Sunday, November 13, 2011

October Snowstorm-trick or treat

Black Scoter-Barton's Cove

October Snowstorm =”Nightmare”

I headed up to the Turner’s Falls Power canal on Saturday October 29th in hopes of locating the Pink-footed Goose that James Smith found earlier in the week . After an hour of scanning through the few hundred Canada Geese that were hanging out at the canal, I along with others came up empty. After departing the canal area I headed up to Barton’s Cove.The highlights were a frosty looking Great blue Heron, a female Black Scoter, a Brant and five American Coots. The Brant was especially nice since one can easily miss them here in western Massachusetts, and the American Coots……although there were only five, it has been a big year for them here in Massachusetts, with hundreds and hundreds being reported throughout the Baystate.

The main event was forecasted for Saturday night into Sunday morning, a rare October Snowstorm!

The storm began quite a bit earlier than originally forecasted- and by 8:30pm we lost all power, and power would not return until the following Saturday! I headed out early Sunday morning to plow out various locations in the Belchertown and Amherst area, and that’s when I quickly came to the realization that the area was hit extremely hard by this storm. The amount of downed trees, powerlines was nothing I have ever witnessed here in the valley. Despite the inconvenience of the situation, life does go on- but come Saturday afternoon both Valerie and I were very happy to get power and the internet back ON! Below are a few shots from the storm and recent birds.


Great blue Heron-Barton's Cove. Looking a little cold- Snowstorm just hours away.

Brant- Barton's Cove.
Early Sunday morning- Rte 9 in Belchertown. From here to center of Belchertown...Closed!

Rte 9-Belchertown

Baker Street-Amherst.

Baker Street- Only active feeder on the street.

Bay Road in Belchertown....the devastation continues

Rusty Blackbird- One of two- A first for my feeder.

Chipping Sparrow- lingering

Rusty Blackbird-

Western Kingbird- This bird still continues in New Salem-at least as of 2:30 today (Sat 11-12-11) found by Bill Lafley.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Break out the Orange

Its October……break out the Orange!

Worked my way out to the East Meadows this morning in search of Sparrows and whatever else the meadows would give up. I made my way past the Red Barn and tried to avoid the mammoth puddles the recent rains had created, parked and starting out into the fields –“GUN SHOTS” I looked around a bit and suddenly found hunters emerging from the cornfields.. I was the only one not wearing “ORANGE” October 14th –the beginning of the Hunting Season…..needless to say I didn’t venture out to far after that. All was not lost….A few American Kestrels, (10) Rusty Blackbirds, American Pipits, Horned Larks , (3) Palm Warblers and lots of Savannah Sparrows.

After departing the hunting festival that was going on in the East Meadows, I headed to the West Meadows, hoping the color orange wasn’t going to be a fashion requirement. I encountered (5) (getting late) Bobolinks, Many Savannah, Swamp, and Song Sparrows, (4) White-crowned and (2) Vesper Sparrows. All in all- a nice morning. Complete list below

Orange...the color of the month.
Savannah Sparrow- one of dozens & dozens.
Boblink....West Meadows.
Swamp Sparrow....very common migrate in early to mid October.
Palm Warbler-
Vesper Sparrow-always unexpected
Vesper Sparrow-back view
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Golden-crowned Kinglet..In our area -migration just kicking in.

Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary and West Meadows--IBA, Hampshire, US-MA

Oct 14, 2011 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM
40 species

Wood Duck 2
Mallard 12
Double-crested Cormorant 3
Turkey Vulture 4
Bald Eagle 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 4
Killdeer 1
Ring-billed Gull 37
Herring Gull 7
Mourning Dove 6
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 2
Blue Jay 6
American Crow 325
Black-capped Chickadee 4
Tufted Titmouse 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Eastern Bluebird 4
European Starling X
Cedar Waxwing 4
Nashville Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 1
Palm Warbler 7
Yellow-rumped Warbler 2
Vesper Sparrow 2
Savannah Sparrow 75
Song Sparrow 30
Swamp Sparrow 60
White-throated Sparrow 17
White-crowned Sparrow 4
Northern Cardinal 3
Bobolink 5
Red-winged Blackbird 80
House Finch 4
American Goldfinch 2
House Sparrow 33

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Friday, July 1, 2011

BBC Pelagic Trip- June 25th

I haven’t had a lot of time this spring to update my blog, so I have a bit of catching up to do.

Last Saturday I joined the Brookline Bird club for their annual June Pelagic trip to the Nantucket Shoals, about 20-30 miles east of Chatham. The trip certainly didn’t start out on a high note…fairly heavy fog was present for the first couple hours of the trip. About two hours into the trip we had our first tease of the morning- a Skua appeared at the edge of the fog only to disappear right back into the soupy mess. A little while later the fog began to slowly lift and things began to really pick up.

The crew put out a chum slick once it started to clear and not long after the Storm-Petrels and Shearwaters started to appear in really good numbers.

The chum slick also brought in a very obliging Northern Fulmar. This bird made several passes around the boat and offered the photographers several opportunities to come away with a decent shot or two. We did encounter a few more Fulmars during the day including a dark morph, but the first one was the star of the Fulmar show.

The one memorable thing about this trip, at least to me was everyone on board was able to get really good looks at the majority of the birds that were encountered. The leaders worked very well together making sure everyone got on the birds.

