2024

Beth Spirito and Tim Carter

The morning was sunny and cool.  Thirteen members joined in and were able to identify a total of 44 species.

As we waited in the Dunkin parking lot for everyone to arrive for our walk, we had 13 species! Seen flying high: Red-tailed Hawk, Canada Geese, Green Heron, Great Blue Heron, and a couple of Mallards.  Spotted around the parking lot: Red-winged Blackbirds, Rock Pigeons, House and Song Sparrows, Goldfinch, Cardinal, and a few Starlings.  The star attraction was the Killdeer that kept walking back and forth on a very busy State Street!

The morning was sunny and cool and at Lake Wallace, we started at the viewing platform. Birds seen here: Red-winged Blackbirds, Double-crested Cormorants, a Green-winged Teal, a Common Merganser, Green Herons, a Solitary Sandpiper, Great Blue Herons (one on confirmed nest), Tree Swallows, Mourning Doves, and plenty of Catbirds.

The star attraction here was the Northern Flicker perched outside its nesting hole, displaying the use of its tail as a kickstand to stable itself. (Very cool for those who were watching this for the first time)!

As we continued our walk around Lake Wallace, around the playing fields and onto the trail in the wooded area in the back, more of the above-mentioned birds were seen plus the following: Carolina Wren, Grackles, Phoebes, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated, and Warbling Vireos. The warblers seen were, Yellow-rumped, Yellow, Black-and-white, and Palm, also Common Yellowthroat and Ovenbird.

Other birds seen included Swamp and Chipping Sparrows, White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadees, Raven, Crow, Brown-headed Cowbird, Mockingbird, and the beautiful Eastern Bluebird and the Baltimore Oriole.

Great morning with a great group!

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

May 2024

May 1, 2024

Al & Lois Richardson

Migration continues.  There were 10 participants, and working together, we managed to hear and/or see a total of 48 species.  We walked the Bark Haul loop, and also did a detour onto the Eliot Trail.  Early on, a Virginia Rail was doing its kek, kek, kek, but stayed out of view.  Yellow-rumped Warblers seemed to be everywhere, and after careful looking and listening, we found several Northern Parulas and a few Black-throated Greens among them.  A single Black-throated Blue Warbler was spotted on the Eliot Trail by new member Allan Burrage, mixed in with Ruby-crowned Kinglets.  Yellow Warblers and Common Yellowthroat also added to the almost constant bird song.  Baltimore Orioles, Wood Thrush, and Catbirds were new from last week.

Fort River Refuge Walk

April 2024

April 28, 2024

Beth Spirito and Tim Carter

The weather was cloudy and cool, with temperatures running in the mid-40s as thirteen members gathered in the parking lot.  While awaiting everyone’s arrival, we captured 15 species.  There was an abundance of Tree and Barn Swallows, and Red-winged Blackbirds.  Sparrows spotted were House, Song, and Field.  Woodpeckers seen were Red-bellied and Northern Flicker.  Flying overhead, we spotted Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, and a Red-tailed Hawk.  Other birds in the lot were Robins, Blue Jays, Eastern Bluebirds, Goldfinches, and Mourning Doves.

On the one-mile trail, we saw Swamp, Field, Chipping, White-throated, and Savannah Sparrows.  Woodpeckers identified were the Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied and Northern Flicker.  Other birds seen were Grackle, Eastern Towee, Phoebe, Brown-headed Cowbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Black-capped Chickadee, and Crow.

Our first and only warbler of the day was the Yellow-rumped!  The last platform on the trail didn’t dis-appoint with a beautiful view (through a scope) of an American Kestrel resting on its nesting box.  Continuing to the end of the trail, we had beautiful views of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

The final stop for birding was the area on Moody Bridge Road by the pond and the fields.  Highlights there were another Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Brown Thrasher, and Belted Kingfisher.  Also spotted were Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, Starlings, Mallards, and Field Sparrows.  Flying overhead, we saw a Raven and a Turkey Vulture while walking back to our cars.

Great morning, great group of birders, and a total of 41 species for the morning!

Ashley Ponds, Holyoke

April 2024

April 27, 2024

Steve Svec

Ten members joined in the fun of this annual trek at Ashley Ponds in hopes of sighting early spring arrivals.  They were rewarded with a total of 56 species.  Click below to view complete list.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

April 2024

April 24, 2024

Lois Richardson

Though forecasters predicted rain for the morning, thankfully they were wrong (again).  A Rose-breasted Grosbeak greeted us with its beautiful song soon after the walk began.  Green Herons were migrating in and we were treated to a flyover early in the walk and later spotted two more perched in trees on separate ponds.  For a short time it was like the "old days" as we bumped into a large feeding flock of Blue-headed Vireos, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Palm Warblers, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.  Along Bark Haul Trail and West Rd Trail to the back culvert, the regulars made themselves known as we heard and/or saw Black-capped Chickadees, Carolina Wren, Northern Cardinals, and Tufted Titmice.  After checking out the new beaver dam and resulting pond, we returned to Pondside where swallows and Chimney Swifts were hawking insects.  Here we found many Tree Swallows, a few Rough-winged Swallows, and a single Barn Swallow.  A female Ring-necked Duck was feeding with the Mute Swans and Canada Geese.  There were also Double-crested Cormorants and Wood Ducks. A final stop by the Bald Eagle's nest gave us scope views of the female on the nest with occasional glimpses of an eaglet.  The male eagle stood regally across the pond.  Last bird for the trip was a newly arrived Warbling Vireo claiming his territory.  We had 6 participants that contributed to a total of 38 species.  There were also two new people that joined us.  One asked to see a Red-bellied Woodpecker and with the groups help, the request was granted - one of the joys of having club trips.  And a special thanks to Joanna, visiting from California, who kept the list.

Breakfast and Upriver to Turners Falls

April 2024

April 13, 2024

Janice Zepko (stepping in for Howard Schwartz)

We changed the meet up location to Esselon Café in Hadley for breakfast.  That option worked out well, allowing us to take a quick drive through the Honeypot before heading upriver.  The weather was mostly cloudy in the mid-40s, with winds increasing to 14 mph and some light rain.  

The Honeypot gave us a Harrier, a Great Blue Heron, 6 TVs, 2 Bald Eagles, a Redtail and some land birds.  

At Barton’s Cove (various locations) we got looks at C. Merganser, DC Cormorant, Fish Crow, 5 Bald Eagles at one time, Tree Swallows, and other common birds.  

The Turners Falls Rod and Gun Club had a dozen C. Mergansers, 2 Mute Swans, a Kingfisher and 2 Phoebes. Nearby, the feeders at the top of the hill added a Pine Siskin, several other songbirds, and a flyby Sharp-shinned Hawk.  The Turners Falls Airport proved to be worth a stop, as we found a pair of Bluebirds, 2 Killdeer, 2 Kestrels, and a Chipping Sparrow.  Unity Park added 2 more Fish Crows and 13 Cedar Waxwings, but no Bohemian. The gate was open at the power canal and we got nice looks at a Pine Warbler, with another calling nearby.  Also there were 2 Ring-necked Ducks, an Eagle, a Raven, and a few other songbirds, but no Screech Owl in the old cavity.  

While at the campground of Barton’s Cove earlier in the day, we bumped into a birder named Zeke.  He gave us directions to a Barred Owl spot, so when we finished at the Power Canal, we headed to Highland Park in Greenfield.  We did not get the Barred Owl but did get large flocks of singing Goldfinch and Pine Siskins, visible Brown Creepers, 2 Palm and 3 Pine Warblers and a half dozen Rough-winged Swallows, so all was not lost.

Longmeadow and Agawam

April 2024

April 6, 2024

Michele Keane-Moore

Ten members met up to bird at Pynchon Point, but we also hit the Big E Fairgrounds and Lagoon, and Longmeadow Flats and Pondside.  The weather was overcast and cool, with the wind picking up as the morning went on, making it feel colder than low 40s. Click below to view the complete trip list.

Woodcock Walk at Stebbins at Stebbins Refuge

April 2024

April 6, 2024

Michele and Chris Moore

Ten members joined in to enjoy the evening sky dance of the American Woodcock. This event was originally scheduled for March 28, but poor weather forced a delay. This day the temps were in the 40s and the wind was light at 5-7 mph from the north. In addition to getting 5 Woodcock, we also counted 3 Canada Geese, 6 Mute Swan, 4 Wood Duck, 2 Mallard, 2 Black Duck, 1 Virginia Rail, 2 Robin, and 2 Song Sparrows.

Hotline to Massachusetts Coast

February 2024

February 24, 2024

Janice Zepko

This hotline trip headed to Plum Island and Salisbury Beach State Reservation, with eleven members braving the weather to enjoy some coastal birding. The weather forecast was for sunny skies, high temps in the upper 30s and NW winds blowing all day.  What we encountered was just some sun and brisk NW winds, which grew stronger by the end of the day.  We were able to identify around 50 species with some excellent views of a few target birds as our reward!

Highlights:

Lot 1 - 4 Harriers, a Northern Gannet and a dozen Long-tailed Ducks  

Salt Pannes - 80+ Pintail Ducks, 4 Green-winged Teal and 2 Bald Eagles

Warden’s - a flock of over 30 Snow Buntings and 4 Tree Sparrows

Hellcat Dike - an American Bittern giving great views, a Northern Shoveler and a Peregrine Falcon

Pines – 5 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 2 Ravens, 15 Green-winged Teal, a Hooded Merg and Hermit Thrush

Salisbury – a Long-eared Owl and 2 Harriers

See complete list below.

Amherst to Turners Falls

February 2024

February 24, 2024

Harvey Allen

Five members joined in to visit a few local hotspots. The group met at Atkins Farms and  two Turkey Vultures were spotted just a short distance away.  Doing a quick detour to the Honeypot of Hadley to pick up a member, we headed up to Turners Falls along Rte. 47, the back road.  Black Ducks were spotted in Montague Center.  The water was mostly frozen at the Rod and Gun Club, but coupled with the nearby feeder, we managed to spot Common Merganser, Mute Swan, Bald Eagle, Junco, White-throated Sparrow, House Finch, Song Sparrow and Downy Woodpecker.  Barton’s Cove was next, again partially iced-in, but we got looks at another Bald Eagle, Canada Geese, Mallards and Ring-billed Gulls.  Our last stop was at the power canal and, unfortunately, the gate was locked.  We did walk in getting more Canada Geese and Mallards, two Bufflehead, one Ring-necked Duck, two Hooded Mergansers and another Bald Eagle.

Canal Park, South Hadley

February 2024

February 3, 2024

Harvey Allen

After more than a week of overcast skies, it was "sunny with a chance of bird sightings" for the Saturday, February 3 field trip to Canal Park in South Hadley. Twelve participants joined leader Harvey Allen in the parking lot behind South Hadley Public Library. Temperatures were in the 30s with a chilly breeze, and birders enjoyed three hours of birding in five different, nearby locations. The locations were South Hadley Public Library, the Ted Belsky Overlook at Canal Park, River Road, Brunelle's Marina, and Bachelor Brook Conservation Area.

Special circumstances for this trip included the fact that the gate allowing access to an excellent river viewing platform behind the South Hadley Public Library is locked October through April. Also, the Connecticut River was rapid and high due to more than 6 inches of rain and 5 inches of snow in January, following the second rainiest summer in recent history.

Still, there were birds to be seen.

A highlight of the morning was when birders spotted two adult and one juvenile bald eagle soaring over the river, perching in trees, and one flying into an established eagle's nest visible across from the Belsky Overlook. Another notable moment occurred when, upon returning to their cars after walking in Bachelor Brook CA, birders saw three Red-tailed Hawks standing in the parking lot, offering a memorable end to a pleasant day.

Birds seen included: Common Merganser, hooded Merganser, Common Goldeneye, American Bald Eagle, Mallards, Great Blue Heron, Black Ducks, Belted Kingfisher, Red-tailed Hawk, Raven, Crows, Herring Gulls, Cardinal, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Robin, Blue Jay, Herring Gull, Rock Doves, Starlings, House Sparrow, and Canada Geese.

A couple of members extended this trip, heading to the Quabbin Reservoir Visitors Center. There, they were rewarded with excellent views of a Say’s Phoebe feasting on stink bugs. Unusual for our area, the Say’s Phoebe has been reported there intermittently since November.

Rhode Island Hotspots

January 2024

January 27-28, 2024

January 27, 2024

Janice Zepko and Tim Souza

Clouds, rain and snow were all in the forecast for the weekend, but seven members braved the weather to enjoy some winter surprises in RI.  A light breeze with temps in the mid-30s made our first day quite bearable.  Day two was not as pleasant, with rain throughout the morning, and snow-covered roads on the drive home in late morning.  Rather than following our usual stops on this long-running Rhode Island trip, we planned more of a hotline route, using eBird reports to guide the way.  

