Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sparrow Hunting

Under near perfect weather conditions, Fifteen Hampshire Bird Club members set out last Sunday morning to beat the weed patches of the Honey Pot in search of Sparrows. Of course, being October-it is prime time to encounter those elusive….LBJ’S. (Little Brown Jobs) We ended the day with nine species of Sparrows, the most notable were Vesper & Grasshopper Sparrow. However, we were afforded terrific looks at Song, Savannah, Swamp, White-Crowned, White-throated, and lesser looks at Field and Chipping Sparrows. However….sparrows weren’t the only entertainment- We had great looks at a Merlin harassing a Northern Harrier, Yellow-rumped & Palm Warblers (Eastern & Western) Cooper ’s hawk, a late bobolink and up to 10 Fish Crows at the Donut man in Hadley.   


Below are  lists and photos of the birds encountered during Sunday’s trip, however some of the photos were taken the week before.


Northern Harrier & Merlin. Merlins just go out of their way to make the lives of other birds miserable .

Northern Harrier- A more peaceful moment

Vesper Sparrow- on the powerline in the Honey Pot. I generally see Vesper Sparrows sitting & calling from the Powerlines in the Springtime, not so much in the fall.

Swamp Sparrow- early October is primetime for these guys here in the valley.

Chipping Sparrow-

Palm Warbler-Eastern. We also had decent looks at a Western Palm.

White-crowned Sparrow-Adult.

Lincoln's Sparrow- of the expected sparrows...we missed this one.

Honey Pot- Hadley

 Canada Goose  72
American Black Duck  4
Northern Harrier  1
Cooper's Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Killdeer  1
Mourning Dove  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  1
Merlin  1
Eastern Phoebe  2
Blue Jay  4
American Crow  80
Carolina Wren  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Eastern Bluebird  8
American Robin  5
European Starling  20
American Pipit  8
Palm Warbler (Western)  1
Palm Warbler (Yellow)  5
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  12
Field Sparrow  2
Vesper Sparrow  1
Savannah Sparrow  70
Grasshopper Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  45
Swamp Sparrow  12
White-throated Sparrow  2
White-crowned Sparrow (Eastern)  6
Bobolink  1
Red-winged Blackbird  22
Rusty Blackbird  2
American Goldfinch  5
East Meadows- Northampton

Canada Goose  30
Turkey Vulture  2
Northern Harrier  2
Accipiter sp.  1
Killdeer  9
Merlin  1
American Crow  6
Horned Lark  12
Northern Mockingbird  1
American Pipit  15
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  17
Chipping Sparrow  1
Savannah Sparrow  3
Song Sparrow  5
Red-winged Blackbird  2
House Finch  4
American Goldfinch  8
House Sparrow  6


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Monhegan-Sept 2013

The last weekend in September is prime time for migration in New England, and perhaps the ultimate location in the Northeast is on Monhegan Island.  Those of you that have read my blog in the past, know that Monhegan is located about ten miles off the coast of Maine. I spent three days on the Island last weekend and experienced some nice movement of birds during my stay.  I ended my trip with about 97 species and took about 1000 photos during the weekend.

In the past I’ve used my standard 100-400mm Cannon zoom lens, this weekend I mainly used a rented 300mm fixed lens with a 1x4 extender for all the bird shots. Overall I was pretty happy with the results.



Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher- Only a couple during the weekend...this one loved the area around the Monhegan House.

Let's hope this Nome brings the Red Sox good luck during the up coming playoffs.

Northern Parula- Fairly numerous during the weekend.

The Goat Family over on Manama

Dickcissel- one of two.

Yellow-rumped Warbler-Clearly the king of late September Warblers passing through Monhegan...hundreds & hundreds.

Savannah Sparrow down at Lobster Cove. Not as many as pervious trips. The other Sparrow highlight was a Nelsen's Sparrow-a first for me on Monhegan.

Swamp Sparrow

Palm Warbler (Eastern/Yellow) not as common as the Yellow-rumps, but then what is. On another note-The vast majority of the Palms were of the Eastern Race, something I've also noticed locally here in Western Mass. 

Yellow Warbler

Peregrine Falcon-Imm. Fall falcon migration on Monhegan can be spectular.

Northern Harrier

Magnolia Warbler

Merlin-loads of fun to watch

Yellow-bellied sapsucker- very common


Northern Flicker-another very common Woodpecker during late September.

Looking North from Whitehead.

Clay-colored Sparrow-almost expected on the Island this time of year.

Monhegan Harbor


Green-winged Teal-

Rusty Blackbird- 6-9 birds seen throughout the weekend.

Hermit Thrush-very few thrushes on the Island. The only other thrush I had was a Swainson's.

Brown Thrasher-just love these birds!

Lincoln's Sparrow

Blackburnian Warbler

Semipalmated Plover-

Black-throated Green Warbler

Black & White Warbler- Just before my arrival there  was a huge fallout of this species.

Red-eyed Vireo-a fair amount found around the Island.

Wilson's Warbler

Philadelphia Vireo-

Certainly a surprise out on Monhegan this fall has been a small movement of Broad-winged Hawks. Typically they stay clear of open water. This was my first in 29 years going out to Monhegan.

Cape May Warbler-fairy bright fall bird.

Monarch Butterfly- only three seen on this trip. The numbers are way down this season for this butterfly. I would normally see hundreds.

Brown Creeper

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Muskrat-apparently there is a large colony out on the Island.

Island Inn- Final day on the Island was very foggy

Fog on the Marsh

Main road on the Island

Sunset at the Trailing Yew

Trailing Yew-Dining Room


Monhegan Lighthouse- Two weeks before I arrived the Lighthouse was hit by lighting! The lighthouse "light" was barely visable. They've made one attempt to fix it....but struck out.