Friday, November 13, 2015

Quabbin Gate 40 11/8

We had a perfect Sunday walk at Gate 40 on the 8th, more of a general "poke around" out and back walk to Dana Center then continuing to a large marsh. One high light was gathering some oyster mushrooms which Karin made into a great soup on Tuesday.
The pictorial highlights are below:

A toothed "shelf" fungi, not the oysters we took home.

There were several robins in this stand of winter berry

We saw a few wasp nests

A few autumn meadowhawks were seen flying about.

Karin investigates an old foundation.

Sumac by the road side

Another wasp nest that was torn open

The "round stone" foundation, in Dana Center, with some recent restoration work.

Karin viewing the old school house cellar hole.

Oriental Bittersweet doing what it does best, on a sapling.

This bittersweet vine was supporting the attack of a tall red pine

roots had apparently grown from the tree bark over the dead wood into the ground, for additional support I assume.

One of a few a drake Wood Ducks on the marsh.

A few Oak leaves were holding their color

Another colorful Oak leaf.

One of several Blue Jays near Dana Center
Another foundation with a nice place to "duck out" on a rainy day.

This skein of Canadas flew over, one had an all white head.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Forbush Bird Club Conn. River Valley Trip 11/1/2015

  Last Sunday's (11/1/2015) "Forbush" trip to Hadley/ North Hampton area of the Connecticut River Valley began at the Quabbin Headquarters, in Belchertown. The Quabbin waters were fairly quiet, with no signs of the Bonepart's Gulls and Long-tailed Ducks reported from the previous day. We did enjoy nice views of 3 Bald Eagles, 2 Common loons and 2 female mergansers that flew past. One of the mergs was a robust and more expected Common and the trailing bird was the smaller more slender Red-breasted.

 The first "valley" stop was along the levee at Hadley's Alexandra Dawson Conservation Area, where many common species were seen and heard. High lights were several hundred robins passing over the river and a fast moving Merlin.

The view down river from the Alexandra Dawson Conservation Area in Hadley
At Hadley's "Honey Pot" area, a agricultural field complex, several raptors showed nicely; including 3 or 4 Red-tailed Hawks, a male American Kestrel, 2 juvenile Northern Harriers and a Bald Eagle. Sparrows included many juncos, White-throated, Song,  a few American Tree and single Chipping and imm. White-crowned Sparrows. We also heard a Fish Crow or 2 near the old landfill/transfer station.
An adult Red-tailed Hawk at the Honey Pot, "I will eat the little people when they come onto the deck".

Bald Eagle at the Honey Pot

American Kestrel (male) at the Honey Pot

Looking down river  toward the bike path and rte 9  bridges with a portion of the Holyoke Range in the background.
 Next we moved across the river to the East Meadow's of North Hampton were a nice mixed flock of approximately 150 Horned Larks (80%) and Snow Bunting (20%) were seen. A late Pectoral Sandpiper was heard then seen as it quickly flew past, another (or perhaps one of the earlier) harrier showed nicely as it hunted low over the fields.
A colorful stand of oaks, and the Summit House, at Skinner State Park, several years back my son and I enjoyed an evening jazz concert from the Summit House.

1 of the 4 or 5 Northern Harriers (Juv.) seen throughout the day.

The Holyoke Range (7 sisters) from the East Meadows
 The final stop was Arcadia Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary, in East Hampton. While we did not have time to visit the West Meadows portion of the property, we did enjoy a nice flock of Cedar Waxwings and waterfowl. A pair of Cackling Geese had been reported from the previous week, and a good deal of time was spend studying the geese for these 2 miniature Canada type geese. Mixed with about 300 Canada Geese were , Wood Ducks, Mallards, Black Ducks,  Green-winged Teal and after ~45 minutes of diligent study the two prize "Cacklers" became evident.

A Northern Harrier passed over head at close range and on the walk out, an immature Red-tail was seen, from very close range, as it tore apart the remnants of a gray squirrel.