Day 1

The Barrow’s Goldeneye previously reported at Colt State Park in Bristol had not been seen for a week, but we were lucky enough to spot a female on our last scan of Narragansett Bay before heading out. We did not find the male, however.  Also of interest were three species of shorebird, Ruddy Turnstone, Dunlin and Sanderling, hunkered into a corner where they blended into the beach shells and rocks perfectly.  A Peregrine Falcon flew by close in and low enough for us to see it was carrying breakfast in its talons.  The many Brant, Bufflehead, and lesser numbers of Common Goldeneye were all floating on waters very close to shore.  There were over 300 Canada Geese feeding in the grassy fields opposite the bay and 4 Horned Larks flew in, with one calm bird giving us spectacular scope views.

A Cackling Goose was reported feeding with 150 Canadas at St. Barnabas Church in Portsmouth, but when we arrived there after a nearby rest stop at Grafik Coffee Co on Rte. 138, there were no geese in sight.  From there we headed directly to Fort Adams State Park in Newport to try for a Dickcissel, reported to be feeding with a Lark Sparrow and several Song Sparrows near the Eisenhower House earlier in the week.  This was the second minor disappointment of the day, because our search turned up very little in the way of sparrows, excepting one Song, one Whitethroat and one House Sparrow.  We did pick up Mockingbird and Carolina Wren during the search and snuck in a scan of the ocean waters to find our only Razorbill and two Common Loons before retiring the spot.

We scoped out the fields near the Newport Country Club looking for the reported Ross’s Goose, but again no Ross’s and actually no geese at all.

Brenton Point State Park on Ocean Dr in Newport was next on the list of planned birding stops.  At this location we found all three scoter species in small numbers, Common Goldeneye and Eider, over a dozen Harlequin Ducks, Bufflehead, Long-tailed Ducks, Common Loons, Horned Grebes and 40+ Purple Sandpipers flying back and forth with occasional stops on the rocky shoreline lasting long enough for us to get a good count.  As we were finishing up, one of us noted an up-to-date report of the Ross’s Goose at Jamestown Reservoir, so off we went, across the bridges to a new birding location.

Jamestown Reservoir did turn up excellent views of a Ross’s Goose (see photos) and also there were a couple dozen Canada Geese, two Common Mergansers, a Red-tailed Hawk, a Turkey Vulture and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.  Since we were on the west side of the bridges, and the forecast threatened to cancel birding for the next day, we decided to try for a reported Chat and hit some of the coastal spots in the area before dark.  We missed completely on the Chat at John H Chafee Wildlife Refuge but did manage to find two Black-headed Gulls along the shore at Scarborough State Beach, and the waters held a dozen Black Scoters, 3 Long-tailed Ducks, two Horned Grebes and the grassy area beside the parking gave us thirty more Horned Larks.  

From there we headed towards Pt. Judith, parking at Camp Cronin Fishing Area. Here we saw our first and only Bonaparte’s Gulls for the trip, another dozen Purple Sandpipers, one Common and two Red-throated Loons, a Surf Scoter and a lone Double-crested Cormorant.

Our last birding spot of the day was in Galilee at Salty Brine State Beach, adding more of the same seabirds.  

Day 2

Rain, rain, rain, but several of us ventured to Easton and Green End Ponds to pick up a few new species for the trip.  There we found 10 Coot, 6 Hooded, 12 Red-breasted and 6 Common Mergansers, 6 Ruddy Ducks, 3 Lesser and 1 Greater Scaup, 2 Mute Swans and a Wood Duck lurking at the water’s edge, where branches hung low providing cover.

Before the rain became very heavy, we headed back to Fort Adams State Park to try for the Dickcissel once more.  Again, we failed to find the bird, but did find a couple of flocks of sparrows, giving us more Songs and Whitethroats, a Tree, a Chippy, and a Lark Sparrow for our efforts.  We managed to rack up 63 species and some added several “life-birds” to their lists.

Local Hotline

January 2024

January 13, 2024

Bambi Kenney and April Downey

Eight members met up in the Northampton commuter lot on Old Ferry Rd at 10:00 AM.  The forecast called for the rain to settle down and maybe even stop by then, but it was not to be.  

We headed to the Honey Pot in Hadley to search for the reported Northern Shrike.  The bird was not in the landfill area, one of the spots it had been seen, so we regrouped on Cemetery Rd for a walk down the dike to the river to check out another location of reported shrike sightings.  No birds were moving around, and the rain was still coming down lightly, but persistently.  Well after arriving at the river, the skies lightened up, the rain stopped, and the birds began to appear.

Donna found a Northern Harrier across the field, perched in a tree to our south.  We all got scope looks, later the same harrier was found perched on a fence, giving us much closer views.  A Common Merganser was spotted on the river and a Merlin perched high in a tree on the far side of the river.  We heard Horned Larks fly over many times and spotted three groups that totaled to approximately 150 birds.  

When we turned around to head back down the dike, there was a bird perched atop a large leafless tree.  It resembled a Mockingbird, but the posture was upright.  We hurried to get a scope view and it was the immature Northern Shrike, our target bird for the trip.  Lois was able to capture the bird in a photo. If you click on the photo and look closely, you can see the tell-tale hook on the shrike's beak. Now all of us were smiling, but more awaited.  As we were saying our goodbyes, 3 Bald Eagles came into view to put frosting on the cake of a well-planned hotline trip.   See complete list below.

Cape Cod

January 2024

January 6, 2024

Janice Zepko and Dan Burt

What better way to start the new year than by venturing out for a day of coastal birding.  Six members were game to go, and rather than follow the scheduled route of birding Falmouth, Sandwich and Plymouth, we checked the latest rare bird reports and decided to head straight to Eastham.  A Western Kingbird was the draw, and the views of the kingbird were plenty of reward for the extra drive, but we were also rewarded with eye-dropping views of a Lark Sparrow and four Savannah Sparrows, perched all together in low vegetation on the visitor center grounds.

With some advice from local birders, we went to Herring Pond next, also in Eastham, and counted large numbers of many types of waterfowl, including 58 Ring-necked Ducks, 26 Ruddy Ducks, 20 Wigeon, 15 Red-breasted and 12 Hooded Mergansers, 5 Bufflehead and one stunning male Redhead Duck. At Town Cove in Orleans, we added 2 Belted Kingfishers, a Coot, 4 Gadwall, 5 Greater Scaup, and 25 Black Ducks.  That completed our pond birding, but we were anxious to see what the ocean waters held for us.  

We headed to Nauset Beach on the Nantucket Sound side of the Cape, where the waters were calm and the sky was eerie, as New England was expecting a northeaster to begin that evening.  Maybe the Razorbills knew, because we counted 55 of them spread out, mostly in small groups. Also there were 5 Red-throated and 2 Common Loons, 10 Gannets relatively close in and diving for food, 45 Black Scoters and single digit presence of White-winged and Surf Scoters, as well as Long-tailed Ducks.

From there we drove north to bird the bay side of the Cape, with the first stop being Corporation Beach in Dennis.  The number of seabirds was not quite as impressive, but the variety was good, and we added Horned Grebe to the day’s list.  We traveled just a short way to visit Dennis Chapin Beach and it turned out to be a perfect choice.  The tide was still out and the beach stretched far out into the bay.  There were over a hundred Dunlin, some close in, some farther away.  With the more distant Dunlin were over 50 Sanderlings, and very close in were two Black-belled Plovers.  As we packed up our scopes and walked back to the parking lot, one of us notice a Red Fox making its way across our path, and then we all saw a second Red Fox follow in pursuit.

We were hoping to get on the road early in an effort to beat the snowy forecast, but there was one last spot in the offing and that was Town Neck Rd in Sandwich.  We found the Treehouse Brewery parking lot to be quite busy, with just a few spaces available.  There was a large raft of Common Eider not far offshore, 5 Razorbills, some Black, White-winged and Surf Scoters, a dozen or so Red-breasted Mergansers, one Goldeneye and over 50 Robins flying about the hedge at the edge of the lot and swirling everywhere we looked as we exited.

For a cloudy day with temperatures hovering in the mid-30s and just a light northeast breeze, it’s a wonder most of us still felt cold at some point during the day. We ended as darkness approached with a total of 54 species and many moments of laughter to make the day even more memorable.

2023 Cobble Mtn Christmas Count

December 2023

December 23, 2023

Janice Zepko

This was our 33rd year of participation as Cobble Mtn Circle in National Audubon’s Christmas Count.  Here’s a rundown of how we did this year compared to past years.  We brought in a total of 66 species, down three species from last year, but still three over average.  Observer number was down by one birder and hours in the field was down by seven, but both were above average for the count.  Water was unfrozen for the most part, excepting some thin ice on the edges of still, shallow waters. The temperature ranged between 20-40 degrees F, the morning had clear skies, but clouds prevailed in the afternoon with a light breeze out of the S at 0-5 mph.

You could say things were ho-hum this year, with most species and numbers coming in about average.  There was one species found in a higher number than usual and that was Golden-crowned Kinglet.  We counted 35 kinglets, 5 above average, and we must go back to 2009 to find a higher count of 47.

There was also one species found in notably lower numbers than usual.  It was the House Sparrow.  At 174 individuals, it was 200 below average and the lowest number ever recorded on the count.  YAY!!!

We were fortunate to find some rarer species.  It seems Congamond always comes through for us, and this year the lakes gave us two American Wigeon (first time recorded), two Green-winged Teal (seen only one other time over the last 10 years), and 4 Greater Scaup (highest number of individuals to date). Pine Siskins had the highest count in the last 15 years at 37.  And finally, a Pine Warbler and a Vesper Sparrow were found for the first time ever in count history.

An unfortunate miss for this year was Sharp-shinned Hawk. The year 2013 was the only other count where this species was not recorded.  

Three count week species were added by Dave McLain and Kim Jones.  On the day after the count, they found 18 Lesser Scaup, 1 Pied-billed Grebe, and 1 Ruddy Duck on Congamond.

Special thanks to Joanne Fortin, who hosted the compilation and is always generous and gracious about sharing her home with the group.

Click below to view or download complete count results.

2023 Cobble Mtn CBC

Springfield Area Christmas Count

December 2023

December 16, 2023

Howard Schwartz

Click below to view or download complete count results.

2023 SPFLD CBC Results

North Shore of Massachusetts

December 2023

December 9, 2023

Dan Burt and Janice Zepko

Nine members, including one new and very welcome member, enjoyed mild temps and winds from the south around 10 mph throughout the day while searching for seabirds along the coasts of Cape Ann.  We came to a total of 51 species for the day.  Locations visited and birding highlights below.

