Thursday, December 18, 2008

Northampton Christmas Count 2008

Northampton Christmas Bird Count

The 75th Northampton Christmas Bird Count took place on Sunday December 14th. For over twenty years, my section of the Christmas count covers the area from the Hadley cove (Middle Street, Hadley) through Aqua Vitae Rd, to the Honey Pot and up to Meadow Street in North Hadley. This year my section had an outstanding total of 55 species, no doubt because of the efforts of some very good friends, who also happen to be extremely skilled observers- James Smith, Brian Kane and Lisa Rock.

James, Brian and I started the day at 4:00AM in Amherst. In two hours of owling, we were able two find two extremely cooperative Eastern Screech-Owls and heard to distant Great Horned Owls. We met up with Lisa at Stables Restaurant, and after a quick breakfast we headed out to the Hadley Cove.
The weather started out a little brisk, but ended up near 40 degrees with a light southerly wind…not bad at all for mid December. As mentioned, we ended up with 55 species…highlights included, Greater White-fronted Goose (1), Snow Goose (4), and Cackling Goose accompanied by about (1600) Canada Geese. Not only did the Hadley Cove area produce the geese, but we were pleasantly surprised to find a flock of (40) Rusty Blackbirds. After the Cove we headed to Aqua Vitae Rd, once on Aqua Vitae, Brian spotted a Dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk circling to the west. The Rough-legged then headed towards us providing great views and a photo opportunity!

At the end of the day, I headed to the Hitchcock Center (Amherst) for a great pot luck dinner provided by many of the Hampshire Bird Club members. After dinner the compilation began, and by 7:30pm the Northampton C.B.C. had (unofficially) tallied 91 species, tying the record set in 1999.

Below is a complete list …

Good Birding,


Eastern Screech-Owl/Strong Street, Amherst

Greater White-fronted Goose -1
Snow Goose -4. (3 Lessers/1Greater)
Cackling Goose - 1
Canada Goose – 1600
American Black Duck – 67
Mallard – 235
Northern Pintail -4
Green-winged Teal -3
Common Merganser -12
Bald Eagle -3
Northern Harrier -1 male.
Sharp-shinned Hawk -2
Cooper’s Hawk -1
Red-tailed Hawk -7
Rough-legged Hawk -1 Dark morph.
Peregrine Falcon -1
Ring-billed Gull -26
Herring Gull – 2
Great Black-backed Gull- 2
Rock Pigeon -262
Mourning Dove -365
Eastern Screech-Owl- 2 (1-Gray/1-Red Morph)
Great Horned Owl -2

Rough-legged Hawk. Aqua Vitae Rd. Hadley

Belted Kingfisher -1
Red-bellied Woodpecker-6
Downy Woodpecker -8
Hairy Woodpecker-3
Northern Flicker-6
Blue Jay -12
American Crow-73
Common Raven -1
Horned Lark-77
Black-capped Chickadee -8
Tufted Titmouse -3
White-breasted Nuthatch-3
Carolina Wren -4
American Robin-146
Northern Mockingbird-3
European Starling-145
Cedar Waxwing-3
American Tree Sparrow-105
Field Sparrow-2
Savannah Sparrow-17
Song Sparrow-86
Swamp Sparrow-1
White-throated Sparrow-70
Dark-eyed Junco- 89
Lapland Longspur -2
Northern Cardinal -21
Red-winged Blackbird -23
Rusty Blackbird -40
House Finch -48
Pine Siskin -57
American Goldfinch -19
House Sparrow -76

Total Species 55

Rough-legged Hawk- Aqua Vitae Road, Hadley

Rough-legged Hawk/Dark Morph.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hadley-Turners Falls

Dark-eyed Junco
Horned Lark
Spent this overcast, mild November morning birding from Hadley to Turners falls. This was not one of the better photographic mornings I've encountered in recent weeks, but it was nice to be out. First stop was on East Hadley Road in Hadley- The first thing a observed was a dark object in the corn? a few seconds later a hunter popped out with 2-3 Canada Geese in tow. Needless to say, there were very few Geese to scan through. I did find a nice flock of Horned Larks (120) with about (25) American Pipits mixed in. A Cooper's Hawk was seen in the distance, with fly over Killdeer (2) and a single Snow Bunting.
I then headed towards Sunderland- a few stops produced- (131) Canada Geese, Bald Eagle, Pileated Woodpecker, White-crowned Sparrow,(145+) Dark-eyed Juncos, (42) Red-winged Blackbirds and (15) Pine Siskins.
I kept heading north and made my way to the Turners Falls Rod/Gun Club, Bartons Cove and the Power Canal, waterfowl was thin- (31) Mute Swans at the Rod/Gun club was a new high count for me, Barton's Cove only offered up a female Hooded Merganser and a handful of Canada Geese. The power Canal had a large number of Canada's (450) but could not find anything else in with them. The best birds of the day winged their way down the canal around 10:30am- (2) Dunlin's. This is not a species one tends to get every year in western Massachusetts- so a nice, and completely unexpected surprise.
I finished the day in Northampton out in the East Meadows...Pretty quite out there-
(65) Horned Larks and (2) Snow Buntings ended the day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Berkshire Lakes Nov.2, 2008

Hitchcock Center Group- Lake Pontoosuc
Hooded Mergansers
Red-tailed Hawk. 1 of 28 seen on Sunday.

