Friday, October 24, 2014

MA - Osprey, mergs and other post Nor'easter birds 10/24


Osprey - juvenile, Riverview  Drive, Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. October 24th, 2014.

Had a quick spin around some local hot-spots this morning, hopeful of cashing in on some of Josh Rose's haul during yesterday's much-hyped Nor'easter. In essence, it looks I should have gone out and pushed a bit harder during the storm while it was actually happening. Just about all of Josh's 60 scoters (all three species), 50+ Double-crested Cormorants, Red-necked and Horned Grebes and Buffleheads had moved on. But after picking up a late Osprey, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, and a lingering White-winged Scoter at Barton Cove, and then a fine male Common Goldeneye and a Cackling Goose at the power canal, I felt satisfied enough with morning. The Cackling Goose was my first of the fall and an expected October migrant but about two weeks behind the dates when I usually hope to see my first such as this one from October 10th, 2012.


 Red-breasted MergansersBarton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. October 24th, 2014.


 White-winged Scoter - fem/imm male, up river from Barton Cove, Turner's Falls Rod and Gun Club, Franklin Co., MA. October 24th, 2014
Heavy crop of distant bird, likely remaining from the fall-out of 60 scoters recorded by Josh Rose the previous day.


 Pine Siskins - Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. October 24th, 2014.
Scads of these today with over 160 at the power canal and 50 plus at Barton Cove.


Common Goldeneye -  male, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. October 24th, 2014. My first of the fall.



Thursday, October 23, 2014

MA - October, third week.

It's been a slightly chaotic week as we're in the middle of moving house, so lots of disruption and poor/non-existent access to the internet. Hopefully I can get back into the swing of more regular updates, especially since there's been plenty of action in the field with more to come. Here's some images from the week Oct 17th - 23rd. They were all taken in the Connecticut River Valley between Turner's Falls and Northfield.


Blue-headed Vireo - Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. October 21st, 2014. 


Common Yellowthroat - Northfield Meadows, Northfield, Franklin Co., MA. October 17th, 2014. 


Yellow-rumped Warbler - Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. October 21st, 2014. 


(Eastern) Palm Warbler - Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. October 21st, 2014. 


(Eastern) Palm Warbler - Northfield Meadows, Northfield, Franklin Co., MA. October 17th, 2014. 


American Goldfinch and (Western) Palm Warbler - Northfield Meadows, Northfield,  Franklin Co., MA. October 17th, 2014. 

Savannah and White-crowned Sparrows - Northfield Meadows, Northfield,  Franklin Co., MA. October 17th, 2014. 


Vesper Sparrow - Northfield Meadows, Northfield,  Franklin Co., MA. October 17th, 2014. 


Song Sparrow - Northfield Meadows, Northfield,  Franklin Co., MA. October 17th, 2014. 


Snow Goose - Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. October 20th, 2014. 


Lincoln's Sparrow - Northfield Meadows, Northfield, Franklin Co., MA. October 17th, 2014. 


Pine Siskin - Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. October 21st, 2014. 


Ruddy Duck - Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. October 21st, 2014. 


Ruddy Duck - Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. October 20th, 2014. 


Pileated Woodpecker - Northfield Meadows, Northfield, Franklin Co., MA. October 17th, 2014. 


Riverview Drive, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. October 21st, 2014. 


Ruby-crowed Kinglet - Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. October 21st, 2014. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

MA - late Mag

This morning I made a couple of brief stops in between errands. A warm frontal system brought heavy showers and rain, and I had a quick look at Barton Cove ever hopeful that the storm might produce something of interest. One Pied-billed Grebe continued but little else was present. The Turner's Falls power canal, or rather the wooded edges of the power canal, proved more interesting with a small flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers producing a 'getting late' Magnolia Warbler that appeared all too briefly....Eastern Phoebes and Gray Catbirds also associated with this flock.

Pied-billed Grebe in downpour - Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. October 16th, 2014.