Green Landing and Marsh – 18 Bufflehead, 5 Black Duck, 1 Scoter sp

Jodrey’s Fish Pier – 5 RB Merganser, 7 C Loon, 225 C Eider, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 10 Surf Scoter, Herring, Blk-back, Ringed-B Gulls, but no white-winged gull present

Rocky Neck – 35 RB Merganser, 20 Purple Sandpiper, C Loon, 20 C Eider, 4 Long-tailed Ducks, 4 Surf, a WW, a Black Scoter, RN Grebe, 12 Bufflehead

Niles Beach – 2 RB Mergansers, 30 Surf Scoter, 2 Long-tailed Ducks, Bufflehead

Eastern Point – 1 Gadwall, 4 Blk Duck, 34 C Eider, 1 Bufflehead, 9 RB merganser, 1 C Loon, 8 Surf Scoter, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 1 RT Hawk, 1 Horned Lark

Niles Pond – 83 Ruddy Ducks, 16 Ring-necked Duck, 10 Bufflehead, 1 Greater Scaup, 2 Hooded Merganser, 1 C Loon, 2 Coot, 1 DC Cormorant

Elks Club – 3 No Gannet, 1 Blk Guillemot, 1 RN Grebe, 4 C Loon, 6 C Eider, 11 Bufflehead, WW Scoters, 1 DC Cormorant, 75 Purple Sandpiper, 9 Sanderlings

Stop and Shop for rest stop and birding the adjacent marsh – Cooper’s Hawk, Great Blue Heron

Pebble Beach – 4 Surf Scoter, 2 Bufflehead, 18 DC Cormorants, 8 C Eider, 1 C Loon

Loblolly Cove – 1 GW Teal, 3 C Loon, 12 Harlequin Duck, 2 Horned Grebe, 2 WW Scoter, 7 Bufflehead, 7 RB merganser, 2 Purple Sandpiper

Granite Pier – 2 Iceland Gull, 6 Surf Scoter, 1 C Loon, 1 DC and 2 Great Cormorants, 5 C Eider, 10 Harlequin Duck

Andrews Point – 7 Long-tailed Duck, 15 C Eider, 8 Surf, 5 Blk, and 3 WW Scoters, 80 Harlequin, 20 RB Merganser, 2 C Loon, 2 Purple Sandpiper

Halibut Point – 12 No Gannet, 2 Dovekie, 2 C Loon, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 4 Surf, 100 Black, and 1 WW Scoter, 15 Harlequin, 2 Blk Duck and 30 Mallards in Quarry

Berkshire Lakes

November 2023

November 4, 2023

Kathy and Myles Conway

Five members turned out for the annual trip to the lakes.  Although the waterfowl were not too numerous, we did end up with 41 total species.  The weather was pleasant, but on the cool side.  In addition to numerous geese and mallards, we saw quite a large number of both Common and Hooded Mergansers. Two species of grebes were spot-ted - a distant, hard-to-id Pied-billed at Cheshire and later, from the fishing pier on Ono-ta, a Horned.  The pier also gave us our only Long-tailed Duck. A Wigeon and two Pin-tails were seen at Cheshire, Green-winged Teal at Pontoosuc, and a pair of Wood Duck at Onota causeway.  Loons delighted us more than once - first a distant Red-throated from the Bull Hill stop on Pontoosuc and then from Narragansett, 3 more Red-throated and 3 Common.  Richmond Pond did not disappoint.  There we had two Less-er Scaup (which were close enough to study well), three Bufflehead, and 18 Ruddy Duck, in addition to two flyover Red-tailed Hawks, and two Ravens.  A Bald Eagle was seen by some, and a Merlin gave a brief but good view to one attentive participant.  Other land birds of note included a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, only one Cedar Waxwing, and a Pileated seen by the leaders after we departed our last stop at Bartlett’s Orchard.  See complete species list below.

Ashley Ponds, Holyoke

October 2023

October 14, 2023

Steve Svec

There was a trip today to Ashley Reservoir, sort of.  The military had closed the area to the Elks Lodge and the road to the neighborhood.  So, we went to the next best and closest place, Bear Hole - north.  Eight members attended and we saw or heard 26 species.  See list below.

Ludlow Reservoir Morning Walk

October 2023

October 7, 2023

Tim Carter and Beth Spirito

Members participating were 6.5. The 0.5 being our youngest family member (age 3).

It was a cool and cloudy start and continued to be on the verge of rain the whole walk.

Starting in the parking lot, waiting for members to arrive, we spotted our first birds being Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Blue Jays (the most popular bird of the day).

On the water we found Canada Geese, Mallards, Double-crested Cormorants, and a single parent Common Loon with their one chick.  A Great Blue Heron was spotted flying away as we approached the area it was in.

Other birds spotted on our 2-mile walk included Mourning Dove, Tufted Titmouse, Phoebe, Catbird, Pileated and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Robins, and the first of the fall season for many of us, the Dark-eyed Junco.  The star bird of the day was a Swainson’s Thrush.

The total species count was 17.  Always a good day to be out birding, almost no matter the weather!

Photographing Birds at Stebbins

September 2023

September 27, 2023

MJ Tash

A group of five birders/photographers gathered on this chilly morning, with temps in the low 40s as we began our loop walk at Stebbins.  We encountered beautiful spider webs, a deer running off deeper into the woods, and quite a few good birds as well.  The Red-winged Blackbirds were surprisingly numerous, as were Wood Ducks, Flickers, Phoebes, Chimney Swifts and Catbirds.  The warblers were few, but the two we encountered were seen well by all, Palm Warblers and Common Yellowthroat.  The bird we most enjoyed finding was the beautiful Blue-headed Vireo.  We had wonderful looks as it bounced from one shrub to the next in the few shrubs that towered over the tall grasses in the field.  Another special sighting for us was Swamp Sparrow, though he tried to evade us by burying himself in the low vegetation, we got glimpses enough to clinch the identification.  In the end we got great tips on bird photography as well as 21 total species. See species list below.

Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary

September 2023

September 23, 2023

Bambi Kenney and April Downey

Seven members gathered for the trip through Arcadia.  We managed to miss the rain until the end, when it was starting to rain lightly.  The star birds were the Sandhill Cranes. The warblers were not plentiful, and we suspected it might have been too cold.  Two of us got a nice and unexpected surprise when a Ring-necked Pheasant ran out of a shrubby area and into the corn field.  All together we identified 30 species.  See list below.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

September 2023

September 20, 2023

Vince Yurkunas

The day dawned cool, clear, and calm, perfect conditions for mid-September birding.  Even though the trails were wet (and sometimes submerged) our group of seven enjoyed the common species at this time of year: the high-pitched squeaking of the Wood Duck, the “churring” note of the Red-bellied Woodpecker, the seemingly constant mewing and squawking of the Gray Catbird, and the overhead “checking” of the Red-winged Blackbird.  These and other familiar species, such as Canada Goose, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Carolina Wren, were our feathered companions as we explored the refuge.  But the definite stars of the day were the wood warblers.  Along one short stretch we encountered a warbler wave that included five different species: Tennessee, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, American Redstart, and most abundantly, Northern Parula.  This last warbler seemed to be everywhere we looked -- we sometimes had multiple individuals in sight simultaneously.  Chestnut-sided Warbler and Common Yellowthroat were also observed elsewhere in the refuge.

Our last stop was the northern-most pond off Pondside Road, and we were rewarded with views of a small group of Blue-winged Teal mixed in with the more common waterfowl, bringing out total for the day to 35.  A nice ending to a beautiful day for birding!

A complete list of species observed is below.

Hawkwatch and Picnic on Blueberry Hill

September 2023

September 17, 2023

John Weeks

Members gathered to enjoy a day of hawkwatching and catching up with each other, while taking in the vistas that Blueberry Hill has to offer on a beautiful day in mid-September.  We counted a total of 499 migrating raptors - Osprey 6, Bald Eagle 1, Sharp-shinned Hawk 12, Broad-winged Hawk 474, American Kestrel 4, Merlin 1, Unknown raptor 1!

Weather - Nearly cloudless skies in the a.m.; clouds increasing all afternoon, from 5% to 90% at the end of the watch. Annoying haze throughout. Wind NW/WNW shifting late to W and subsiding from maximum 11 mph to maximum 3 mph. Temperature 61-71 F.

Observation Notes - Broadwings passed through all day, usually in small groups but with a few larger kettles (65, 30, 60 and, at the very end, 146). A smattering of other raptors rounded out the total. Not counted as migrants: Turkey Vultures (2), immature Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk.

Non-raptor Notes - Rock Pigeons (ca. 20), Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker (spectacular flyby), Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay, American Crows (5), Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Cedar Waxwings (ca. 20), American Pipit, American Goldfinch, Eastern Towhees (2), Palm Warblers (2), Prairie Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Monarchs: 11.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

September 2023

September 17, 2023

Erica Schwalm

Four members gathered to walk a loop at Stebbins. The temps were pleasant, as were the lack of mosquitoes all along the walk.  Recent rain left a few areas more difficult to pass, but there was no stopping the brave birders on this morning.  We enjoyed many of the usual birds for this location, a total of 28 species, and shared interesting conversation along the way.  The species list is below.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

September 2023

September 13, 2023

Al and Lois Richardson

Five Allen Club members chose to ignore the weather forecasts of thunderstorms and heavy rain predicted for the morning.  As we were grouping up, so was a huge flock of Red-winged Blackbirds.  We started out along the Bark Haul Trail hearing Warbling Vireos and Carolina Wrens.  Several Gray Catbirds and a House Wren added some chatter.  Wood Ducks and Mallards, and a Flicker were spotted by the ponds near the RR tracks.  Soon after hearing thunder, one of our group wisely turned back, and before leaving Stebbins, checked the north pond on Pondside Road to add American Wigeon and Green-winged Teal.  Meanwhile we continued on, but turned back at the T, after watching a Common Yellowthroat try to evade us.  The sprinkles turned to heavy rain.  By the time we returned to Pondside, no one wanted to subject their optics to the rain, and we called it a morning, with a total of 21 species.

Stebbins Refuge morning Walk

September 2023

September 9, 2023

Tim Souza

Eleven members gathered to walk the loop at Stebbins. The weather was cloudy, with some humidity and surprisingly the mosquitoes weren't bad! We had a total of 30 species, among the highlights were Warbling Vireo, juvenile Baltimore Oriole, Great Crested Flycatcher and numerous Wood Ducks. We concluded our trip at the Longmeadow Flats with Savannah Sparrows, juvenile Bobolinks. All in all, a good start to the fall migration.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

September 2023

September 6, 2023

Dan Burt

On a warm sultry late summer morning six hearty participants ventured the trails at Fanny Stebbins in search of the elusive resident and migratory birds. Signs of the season change were evident in the leaf coloration as well as the perineal scent of the wild grapes on the vine. There was a total of 34 different species recorded by the group with varied representation. Of the warbler species there were a total of 3. With the concerted efforts of the team, Andrea locating and Al picture taking skills and analysis from the collective we identified the Northern Parula followed by discussion on the proper pronunciation 😁. Representatives from the flycatcher realm included the Great Crested and the Eastern Phoebe. As is typical, many Wood Ducks are seen at various pond locations. Conditions along the trail were wet due to recent and summer long rains with a concentration where beaver activities resulted in a blockage in the drainage near the infamous "Warbler Corner" of the past. Mosquitoes were ever present in the wooded sections, though there was relief from their constant attack in the open field sections.

All in all, a great time was had by a fun group of like-minded fellow bird lovers.

Longmeadow & Agawam

August 2023

August 26, 2023

Al and Lois Richardson

Eleven birders spent a pleasant late summer morning checking local areas for shorebirds and herons.  We did a quick check of the confluence of the Westfield and the Connecticut River.  Here found a couple of Spotted Sandpipers and a few of the common year-round resident birds.  The big surprise was a mink that scurried out of the water and up the bank in front of us.

Because a Stilt had been seen in Longmeadow Flats the day before, we drove to West Road to try for it -- unsuccessfully as it turned out.  However, we did find Yellowlegs, as well as Pectoral, Least, Semipalmated, and Solitary Sandpipers, and Semipalmated Plovers in spite of a Peregrine Falcon that was keeping watch from its perch in a tree behind the puddles.  Red-shouldered Hawks made an appearance, chased by crows.  Add a few ravens to this raucous mix.  There were Bobolinks starting their migration perching up in the cornfields along with a huge flock of Red-winged Blackbirds.  Two lucky people spotted a Northern Waterthrush - our only warbler for the morning.

Thanks to Beth Spirito, we got a mid-morning energy boost from her delicious lemon-blueberry mini-cakes that she shared with us before heading to Pondside Road.  Here we found Great Blue Herons, a Great Egret, Mallards, Wood Ducks, Green-winged Teal, a lone Canada Goose, Kingbirds, Phoebe, and Cedar Waxwings.

Although it was now nearly 11:00 am, we decided to return to West Road for one last try for the Stilt.  Only minutes after we joined a group of other birders to scan the puddles once more, Michele Moore spotted a Buff-breasted Sandpiper.  A perfect way to end the trip.   We had 41 species.

August Nighthawk Watch at Longmeadow Flats

August 2023

August 23, 2023

Al & Lois Richardson

Twenty-two Allen Bird Club members gathered at the viewing platform on Pondside Road in Longmeadow to search the sky from 6:45 until dark.  We watched, and watched, and watched.

There was good news and bad news this evening.  The good news was that everyone had a great time catching up with long time members and meeting our newer members.  During all the conversations the members managed to spot 17 species.

Swifts, Cedar Waxwings, and a couple of Tree Swallows flew over the water hawking insects.  We watched several Mallards and Wood Ducks fly by to their nightly roosting spot.  Two large groups of grackles perched for a time across the pond in the treetops.  On the other side an even larger group of blackbirds, mostly Red-winged, flew out from the trees to disappear in the nearby swamps.  Two cormorants were perched in their favorite snags, soon joined by a third.  A Green Heron flew across, and then a second.  Also spotted were a flicker, robin, kingfisher, and a couple of Great Blue Herons.

And now for the bad news -- only one Common Nighthawk was seen and unfortunately many in the group missed it, including one of the leaders.

Let's hope that next year the nighthawks will cooperate!

Plum Island

August 2023

August 19, 2023

Janice Zepko and Tim Carter

Plum Island gave our group of nine members a full day of birding.  The temps were in the low 70’s with winds from the east 10-15 mph, some sun early on, but clouds increased to total overcast by late afternoon.  

