Thursday, June 29, 2017

June 25th Westover AFB andkinner SP - or Some days you just get lucky

Some days you just get lucky.

Our luck didn't kick in right away, and although we had good views of American Kestrels, Grasshopper Sparrows, Bobolinks, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows, it took some effort before we found the usually
obliging Upland Sandpipers at Westover AFB. Today they were not so obliging. The first views were of a very distant head just barely visible over the grass, and we only had 2 other birds, both of which were seen in flight when a Red-tailed Hawk flushed them. We had similarly mediocre luck with Eastern Meadowlarks and Horned Larks, seeing them, but only poor and distant views. We did have a cooperative adult Cooper's Hawk that flew around and perched up on a pole and a building for a while. 

Male Cerulean Warbler feeding a chick, photo by Steven Whitebread 

Our luck really kicked in at our next stop however. As we pulled into the parking space at the top of Skinner State Park, there was some movement just 10 feet above the windshields. Amazingly, this was the main target of the entire trip, a Cerulean Warbler! We all had great views of a male feeding in the trees around the cars, at times almost at eye level! Soon we noticed a juvenile bird up in a tree, and while trying to figure out what it
was, the male Cerulean came in and fed it, answering that question for us. We watched the male feed the juvenile a few more times before continuing to the summit house. There we had a Junco and a family of
Indigo Buntings, as well as a female Scarlet Tanager that posed in the open just 30 feet away. Walking back down the road from the parking lot, the juvenile Cerulean had moved, but the male was still in the same general area collecting more food. A bit further down the road, while listening to Yellow-throated Vireos, Worm-eating Warblers, and a Pileated Woodpecker, we came across a female Cerulean gathering food
over the road. We all got to see the female at close range before she moved off into the woods, presumably to feed another juvenile.

The merry birders atop Skinner SP
 Next, we drove through the actively farmed Honey Pot area of Hadley looking for Vesper Sparrows. We were rewarded with at least three singing birds, two of which we saw while dodging cars, dust, and pesticides being sprayed from trucks (how are the birds able to cope with that?).

Since we had not seen a Yellow-throated Vireo yet, we went to the Notch visitor center for the Mount Holyoke Range SP where we eventually found a nest with the parents swapping incubation duties. It was here that we had probably the most unexpected species of the trip. Right after we arrived, three Black Vultures flew over the
parking lot with some Turkey Vultures, and then as we were leaving, we noticed a Black Vulture perched on a tower halfway up neighboring Bare Mt.

 Yellow-throated Vireo on Nest and Black Vulture in serious molt, photos by Steven Whitebread

From there we headed to Quabbin Park. Shortly after entering, we heard a Least Flycatcher calling away from right along the road. After briefly stopping at the tower where a Broad-winged Hawk flew right over our heads, we continued to the Enfield lookout. There we had good looks at Chestnut-sided and Blackburnian Warblers, and had an immature Bald Eagle fly by. We also watched a heavy rain squall move toward us over the reservoir giving us a beautiful view, but leaving us wondering how wet we were about to get. While trying to beat the rain to our next stop, we spotted 2 Porcupines in the trees alongside the road, so we pulled over and looked at them, though they were more interested in sleeping than noticing us. Beating the rain to the parking area for the Goodnough Dike, we decided to stay near the cars in case it started pouring. Here some of us had very good looks at a male Black-throated-blue Warbler as well as a pair of Black-and-white Warblers feeding on and just over the ground in front of us. We also heard a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker calling from here. As we were leaving (still dry), a Pileated Woodpecker flew at, and then over us fairly low giving everyone a good look at another fun bird.

Broad-winged hawk and Porcupine at Quabbin SP, photo by Steven Whitebread

From there we continued on to our last stop of the day, a bridge in the Three Rivers village of Palmer. Here we had great views of Cliff Swallows, Rough-winged Swallows, and Chimney Swifts all flying around at eye level and lower.

Cliff Swallow, photo by Steven Whitebread

We ended the day with a surprisingly high collective total of 90 species before a drive home that was much longer than any of us would have liked.