Magnolia Warbler - distant, out of focus and about to drop out of view....but still showing the unique tail and underside pattern with a thick black tip to the crisp white undertail, vent and lower belly combined with bright yellow flanks and belly, Can any other North American passerine match this pattern? By the way, I had clean looks at the bird before attempting to take a shot. It was about 25 meters away and the auto-focus picked up the foliage rather than the bird.....and then it was gone. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

MA - little 'Big Sit' in Gill - 10/12

October 12th: It's been a few years since I've had the opportunity to try a local 'Big Sit' but since  'Big Sit weekend' (organized by Birdwatcher's Digest) came around quickly, and I was in town, I wanted to have another go. The site for my 17 foot (diameter) circle was the playing fields at Gill Elementary School, a site inspired not just by the fact that my son attends first grade there but also by the recent efforts of parents to clear a previously established nature trail on the school property. The weather was not the best for bird counting from a fixed position. It was cool ( 36 deg F) with mist and fog until 10am after which it cleared dramatically into a beautiful autumnal day with light winds from the north. Once the fog cleared, the raptor list increased rapidly as did the volume of Canada Geese moving over the station. I was joined by Susannah and Matan around 10am, and Matan stayed with me until the end of the count at 12:15 pm. The tally compared favorably with my one and only previous attempt at a Big Sit in Gill on October 10th, 2010: http://pioneerbirding.blogspot.com/2010/10/ma-little-big-sit-in-gill-101010.html


  Matan and Susannah arrive at the station - Gill Elementary School, Franklin Co., MA. October 12th, 2014.
After a foggy start the day turned glorious - what a magical spot for a Big Sit!

Overall I was extremely impressed by the diversity of species at Gill Elementary, recording 58 species between 06:15 - 12:15 hours.

Cast (with numbers) in order of appearance;
1) Swainson's Thrush - 2 (nocturnal migrants heard calling at 06:15hrs and 06:17hrs)
2) Song Sparrow - 105 (first heard at 06:26hrs. The fields and scrubby-fringes south-east of the station were full of sparrows).
3) Black-capped Chickadee - 15 (including two small parties of high flying migrants).
4) White-throated Sparrow - 67
White-throated Sparrow - Gill Elementary School, Franklin Co., MA. October 12th, 2014.

5) American Woodcock - 1 (nice, close fly past of bird giving 'twitter' display flight at 06:33 hrs).
6) Chipping Sparrow - 62
7) Northern Cardinal - 6
8) Mourning Dove - 7
9) Hermit Thrush - 3
10) Blue Jay - 7 on site plus nice migration of small parties totaling 64 moving WSW after the fog cleared.
Blue Jay - Gill Elementary School, Franklin Co., MA. October 12th, 2014. 
One of the many migrants passing over the station today.

11) American Goldfinch - 12
12) White-breasted Nuthatch - 3
13) Eastern Bluebird - 10
14) Barred Owl - 1 called at 06:47 hrs - giving single "whooo-aaw" call.
15) Yellow-rumped Warbler - 28
16) American Robin - 9
17) American Crow - 116
18) Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 5
19) Swamp Sparrow - 77
20) Canada Goose - 750 moving WSW after fog cleared. Likely heading for Turner's Falls.
21) Purple Finch - 19
22) Red-bellied Woodpecker - 1
23) Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 2
 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - Gill Elementary School, Franklin Co., MA. October 12th, 2014.
Juvenile in the willows close the station in the morning fog. 
A second completely different bird migrated past the station in late morning, featured below. 

24) Pine Siskin - 15
25) Downy Woodpecker - 2
26) Savannah Sparrow - 8
 Savannah Sparrows - Gill Elementary School, Franklin Co., MA. October 12th, 2014.
Upper bird photographed by the station, lower, distant bird in the early morning mist.

