Monday, June 17, 2013

MA - Red Crossbills - 06/17

Red Crossbills - males, Prescott Peninsula, New Salem, Franklin Co., MA. June 17th, 2013.
Nice to stumble across a dozen Red Crossbills during fieldwork on the Prescott Peninsula today.
All were feeding high in Red Pines and a good number proved to be males. Poor quality shots due to height and distance - apologies!

Once again, the song of Black-billed Cuckoo was a common sound this morning and I heard them at most of my stops in the Prescott  and had views of pair chasing around the shrubs.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

MA - Quabbin fieldwork surprises in mid-June

 Black-billed Cuckoo - on nest, Prescott Peninsula, New Salem, Franklin Co., MA. June 13th, 2013. One of several unexpected highlights during a week of field work inside the restricted area of the Quabbin Watershed. Mammalian notables included several sightings of Moose and American Porcupine. Much closer to home I had a chance encounter with a Bobcat on South Cross Road, Gill last Sunday morning which seemed to set the theme for a great week of mammals in Western Mass! 

Wood Thrush - singing male.

Veery - singing male.

Monday, June 10, 2013

MA - dull Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler - adult female, Prescott Peninsula, New Salem, Franklin Co., MA. June 10th, 2013. Found this bird actively attending a nest with a typically plumaged male Chestnut-sided Warbler. It struck me as being notably dull and pale with only small traces of 'chestnut' on the flanks and at the base of the malar, and thus much closer in overall appearance to many first-winter birds.

Friday, June 7, 2013

MA - Black-billed Cuckoos in the Quabbin

This seems to be a great spring and summer for Black-billed Cuckoos in Western MA. Not only have I noted them on our neighbor's 'Blake Farm' property but more recently I've had the privilege of being allowed into parts of the restricted area of the Quabbin Watershed, the Prescott Peninsula. Two recent field mornings here have produced 3 - 6 singing males on each visit, much more than I can recall during any other birding experience in Western MA, including many previous visits to the Prescott. Indeed it seems ironic that last year, when I tallied 635 species in North America during the course of the year, I didn't see a single Black-billed Cuckoo!! Admittedly, 2012 was a big travel year for me but even so, I would have expected the odd Black-billed Cuckoo to be heard locally in Gill. This year seems to be very different, and I hadn't really appreciated just how erratic the appearance of this species can be from year to year in Massachusetts.

All images taken at the Prescott Peninsula. New Salem, Franklin Co., MA on June 5th, 2013.

And a Ruffed Grouse sneaking through the shadows as it crosses the track......

Monday, June 3, 2013

MA - Semi-plover 06/03

Common Loon - Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. June 3rd 2013.

The last few days have been distinctly hot with winds in the southern quarter. Overall, the feeling has been of spring migration tapering as one might expect in early June. But last night's storms followed by a gloomy morning were still enough to send me down to Barton Cove looking for a few late spring stragglers. Aside from a lingering Common Loon, the cove seemed to be VERY quiet. Then, just as I was pulling out from the public boat ramp, a movement on the grass close to shore caught my eye. It was a handsome breeding plumage Semi-palmated Plover furtively walking to short grasses looking remarkably unobtrusive for such a strikingly marked bird. With fine weather in the forecast for the next two days, there's some chance that this will be the last 'tundra-bound' shorebird that I see at Barton Cove this spring - but we shall see.

 Semi-palmated Plover - Barton Cove public boat ramp, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. June 3rd 2013.