1 Wild Turkey (drive by)

1 Common Loon
1 Double-crested Cormorant
4 Great Blue Heron
3 Black Vulture
38 Turkey Vulture
1 Osprey (drive by)
3 Cooper's Hawk
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
2 Broad-winged Hawk
6 Red-tailed Hawk
4 hawk sp.
2 Killdeer
3 Upland Sandpiper
1 Spotted Sandpiper
13 Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
33 Mourning Dove
1 Black-billed Cuckoo
18 Chimney Swift
2 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
1 Downy Woodpecker (Eastern)
6 Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)
2 Pileated Woodpecker
2 American Kestrel
7 Eastern Wood-Pewee
1 Willow Flycatcher
1 Least Flycatcher
8 Eastern Phoebe
2 Great Crested Flycatcher
4 Eastern Kingbird
5 Yellow-throated Vireo
2 Blue-headed Vireo
7 Warbling Vireo (Eastern)
33 Red-eyed Vireo
8 Blue Jay
8 American Crow
9 Common Raven
4 Horned Lark
12 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
10 Tree Swallow
2 Bank Swallow
10 Barn Swallow
8 Cliff Swallow
8 Black-capped Chickadee
2 Tufted Titmouse
27 White-breasted Nuthatch (Eastern)
2 House Wren
6 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
1 Eastern Bluebird
3 Veery
2 Wood Thrush
36 American Robin
12 Gray Catbird
3 Northern Mockingbird
25 European Starling
22 Cedar Waxwing
13 Ovenbird
2 Worm-eating Warbler
10 Black-and-white Warbler
3 Common Yellowthroat
23 American Redstart
3 Cerulean Warbler
3 Blackburnian Warbler
11 Yellow Warbler (Northern)
5 Chestnut-sided Warbler
3 Black-throated Blue Warbler
12 Pine Warbler
7 Grasshopper Sparrow
17 Chipping Sparrow
1 Field Sparrow
1 Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)
4 Vesper Sparrow
3 Savannah Sparrow (Savannah)
9 Song Sparrow
5 Eastern Towhee
8 Scarlet Tanager
5 Northern Cardinal
2 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
7 Indigo Bunting
13 Bobolink
13 Red-winged Blackbird (Red-winged)
5 Eastern Meadowlark (Eastern)
8 Common Grackle (Bronzed)
20 Brown-headed Cowbird
6 Baltimore Oriole
4 House Finch
17 American Goldfinch
18 House Sparrow


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Southern Plymouth County Breeders, 17th June 17

On June 17th, seven intrepid birders drove through the pouring rain to meet in Mattapoisett at 6AM. At the meetup, the rain dwindled down to a drizzle and it was unanimously decided upon to risk getting rained on, and as such the trip began.

Our first stop was the Schoolman Preserve in Rochester. This is a medium-sized trail within mixed forest, which has two offshoots that end and different locations along the Mattapoisett River. Typically, this forest holds many American Redstart and Veery and we were not disappointed to have great looks as well as several calling and singing birds of both species. Of note was when we heard a Redstart and Yellow Warbler singing at the same time, offering a great study of the two somewhat similar songs. We spent some time admiring the large Holly trees near one of the side trails, one of which appeared to be a fallen branch which rooted and continued growing, and were pleased to be accompanied by Jewelwings for the entirety of our trip. We also took some time to appreciate some Orange-patched Smoky Moths before the trail looped back to the parking lot.
Orange-patched Smoky Moth, photo by Kim Wylie

Schoolman Preserve, Plymouth, Massachusetts, US
Jun 17, 2017 6:15 AM - 8:05 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
Comments:     SSBC trip
32 species

Mourning Dove  2
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  1
Black-billed Cuckoo  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  2
Eastern Wood-Pewee  3
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Eastern Kingbird  1
American Crow  2
Barn Swallow  2
Black-capped Chickadee  8
Tufted Titmouse  6
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Brown Creeper  1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
Veery  12
American Robin  4
Gray Catbird  6
Ovenbird  13
Black-and-white Warbler  1
Common Yellowthroat  3
American Redstart  12
Yellow Warbler  7
Pine Warbler  6
Chipping Sparrow  8
Song Sparrow  2
Eastern Towhee  10
Northern Cardinal  3
Red-winged Blackbird  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  4
Baltimore Oriole  4
American Goldfinch  1