Below is the official list compiled by Naeem Yusuff and the trip map provided by Steve Mirick


Common Loon 15
Northern Fulmar 2-3
Cory's Shearwater 12
Great Shearwater 376
Sooty Shearwater 1,303
Manx Shearwater 2
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 300
Leach's Storm-Petrel 8
Northern Gannet 1
Laughing Gull 2
Herring Gull 210
Great Black-backed Gull 225
Common Tern 4
skua sp. 1
Pomarine Jaeger 1
Parasitic Jaeger 1
Common Murre1

 Great Shearwater

Great Shearwater

Northern Fulmar-Light morph.

Northern Fulmar

Parasitic Jaeger

Pomarine Jaeger- both Jaegers put on a nice show.

Pomarine Jaeger

Sooty Shearwater

Wilson's Storm- Petrel

South Monomoy Island
Gray Seals on South Monomoy.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring Birding Class-New Salem to Turner's Falls

Spring Birding class-Trip #2.

Saturday March 12th- We left the Hitchcock Center in Amherst for areas to the North this morning. Our hope was to cash in on lingering Bohemian Waxwings, Evening Grosbeaks and Redpolls. Recent reports from New Salem had Bohemian Waxwings coming to a couple of Crabapple Trees near the Center of town. We arrived around 8:00am and looked around a bit, no luck. We met up with Bill Lafley, who had reported the movement of the Waxwings throughout the week. After about ten minutes the Waxwings came flew in to the top of a deciduous tree near the overstuffed Crabapple Trees. They gave everyone killer looks through the scope, we enjoyed them for about twenty minutes and they just went up and out of sight...pretty lucky. We turned around to face Bill's house and we had American Goldfinches, (4) Pine Siskins and a flock of about (30) Common Redpolls coming into his feeder, Very Nice!

We left New Salem and headed to Royalston...."one of the most reliable locations for Evening Grosbeaks in Western Mass", We arrived around 10am and almost instantly had a group of (18) at a feeding station just down from the Library. These are very cool birds, and the group thought so as well. Also in the area, more Pine siskins, Common Redpolls and Redwinged Blackbirds. My hope was to maybe get one of these target birds, but not all four. (Bohemian Waxwing, Evening Grosbeak, Pine Siskin and Common Redpoll) Not only did we get all four, but more important...everyone got great looks!

So it's now 11:00am, time running out and was hoping to still get to Barton's Cove in Turners Falls. The class is scheduled to end at 12:00, but the group was willing to go a little longer. My last target bird was a Redhead Duck that was found earlier in the week at The Turner's Falls Canal, with other sightings at Barton's Cove and the Rod & Gun Club-both in Turner's Falls. We quickly pulled into Barton's Cove on the Gill side, and found (47) Hooded Mergansers, a handful of Common Mergansers, (3) Common Goldeneye, (2) Bald Eagles and a Glaucous Gull-1st winter, but no Redhead. The last stop of the day would be to the Rod & Gun Club on the other side of the River. We pull into the Rod & Gun Club and they had some sort of a function going we quickly parked and scan the water. There was virtually no ducks except a group of (37) Ring-necked Ducks and one lone drake Redhead....very nice. One can easily go without seeing a Redhead Duck in the valley for several seasons.A great way to end the day.


These two photos of Bohemian Waxwings were taken a couple of weeks earlier in Windsor, get the idea.

Evening Grosbeak- Royalston Center
Evening Grosbeak-female
Bald Eagle-Imm. This bird kept both ducks and gulls on alert.

Ring-necked Ducks and male Redhead Duck- Rod & Gun Club in Turner's Falls.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Long Winter.....

This has been a tough winter here in the Northeast, three feet of snow, almost thirty days of the mercury never rising above thirty-two degrees and Ice dams galore. But, there is a small light at the end of the tunnel....Northern Cardinals, Carolina Wrens and Titmice have started singing, spring is on the way.

Over the past month I've had a couple of days to get out and do a little birding and photography here in the Valley. Below are some recent photos......

Cedar Waxwing - Recently there has been a flock of 135 descending upon the downtown area of Amherst. This photo was taken on So.Pleasant Street, near Amherst College.

Field Sparrow- Always a good bird in winter. The past several winters we get one at our feeding station..on-off.

Carolina Wren- You know it's a tough winter when they start visiting our feeder. This bird is holding up just fine. Carolina Wrens seem to be dealing with New England winters far better than they use too.

Old Barn in the Deerfield Meadows. Just a cold day!

Horned Lark- flocks of 50 to 260 have been reported in the valley this winter.  This bird and others put on a great show off of Stillwater Road in deerfield.

Lesser Blacked-backed Gull- This adult continues to put on a late afternoon show at Barton's cove in Turners Falls.

Bohemian Waxwing- I was lucky to come across two birds in Deerfield a few weeks ago. for the most part, the large numbers of Bohemians have been staying north of us. Hopefully that will change in the coming weeks.

Lapland Longspurs- A few of these birds, along with the Horned Larks put on a great show off of Stillwater Rd in Deerfield. Other Longspurs have also been report several times in the Hadley area.

Horned Lark & Lapland Longspur- Deerfield

Lapland Longspur

Red-breasted Nuthatch-Amherst.