A few of many Cedar Waxwings at Arcadia Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary, in East Hampton. 

A pair of Cackling Geese (Richardson's type), Arcadia MAS, note the smaller size, lighter colored upper parts and stubby bills.

A pair of Cackling Geese (Richardson's type), Arcadia MAS

A pair of Cackling Geese (Richardson's type), Arcadia MAS

A pair of Cackling Geese (Richardson's type), Arcadia MAS
A Juvenile Northern Harrier heading toward the Arcadia observation blind. 

This fearless Red-tail put on a great show, note its bulging crop !

There didn't appear to be much left other than skin, bone and connective tissue!
Links to my ebird checks :

Quabbin HQ:

Alexandra Dawson Conservation Area:

The Honey Pot:

East Meadows:

Arcadia MAS:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Wampanoag Hawkwatch 10/24

A brief hawkwatch, at the Wampanoag MAS in Gardner, produced a modest flight of raptors during a 2 hour session late Saturday morning; the totals (for migrants):
Turkey Vulture  5
Bald Eagle 1 adult
Sharp-shinned Hawk 4
Red-shouldered Hawk 3
Red-tailed Hawk 6

Also notable were a Horned Lark, Winter Wren (calling from the adjacent woods),  and ~10 passing Purple Finches.
Several Yellow-rumped Warblers were in the area,  including one that landed on my head! Ten plus years back a Northern Shrike nearly landed on my head , it did in fact land on my scope (only 3 feet from me!) at same spot , while I was hawkwatching....once again confirming hawkwatching is not exactly an aerobic vocation.

The true highlight was the Eastern Coyote, that was digging at the edge of the field:
A  handsome dog!

as it discovers my presence

retreating to cover

Later a Porcupine showed in the field!
waddling across the field at full "steam"

taking a brief pause before entering the woods.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Watatic "Weather Watch"

A little over 4 hours of hawkwatching on Mt Watatic brought just under 30 migrant raptors past the site. Leading the way was 16 Sharp-shins followed and a scattering of a single Cooper's, 2 Red-shoulders, 4 Red-tails, 3 Turkey Vultures and a few unidentified raptors. Raptors deemed not to migrating were a few Red-tails and 3 Bald Eagles.
Bald Eagles have become a little more "problematic"to determine if they are migrants or "locals". For example, today 2 immature s pasted the site apparently headed SW only to show up a bit later headed north, hence they were removed for the migrant list, but still a pleasure to observe.

Portions of the "powerline trial" had an impressive carpet of beech, birch and maple foliage, making for a near "red carpet" stroll to the watch site!

An attractive carpet of leaves blanketed the more level sections of the trail.
The day started with clear skies, however far to the west a cloud bank could be seen approaching. The temperature at home had dropped to about 20 F over night, and had only risen to ~30F just after 10AM, when I arrived on the east summit. That combined with a north west wind at 5-10 made for a little more than crisp fall day.
A near cloudless sky, Stodge Meadow Pond and Wachusett Mtn in this view to the south.

A low passing aircraft.

28 of a total of 90 south bound Canada Geese that passed.

1 of 2 Common Loons that passed on a south bound mission
The clouds rolled in just after noon and snow squalls could be seen approaching from the west.
Heavy cloud cover over Pack Monadock, they had a similar flight to Watatic(for this day), but they had a late day Golden Eagle!
Pack has had quite a season with over 18,500 migrant raptors for the autumn, including a Swainson's Hawk.

A snow Squall approaching Lower Naukeag Lake in Ashburnham

More snow passing and it looked like like "Pack" was getting some winter action.

A portion of this heavy squall eventually gave Watatic a wintery blast.

Another squall about to obscure the Boston Skyline.
Season totals for hawkwatch sites such as Mt. Watatic, Wachusett Mtn, Pack Monadnock....and most other watch sites can be found HERE.