In an attempt to evade forecasted heavier rainfall, we then went to grab some coffee and a quick breakfast to wait it out. To our pleasant surprise, the rain stopped and fog lifted. We then made our way to Nasketucket Bay State Reservation, a series of trails which go through several different habitats; open meadow, mixed forest, thickets, and several trails which lead to Nasketucket Bay. We started by walking the main trail, which holds several Blue-winged Warblers because of all the secondary growth bordering the forest along the sides of the trail. Essentially as soon as we got on to the trail we found a Blue-winged Warbler which was singing low, and all had great looks at the bird. 

Blue-winged Warbler, Photo by Steven Whitebread
We continued down Meadow Trail, and were treated to singing Wood Thrush as we worked our way down, eventually taking Saltmarsh Trail to Nasketucket Bay. The group spent some time looking at the bay and abutting saltmarshes, and got great looks at Willet, Common Tern, a distant American Oystercatcher, and to my personal surprise we found another location along Buzzard’s Bay which appears to have a healthy population of (likely breeding) Saltmarsh Sparrows. These sparrows were being incredibly showy for this species, posting up on bare branches and singing occasionally. We also spent a decent amount of time trying to identify what appeared to be a small heron in the back of the marsh, which ended up being an extremely heron-like piece of vegetation. From here we worked our way back to the parking lot taking Holly Trail, the time of year showing its colors in the noticeable decrease in bird activity as the morning grew later.

Mystery egg on wrack, photo by Steven Whitebread
The crew, photo by Christine Whitebread
Nasketucket Bay State Reservation, Plymouth, Massachusetts, US
Jun 17, 2017 8:45 AM - 10:44 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
Comments:     SSBC trip
43 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose  1
Double-crested Cormorant  4
Snowy Egret  2
Osprey  2
American Oystercatcher  1
Willet  5
Herring Gull  3
Great Black-backed Gull  2
Common Tern  4
Mourning Dove  3
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  1
Yellow-billed/Black-billed Cuckoo  1
Downy Woodpecker  2
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  2
Great Crested Flycatcher  3
Red-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  3
American Crow  3
Tree Swallow  2
Barn Swallow  2
Black-capped Chickadee  3
Tufted Titmouse  4
Wood Thrush  4
American Robin  6
Gray Catbird  8
European Starling  20
Cedar Waxwing  4
Ovenbird  10
Blue-winged Warbler  3
Common Yellowthroat  5
Yellow Warbler  8
Pine Warbler  4
Saltmarsh Sparrow  3
Song Sparrow  3
Eastern Towhee  10
Northern Cardinal  3
Bobolink  1
Red-winged Blackbird  4
Common Grackle  7
Brown-headed Cowbird  5
Baltimore Oriole  2
House Finch  1
American Goldfinch  1

Our third stop was what I (and possibly only me) refer to as Antassawamock. This is a property that is at the end of Mattapoisett Neck Rd. in Mattapoisett which has been recently acquired by Mattapoisett Land Trust and given the less exciting name the “Munn Preserve”. This is a trail which is a little over a half-mile, leading to a narrow strip of beach along Brant Island Cove.  Following suit with the end of our walk at Nasketucket the woods were mostly quiet, but we were lucky to hear a singing White-eyed Vireo before the end of the trail. This species is a probable breeder here, with a pair being present in-season last year. We approached the song and tried to find the bird, and a few of us were able to get brief looks at it before it hopped into the dense vegetation never to be seen again, a quality of which this species is known for notoriously. After the forest opened up to the beach we worked our way up the peninsula to get scope views of Ram Island. On several instances we got great looks at Saltmarsh Sparrows moving throughout the marshes and walking along the wrack line. Once we got to a good vantage spot we spent some time scoping Ram Island, studying the hundreds of Common and Roseate Terns that breed there. While we were scoping, four American Oystercatcher flew over our heads and into the marsh, and a strange duck flew past toward Ram Island, looking overall brownish with white secondaries. Further examination of this duck once it landed revealed that it was a female Gadwall, and while scoping it as it landed and swam close to shore near Ram Island a male also revealed itself. This is a species that was completely unexpected as we were not aware that this species was a possible breeder at this location.

