Saturday, October 31, 2009

MA - Amherst notes - 10/31

American Robin - 200 plus feeding on fruiting trees and shrubs on North Whitney Street, Amherst, Hampshire Co., MA. Quite some variation in plumage and between the sexes. The male above was one of the darkest, recalling the Atlantic Canadian form T. m. nigrideus. Some more variation shown below.

October ends in balmy fashion with warm south-westerlies bringing cloud rain and showers for much of the day. It was pleasantly warm all day. I didn't get out for any 'real' birding but was impressed by the birds I came across locally beginning with a pre-dawn run this morning - a couple of Great Horned Owls, 4 - 5 American Woodcocks, tens of White-throated Sparrows and a Hermit Thrush, all heard or seen along North-East Street, Amherst.

Fruiting trees near our home on North Whitney Street are currently hosting large numbers of American Robins and Cedar Waxwings, with some Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrow. The last couple of days have also seen several Yellow-rumped Warblers and Golden-crowned Kinglets, and there was an Eastern Phoebe yesterday.
Also today, a couple of Northern Harriers, one over the Umass playing fields, and another quartering fields along South Maple Street.

With a clearance forecast for tomorrow and a return to cooler north-westerly winds, many birders will likely be hitting the coast in search of Cave Swallows, formerly a great rarity in the north-east but now perhaps anticpated under the right conditions. November is 'the' month to see them with small flocks be found in recent years. Check out this post from Nick Bonomo in CT from November last year. Without the concentraing effect of the coast, finding a Cave Swallow in the Pioneer Valley will be a real challenge - but maybe this will be the year!

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