27) Eastern Phoebe -1
28) Dark-eyed Junco - 1
29) Indigo Bunting -1
30) Cedar Waxwing - 11
31) Northern Flicker - 3
32) Palm Warbler - 5 (4 eastern, 1 western).

(Eastern) Palm Warblers - Gill Elementary School, Franklin Co., MA. October 12th, 2014.

33) Red-winged Blackbird - 8
34) House Finch - 6
35) Lincoln's Sparrow - 2
Lincoln's Sparrow - Gill Elementary School, Franklin Co., MA. October 12th, 2014.

36) Great Blue Heron - 1 foraging in corn field.
Great Blue Heron - Gill Elementary School, Franklin Co., MA. October 12th, 2014.

37) Belted Kingfisher - 1 in flight over woodland at 09:30hrs.
38) Rusty Blackbird - 2 (calling) moving WNW at 09:35hrs.
Rusty Blackbird - Gill Elementary School, Franklin Co., MA. October 12th, 2014.

39) House Sparrow - 3
40) vireo sp.- Philadelphia?  Heard singing several times, sounded most like this species but given the late date, a visual would have been preferred for confirmation.
41) Tufted Titmouse - 2
42) Turkey Vulture - Up to 12 loafing around the valley once the fog cleared at 10am.
43) European Starling - 27
44) Red-tailed Hawk - 7 - possibly involving a few migrants.
Red-tailed Hawks - Gill Elementary School, Franklin Co., MA. October 12th, 2014. Nice interaction right over the station!

45) Hairy Woodpecker - 2
46) Common Raven - 1 soaring with Bald Eagle at 10:52hrs.
47) Bald Eagle - 2 (immatures at 10:52 and 11:58hrs.)
48) Red-shouldered Hawk - 2 (adult moving W at 11:07hrs and another adult moving WSW at 12:14hrs.) One of  the highlights of the morning.
49) Merlin - 1 (juvenile/female moving W at 11:08hrs)
50) Cooper's Hawk - 2
51) American Kestrel - 1 (moving W at 11:10hrs).
52) Sharp-shinned Hawk - 7, all moving WSW.
53) Blue-headed Vireo - 1 giving 'rattle' calls at 11:44hrs.
54) Pileated Woodpecker - 1
55) White-crowned Sparrow - 1 singing within sparrow flock at 11:52hrs.
56) Feral Rock Dove - 1 (late appearance of just one bird!).
57) Brown-headed Cowbird - 3
58) Common Yellowthroat - 1 (the last 'new' bird of the morning).

Surprising misses included Mallard, Wild Turkey, Northern Mockingbird, Gray Catbird and Carolina Wren.....just to mention a few. With better weather and a few more eyes to help, a count of over 60 species might have been possible from this fantastic site.
















Thursday, October 9, 2014

MA - Palm Warblers and Purple Finches

Oct 9th: Amazing morning in Northfield Meadows. Birds popping up everywhere along the weed-fringed tracks and fields. It's fair to say that I was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer numbers this morning, and failed to come up with anything unusual. Most abundant were Song, Savannah and White-throated Sparrows with good numbers of Chipping Sparrows and a couple of Lincoln's Sparrows. Indigo Buntings still very much present, along with a decent showing of Common Yellowthroats (10+) and Gray Catbirds (5+). As expected at this time of year, lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers plus a nice show of Palm Warblers with at least four (3 Eastern, 1 Western). Also about a dozen each of Eastern Bluebird and American Pipit (all overhead filtering southwards).

 Palm Warbler (Western) - Northfield Meadows, Franklin Co., MA. October 9th, 2014. 


 Palm Warbler (Eastern) - Northfield Meadows, Franklin Co., MA. October 9th, 2014. 


Lincoln's Sparrow - Northfield Meadows, Franklin Co., MA. October 9th, 2014. 