Munn Preserve, Plymouth, Massachusetts, US
Jun 17, 2017 11:15 AM - 12:20 PM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
Comments:     SSBC trip
45 species

Gadwall  2     Out by Ram Island, female seen in flight. Relatively long-necked ducks with white patches near rump, all color was essentially washed out given the distance and cloudy conditions.
Mallard  2
Common Eider  6
Common Loon  3
Double-crested Cormorant  6
Snowy Egret  1
Osprey  6
American Oystercatcher  4
Willet  6
Herring Gull  2
Great Black-backed Gull  2
Roseate Tern  15
Common Tern  300
Mourning Dove  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
Willow Flycatcher  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  2
White-eyed Vireo  1
Red-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  2
American Crow  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Tree Swallow  3
Barn Swallow  6
Black-capped Chickadee  2
Tufted Titmouse  2
American Robin  2
Gray Catbird  4
European Starling  3
Ovenbird  2
Common Yellowthroat  3
Yellow Warbler  3
Pine Warbler  1
Saltmarsh Sparrow  8     Breeding location, excellent looks at several individuals.
Song Sparrow  2
Eastern Towhee  3
Northern Cardinal  2
Red-winged Blackbird  2
Common Grackle  4
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
Baltimore Oriole  1
House Finch  2
American Goldfinch  1
House Sparrow  4

After a quick lunch, we decided to end the trip at Egypt Lane in Fairhaven. Some of the members on the trip were able to hear one of the Clapper Rails that have been present in the breeding season since last year. We spent a fair amount of time watching the pond and left on a high note, getting spectacular looks at the adult Pied-billed Grebe with young.

Pied-billed Grebes, Photo by Steven Whitebread
Egypt Lane Ponds, Fairhaven, Bristol, Massachusetts, US
Jun 17, 2017 1:25 PM - 2:10 PM
Protocol: Traveling
0.25 mile(s)
38 species

Mute Swan  7
Wood Duck  2
Mallard  8
Pied-billed Grebe  4     Breeding birds with young
Double-crested Cormorant  1
Great Egret  1
Green Heron  2
Turkey Vulture  2
Osprey  2
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1     Small accipiter, wrists projected about the same amount as the head. Going after a TUVU
Cooper's Hawk  1
Clapper Rail  1     Heard calling toward Hacker St area of marsh
Willet  1
Herring Gull  3
Great Black-backed Gull  1
Common Tern  3
Mourning Dove  4
Chimney Swift  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Willow Flycatcher  1
Warbling Vireo  1
American Crow  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Tree Swallow  1
Barn Swallow  4
Tufted Titmouse  1
American Robin  3
Gray Catbird  2
European Starling  5
Cedar Waxwing  2
Yellow Warbler  3
Song Sparrow  3
Red-winged Blackbird  10
Common Grackle  5
American Goldfinch  2
House Sparrow  4

-Nate Marchessault

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mt Greylock and October Mountain; a Berkshire weekend

Eight Birders from two clubs (BBC and SSBC) joined Glenn d'Entremont for this June weekend with a long tradition.
We spent Saturday morning making our way up Mt. Greylock. Our first stops gave us several great looks at the most 'gaudy' of all the warblers, the Blackburnian Warbler and the first of several Yellow -bellied Sapsuckers - the 'default' Woodpecker in this area. We also listened and glimpsed a few Black-throated Blue  and Chestnut-sided Warblers.
Photo by Steven Whitebread
 At Jones' Nose we admired the deep blue of two singing male Indigo Buntings in the early morning sun, we searched in vain for Mourning Warblers (habitat has changed and vegetation is probably too high now). We then walked part of the Saddleback trail listening to the eerie sounds of Hermit Thrush and enjoying the musical Winter Wren among others.

The campground trail gave us more looks at Blackburnian Warblers and of course the omnipresent Red-Eyed Vireos were challenging to see, but not so difficult to hear! The dainty Foamflowers (Tiarella cordifolia) were in bloom and we gladly stopped to admire them on our way back up the hill.