Our first thought was to head straight down to the end of the island, because we were shut out of the parking there by beach goers last summer.  On the way, it was hard to miss the large numbers of Tree Swallows gathering for migration.  We had to make a stop to enjoy the spectacle of them rising from the low shrubs to cover the sky.  One member, who was keen to see the congregating Tree Swallows, described it as THRILLING!  It was exciting for the entire group and for the hunting Merlin, too.

Other raptors observed during the day were Northern Harriers flying low over the marsh, Osprey “treading air” above a kettle pond for at least 15 minutes while fishing, and three Peregrine Falcons performing aerial feats over the salt pannes.  We got great views of Least Terns on the beach at Sandy Point, but our long walk to the tip was not rewarded, finding only boats and people and not the hoped-for shorebirds.  The parking area used to access Emerson Rocks was full by the time we got there, so we began heading back towards Lot 1 with many stops along the way.  

Other highlights of the day included Black-crowned Night-Heron (immature), Black-bellied and Semi-palmated Plovers, Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted, Least, and Semi-palmated Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitcher, Snowy and Great Egrets and Great Blue Heron.  We picked up a few songbirds, too, including Least Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, Black-capped Chickadee, a striking Eastern Bluebird, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwings, Yellow Warbler and American Goldfinch.

There were some misses as well, but a day of birding with friends never fails to provide a good bird sighting or two, some lovely scenery, and a good dose of camaraderie.

Adirondacks, NY

June 2023

June 16-18, 2023

June 16, 2023

Myles and Kathy Conway

The weekend of June 16-18 carried predictions of rainy skies and thunderstorms each day.  Did we dare continue with our plans to bird the north woods and lakes?  Of course we did.  Seven members opted to defy the odds and venture to New York.  (We also didn’t want to lose our room deposits!).  The trip proved to be a success; any trip where life birds (and mammals) are added is a success, after all!  Two participants saw life birds on this trip, and others had a life sighting of a Fisher.  

On Friday we drove the 12-mile entry road into the Moose River Plains area, and then out to the town of Inlet.  We made many of the stops we have done before, but also added a short walk to very pretty Lost Ponds. We heard or saw many woodland species including Magnolia, Blackburnian, and Nashville Warblers, Northern Parula, and several Swainson’s Thrushes (al-ways nice to hear). We did not linger in Inlet since the skies were threatening, but instead made our way to Ferd’s Bog.  We always hope for at least a glimpse of boreal species here, but this day we only heard a couple of specialties - Olive-sided Flycatcher (maybe 2) and Lincoln’s Spar-row - before distant thunder was heard and we made our way back to our cars.  We ended the afternoon at Raquette Lake marsh as an Osprey flew over.

Saturday was overcast and the views at Tupper Lake marsh were not great, but we did add some Ring-necked Ducks to our list.  Next stop was Massawepie Mire. Highlights on the drive through the Boy Scout camp gave us Tanager, Yellow-rumped and Pine Warblers, Hermit Thrushes, and Winter Wrens.  The mosquitoes at the Mire were as bad as we’ve ever seen them, especially through the woods.  But once the terrain opened up to the bog, they weren’t as fierce and we were able to have good looks at Nashville Warblers, and fleeting looks at Lincoln’s Sparrow.  The highlight here was a family of Gray Jays.  What turned out to be the high-pitched whiny calls of the juveniles confused some of us at first as we thought they were Waxwings.  Then the mob came into view and there was no mistaking the jays!

Rains began as we left the mire and headed back to Tupper Lake where we made a lunch stop eating in our cars.  It continued to rain as we headed to Bloomingdale Bog, but by the time we arrived, the rain had stopped.  Skies still threatened but we walked along the flat trail.  This time we had really nice looks at Olive-sided Flycatcher and Lincoln’s Sparrow as well as Nashville and Palm Warblers.  Some also had a glimpse of a Green Heron as it took off over the bog.  

Floodwood Road was next where our leaders promised a look at Common Loon with babies (“we always get them here…”).  It wasn’t until we were on our way back out that we did finally see one adult loon!  The best birds here, though were seen by only two, who lingered in the last car.  They saw a Hooded Merganser, then heard and had great looks at Canada Warbler.  At least this time it was best to be in the last vehicle!

Sunday also began drizzly and overcast.  A drive up Whiteface was not in our plan this year, so rather than make the long drive back up through Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, we decided to simply head east on 28N out of Long Lake toward our afternoon destination of the Fort Edwards grasslands.  First, we spent some time at Shaw Pond scanning and listening for any marsh birds and waterfowl.  We had Mallard, Black and Wood Ducks, some saw a Kingbird, then we all saw a cooperative American bittern, and a close Virginia Rail.  A great start to the day.  We hoped for some specialties on a walk on the Northfield-Lake Placid Trail, but only had more of what we had been seeing and hearing - Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, vireos, and woodland warblers.  

The Adirondacks Visitor Center in Newcomb provided not only a bathroom stop, but also a very nice trail walk.  Here we added Ruffed Grouse, heard by two, a Sharp-shinned Hawk which seemed to be guarding a nest, and a Hairy Woodpecker, which we had hoped would have been a Black-backed instead.  

This trip always ends with car birding through the grasslands and farms near Fort Edwards.  The skies turned sunny for us as we neared and we were rewarded with some very nice birds.  In addition to those we expected such as Catbirds, Kingbirds, Finches and Swifts, we had Bobolinks, Meadowlarks, and Harrier.  Our hoped-for Grasshopper Sparrow appeared at the “usual location” and gave us the “best looks ever.”  Just before that we also had an active Baltimore Oriole family including a just-fledged youngster with its downy feathers still showing.  The trip that was supposed to be a wash-out seemed to get better with each stop, and with a total of 107 species, we were not disappointed.  

Southwick/Suffield WMA

June 2023

June 11, 2023

John Weeks

Seventeen participants gathered for the walk around this beautiful grassland habitat. The list below is in taxonomic order and comprises 44 species.  For certain birds, I noted the WMA they were found in. The numbers for some of the usual grassland birds were on the low side (for instance, a single Song Sparrow).  During multiple visits to the WMA, however, I’ve noticed that the number of singing birds can fluctuate dramatically from one day to the next.  The two Blue Grosbeaks, together with the excellent views we had of species like Prairie Warbler, made for a great morning of birding on a beautiful June day.

Mourning Dove

Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Suffield, at the parking lot)

Great Blue Heron (flyby, Suffield)

Red-shouldered Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk (immature)

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

American Kestrel

Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Willow Flycatcher (2; one in Suffield, one in Southwick)

Eastern Phoebe

Yellow-throated Vireo (Chris heard)

Red-eyed Vireo

American Crow

Common Raven

Tree Swallows (2)

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

Eastern Bluebird (4)

Veery (2)

American Robin (4)

Gray Catbird (2; one in Suffield, one in Southwick)

Brown Thrasher (3)

Northern Mockingbird (3)

European Starling

American Goldfinch (4)

Grasshopper Sparrow (2; one in Suffield, one in Southwick)

Chipping Sparrow

Field Sparrow (2; one in Suffield, one in Southwick; a low count there for this species)

Song Sparrow

Eastern Towhee (2)

Orchard Oriole (2; both adult males; one in Suffield, one in Southwick)

Baltimore Oriole (heard)

Red-winged Blackbird

Brown-headed Cowbird (3)

Blue-winged Warbler (heard by Janice and others [names?])

Common Yellowthroat (2)

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Prairie Warbler (3)

Scarlet Tanager (2; one in Suffield, one in Southwick)

Northern Cardinal (2)

BLUE GROSBEAK (2; both first-summer singing males; they exhibited discernibly different plumage patterns).

Indigo Bunting (4)

Tyringham and Post Farm

June 2023

June 10, 2023

Kathy and Myles Conway

Tyringham Valley is always a beautiful area to bird, and our half-day trip there in June did not disappoint, giving us a total of 63 species. Eight members spent some time walking a short way on the AT and at the Tyringham Cobble (a Trustees property), and again at Post Farm Marsh in Lenoxdale.  Otherwise, we did roadside birding.  Highlights included two Bald Eagles, a Kestrel, 3 Ravens, and 2 Black Vultures (seen by one who tried in vain to call attention to the rest of the group). At the Cobble we had nice looks at Indigo Bunting and Prairie Warbler.  We also heard a Blue-winged Warbler and one astute member heard and called our attention to a singing Yellow-throated Vireo. On Breakneck Road we saw about a half dozen Cliff Swallows, but did not hear or see any Snipe.

Post Farm Marsh did not disappoint either.  We all heard, and one person saw, Marsh Wren, and we all had very nice looks at a close Virginia Rail.  Both locations are easily accessible, easy to bird, and never fail to produce something interesting.

Little River IBA Breeding Bird Count

June 2023

June 2-3, 2023

June 3, 2023

Janice Zepko

Most of the field work for this 20th annual Little River IBA Count was done on an evening of cloudy weather then rain with thunder (temps in the 70s, winds N at 2 mph), followed by a cool day with periods of misty precipitation (temps hovered around 60 degrees all day, winds ENE at 5-8 mph).  High humidity made birding less comfortable than usual on both days.  

Altogether, there were 7 teams and 12 observers in the field for a total of 61.5 hours.  The hours of effort were only down 0.5 from last year, but still well below the Count’s average of 71.2.  April and Bambi splitting the territory of Al and Lois for the first time added to the hours of effort, but we missed hours usually birded in West Granville by John. The total number of species counted was 104, falling below our average of 111.  The number of individuals at 2491 was the lowest ever, which might be due in part to the weather, but the past five years of counts have produced significantly lower numbers in several families of birds as you will read below.  

Misses of note include Hooded and Common Merganser, Bald Eagle, Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, Acadian Flycather, Bank Swallow (holes in bank seen in usual spot, but no sign of the swallows), White-throated and Savannah Sparrows, and finally, Virginia Rail that had been identified in 5 of the previous 6 years.

To give more detail to the decline in individuals of some species, recorded in parentheses after each species is the count for this year, followed by last year’s count and finally the 20-year average.  Let us begin with Red-tailed Hawk (2, 10, 5.5) and Yellow-billed Cuckoo (1, 7, 2.5).  Also low in number this year were the woodpeckers, with Downy (5, 18, 7.9), Hairy (5, 11, 10.7) and Pileated (5, 14, 9.9).  Next is the hard-hit flycatcher family, Pewee (26, 52, 48.6), Willow (2, 6, 4.3), Least (7, 9, 14.1) and Eastern Kingbird (9, 20, 17.9).  The family of thrushes follows, with Veery (67, 102, 139.5), Hermit (6, 9, 22.6), Wood (16, 40, 45.9) and Robin (88, 172, 136.4).  Also having a low count this year was Catbird (49, 74, 73.8).  Then comes our prized songbirds, the warblers, with Ovenbird’s second low count ever (146, 175, 238.8), Louisiana Waterthrush (3, 3, 6.3), Black-and-white (43, 61, 77.7), Blackburnian (24, 30, 53.7), BT Blue (32, 47, 80.3), Yellow-rump’s lowest count ever (4, 5, 15.6) and BT Green (26, 21, 50.7).  The numbers for most of these warbler species have been lower in the last five years and more numerous in the preceding 15 years, so the averages, even as high as they seem, are masking the actual decline we are seeing on our count in recent years.

High counts were found in just one species, Wild Turkey (57, 16.7).  Even so, we did have several good finds this year.  Myles and Kathy recorded a Kestrel for the first time since 2017 and only found in 6 other counts over the 20 years.  Whip-poor-will made the count again after missing for 3 years.  Spotted Sandpiper was a lucky find by me and Gail at Cobble Mtn Reservoir.  Tom identified two Ruffed Grouse nearby Miller Swamp in Blandford, and I needn’t say that this species is always welcome.  He also gave us a reasonable count of Canada Warbler, finding 5 of the 6 counted this year.  John and Joanne contributed the only Woodcock on the count and Doug had the only Barred Owl (there were 8 counted last year).  One last piece of good bird news, the Brown Cowbird count was just 15, after 36 were counted last year and the 20-year average is at 29.  Woo-hoo!

Joanne Fortin graciously hosted the compilation get-together at her home in Westfield.  Appetizers, pizza and salads were feasted upon by all, not to mention beverages.  Lois treated us to home-made cookies for dessert.  Joanne gave us a sought-after tour of her lovely perennial gardens and provided gardening tips as well.  The compilation detail and sharing of birding adventures was as interesting as always.  Great fun was had by all!

Click below to view or download complete count results.