Black Scoters (13) White-winged Scoter (2) Lake Onota
Mallard & Wood Duck- Lake Onota.

The last of three Hitchcock Center fall birding trips ended on an extremely pleasant November day in the Berkshires. Just about a week before our trip, the Berkshires received an early season snowstorm, however- just minor traces of snow could be found in the hills around Pittsfield. Our first stop was at the Moran Refuge on 8A in Windsor. This location offers one of the better opportunities in the state of finding a Northern Shrike, and an occasional Northern Goshawk- “except today”. We scanned over the fields and marsh, -we turned up one Adult Sharp-shinned Hawk and an Eastern Meadowlark teed up on a dead snag for a couple of minutes. (The Meadowlark was not expected at this time of year.)

After Windsor we continued west on rte 9 and headed into Pittsfield and then on to our next stop, Cheshire Reservoir. Although waterfowl activity was low, we still had some nice birds. Canada Goose (144), Wood Duck (2), Gadwall (1-female) Mallard (40), Ring-necked Duck (1), Black Scoter(1-female), Bufflehead (3-males), Hooded Merganser (12), Common Merganser (13), Pied-billed Grebe (3),Merlin (1), Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Common Raven (2), American Pipit (2), Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Tree Sparrow (2) and a Savannah Sparrow.

One of the highlights of our trip was the Red-tailed Hawk migration. Beginning at Cheshire Reservoir and right through our last stop in Richmond, Red-tails were on the move. By Two o’clock we had observed (28) Red-tailed Hawks, not bad considering we were focusing on waterfowl!

After Cheshire we head to lake’s Pontoosuc and Onota in Pittsfield. Like Cheshire Reservoir, waterfowl numbers were on the thin side. Highlights….Pontoosuc Lake-
Canada Goose (230), Mallards/Black Ducks, Lesser Scaup (1-female), Common Goldeneye (3-females), Bufflehead (9), Hooded Merganser (1), Common Merganser (41), Carolina Wren.
Lake Onota- Wood Duck (2), Mallards (50), American Black Duck (4), Black Scoter (13), White-winged Scoter (2), Hooded Merganser (91), Common Merganser (50+), Common Loon (1), Cooper’s Hawk (1)

We finished our day at Mud Pond in Richmond- Mid day light at Mud Pond is brutal, There were hundreds of Ring-necked Ducks with a handful of Ruddy Ducks thrown into the mix. A Northern Harrier and an Eastern Bluebird around the Pittsfield Airport finished the day. All in all- a very nice day of birding in the Berkshires.

Good Birding,


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Spent the day birding around Quabbin and my yard in Belchertown. Overall a nice day, with a good variety of birds. The afternoon provided better photo moments around the yard and feeder.

Good Birding,
Hermit Thrush

Song Sparrow
Wild Turkeys
Wild Turkeys
Ring-necked Pheasant
Tufted Titmouse
White-throated Sparrow
Hairy Woodpecker
Blue Jay
Purple Fimch-female
Purple Finch-Male

White-breasted Nuthatch

Cape Cod Weekend

Eight members of the Hampshire Bird Club birded the outer Cape this weekend. The weather was simply outstanding and this land loving group even ventured out on a Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch. We finished with 102 species- Highlights included..Eurasian Wigeon, Rough-legged Hawk and the Broad-billed Hummingbird in Dennis.

Areas covered: Provincetown-Beach Forest, Herring Cove & Whale Watch.
Truro-High Head/Eastham-Fort Hill/Coast Guard Beach/Marsh, Dennis & Marston Mills.

