Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mammal Land

Did you know Northern Cardinals are the last to leave the feeders each night least at my house. However, the next wave of visitors start to arrive a couple hours after sunset. This year we've experienced up to eleven species of mammals stopping by the bird feeder.   Recently a pair of Gray Foxes have been stopping by on a regular basis, including tonight..10-28. Prior to these two Gray Foxes, the only one I had ever seen was a dead one up at Lake Onota in Pittsfield.  

Below are a few photos of  feeder visitors....

Gray Fox


Flying Squirrel- 1st one I've seen in nearly thirty years 

Mr. Skunk

Black Bear


Wood Chuck

Happy Halloween.....and another Major Storm heading into New England! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow headed Blackbird....
Ventured out Sunday morning with Priscilla Moor to do a little birding in the Berkshires, at least that was the goal. It was just getting light as we Headed down Bay Rd, in Hadley,   I noticed a few dark blobs in a roadside puddle and quickly turned around. WE pulled up slowly and found (14) Wilson's Snipe feeding and preening right next to the road! They were later joined by (2) Least Sandpipers (getting a little late) . I photographed them as best I could in the low light and after fifteen minutes we headed down the road, not too far and took a quick right onto East Hadley Rd. I remembered a section of field was recently plowed and it might be worth looking around for some other shorebirds. 
We got out and scanned, a few Killdeer, but not much least for the moment. We started heading out and I caught a Am.Golden Plover flying overhead..Let the show begin!
Something had put up the majority of the Killdeers in the largest Cornfield and in that flock contained the Golden Plover and one Pectoral Sandpiper. The birds eventually settled in to the closest plowed field and offered decent looks at the Plover and Pect. After a few minutes I turned the scope towards a large flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds that was down the road. I panned through them, didn't see anything at the moment, but then they all went up. As they went through my scope field I thought I glimpsed white wing patches in one of them?

I told Priscilla that maybe I had a Yellow-headed Blackbird, but kept scanning...nothing.
The flock move closer to the road, so we slowly drove up to give it a second look, after a few minutes-BINGO. Both Priscilla and I had pretty good looks at the rare western vagrant and I was able to get a couple of photos. We got the word out, and to my surprise the blackbird stayed around all day and quite a few birder's got to see it.

Yellow-headed Blackbird-winter male

Evening Grosbeaks......
The other highlight this past weekend was the Evening Grosbeaks that made an all day visit to our feeder . During the last week or so Evening Grosbeaks have been turning up in modest numbers at feeders thoughout the Baystate. Another segment of the winter finch puzzle is taking place, at least for the moment. Evening Grosbeaks once graced many a feeder in New England in the late 1960's 70's and into the mid 80's. When I say graced, I mean ravaged feeders...I can remember one winter having flocks of 150 at a time and going through 600-700 pounds of sunflower seed that winter. As for other winter finches...Pine siskins really started hitting feeders today (10/19) in larger numbers. Here in Belchertown are Siskin numbers increased to forty today, Tom Gagnon in Florence reported over fifty and reports from the Berkshires had over seventy! Also of note...Two Pine Grosbeaks were reported from New Salem...too be continued.

Enjoy the photos


Evening Grosbeak-male

Evening Grosbeak-female

American Golden-Plover-Juv. Hadley

Wilson's Snipe- Hadley

Dunlin-Basic plumage. East Meadows-Northampton,MA

Ruby-throated Hummingbird-Granby, MA. Getting late for Ruby-throats- this bird was banded and was found to be an adult female. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pine Siskins-Moving in or through.

The last couple of weeks Pine Siskins have been moving into Massachusetts. Their arrival is just another piece of the Winter Finch puzzle. The Winter Finch forecast is an interesting one, the cone and berry crops to our north are a bust. With that in mind, it's predicted that many northern finches will start moving south in search of food. Besides the recent arrival of Siskins, Red Crossbills and Red-breasted Nuthatches have already made a statement into the region. There have also been a handful of reports of Common Redpolls, Evening Grosbeaks and even a couple of Pine Grosbeaks. So keep the feeders filled and an eye to the sky.

Pine Siskin- 

Pine Siskins- Loving Black Oil Sunflower Seeds.

Purple Finch- (Male) Very good numbers so far this fall.

A nice comparison between Purple (left) and House Finch. (right)   

 Another invasion this fall, this time from the west. Clay-colored Sparrows (above) and Dickcissel's have been reported throughout New England and in very good numbers.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Common Yellowthroat-male.

Eastern Towhee-female.

Greater Yellowlegs- Somewhat scare this fall in the least for me.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Blue-headed Vireo

You know when the Yellow-rumped Warblers start showing up in large numbers...Warbler migration is coming to an end.

White-crowned Sparrow- Hadley. (Adult)

Sharp-shinned Hawk-Imm

Praying Mantis in Val's garden.

Rainbow from the house.