It was a fine morning for Purple Finch with birds first noted over our house in Gill at dawn with several parties moving SW. At Northfield Meadows lots more of them, about 35 in all, with a number of flyovers and nice looks at foraging birds in the shrubbery. Also, quite a few Pine Siskins moving over Gill and Northfield this morning probably totaling close to 20 birds.

 Purple Finch - female/first-winter, Northfield Meadows, Franklin Co., MA. October 9th, 2014. 


 Purple Finch - male, Northfield Meadows, Franklin Co., MA. October 9th, 2014. 


 Purple Finch - male, Northfield Meadows, Franklin Co., MA. October 9th, 2014. 


 Purple Finch - female/first-winter, Northfield Meadows, Franklin Co., MA. October 9th, 2014. 


Raptors included Merlin, American Kestrel and a single Osprey

Oct 8th: Had a quick look at the eastern edge of Turner's Falls airfield this morning. Lots of sparrows again, plus quite a few Gray Catbirds and a couple of skulkers - one House Wren (singing!) and one first-winter White-crowned Sparrow. A Merlin sparring with American Crows over the main runway put on quite a show.

 House Wren - Turner's Falls airfield, Franklin Co., MA. October 9th, 2014. 


White-crowned Sparrow - first-winter, Turner's Falls, Franklin Co., MA. October 9th, 2014. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

MA - falcon morning

Started the day in the best possible manner with a couple of Barred Owls, both calling pre-dawn and both giving the single, loud "whoo-aw" call. One was on Main Road, Gill and audible from our yard and the other was at the powerline cut on Mountain Road, Gill.

Later I drifted toward Barton Cove wondering if the balmy, wet South-westerlies might have pushed something in overnight. Two Pied-billed Grebes, a Ring-necked Duck and a few DC Cormorants were all I could muster, all of which had been seen by Josh Rose by the time I got to them.

But there was some action away from the water. A nice male Merlin sat sentinel-like atop a spruce on Riverview Drive which seems to be a favorite observation post and has been so for the last three winters at least. He reluctantly left when a pair of hunting Peregrines swept low overhead stooping at the starlings and Blue Jays.

Merlin - male, Riverview Drive, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. October 7th, 2014. One of this male'sfavorite perching posts around Barton Cove. Now returning for his 4th successive winter though this year I saw Merlins in Turner's Falls in late May and early August which makes me wonder if they ever leave? June and July are the only months in which I haven't recorded this species at Turner's Falls/Barton Cove but these also happen to be my least active months for local birding. I've found Merlins breeding in suburban Keene, NH and have also heard of a breeding pair in Florence, Hampshire Co., MA. So I wonder, could Merlin be a breeding bird in the Turner's Falls area?

Peregrine - adult, Riverview Drive, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. October 7th, 2014. 


Peregrine - second adult of pair actively hunting together, 
Riverview Drive, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. October 7th, 2014. 

The bike path at Depot Road in Turner's Falls was again loaded with scads of sparrows including 10+ Field Sparrows, 30+ Chipping Sparrows, and countless White-throated and Song Sparrows. Indigo Buntings remain including a couple that even burst into song. The power canal was rather quiet aside from seven or so Ring-billed Gulls and a lone, nervous Black Duck. Throughout the morning small groups of Purple Finches headed SW.


Anas Sp. - male, Turner's Falls bike path at Depot Road, Franklin Co. MA. October 7th, 2014.
JoAnne Russo has correctly pointed out (thanks JoAnne) that the white borders to the speculum rule out this bird as a male American Black Duck. I'm hanging on to the identification until I've done a bit more work on this one but the very dark body contrasting with the pale gray face, the dark corner to the gape and the unmarked olive-yellow bill seem at odds with female Mallard to me. Hopefully, more on this to follow.  


 Chipping Sparrow - non-breeding plumage, Turner's Falls bike path at Depot Road, Franklin Co. MA. October 7th, 2014


Downy Woodpecker - male. Turner's Falls bike path at Depot Road, Franklin Co. MA. October 7th, 2014