2023 June Count Results

Quabbin Reservoir

May 2023

May 28, 2023

Tim Carter and Beth Spirito

Thirteen members participated and started birding right in the parking lot of the Quabbin Headquarters. First spotted was a group of Chimney Swifts flying overhead. Other birds seen at this location were Robins, Chipping and Song Sparrows, Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, American Redstart, Gray Catbirds, and a White-breasted Nuthatch.  At the lookout area of the reservoir, we saw a pair of Common Mergansers, and a Great Blue Heron flying by.

We then got in our cars and headed to the 2nd entrance to Quabbin. We parked on the right soon after entering. In this area we saw Goldfinches, Cedar Waxwings, many Red-eyed Vireos, a Raven, Crows, Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Pewee, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a half dozen Turkeys grazing in the grass on the dam.

Continuing down the road to a lookout on the left-hand side of the road, a favorite spot of Tim’s each year, we saw Prairie and Chestnut-sided Warblers, more Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Bluebirds, Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, Great Crested Flycatcher, Phoebe, Black-capped Chickadee, Wood Thrush, and Yellow-throated Vireo.

We then got back in our cars and headed toward the Tower Area, The Apple Orchard, and the Enfield Lookout. Birds spotted in these areas were Pine Warbler, Northern Parula, Blue-headed Vireo, Northern Flicker, Tufted Titmouse, and Hairy Woodpecker.

Next, we made our way over to the Artillery Area and walked down to the water.  We were unable to walk much of the shore because the water was very high.  Here we saw a Fish Crow, and a couple of Common Loons.

Running out of time, our last stop was just around the parking area at Hanks Meadows where we saw a Blackburnian Warbler to finish off the day!

Hadley Hotspots

May 2023

May 27, 2023

Harvey Allen

Twelve birders showed for a trip around Hadley in search of good birds and were not disappointed.  A pond on Moody Bridge Rd gave us one highlight bird, a Sora.  We saw Orchard Orioles carrying nest building material. On Aqua Vitae Rd, we spotted Baltimore Oriole on its nest, a Bluebird and 3 Red-tailed Hawks.  In the Honey Pot, we got views of Willow Flycatcher, 4 Common Mergansers, 2 Killdeer, a Great Blue Heron, 2 Flickers, 2 Warbling Vireo, 8 Tree Swallows, a Brown Thrasher and two Mockingbirds.

Mt Holyoke - Skinner State Park

May 2023

May 21, 2023

Tim Carter and Beth Spirito

We began our walk under overcast skies with a light mist and temps in the mid-50s.  All 13 members who gathered for the trip were anxious to see the target species for Skinner Mtn—namely, Worm-eating and Cerulean Warblers.  Both were seen multiple times with great views! Other warblers spotted this morning walk include Tennessee, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, Ovenbird, Northern Parula, American Redstart, and Black-throated Green.  On the way down the mountain, almost at the end of the walk, we heard a Mourning Warbler.

Other Skinner Mtn colorful specials spotted were Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Three different vireos were identified: Red-eyed, Blue-headed, and Yellow-throated.  Soaring birds were Black and Turkey Vultures, Ravens, Crows, Red-tailed Hawk, and 3 beautiful Bald Eagles.

Other birds spotted included Wood Thrush, Carolina and Winter Wrens, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Pewee, Phoebes, Hummingbird, Veery, Great Crested Flycatcher, and many more!  The total species count by the time we were back at our cars was 49.  It was a great morning of birding—Skinner Mtn did not disappoint!

Westover ARB

May 2023

May 20, 2023

Howard and Marcy Schwartz

After a few years hiatus due to COVID, three bird clubs (Allen, Hampshire & Brookline) were once again able to take a tour of Westover ARB. The weather was cloudy and misty for the trip, but we managed to score 21 species. The “hoped for” species include grassland species of birds, particularly Upland Sandpipers, Bobolinks, Meadowlarks and Grasshopper Sparrows.  All were seen by various people.  We were lucky concerning the weather since the forecast was for rain during the day, but the rain held off until the end of the trip when we were all back at our cars and ready to head home.  Westover supplied a bus to drive us to a few different areas where we might see our target birds.  

We had a lot of eyes to search the grasslands and many Upland Sandpipers were seen at various stops. We saw at least 5 Upland Sandpipers. Most people, if not all, had Bobolinks and some had a Meadowlark.  Despite the short grass, we saw a few Grasshopper Sparrows.  As a bonus, we also saw a Savannah Sparrow and a Killdeer sitting on her nest in the gravel.

Mt. Tom Morning Walk

May 2023

May 20, 2023

Joseph Sefter

Spring migrants, Winter Wren, and possible Worm-eating Warbler

Four birders showed up for this walk, on a cool, overcast, and foggy, morning, although the rain that had been forecast (which probably depressed our attendance numbers) never really descended on us. In fact, visibility improved as the morning wore on, even though it never became truly clear. I want to call immediate attention to the sub-headline to this trip: Yes, we did get a Worm-eating Warbler. Altogether, we got 22 species, including the highlight bird, along with Black-and-white Warblers (4, one for each of us), 3 American Redstarts, 2 Magnolia, 1 Chestnut-sided, and 4 Prairie Warblers (which seemed to like the altitude). We had a baker’s handful (6) of Wood Thrushes, all the Red-eyed Vireos anyone could want (7), 4 Great Crested Flycatchers, plus Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees (but no Carolinas or Boreals), and a couple of Tufted Titmice, although in the Carolina department, we had two Carolina Wrens and one Winter Wren (see sub-headline again). We had Gray Catbirds, Eastern Towhees, Baltimore Orioles (but no Orchards), a couple of Ovenbirds, and four each of Scarlet Tanagers, Northern Cardinals, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. To top the list, we had a flyover by a dinosaur-like Great Blue Heron. (The conditions were not suitable for photography, so we were out of luck on that front.)

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

May 2023

May 17, 2023

Dan Burt

Ten birders participated in a 3 hour walk at Stebbins refuge this morning. The weather was cool and breezy, starting in the 40s and raising to the 50s by the end of the walk with clear skies. The trails we walked were wet in spots, but considerably drier than the previous week.

Bird activity was good resulting in a total bird species count of 55. There were a significant number of warblers species seen with a highlight on the Magnolia, which presented great views in multiple locations. Other birds seen include the Scarlet Tanagers, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird and Solitary Sandpipers. Great joy was experienced by many with a lengthy viewing of a Green Heron located in the marsh at the southeast corner of the refuge.

All in all, it was an enjoyable walk amongst like-minded folks.

South Hadley Falls around the Dam

May 2023

May 15, 2023

Harvey Allen

Six members gathered to enjoy the birds at a few spots near the dam.  Above the dam, at the Canal Park platform, we spotted 4 Mute Swans, a Wood Duck, and two Bald Eagle babies in the nest.  

Below the dam were 5 Common Mergansers, 5 Bald Eagles flying about, mostly immature but one was an adult, 15 Double-crested Cormorants, a half dozen or so Rough-winged Swallows, two Great Blue Herons, a Mallard and about a dozen Canada Geese.  There were no gulls, but they will come to feed on Shad eggs in the beginning of June.  We also eyed a Spotted Sandpiper on the riverbank.

One member, who has been checking Peregrine Falcon nests, had permission to pass through a private yard, down to an area where we could see under the Muller Bridge.  There, in a metal box sitting atop the bridge abutment, we spotted the Peregrine Falcon sitting on the nest.  Hard to beat that for a trip highlight!

Allen Bird Club May Count

May 2023

May 12-13, 2023

May 13, 2023

Janice Zepko

2023 May Count Summary

There were 16 teams and 31 observers out in Hampden County territories for the count held on May 12-13. The weather was pleasantly warm in the 80s on Friday evening with hardly a breeze. Saturday early morning was cool, temps were in the 50s, reaching mid-80s by late day—wind was negligible—a good birding day all the way around.  Together the teams recorded 144 species, which was 9 more than the average counted in the last ten years. At 11,166 individuals, we brought in the highest number of birds since 2011 and 1,700 birds above the ten-year average.

As is typical, most of the common species were near their recent or long-term average, but some were noticeably higher.  In parentheses is the total for 2023 followed by the past 10-year average:  Solitary Sandpiper (28-19), Least Sandpiper (63-28), Northern Waterthrush (22-12), Black & White (92-55), Tennessee (35-10, more than half of the 35 for this year counted in same location), Parula (118-51) and RC Kinglet (9 – only one other seen in last 10 count years and it was in 2020.

Those species having the max count for the last ten count years include, DC Cormorant (70-41), Broad-winged Hawk (7-3), Kingfisher (18-11), Warbling Vireo (163-118), Rough-winged Swallow (105-55), Barn Swallow (108-67), RB Nuthatch (23-1), Scarlet Tanager (91-70), Indigo Bunting (29-18), Grackle (573-430), and Fish Crow (16-6).

There were several species whose numbers were highest ever in our 61-year count history, Canada Goose (547), Bald Eagle (20) and Lesser Yellowlegs (14).

We did not add any new species to the May Count this year, but we did have several species that had not been seen for quite a while. The date following the species is when it was last recorded on the May Count.  Steve S had Philadelphia Vireo (2001) and Michele and Chris M spotted Green-winged Teal (2008) and Wigeon (2002, and only ever seen one other time in 2000).

Low species counts this year were Downy Woodpecker (45-55), Chickadee (105-143) and House Wren (35-59).

We did have some misses this year that would have been nice to include.  We did not get Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and itis the 5th time we miss it in the past 10 years and no Nighthawks either, 4th time for this species. Gulls are hit or miss at this time of year in our area, but we did miss on Herring and Great Black-backed Gull.  

Thanks to all who spent many hours in the field, especially Steve S’s team, who put in a tiring 18 hours of effort, and Dave M’s team, who racked up 111 species for the day.  Though these teams stand-out and deserve recognition, every team that participates contributes to covering a piece of the pie and all efforts are sincerely appreciated.  

Click below to view or download complete count results.

2023 May Count Results

Evening Walk on the Rail Trail, Amherst

May 2023

May 11, 2023

Harvey Allen

Five of us intrepid birders gathered to see what the evening would hold on our 2-mile walk down the Norwottuck Rail Trail and back.  A good amount of interest and conversation was had with finding five species of frogs and counting 4-5 Beavers. The birds were interesting too and we saw Song, White-throated and Swamp Sparrows, Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Canada Geese, a Mallard and two Tree Swallows. The usual suspects were there too, Tree Swallows, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, Red-eyed Vireo, Catbirds and Robins.  Highlight birds include a Turkey found in the large field on the left-hand side about a third of a mile down the trail, two Great Blue Herons, Wood Thrush, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and four warbler species, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow, Black-and-white, and Blue-winged Warblers. Though we waited past dark, no Woodcock were heard, but despite that small disappointment, everyone seemed quite happy with the walk!

Ludlow Reservoir Morning Walk

May 2023

May 9, 2023

Howard and Marcy Schwartz

On this sunny day with temps near 60 degrees, ten participants gathered to enjoy a very casual walk on a flat, paved road along a very beautiful body of water.  The weather was very cooperative, since it was neither too cold when we started in the morning nor too warm when we finished about 4 hours later.  Many birds were singing, so we were able to identify them just by their song.  A few people had Merlin on their cell phone and were able to verify a bird first by its song and then by site.  This trip is scheduled early in migration so, depending on conditions, we can get many early warbler arrivals or very few.  This year we only had 5 warblers, a low count for the trip.  Many participants had a few first-of-year birds, which are always a delight to see.  We saw many of the regulars along the path as we walked a little over 2 miles and gathered a total of 35 species.  Everybody seemed to have a good time, which is most important of all.  

Bird Highlights include two Broad-winged Hawks that were having a tete-a-tete with a Red-tailed Hawk.  This is the first time we have had Broadwings on this trip.  Also special were the sightings of two Common Loons and the five warbler species, Ovenbird and Pine, Palm, Yellow-rumped and Black-and-white Warblers.  

Dismal Brook, Granby, CT

May 2023

May 7, 2023

John Weeks

We had a nice turnout (18 persons) on a beautiful day.  Warblers continued to be scarce, but we had some excellent looks at many of the birds on the list.  I personally observed 45 species (seen and/or heard), including a pair of Mourning Doves at their nest, high up in a crook of a tulip tree by the pond.  Others in the group added a few more:  Broad-winged Hawks (2, flew over quickly and disappeared behind trees), Wood Ducks (2), Hooded Merganser (female), Chimney Swift and White-breasted Nuthatch.  A couple of ducks were either Mallards or Black Ducks; we couldn’t be sure, so I have left them off the list.  Only three of us were still in the parking lot at the end of the walk when an obliging male Black-throated Blue Warbler appeared.  It sat placidly on a low branch of a hemlock tree near my car.

