Sunday, December 27, 2009

Quabbin Christmas Bird Count 12-26-09

Gate 43 Fishing Area- Pretty much frozen up!

Twenty eight observers participated in the Quabbin Christmas Count under less than desirable conditions the day after Christmas. Although the weather conditions weren’t great, it could have been a whole lot worse. The freezing and steady rain that had been forecasted never really materialized, but the threat held back most of the observers from owling. Sixty Three Species were tallied, with four new high counts and one new species for the count, bringing the overall count total to 113.

As with other counts this season, huge numbers of White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Junco’s continue their dominance in the fields and thickets around Western Massachusetts. Most of the birders participating in the Quabbin count reported large flocks of Junco’s and medium size groups of White-throated sparrows. The last time White-throated Sparrows made this much of splash on the Quabbin count was December 2000.

American Black Duck 46
Mallard 134
White-winged Scoter 1- 2nd record.
Bufflehead 1
Common Goldeneye 9
Hooded Merganser 26
Common Merganser 39

Common Merganser-female. Holding on to the last bit of open water near the Horse Shoe Dam.

Ruffed Grouse 8
Wild Turkey 76
Common Loon 9
Horned Grebe 9
Bald Eagle 21 (11 Imm) (10 Ad)
Sharp-shinned Hawk 5
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 15
Rough-legged Hawk 1 –New Species.
Golden Eagle 1 –Ad.
Ring-billed Gull 16
Herring Gull 21
Great Black-backed Gull 2
Gull Sp. 200
Rock Pigeon 66
Mourning Dove 74
Barred Owl 1
Northern Saw-whet Owl 1
Belted Kingfisher -2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 20
Downy Woodpecker 106
Hairy Woodpecker 46
Northern Flicker 3
Pileated Woodpecker 9
Northern Shrike 4

Northern Shrike- Adult. Gilbertville region.

Blue Jay 665
American Crow 157
Common Raven 33
Black-capped Chickadee 578
Tufted Titmouse 123
Red-breasted Nuthatch 47
White-breasted Nuthatch 156
Brown Creeper 38
Carolina Wren 1
Winter Wren 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet 95
Eastern Bluebird 11
Hermit Thrush 2
American Robin 1878 New High.
Northern Mockingbird 7
European Starling 138
Cedar Waxwing 76
Eastern Towhee 3 New High
American Tree Sparrow 129
Tree Sparrow- Hardwick

Fox Sparrow 1- 3rd record.
Song Sparrow 27
Swamp Sparrow 2
White-throated Sparrow 584 New High
Dark-eyed Junco 2297 New High
Snow Bunting 5
Northern Cardinal 74
Red-winged Blackbird 140
Purple Finch 2
House Finch 13
Red Crossbill 14
American Goldfinch 161
House Sparrow 410


River Otter 1
Red Fox 1
Red Squirrel 17
Gray Squirrel 19
Eastern Cottontail 1
Snowshoe Hare 1
Whitetail Deer 13
Bobcat 1
Muskrat 1

A friendly face on a chilly afternoon.

Tracks I.D. (Although not seen- A fresh dusting of light snow reveled these animals)

Good Birding,


Friday, December 25, 2009

Northampton C.B.C. Hadley area.

Snow Bunting- Honey Pot, Hadley.

Northampton Christmas Count- This is the first Christmas count I ever participated in and haven’t missed it in the last 33 years. My area is along the river in Hadley, and includes such notable locations as the Hadley Cove, Aqua Vitae Rd, Honey Pot and North Hadley. The forecast for the count was anything but encouraging, up to 10” of snow was expected to hit us in the early hours of the count. I got up around 3:45 am to see what was happing- NOTHING! We had dodged a big “Snowstorm” bullet. The storm pulled a little farther to the east, sparing us the white stuff. Along the coast they got hammered with 15” of the white stuff.

One thing we did get from the storm was the WIND! Walking across the corn fields in Hadley at times was tough, eyes watering and facial muscles locked into place was not a pleasant experience. Because of the wind, many birds were hunkered down, but we did manage to pull out 44 species, and a couple of them were somewhat note worthy.
Like the year before, I was joined by my friend James Smith of Amherst. James keen eye and ear were a tremendous help birding in the blustery conditions. Visit James blog page @ Pioneer Birding to view photos.

Happy Holidays,


Location: Hadley, Hampshire County, MA, US
Observation date: 12/20/09
Notes: Northampton C.B.C.- Hadley Cove- Aqua Vitae Rd-Honey Pot & North Hadley.
Number of species: 44

Snow Goose- One bird in with hundreds of Canada Geese along the Connecticut River in Hadley.

