Tuesday, October 1, 2013

MA - late September

Since returning from California, a high pressure system has settled over much of Massachusetts and the surrounding New England states. The result has been cool, foggy dawns and immaculate autumnal days. The wind, if any, has been light and variable from the northern quarter. As a result, my local birding has been pretty 'steady' with few changes, but still very enjoyable. Indeed, it's been a joy to be outside enjoying some 'classic' late September migrants.

A handful of warblers included 3 Tennessee Warblers at Northfield Meadows on September 25th, a spot where I also saw a Magnolia Warbler on October 1st. On September 30th I got tantalizingly close to a Connecticut Warbler calling from the dense shrub layer underneath the power lines at Depot Road in Turner's Falls. It called for about five seconds giving hard, flat chip calls before vaporizing into the shrubs. I'm usually comfortable with 'heard-only' type observations but Connecticut Warbler is so rare, aloof and sought-after in our area that I think I'd only be truly happy with good, clean looks (and preferably a photo or two) before making a full claim.

Magnolia Warbler - blending in beautifully with the greens and yellows of early October. Northfield Meadows, Franklin Co., MA. October 1st, 2013. Canon Powershot G10. Heavy crop from the same image below.

More widespread arrivals have included Blackpoll, Palm (all yellow) and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Blue-headed Vireos, and many sparrows including White-throated, White-crowned (first two at Northfield Meadows on 25th), Swamp, Savannah and a few Lincoln's Sparrows. As usual, Clay-colored Sparrows elude me despite frequent reports from the Pioneer Valley and elsewhere in MA. The first Golden-crowned Kinglets turned up along Main Road, Gill on September 27th in decent numbers (10+) and there was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Northfield Meadows on September 25th.

Palm Warbler - 'yellow', Northfield Meadows, Franklin Co., MA. September 25th, 2013.

Palm Warbler - 'yellow', Northfield Meadows, Franklin Co., MA. October 1st, 2013.
Lincoln's Sparrow - Northfield Meadows, Franklin Co., MA. September 25th, 2013.
Finally, a family visit with friends to the Putney Mountain in SE Vermont produced a few single migrating raptors, mostly Sharp-shinned and Broad-winged Hawks, American Kestrels and a couple of Northern Harriers. Despite the small numbers, it was good to catch up with the challenge of identifying distant and semi-distant raptors in migration. The highlight was watching a Northern Goshawk being mobbed by a Sharp-shinned Hawk and getting a true appreciation of the size difference between the two species - the goshawk was HUGE! Unruffled, the goshawk continued its migration passing high over the dedicated band of hawk-watchers below. In New England terms, Northern Goshawk remains an exceedingly rare bird for me, and I think probably see less than a total of five per year. Below, some very heavy crops of high, distant migrating raptors at Putney Mountain, Windham Co., VT on September 29th, 2013;

Broad-winged Hawk - juvenile.

Northern Goshawk

Northern Harrier - juvenile.

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