My eBird report is below; it lists only the birds I observed.

Lake Wallace, Belchertown

May 2023

May 6, 2023

Beth Spirito and Tim Carter

On a beautiful, sunny and cool morning, 12 members gathered to start our walk on one of the new wooden platforms at Lake Wallace. We had good views of Tree and Barn Swallows, Great Blue Herons (1 on a nest), and a few Green Herons. Also present were Wood Ducks, Mallards, many Red-winged Blackbirds, Robins, Mourning Doves, and Canada Geese. We decided to walk the new trail to the back platform, before setting out for the soccer playing field area. Along this trail, we spotted Red-tailed Hawk, Cardinal, Blue Jay, Carolina Wren, and Goldfinches.

Then we got in our cars and headed for the field area on the back side of the lake. There we saw a variety of sparrows; Song, Swamp, White-throated, and Chipping. Dark-eyed Juncos were still present, and we had great views of Eastern Bluebirds posing in the sunlight. Goldfinches, House Finches, and a Warbling Vireo were all seen as we walked the perimeter of the lake. We saw three families of Canada Geese with their goslings. Woodpeckers seen were Red-bellied, Downy, and a few Northern Flickers. Warblers were minimal, seeing only a Yellow, Pine, and hearing an Ovenbird.  

We walked the trail into the woods. Not too much was seen in this area, but we did get Phoebe, Black-capped Chickadees, and a Tufted Titmouse.  Some of the group heard a Virginia Rail before we made our way out. During the rest of our walk, before reaching our cars, we saw a Belted Kingfisher, two pairs of Brown-headed Cowbirds, and an Osprey. It was a great day, though we had hoped for more warblers.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

May 2023

May 3, 2023

April Downey

Under cloudy but dry skies, nine of us birded the trails and fields of Longmeadow Flats.  We saw a total of 48 species, including some relatively new spring arrivals, including Yellow and Black-and-white Warblers, Warbling Vireo, Wood Thrush and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  The highlights were the shorebirds off West Rd, Spotted, Solitary and Least Sandpipers, and the Cliff Swallow, seen well by two members. 

Fort River Refuge Walk

April 2023

April 30, 2023

Beth Spirito and Tim Carter

We started the cloudy, cool morning with six participants in the parking lot. The first birds seen were Tree and Barn Swallows, Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles, Starlings, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Mallard, Bluebird, and the following sparrows: Song, Swamp, Savannah and Field. We walked the 1.2-mile trail and saw five different woodpecker species: Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Northern Flicker.

Also seen were House Wren, Crow, Mourning Dove, Tufted Titmouse, Goldfinch, Brown-headed Cowbird, Catbird, Phoebe, Kingbird, and White-breasted Nuthatch.  Our highlight birds of the morning were Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Screech Owl, just 20 yards away, and Virginia Rail, which was seen from the platform in the parking lot at the end of the walk and when it started to rain!  The warbler count was low, we only saw one Yellow and about nine Yellow-rumped.

All in all, a great walk gathering 38 species before the rain really started!

Ashley Ponds, Holyoke

April 2023

April 29, 2023

Steve Svec

The weather was overcast with some rain.  We missed quite a few species that we ordinarily would have seen, but we still saw 42 species. The best birds of the day were the Virginia Rails that we saw and heard, but second to that were a host of others, including Green Heron, Rough-winged Swallow, Northern Parula, Pine Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Towhee and Cedar Waxwing. See full list below.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

April 2023

April 26, 2023

Al and Lois Richardson

A very bundled-up group (will we ever be able to shed our down coats and boots?) of 16 birders met on a very cool spring morning to look for early migrants.  Ruby-crowned Kinglets were abundant, as were Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers.  Some participants got good looks at a newly arrived Yellow Warbler after hearing others at a distance.  It sometimes is an advantage to be at the back of a group.   

A first-of-year bird for everyone was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  It perched and sang its lovely song almost directly above us - a special treat.  Other new arrivals were a Green Heron flyover as the group was gathering, a Gray Catbird chattering in the tangles, a couple of Eastern Towhees, and several Chimney Swifts.

A lingering Hermit Thrush popped up along the Natti Trail as did several White-throated Sparrows.

Checking the skies, we had a Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawk, and a Broad-winged Hawk.

In spite of the chill, there was warm sunshine and plenty of birdsong giving us a total of 39 species.

Forest Park Family Bird Walk

April 2023

April 22, 2023

Member Leaders

Janice Zepko, with help from Bill and Carol Platenik, Jim Wang, and Andrea Bugbee, had the enviable pleasure of introducing new birders to the pleasant pastime that’s been bringing Allen Bird Club members together for 111 years. This was the club’s first Family Bird Walk. Thankfully, our merry band of leaders was outnumbered by the field trip’s eight participants, most of whom were non-members simply curious about birding.

Our guests’ initiation began in Forest Park’s Longmeadow/Route 5 parking lot, where leaders shared tips for successful binocular use. As if on cue, a Brown-headed Cowbird lit atop the highest feather on the park’s Whispering Giant statue so participants could practice finding him in their borrowed optics. This was the first Cowbird some had seen. 

Binoculars now adjusted and ready, the group headed into the park.

A damp chill chased most birds under cover, but we did spot 22 species on this two-hour field trip, and our new birding friends made satisfying discoveries. For instance, they delighted at the male Red-winged Blackbirds’ bravado in declaring parts of the park their own. They praised Phoebes’ skill in nabbing insects midair, and they paused to watch a pair of tree swallows who had claimed a nesting box as their summer home. Guests also admired the grackles’ easily overlooked iridescence, a cardinal, brilliant against spring’s golden-green backdrop and a male Wood Duck, showing off his colorful plumage as he paddled across the pond.  

Needless to say, the day’s highlights didn’t come from spotting a parade of unusual birds. Instead, the best moments rose from watching new birders experience common birds for the first time. For example, a twelve-year-old boy described a Tufted Titmouse as having a “backward mohawk,” and he grinned as he identified his first Canada Goose.

Upon learning we had passed a turtle, two grown participants said, “Wait. There was a turtle? We want to see the turtle!” The group pointed excitedly when a pair of mallards braked feet-first on the pond in front of us. They listened attentively for American Goldfinches to call, “Potato chip, potato chip” as they flew nearby.

Then a dad, enjoying a morning at the park with his kids, wandered over to peek at the tree swallows in our spotting scope.

“Oh, I’m not a birder, I just love birds,” this father said. “Any time I see something like an eagle or a hawk I have to stop and watch.”

“Then you’re a birder!” our leaders laughed - because we know.

“Having” to stop and watch a bird is where this wonderous hobby begins.

Longmeadow and Agawam

April 2023

April 8, 2023

Al and Lois Richardson

Mother Nature provided what turned out to be a glorious spring morning for the 13participants on the scheduled "Ducks and Early Arrivals Trip". There was no wind, blue skies, and temperatures that continued to rise from nearly freezing when we started out at Pynchon Point Park to the mid-50's when we finished at Stebbins at noon.

Highlights were watching a pair of Ravens busily nest building on the cell tower visible from the Pynchon Point Park parking lot. Later there were Wood Ducks flying down to the river from their perches in the trees. Near the Big E Lagoon, a single tree had a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a Downy and Hairy Woodpecker, and a Flicker. From a treetop high above the Westfield River, a Northern Mockingbird belted out songs of nearby birds.  Moving on to Longmeadow and Stebbins there was an Osprey on the cell tower nest and a mate nearby. The Bald Eagle pair has two chicks in the nest at Pondside. Pine and Palm Warblers flitted about on Pondside and Bark Haul Trail, as did both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets. Another spring treat was a Hermit Thrush and also a life bird for some in the group - a Wilson's Snipe resting in the warm sun on top of a beaver house.

Total species for the morning was 49 - a cooperative effort.  

Breakfast and Upriver to Turners Falls

April 2023

April 2, 2023

Howard and Marcy Schwartz

This field trip was rescheduled from the day before due to inclement weather. We also had to change breakfast locations since the restaurant we had been going to for years, Sylvester's, closed during this past summer. The new restaurant is not as fancy as Sylvester's was, but the service was good and the food was filling.  We had 10 people who attended breakfast and four more joined up later for birding. The weather was sunny, with low-40s in the morning and high-40s in the afternoon.

Our first stop was along the CT River on Riverview Drive, where we were greeted by bunches of swallows, both tree and rough wings.  For many of us they were first-of-year birds. We had a very good scope view of a rough-wing swallow preening, who landed on a branch near us.  Since all of the ice was gone from the river, we did not have many gulls as we usually do when there are huge chunks of ice floating on the river.  Other waterfowl seen from there include Canada Geese, Common Merganser, Mute Swan and Bufflehead.  The usual early spring songbirds were heard and seen from there also.  The next stop was at the boat ramp where we saw similar birds as we did on Riverview Drive.

From the boat ramp we went to the far end of Barton's Cove to find more ducks.  On the way down the entrance road, about 25 feet up on a dead tree, an immature bald eagle was sitting and not paying any attention to us as we passed by in our cars or stopped to take pictures.  Eventually, it did fly off after we all had a good look.  On a rise overlooking the cove, we spotted a large raft of ducks which turned out to be Ring-necked Ducks.  Along the shore, we also spotted a pair of Wood Ducks.  A keen-eyed observer noticed a 'ringneck' that didn't look quite like the others. It turned out to be the only Greater Scaup we saw on the trip.  

Our next stop was across the bridge that goes into Turner's Falls to a large parking area on the river.  We stayed only a short time because there wasn't much different from the previous stops.  One new sighting, though, was a Double-crested Cormorant.

We left the river at Turners to go to another river viewing area at the Rod and Gun Club.  The river here was also sparse on bird species.  We did however, after a little discussion, agree that a duck at the far end of the river was a Pied-billed Grebe. From here we headed off to the Turners Falls airport about a mile down the road.

We go here to check for early arrival Killdeer and the possibility of getting a Kestrel.  We were not disappointed.  We did see two Killdeer running around on the grassy strip of land next to the runway. We also had our best looks at a few low flying eagles here.  There was a little excitement in the sky above the airport for a while. There was a little discussion about one particular immature eagle which had a different looking plumage other than the 'normal' pattern of a juvenile that we see.  Some thought it could be a Golden Eagle, while others just an immature Bald Eagle.  We did have a member who was able to take some pictures of the bird. This discussion continued a few days after the trip was over when we checked the internet for pictures of immature bald eagles.  At that point, the concensus was that the bird was an immature Bald Eagle. We also had two eagles performing acrobatics with one another above our heads at the airport. It was quite interesting to watch them weave around one another.

Our final stop was the power canal.  It was, unfortunately, very quiet on the water.  There is always something, though, and here it was, a beautiful male Ring-necked Duck in perfect light and close to the road.  While the trip was coming to a close, a few people took a little walk to try and find a tree in which a Screech Owl was previously seen.  While they were gone, those remaining heard then saw a pine warbler a short distance down the road up in a pine tree.  This was a fine ending to a wonderful trip on a very nice early spring day. We all should be proud of the fact that we didn't lose any of the cars in our caravan except when someone decided to leave of their own volition.  The total species count was 32 and the birding highlights were eight Bald Eagles (two different instances of two eagles playing with one another), Pine Warbler, scope view of a Rough-winged Swallow, Pied-billed Grebe, and Killdeer.

Woodcock Walk

March 2023

March 30, 2023

Michele Keane-Moore

Sixteen people were present for the bird walk to observe American Woodcock flight displays in the north end of Burt Field at Fannie Stebbins.  The weather was clear and cold, but not too cold to discourage woodcock activity.  Approximately six woodcock were heard and took flight in this part of the refuge during the observation period.  Other birds included multiple ducks that flew over after dusk (with one female wood duck vocalizing), Canada Geese on bodies of water nearby (also evident by vocalizations), at least two American Robins (also vocalizing), and one Song Sparrow that was singing on our way into the field.  Large mixed flocks of blackbirds, Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds (possibly other blackbird species) were observed along Pondside on our way in and were seen from our meeting spot.  

Cape Ann and Plum Island

February 2023

February 25-26, 2023

February 25, 2023

Kathy and Myles Conway

Twelve members made our way to the North Shore of Massachusetts February 25-26 for one of the Club’s longest-running field trips.  A total of 64 species were seen or heard.  We never know if New England winter weather will even allow us to make the trip.  This year the weather was cold, but conditions were not brutal.  Winds were not as strong as predicted and seas were relatively calm, so we were able to enjoy scope and binocular views off the coast. Snow squalls met us while we were at Nelson’s Island on Saturday afternoon and again at Plum Island on Sunday, but we managed some great sightings.  