Canada Goose (5)
Mute Swan (7)
Wood Duck (2)
Gadwall (1)
Eurasian Wigeon (1) M.Mills
American Wigeon (67) M.Mills
Am.Black Duck (21)
Blue-winged Teal (5) M.Mills
Green-winged Teal (15) P'Town/Eastham
Common Eider (60)
Surf Scoter (72)
White-winged Scoter (57)
Red-breasted Merganser (26)
Wild Turkey (17)
Red-thr.Loon (1)
Common Loon (2)
Cory's Shearwater (29)
Greater Shearwater (22)
Northern Gannet (67)
Double-crested Cormorant (400+)
Great Cormorant (4) P'town
Great Blue Heron (11)
Great Egret (6)
Black-crowned Night-heron (2)
Northern Harrier (1)
Cooper's Hawk (3)
Red-tailed Hawk (3)
Rough-legged Hawk (1-Truro/High Head)
American Coot (2)
Black-bellied Plover (80)
Semi Plover (7) Eastham
Greater Yellowlegs (200+)
Lesser Yellowlegs (2)
Solitary Sandpiper (1) Beach Forest
Red Knot (2)
Sanderling (21)
Semi Sandpiper (34)
Dunlin (80)
Laughing Gull- hundreds-P'town
Bonaparte's Gull (5)
Ring-billed Gull (83)
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern -Hundreds/P'town
Alcid Sp. (2) probably Razorbills. Whale Watch.
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Broad-billed Hummingbird (1) Still putting on a great show!
Belted Kingfisher (3)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (3)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (2)
Downy Woodpecker (2)
Hairy Woodpecker (2)
N.Flicker (11)
Blue-headed Vireo (2)
Red-eyed Vireo (3)
Blue Jay (75)
American Crow
Fish Crow (5) Wellfleet
Tree Swallow (300+) Truro
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse (15)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (2)
White-breasted Nuthatch (1)
Brown Creeper (1)
Carolina Wren (3)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (22)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (4)
Hermit Thrush (2)
Am. Robin
Gray Catbird (6)
No.Mockingbird (1)
American Pipit (6)
Cedar Waxwing (11)
Tennesse Warbler (1)
Nashville Warbler (1)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (60)
Black-thr,Green Warbler (1)
Pine Warbler (1)
Palm Warbler (5-Western)
Blackpoll Warbler (6)
Common Yellowthroat (1)
Wilson's Warbler (1)
E.Towhee (2)
Chipping Sparrow (2)
Savannah Sparrow (4)
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow (2)
White-thr.Sparrow (14)
White-crowned Sparrow (12)
D.E. Junco (4)
No.Cardinal (8+)
Red-winged Blackbird (13)
Common Grackle (24)
Baltimore Oriole (2)
Purple Finch (4)
House Finch (10)
Pine Siskin (35)
House Sparrow

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Race Point-Provincetown
Harbor Seal
Greater Shearwater

Humpback Whales

White-winged Scoters
Great Cormorants
Nauset Marsh
Savannah Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow-Imm
Semipalmated Sandpipers

The Group-Hemenway Road, Eastham
Broad-billed Hummingbird Broad-billed Hummingbird
Eurasian Wigeon- Marston Mills

Good Birding,

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Monhegan Island

Monhegan Island, Maine

Monhegan Island, Maine
September 25-29, 2008

Val and I recently returned from one of my favorite birding spots in New England, Monhegan Island. This tiny Island is located about ten miles off the coast of Maine just beyond the fringes of Muscongus Bay. Not only is this place one of the finest migrate traps in New England, but is charming beyond belief. Our hour and fifteen minute trip from Port Clyde (weather wise) was uneventful. The unusual birds were encountered on the way out…Black Guillemonts, Double-crested Cormorants, Northern Gannets, Imm. Bald Eagle, and three to four Harbor Porpoises were a nice surprise.

Northern Gannet
Passing lighthouse from Port Clyde to Monhegan

Once on the Island, we loaded ours bags and headed to the Trailing Yew Inn. The next morning was overcast and ultimately would be the best weather day until our departure on Monday. From Friday afternoon until very first thing Monday morning-The weather was your basic “terrible”. Light to heavy rain and dense Fog were the norm for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Despite this wonderful weather, we had a great time, but the birds were scarce and the ones we did encounter-did not come easy.

Some of the early highlights…Lark Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow at Tom Martin’s feeding station, Yellow Breasted Chat at Burnt Head, (2) Cape May and (1) Tennessee Warbler. However, things picked up considerably on Sunday morning, September 28th at 10:00AM. While birding near the Monhegan Library, Valerie and I found a Hermit Warbler. This far western Warbler is currently thought to be a first state record for Maine. Not long after we flagged down Kristen Lindquist and got her on the bird. This bird was less than cooperative, only allowing solid, but quick views. We also informed two other large birding groups, but despite there efforts, were unable to relocate the bird.
Not until after we returned home, did we hear that Becky Marvil also found the bird and snapped two good shots of the warbler. (Nice job Becky)

The next day, Monday…the winds shifted Sunday night and brought in a whole lot of migrates. Bald Eagles (2) Merlins, Peregrines, Blue-headed, Philadelphia and loads of Red-eyed Vireo’s, numerous Blackpoll Warblers, and several Dickcissel’s.

Even with terrible weather….the Monhegan mystique shins through.

Clay-colored Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Lark Sparrow Trailing Yew Meadow/Marsh-Another Foggy morningRing-necked Pheasant Merlin Double-crested Cormorant Blackpoll Warbler Blue headed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo


Swim Beach-Monhegan Island, Maine

Monhegan Island & Harbor

Good birding,