Friday, November 2, 2012

MA - post Sandy - Red Phalaropes in the Pioneer Valley

Update: Seth Kellogg kindly provided the following summary of Red Phalarope records for Western Massachusetts since 1950;

May 8, 1958 in Greenfield
Oct 10-11, 1959 at Onota
June 6, 1965 in Springfield
Sept 4, 1968 in Hadley
Sept 17, 1982 in Longmeadow
Oct 14, 1968 at Quabbin
Oct 2, 2002 in Hadley
Sept 12-15, 2003 in Westfield
Nov 9, 2003 at Onota

Clearly very rare in the interior, the two records below furnishing the 10th and 11th records for Western Massachusetts. 

Despite going out during and immediately after Hurricane Sandy, I came up pretty empty when it came down to truly storm driven bird species. When Brian Kane called with news of a Red Phalarope at the Turner's Falls power canal on the morning of October 30th I thought my luck was beginning to change but the more he described, the more I realized I was going to have difficulty re-finding his bird. It turns out that his Red Phalarope hadn't settled and actually flew up river towards Barton Cove. Despite a thorough search of the cove about 30 minutes after Brian's sighting, I couldn't relocate the phalarope. Still, it was a fantastic record and one of only a handful to be recorded in the Pioneer Valley.

Fast forward to November 1st when Noah Charney (co-author of 'Tracks and Signs of Insects and other Invertebrates - A Guide to North American Species') was out with his students on the Mount Holyoke College campus and picked a "very freshly dead" bird by the campus stream. Noah quickly circulated an image amongst his birding colleagues firmly establishing the bird's identity as a Red Phalarope, the second in the Pioneer Valley in a matter of days and a species not infrequently snarled up in hurricane activity. 

Images appear with permission, courtesy of Noah D. Charney;

Red Phalarope - Mount Holyoke College campus, South Hadley, Hamsphire Co., MA. Found freshly dead at 14:00 hours, November 1st, 2012. Noah. D. Charney.

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