Some highlights were many Long-tailed Ducks, including a large raft of around 50right below the cliff at Halibut Point; a virtual Harrier show at Plum Island and again at Salisbury; two Rough-legged Hawks together in the snow squall at Nelson’s Island (and a reward of two Short-eared Owls for two of the group who stayed until dusk); an immature White-throated Sparrow scratching in some pebbles at our feet, seemingly oblivious to our gaze; a surprise Barred Owl just off the side of the road at Plum which drew a crowd of birders and photographers; and some Pipits feeding along the wrack at Brace Cove.  Looking for these birds, which had been reported, led us to a new location for us - the back side of Niles Pond accessed from Bemo Rd.  The path not only gave us looks of the beach at Brace Cove, but also a view of the pond, without dealing with the hazard of the narrow road we typically parked on.  

Of course, we always search for alcids on this trip, and we were treated to several Razorbills, one close at Jodrey’s Pier in Gloucester and then later 4 in a row off Cathedral Rocks. The views were wonderful since the seas were calm. No Murres or Dovekies, but one of us had a Guillemot as well.  We also had a distant view of an Eared Grebe off of Niles Beach and about a half dozen Turkeys which we don’t usually see on Cape Ann.  In addition to missing other alcids, we also did not pick up any white-winged gulls nor Red-necked Grebes, and we did not see the reported Red Crossbills at Salisbury. That simply means there is more to be seen on our next trip to the North Shore!  

Amherst to Turners Falls

February 2023

February 11, 2023

Harvey Allen

Eleven members gathered at Atkins Farm to begin our adventure to Hadley Cove and then north to the Turners Falls area.  Two sharp-eyed members spotted six Black Vultures while on Bay Rd enroute to the cove. The cove gave us looks at Common and Hooded Mergansers and Wood Duck.  There were a couple of Red-tailed Hawks noted enroute to Turners, while highlights there included Common Goldeneyes, Greater Scaup, Bald Eagles, and an Iceland Gull. Next stop was the power canal, which gave us a Bufflehead, a Common Merganser, and an Eagle.  The Rod and Gun Club has not been as productive on this trip for the past couple of years, but it is always worth checking out! This year we picked up four Mute Swans, a Common Merganser, a few Ring-billed Gulls and an empty Bald Eagle’s nest. Two more Red-tailed Hawks, 47 Robins and one European Starling finished our day up on Lake Pleasant Rd (Rte. 63) near Montague.  Special thanks to Mary Felix for keeping track of the birds we spotted. Getting out to bird is always rewarding!

Rhode Island Hotspots

January 2023

January 28, 2023

Janice Zepko

Nine members joined in to enjoy a full day on the Rhode Island coast.  It was a mild, but breezy day.  

Our first stop was Colt St Park in Bristol, where two members, who arrived early to meet up with the group, had excellent views of the reported Barrow’s Goldeneye (3 photos) before they flew and were not to be spotted again that day.  The rest of us had to be pleased with a few Common Goldeneye, 8 Brant, 4 Common Loons, Bufflehead, and a Bonaparte’s Gull.

From there we headed directly to Sachuest NWR in Middletown, hoping to spot a reported Green-tailed Towhee.  It was not to be found, unfortunately.  However, we did see a Horned Grebe, a Red-throated and two Common Loons, a dozen Harlequin, a dozen Common Eider, a Razorbill, 14 Black Scoters, a couple of Long-tailed Ducks and several Great Cormorants.

Next Stop was Beavertail St Park (photo) in Jamestown, where we hit a Razorbill bonanza, finding a group of four and another four as singles.  Also there were a Common and 6 Red-throated Loons, 5 Horned Grebe, 60 Black and 6 Surf Scoters, 3 Long-tailed Duck, 40 Harlequin, and two Gannet, and a Red-tailed Hawk that put on an aerial show for us.

After a rest stop at the Village Hearth & Bakery, we left Jamestown for a visit to a new location, Bass Rock in Narragansett.  There we added White-winged Scoters and Peregrine Falcon to our list.  

Next stop was Perry’s Mill Pond (photo) in South Kingston on Moonstone Beach Road.  Here we found three Eurasian Wigeon mixed in with over a hundred American Wigeon, 6 Gadwall, 6 Hooded Merganser, 3 Shoveler, a dozen or so each of Mallard and Black Duck.  From there we hurried to Perry (aka Firehouse) Pond in Charlestown, another new location for us.  It was filled with ducks and geese, including 7 Redhead, 7 Pintail, 6 Gadwall, 4 American Wigeon, Black Duck and Mallard.

After a brief stop to look at an empty feeder area at Trustom Pond NWR, we headed back to Moonstone Beach Rd, where we stopped on the way to Mud Pond for great looks at a Barred Owl (photo) perched in a roadside tree.  The pond held 50 Hooded Merganser, which flew off as a group just before dark, some Blacks and Mallards and a Great Blue Heron sitting at the pond’s far edge.  We made our way out to the beach, enjoying the fuchsia-colored sunset sky over the ocean and finding 3 Sanderling to add to our list.  The last bird of the day was Woodcock, the familiar notes heard first, followed by several overhead flights.  We ended the birding day with a total of 54 species.  

Local Hotline

January 2023

January 14, 2023

Bambi Kenney and April Downey

Eleven members joined today’s successful hotline trip, identifying our target bird and a total of 25 species. We met up at 8:00 a.m. and birded in some pretty cold and windy weather until 11:30 a.m.  Thankfully, we birders are hardy and enthusiastic!

We began with a visit to Mt Holyoke College campus pond, giving us wonderful, close-up views of the reported Greater White-fronted Goose, along with almost 300 Canada Geese, 13 Mallards, a Black Duck, and a Bluebird calling as we exited our vehicles.

Next, we headed to Hadley’s Honey Pot, where we missed a continuing Smith’s Longspur.  We were rewarded, however, with very nice views of several raptors, including a beautiful male Northern Harrier, a cooperative Merlin, a perched and puffed-up Red-tailed Hawk and a Cooper’s Hawk. Also seen were several flocks of Horned Lark totaling over 200 birds, along with at least 3 Snow Buntings.  Alone male Common Merganser was all to be found on the river.

Aqua Vitae Rd was our last stop, and after some searching, we got on a couple of large flocks of Horned Larked that landed in the field on the riverside of the road.  They were quite active on the ground, but we were able to pick out three more Snow Buntings in their midst.  Other land birds there were Mourning Dove, Downy, Red-bellied and Pileated Woodpeckers, Blue Jay, Tree Sparrow, Junco, and a pair of Cardinals.

Falmouth, Sandwich & Plymouth

January 2023

January 7, 2023

Janice Zepko

Five members participated and racked up 52 species, including some special finds.  I’ll share our birding spots and some highlight birds we identified.

Sider’s Pond, Falmouth – 60 Red-breasted and 20 Hooded Mergansers, a Red-throated Loon, and a Great Blue Heron

Salt Pond and ocean viewing across the street – 32 Bufflehead, 6 Goldeneye, 1 Surf Scoter, 2 Razorbills, 15 Long-tailed Ducks, 30 Common Goldeneye, 250 Common Eider, 1 Horned Grebe, 1 Common Loon

Ashumet Pond, Falmouth – 75 Ring-necked Ducks, 60 Coot, 5 Ruddy Ducks, 60 Bufflehead, 75 Common Goldeneye and a Barrow’s Goldeneye hybrid

Mashpee Pond-Attaquin Park, Mashpee – 1 Western Grebe, 2 Common Loon, 35 Bufflehead

Marstons Mills Pond, Marstons Mills – 15 Northern Pintail, 1 Ring-necked Duck, 2 Hooded Merganser, 3 American Wigeon, 20 Gadwall and a Kingfisher

Shawme Lake, Sandwich – 1 Eurasian Wigeon (close and excellent views) and 95 American Wigeon

Town Neck Rd, Sandwich at the Treehouse Brewery parking lot – 8 Razorbills, 75 Common Eider, 1 Black, 25 White-winged and Surf Scoters, and 2 Common Loons

Cape Cod Canal – Added 8 more Razorbills at close range, 1 Gannet, 75 Common Eider, 15 White-winged Scoters, 2 Red-throated Loons, and 8 Common Loons

Skipping Plymouth altogether in hopes of getting a reported Barrow’s Goldeneye at Little Quitticus Pond in Lakeville, we headed straight there.  The bird was not to be found, nor did we get the Short-eared Owls hoped for at our last birding spot, Cumberland Farms in Middleborough.  Despite ending the trip with missed birds, we did enjoy a great day of coastal birding!

2022 Cobble Mtn Christmas Count

January 2023

January 1, 2023

Janice Zepko

This was our 32nd year of participation as Cobble Mtn Circle in National Audubon’s Christmas Count.  Here’s a rundown of how we did this year compared to past years.  We brought in a total of 69 species, the second highest species count ever and the highest since 2001.  Observer number and hours in the field were on the high side of average, and miles covered was a bit lower than average.  Water was unfrozen for the most part. The temperature ranged between 45-49 degrees F, but clouds prevailed and the winds were almost constant out of the NW at 10-25 mph.

There were several species found in higher numbers than usual.  Of these, three species that continue to extend their winter range, an all-time high of 8 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and 45 Carolina Wrens, and the second high count of Red-bellied Woodpeckers at57.  Also high were counts of American Tree Sparrow at 89, highest count since 2006, and Swamp Sparrow at 4, highest count since 2004.

There was just one species found in notably lower numbers than usual.  The Cedar Waxwing count of a single bird this year was the lowest ever in count history.  

We were fortunate to find some rarer species.  An American Coot and a Ruddy Duck were spotted on Congamond.  The last time these species were recorded was in 2014. The Ruddy Duck is very sporadic on the count and the Coot has been sporadic over the last 20 years.  Two Pine Siskins were spied on a feeder in Granville.  It is only the second time this species was counted in the last ten years.  We also got Eastern Towhee for the first time in 11 years.  The count for towhee has been sporadic throughout.  Merlin was counted by two teams and has been spotted only three other times in the Cobble Mtn Count.  Saw-whet Owl was heard in Granville for the first time since 2015.  Finally, a Killdeer was found for the first time ever in count history.

Unfortunate misses this year were Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, Horned Lark, and Eastern Screech Owl.  

One count week bird was added by Dorrie Holmes, and that was Bufflehead.

Click below to view or download complete count results.

2022 Cobble Mtn Count Results

Springfield Area Christmas Count

December 2022

December 17, 2022

George Kingston

Highlights of the Dec 17, 2022 - Springfield Christmas Count

Total Species: 67

Total Individuals: 13,750

1 Rufous Hummingbird

5 Eastern Towhee

3 Red-Shoulder Hawk

1 Barrow's Goldeneye - Ct River from Longmeadow

3 Fish Crow

1 Iceland Gull - Ct River from Longmeadow

1 Merlin - Springfield

2 Yellow-rump Warbler - West Springfield

10 Ravens - all over

106 Horned Larks - most West Road Longmeadow

123 Hooded Merganser -  all over

16 Bald Eagles

Click below to view or download complete count results.

2022 Springfield CBC Results

North Shore of Massachusetts

December 2022

December 10, 2022

Janice Zepko and Chris Blagdon

Eleven members faced a stiff, cold breeze all day in hopes of finding some good birds on the north shore. The surf was up in the ocean and choppy waters ruled the day, making siting birds more difficult, but we managed all three Scoter species, Common Loon, Bufflehead, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser and Common Eider at many locations, and a total of 44 species.

Jodrey’s Pier gave our first anticipated bird of the day, a close-up look at a Razorbill.  Next, we went to Rocky Neck and picked up three Horned Grebes.  At Niles Beach, Chris got looks at a Black Guillemot flying, and we spotted our first Long-tailed Ducks.  Eastern Point added 7 Purple Sandpipers out on the dog bar, 7 Gadwall up close, and 7 Gannets off the point.  We were welcomed by calm waters at Niles Pond and good views of 4 Hooded Mergansers, 3 Lesser Scaup, 6 Ring-necked Ducks and a Pied-billed Grebe.  At the Elks Club on Atlantic Ave, we spotted five more Gannets and our first White-winged Scoters.  We got good looks at Harlequins from Granite Pier and Cathedral Rocks. We were lucky enough to find ample parking at Andrews Point and were rewarded for our walk to the lookouts with a Purple Sandpiper, 20 more Harlequins and another Long-tailed Duck. More Gannets and Harlequins were spotted at Halibut Point, and on the last stop of the day we found a Red-throated Loon at Plum Cove. Great day of birding was had by all, despite the weather!