Near the top we enjoyed our 'lunch with a view', hoping for more raptors than just the odd Turkey Vulture flying below us, before making our way down for a well deserved rest before dinner.
After dinner we stopped at a few wetland areas in Pittsfield, even knocked on  a strangers door and were graciously granted access to a marsh behind their house!

Here is the ebird list for this day on Mout Greylock

Mt. Greylock, Berkshire, Massachusetts, US
Jun 10, 2017 6:00 AM - 2:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
15.0 mile(s)
Comments:     SSBC/BBC trip, Paul C
52 species

Turkey Vulture  3
Broad-winged Hawk  2
Mourning Dove  3
Black-billed Cuckoo  1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  4
Hairy Woodpecker (Eastern)  2
Eastern Wood-Pewee  2
Least Flycatcher  2
Eastern Phoebe  2
Great Crested Flycatcher  2
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Red-eyed Vireo  74
Blue Jay  10
Common Raven  2
Tree Swallow  1
Black-capped Chickadee  13
Tufted Titmouse  1
Red-breasted Nuthatch  4
Winter Wren  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  3
Eastern Bluebird  2
Veery  8
Swainson's Thrush (Olive-backed)  3
Hermit Thrush  4
Wood Thrush  3
American Robin  18
Gray Catbird  2
Cedar Waxwing  9
Ovenbird  40
Black-and-white Warbler  11
Mourning Warbler  2
Common Yellowthroat  5
American Redstart  26
Magnolia Warbler  3
Blackburnian Warbler  23
Chestnut-sided Warbler  18
Blackpoll Warbler  2
Black-throated Blue Warbler  21
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  12
Black-throated Green Warbler  8
Canada Warbler  1
Chipping Sparrow  2
Field Sparrow  2
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  11
White-throated Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  1
Eastern Towhee  7
Scarlet Tanager  2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1
Indigo Bunting  4
Baltimore Oriole  1
Purple Finch (Eastern)  5

View this checklist online at

On Sunday morning we again started bright and early, to look at Cliff Swallows and listen for - and finding! - Alder Flycatcher before making our way up to October Mountain.

We not only looked at Swallows, but also saw some Tiger Swallowtails
Photo by Steven Whitebread

This year we had no luck in finding a Mourning Warbler, and we felt even more unlucky by being disturbed by many Helicopters flying in at Four Corners. It got very hot by 11 AM and the birds took a rest, so we decided to start heading home a bit earlier than usual.
Some of us had a very nice surprise on the way off the mountain as we encountered a female Moose crossing just behind our car! Alas, the view was too brief for a picture.

October Mountain SF, Berkshire, Massachusetts, US
Jun 11, 2017 7:15 AM - 12:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
14.0 mile(s)
Comments:     SSBC/BBC trip, Paul C
49 species

Canada Goose  2     4 young
Great Blue Heron (Blue form)  2
Broad-winged Hawk  1
Mourning Dove  2
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1     male
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  6
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  2
Alder Flycatcher  6
Eastern Phoebe  3
Great Crested Flycatcher  2
Blue-headed Vireo  4
Red-eyed Vireo  71
Blue Jay  8
American Crow  5
Tree Swallow  2
Black-capped Chickadee  3
Red-breasted Nuthatch  3
Brown Creeper  3
Winter Wren  1
Golden-crowned Kinglet  5
Veery  6
Hermit Thrush  1
Wood Thrush  2
American Robin  10
Cedar Waxwing  16
Ovenbird  35
Northern Waterthrush  1
Black-and-white Warbler  5
Common Yellowthroat  11
American Redstart  6
Magnolia Warbler  6
Blackburnian Warbler  8
Yellow Warbler (Northern)  1
Chestnut-sided Warbler  14
Black-throated Blue Warbler  7
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  4
Black-throated Green Warbler  7
Canada Warbler  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  2
White-throated Sparrow  5
Song Sparrow  5
Swamp Sparrow  6
Eastern Towhee  2
Scarlet Tanager  2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1
Red-winged Blackbird (Red-winged)  14
Purple Finch (Eastern)  3
American Goldfinch  4

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

A great time was had by everyone and we look forward to visiting this beautiful and birdy area again next year.

Christine Whitebread