Friday, August 30, 2013

Summer Odd's & Ends


Labor Day Weekend is upon us and by some accounts it’s the end of Summer? Warblers are on the move, Common Nighthawks can be found at dusk hawking insects and now that the Connecticut River has returned to normal summertime levels…. shorebirds are starting to show up in the valley. Below are some photos from the past couple of months.



Giant Swallow-tailed Butterfly

Barn Swallow- one of about many that nested in the neighborhood.

Eastern Phoebe- Two successful broods from our front porch this summer. They seem to look better in fall! 

One of many Sunflowers in Val's garden.

Chipping Sparrows- Adult & Juv.  On several occasions I would flood a small area of my niece's horse pasture and wait for the birds to come in for their evening bath.

Chipping Sparrow

Grey Tree Frog- out in the yard

Super moon

Grey Tree the Frog Pond.

Green Frog- Val's Frog Pond

Ruby-throated Hummingbird-Falmouth,


Eastern Chipmunk-"Mastering the art of Face Stuffing"

Norway Rat-Falmouth

Laughing Gull-Juv. One of two birds at the Longmeadow Sandbar. Laughing Gulls inland are on the rare side.

Red-necked Phalarope-Juv. Another rarity on the Longmeadow Sandbar. Any Phalarope in the valley is special....I can count on one hand the number of encounters I've had with each of the three Phalaropes species.

Common Nighthawk- I was Nighthawk watching in Northampton with Tom Gagnon on August 25th when we encountered 1764 Nighthawks in a two and a half hour period. It was Tom's 8th biggest night...He has records going back nearly thirty years!

Great Egret at the Umass Campus Pond. The water level is a little low, because of maintainance going on at the pond.

Merlin-Wilson Rd. 1st of the fall

Very young Killdeer at the horse pasture this summer.

This is one of three Killdeer that made it to adult. Interestingly...We were worried that perhaps the neighborhood cats might get into the pen and take the young Killdeer, but we think the horese and the Donkey kept everyone out of the pasture area.
Weeks later- all grown up

Valerie at the Old Amherst Landfill- We conducted a survey for New England Environmental this summer for Grassland birds at this site.

Bobolink female-could have been at least 14 pairs at the old landfill


Our prize bird was the Grasshopper Sparrows. There were three males singing on territory, but we could not confirm nesting this year.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird-one of six birds. The big battle we had this year was with the Bumblebees. They absolutely fell in love with the sugar water this year.

R.T. Hummer

Ruby-throated Hummingbird-male.  This year as in the last few years....friends of mine have opened their home to a number of birders to watch a one day hummingbird banding operation. This year they banded 66 in seven hours.

RT Hummingbird

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

BBC Pelagic Trip August 3rd ,2013


 Justed returned from a very successful BBC Pelagic Trip to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, 80 miles east of Nantucket.For the most part the weather was good, but the seas were a little on the rough side, causing more than a few cases of seasickness and a few bruises.  This year we departed Hyannis at 2:30AM on the Helen H and made it back to the dock around 9:00PM! Although there were no super rarities, we had 5 species of Shearwaters and 3 species of Storm-Petrels- which provided everyone with decent looks, along with large numbers of Dolphins and a couple Whales.

Many thanks to Nick Bonomo, James Smith and Mark Faherty for leading the trip and certainly special thanks go out to Ida Giriunas for organizing not just this trip, but all the BBC Pelagic Trips.
Below are photos and I've included the trip totals provided by Nick Bonomo.


Great Shearwater

Great Shearwater

Great Shearwater-riding the wave

Great Shearwaters

White-sided Dolphin

White-sided Dolphin with Wilson's Storm-Petrel.

Wilson's Storm-Petrels

Wilson's Storm-Petrel

Wilson's Storm-Petrel

Leach's Storm-Petrel

Leach's Storm-Petrel

Fin Whale

Sooty Shearwater

Cory's Shearwater

Cory's Shearwater

Audubon's Shearwater

Audubon's Shearwater- note heavy wing molt.

Audubon's Shearwater

Audubon's Shearwater


Sun starting to set.......

3 Common Loon
17 Cory's Shearwater (4 birds seen well were identified as the more common ‘borealis’ subspecies)
609 Great Shearwater (almost exclusively on Nantucket Shoals)
7 Sooty Shearwater (Nantucket Shoals)
1 Manx Shearwater (Nantucket Shoals)
6 Audubon's Shearwater (all seen in approx.  72 degree water right along shelf edge, but none in the warmest/deepest waters; both fresh and heavily molting individuals seen)
769 Wilson's Storm-Petrel
43 Leach's Storm-Petrel (most along shelf edge and deeper)
8 BAND-RUMPED STORM-PETREL (exclusively in deep 73-74.5 degree water south of the shelf edge; one bird photo’d well enough to observe rather stout structure and nearly complete primary molt, which falls in line with potential winter-breeding “Grant’s” form hypothesized to be the expected visitor to our region)
5 Leach's/Band-rumped Storm-Petrel
3 Northern Gannet
6 Red-necked Phalarope (Nantucket Shoals)
5 Red Phalarope(Nantucket Shoals)
4 phalarope sp. (Nantucket Shoals)
11 Common Tern
2 SKUA sp. (Nantucket Shoals; one photographed highly suggestive of South Polar Skua, review in progress)


1 Fin Whale

2 Minke Whale

16 Risso’s Dolphin

2 Offshore Bottlenose Dolphin

50 Common Dolphin