Berkshire Lakes

November 2022

November 5, 2022

Kathy and Myles Conway

The mild fall weather we've experienced lately brought 13 members out for the Berkshire Lakes trip on November 5.  However, that same mild weather may also have contributed to low numbers of waterfowl seen.  Many geese were seen especially on Pontoosuc, and there were moderate numbers of both Hooded and Common Mergansers, but other species were in short supply.  We saw only one Common Loon, from Burbank Park, and only one Gadwall, Pintail (a female), and Ring-necked Duck. One Pied-billed Grebe was seen well and one other by only one person.  One Coot made the list, and we were surprised to see it first standing amid Mallards in shallow water.  Handfuls of Green-winged Teal and Wood Ducks, another small handful of Great Blues were added.  We also saw nine Ruddy Ducks, but the views were distant. Migrating Robins dominated our land bird sightings, and Cedar waxwings were also around in good numbers.  Three Bald Eagles were seen, one adult from Nobody's Road, and two juveniles flying together at the causeway on Pontoosuc.  Probably our best species was a scope view of some Rusty Blackbirds feeding on the ground in a marshy area seen from a spot we had never been to. Overall, it was a pleasant day to be in the field looking for fall migrants.  

Quabbin Reservoir

October 2022

October 22, 2022

Beth Spirito and Tim Carter

Fourteen members gathers at Quabbin Reservoir in very cool and foggy weather conditions.  We started the walk at the Headquarters, but we also visited the Tower Area, the Enfield Lookout, and ended the morning at Hank’s Meadows with a total of 36 species.  

On the reservoir, Common Loons, a Horned Grebe, a few Surf Scoters, and a couple of Common Mergansers were spotted.  It was a slow day for warblers, only seeing the Yellow-rumped, Black-and-white, and Blackpoll.  Sparrows seen included White-throated, Song, and Tree.  Flying high were Bald Eagle, Turkey Vultures, Crows, and a couple of Red-tailed Hawks.  Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers were present, as well as White and Red-breasted Nuthatches, Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper, Eastern Towhee, Phoebe, Dark-eyed Juncos, Blue Jay, Cardinal, Robin, Eastern Bluebird, Goldfinch, Catbirds, a Hermit and a Swainson’s Thrush. Great day, great group!

Ludlow Reservoir Morning Walk

October 2022

October 1, 2022

Beth Spirito and Tim Carter

Ten adults and two junior birders, ages 5 and 2, started out in very cool weather with a light rain. We walked to the 1-mile marker, then headed back, because the weather was not improving.  We spotted a total of 18 species.

On the reservoir, we saw Canada Geese, Mallards, Double-crested Cormorant, a Great Blue Heron and a Common Loon. Along the way, we got Black-capped Chickadees, Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Phoebes, White-breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Juncos, a Blue-headed Vireo, Red-bellied Woodpecker and a Song Sparrow.  Warblers for the day were Yellow-rumped, Black-and-white, Black-throated Blue, and Palm.  The most popular bird of the morning was the very vocal Blue Jay.  They were everywhere!

Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary

September 2022

September 24, 2022

April Downey and Bambi Kenney

Eight members took advantage of this sunny and pleasant day to bird Arcadia.  It was a really good walk that garnered a total of 47 species. Highlights were a White-crowned Sparrow and a flock of American Pipits.  There was a good variety of warblers found, including Pine, Magnolia, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, Common Yellowthroat and Northern Parula. We also scored on raptors, siting Sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks and Northern Harrier.  Great day!

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

September 2022

September 21, 2022

George Kingston

Six members gathered at the refuge this morning to enjoy clear weather, with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees. A total of 33 species were counted, see below for trip list. Beautiful photos of Wood Thrush, House Finch and Northern Flicker taken by Christine might add three more species to that list. Always nice to have a good photographer with the group!

Blueberry Hill Hawkwatch & Picnic

September 2022

September 17, 2022

John Weeks

At least 19 members gathered to glimpse a peek at a mass migration of Broad-winged Hawks and they were not disappointed.  The weather was sunny and hazy, with skim-milk clouds that were often no help at all.  It was a tough sky for hawkwatching. Despite this, for Blueberry Hill, it was a spectacular day, one of the best we’ve had in years.  The Broadwings came in many kettles, but were often far away and difficult to count. Dan Burt and Kathy Conway can be singled out for their amazing ability to spot and tally so many of these swirling poppy seeds in the distance.  They easily doubled the count we would have reached without them.  Thanks also to Tom Swochak on Shatterack Mountain northeast of us; he alerted us that 900Broadwings were possibly headed our way.

In all, we counted six different raptor species, with Broadwings giving us the high count of 1409, followed by Sharp-shinned Hawk at 13, Northern Harrier at 5, Osprey and Bald Eagle at 3 each, American kestrel at 1 and just one unknown raptor species.  We also counted a long list of non-raptors, including Canada Goose (1!), Rock Pigeons (3), Northern Flickers (2), PHILADELPHIA VIREO, Blue Jays (ca. 125 migrants), TREE SWALLOWS (500+ in a single swarm), Red-breasted Nuthatch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Goldfinches (3), Purple Finch. Warblers spotted were American Redstart, Black-and-white, Northern Parulas (2), Magnolia, Black-throated Green, and Yellow-rumped. Last, but not least, seven Monarch Butterflies floated by overhead.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

September 2022

September 10, 2022

Tim Souza

Fourteen birders participated in a 3-hour walk at Stebbins Refuge this morning. The weather was foggy for the 1st hour or so, with intermittent rays of sunshine throughout the remainder of the field trip. Temps were in the mid-60's and made for a comfortable walk.

The birding was also intermittent, but we had some nice finds along the way, which included Scarlet Tanager female, Warbling and Red-eyed Vireo, N. Parula, and Cedar Waxwing. Pondside had numerous Wood Ducks, Mute Swans, and Green Heron. It was a good start to the fall birding season with a total count of 45 species.

Stebbins Refuge Morning Walk

September 2022

September 7, 2022

Dan Burt

Six individuals participated in a 3 hour walk at Stebbins Refuge. The weather was cool and comfortable in the mid-60s with mostly cloudy skies and occasional rays of sunlight. The trails we walked were relatively dry considering the amount of rain we had days previous. 

Bird activity was sporadic, appearing to coincide with the occasional rays of sun. There were a significant number of Wood Ducks in the water body on the south side of the trail at the east side of the railroad track crossing. Just beyond this location again on the left there was activity amongst the grapevines that were abundant with ripe grapes as indicated by the aroma that surrounded us. We saw various warblers at this location including Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided, and American Redstarts. Throughout the walk the Carolina Wrens were letting their presence be known. All-in-all it was an enjoyable walk amongst like-minded folks.

Longmeadow and Agawam

August 2022

August 20, 2022

Al & Lois Richardson

The last scheduled trip for the 2021-22 birding year occurred on another 90-degree day in August - fortunately not that hot earlier in the day.  Listed as a trip for shorebirds, egrets, and herons, we checked Pynchon Point, the Big E Lagoon, the dike along the Westfield River, and the Longmeadow Sandbar.  For shorebirds, we found Least Sandpipers, Semi-palmated Sandpipers, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers, 3Lesser Yellowlegs, Semi-palmated Plover, and Killdeer.  There were also several Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and Green Herons.  Best bird of the morning was when Bambi Kenney spotted an adult Black-crowned Night-heron fly into the shade of the trees along the lagoon and then found a juvenile lurking nearby.  The juvenile Black-crowned Night-heron finally left his shady area and came out in full view.  Four participants and a total of 45 species.

Plum Island

August 2022

August 13, 2022

Janice Zepko and Tim Carter

Eight members took advantage of the forecast for good weather and were not disappointed, with temps in the 70’s and a light breeze all day long.  Bugs were not a problem at Parker River either, to our surprise and delight.

Our first stop was the boat launch across the street from Lot 1. We spotted 4 Least Sandpipers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, a Least Tern, two Osprey and our first glimpse of Seaside Sparrows and the thousands of Tree Swallows we would encounter throughout the day. A Black Guillemot had been reported at Lot 1, unfortunately we did not get it, but Tim picked up a Northern Harrier hunting over the dunes. On the water, we saw just 4 White-winged Scoters and one DC Cormorant, though we panned back and forth in search of the Guillemot.

The Salt Pannes were quite bare as well, giving us only 9 Semi-palmated Sandpipers and one Great Egret.  The Wardens gave some of us good scope views of Seaside Sparrow, as well as a GreatBlue Heron, six Barn Swallows mixed in with the constant motion of the Tree Swallows. At the North Pool Overlook, Craig picked up a Virginia Rail calling for the group.

Hellcat gave us two each of American Wigeon and Green-winged Teal, Great and Snowy Egrets, Semi and Least Sandpipers, 150 Semi-palmated Plovers, 7 Greater and one Lesser Yellowlegs, two Short-billed Dowitchers and an Osprey.

Stage Island Pool was next, and we approached with anticipation. This hotspot did not disappoint, but rather delivered on the promise of American Avocet.  We did not see it at first, a couple of us thought we were looking at a strange white duck with its head tucked, until it moved and turned out to be the sought-after Avocet with the stunning bill. After studying what we could find from the trail, we moved on to the platform, where two birders said they had been watching two Black Terns.  Luck was with us again and we all got views of the tern flying about.

The lots at the end of the road were full, leaving us unable to visit Emerson Rocks or Sandy Point. We’ll keep that in mind for next year and head there at the start of the day.  On the way out we stopped at the Pines Trail and Lookout, where there was an Osprey nest with four Ospreys on it, all large and seemingly the same size. We took another chance at spotting the Black Guillemot at Lot 1, but no luck there, where we called it a day. It was a beautiful day on Plum Island, all seemed happy, and we ticked off 53 species.

Fort River Refuge Walk

June 2022

June 25, 2022

Tim Carter and Beth Spirito

Great morning of birding in Hadley with 11 members. We started the morning under sunny skies and temps in the low 60’s.

While driving into the refuge area, first birds of the morning were two female Turkeys and about 18 chicks crossing the road.  In the parking lot while we were waiting to set out, we saw many Tree and Barn Swallows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Robins, Grackles, Goldfinches, and House and Song Sparrows. We also witnessed an American Kestrel go after a Red-tailed Hawk. Due to the lack of rain, the pond area where the new platform lookout is, was rather dull, and there was nothing to report in this area.  Even the frogs were quiet. 

On our way into the trail, we saw a Green Heron flyover, and then eventually settle into a tree.  While walking the one-mile trail, we encountered the following species: House Wrens, Catbirds, Starlings, Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, Northern Flickers, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Carolina Wrens. We also spotted an Eastern Kingbird, a Great Crested Flycatcher, a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, a Pewee and a Veery.

After exiting the trail, we walked for just a bit on the road that leads to the fields on each side.  We saw numerous Bobolinks, a Baltimore Oriole, a Belted Kingfisher, a Downey Woodpecker, and a few Northern Mockingbirds. 

Warblers seen on our walk included Yellow, Common Yellowthroat, and American Redstart.

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.

Tyringham & Post Farm

June 2022

June 11, 2022

Kathy & Myles Conway

A handful of Allen Bird Club members enjoyed a lovely morning in the Tyringham Valley in June.  We made stops on Meadow Street, Jerusalem Road and Breakneck Road before taking short walks at both Tyringham Cobble and a short distance along the Appalachian Trail.  On Jerusalem Road we were surprised when a Yellow-billed Cuckoo flew in and sat in the open long enough for all to have a nice look.  And throughout the morning we heard at least three Black-billed Cuckoo.  We always hope for Snipe along Breakneck Road, but none were found that day.  At the Cobble we heard and saw Field Sparrow and Bobolink and a very vocal House Wren.  In a wet meadow area along the Appalachian Trail we tried for American Bittern but had no response, but we did see and hear several species of Flycatchers. Throughout the valley we heard or saw 10 species of warblers.  We moved on to Post Farm marsh in Lenox where we saw an Osprey and heard the friendly chatter of Marsh Wren.  All in all, it was a pleasant morning and we ended up with 74 species.  

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

Stony Brook Wetlands, Ludlow

May 2022

May 12, 2022

Craig Allen

There were eight members who enjoyed the trip this morning, and we saw a total of 60 species. Highlights were great looks at 2 Upland Sandpipers, 2 Grasshopper Sparrows and an Eastern Meadowlark from the fence. Nashville, Parula, Magnolia, and Canada Warblers were additional highlight species. We had 13 species of warblers in all. The trip ended at about 12:00 with the Canada Warbler. Click below to see complete list:

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.