Snow Goose 1
Canada Goose 1100
American Black Duck 9
Mallard 15
Northern Pintail 1 –female. (North Hadley)
Common Goldeneye 4
Common Merganser 21
Bald Eagle 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk 2
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 10
Ring-billed Gull 2
Rock Pigeon 65
Mourning Dove 20
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 7
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1-
Downy Woodpecker 12
Hairy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 3
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 15
American Crow 165
Horned Lark 40
Black-capped Chickadee 16
Tufted Titmouse 13
White-breasted Nuthatch 13
Carolina Wren 2
Eastern Bluebird 6
American Robin 3
Northern Mockingbird 6
European Starling 71
American Tree Sparrow 110                                         Canada Geese- 1100 seen on the river in Hadley.
Clay-colored Sparrow 1- At the end of Meadow Street in Hadley. 3rd one I’ve had on the count. See James Smith Blog for photos…”Pioneer birding” James was able to get some pretty decent pics of the Clay-colored, considering this bird was not cooperating at all!
Savannah Sparrow 6
Song Sparrow 50
White-throated Sparrow 30
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 30
Lapland Longspur 1
Snow Bunting 1
Northern Cardinal 30

House Finch 6
American Goldfinch 7
House Sparrow 10
(below) Eastern Bluebird in the Honey Pot.

Sunset at the East Meadows- looking towards Northampton, Mass.

Friday, December 18, 2009

December Broad-winged Hawk!

Yesterday, (12/12/09) my daughter called me to report a hawk at her mother’s house in Belchertown. The bird was sitting in the front yard and didn’t appear to be in a hurry to go any where soon. I was away for the day and told her that perhaps the hawk had struck the house or some other object in the yard- just leave it be and it will probably take off once it gets its bearings. Fast forward to 7pm, Samantha stops by for a visit and reports the hawk is still in the front yard- WHAT!

It’s obvious at this point the hawk was in real trouble, so we immediately headed down the road armed with gloves, a towel and a box to capture this bird. The front yard was pitch black, (forgot the flashlight) but she knew the exact location and we pick up the hawk with little resistance. (Hoping it wasn’t dead) At this point I still didn’t know its true identity, but it was a small hawk with a short tail? We get back to my house, get the hawk into the light and out of the towel - I was STUNNED to be looking at an Adult BROAD-WINGED HAWK.

The Broad-winged was in tough shape-barely alive. The only noticeable injury to the bird was to its right eye, but it was still alive. I called Tom Ricardi in Conway, (Raptor Rehabilitator) and told him I had a Broad-winged Hawk for him….a little pause at his end. He told me to keep it warm and if it makes it through the night, give him a call in the morning and he’d take it from there. Long story shortened- I met Tom in South Deerfield this morning and handed the Broad-wing off to him. The hawk was still in trouble, but was alert and Tom was at least a little optimistic about its survival.

A quick look through the Birds of Massachusetts (Veit/Petersen) shows the latest date for a Broad-winged Hawk was from Wellfleet, Nov 18th, 1959.

Update 12/14/09 - I talked with Tom Ricardi this morning, the Broad-wing was still alive, but had yet to eat. Tom indicated this was not unusual with raptors recently brought into his care. The injury to the hawk’s right eye that I mentioned earlier was recent. The eye still had fresh blood around it, if it was an older injury it would have dried up by now. Tom reports that the next 4-5 days will be critical to its survival. If the bird begins to eat on its own, things will look pretty good. If Tom is able to rehab the bird-he'll release it next spring.

Update- 12/18/09 -I spoke with Tom Ricardi this evening, my curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to know if the hawk was still alive. I quickly learned from Tom that the Broad-wing had died the day before. The obvious injury to the right eye was the tip of the iceberg. The left eye which looked perfectly fine- was not. The hawk was blind in both eyes! And an area of his left wing was partially swollen. Tom also believes the bird suffered more internal head injuries. Tom even tried to force feed the bird, but thirty minutes later it came back up. The injuries were probably brought on by a collision with a car (we found the bird in the front yard-close to the road) or possibly a window. The only thing certain is the injuries were recent- A hawk with these injuries would not have lasted very long.

This species of hawk breeds throughout New England and points north. From mid to late September, given the right weather conditions, thousands can be seen from lookouts around interior New England. By the first week in October hundreds of thousands are winging their way pass the hawk watches around Veracruz, Mexico. So...why did this individual stay behind? No one will ever know for sure, but for all practical purposes, the hawk seemed to be in good shape until its encounter with a large object on December 12th.

I far as I know, this is the latest date for this species in Massachusetts and maybe New England!


Valerie with Broad-winged Hawk.

Tom Ricardi- looking over the Broad-wing.

Tail shot.

Heading to the rehab center.