Sunday, May 14, 2017

First half of May ends with a Brewster's and Lawrence's Warbler, three Cape May Warblers and lots of others

Lawrence's Warbler, Mineral Hills Conservation Area, Northampton, MA, May 13, 2017
Brewster's Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 13, 2017
Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler hybrid, Quabbin Park, MA, May 9, 2017
Blue winged Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 9, 2017
Black throated Green Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 7, 2017
Cape May Warbler, UMASS, Amherst, MA, May 7, 2017
Black and White Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 9, 2017
Ovenbird, Quabbin Park, MA, May 9, 2017
Northern Parula, Quabbin Park, MA, May 9, 2017
Blackburnian Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 9, 2017
Cape May Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 10, 2017
Pine Warbler collecting nest material, Quabbin Park, MA, May 10, 2017
Black throated Green Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 10, 2017
Prairie Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 10, 2017
Chestnut sided Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 10, 2017
Cerulean Warbler, Skinner SP, Hadley, MA, May 11, 2017
Worm eating Warbler, Skinner SP, Hadley, MA, May 11, 2017
Yellow Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 11, 2017
Despite the continued cooler than normal weather with quite a bit of clouds and occasional rain the birds continue to arrive over the last week.  Among the many highlights were three different male Cape May Warblers, a Brewster's and Lawrence's Warbler yesterday, the continued Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler hybrid and my first Bay breasted, Wilson's, Canada and Blackpoll Warblers.  As of today I have found a total of 28 species of warbler around here plus the various hybrids.  Finding the two named 'winged' hybrids on the same day is not something I have ever done before.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Notable warblers the last few days including Orange crowned Warbler and a Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler hybird



Northern Parula, Quabbin Park, MA, May 3, 2017

Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler hybrid, Quabbin Park, MA, May 3, 2017

Black and White Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 3, 2017

Yellow rumped Warbler 'Myrtle', Quabbin Park, MA, May 3, 2017

Pine Warbler collecting nest material, Quabbin Park, MA, May 3, 2017

On Wednesday I started out at dawn around UMASS beginning at Orchard Hill where I finally found my first Nashville Warbler of the season.  The hill was good but not nearly as good as it previously was as lots of edges and tangles have been cut down with some of the best habitat greatly altered and devoid of birds. After the hill I stayed on campus but moved over to the northwest area where it was fairly active giving me some good stuff including my first calling Tennessee Warbler.  After a brief stop along the rail trail I headed back toward home and finished up my morning at Quabbin Park.  Best bird at Quabbin Park was a hybrid Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler.  The bird looked and sounded like a typical Blue winged Warbler except it had a yellow wing patch..interesting looking bird.  More details on these stops, with photos and audio can be found on the full eBird lists attached below.

UMASS Orchard Hill http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36504692
UMASS northwest campus http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36505501
Rail trail Amherst http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36506477
Quabbin Park http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36508606


Cerulean Warbler, Skinner SP, Hadley, MA, May 4, 2017

Cerulean Warbler, Skinner SP, Hadley, MA, May 4, 2017

Orange crowned Warbler, Skinner SP, Hadley, MA, May 4, 2017

Orange crowned Warbler, Skinner SP, Hadley, MA, May 4, 2017

Yesterday I decided to try my luck in finding the Cerulean Warblers and Worm eating Warblers on top of the mountain at Skinner SP but before heading there I started out at Mitch's Way (link to list here:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36532175
It was a bit cool to start the morning with temperatures in the mid 30's but at least the biting insects were kept to a minimum.  Once I finished up at Mitch's Way I headed over to Skinner SP and made the hike up the mountain (the road is closed to vehicle traffic until May 13 so no choice but to hike).  I came across my first Worm eating Warbler just below Taylor's Notch and while trying to get some photos of it I found the best bird of the day when I found an Orange crowned Warbler silently working its way through the mature forest.  Orange crowned Warbler is very unusual around here in the spring and this is only my third spring record.  I started hearing Cerulean Warblers once I hit the steep curves just below the summit and I eventually found at least three males with lots of calling and interaction among them.  One of the birds was making an odd abbreviated call I had not heard before (video at link here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/54277284@N05/33643223233/in/dateposted-public/ ).  A really productive walk on a sunny day in May.  Full list with additional photos here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36532175

Black throated Blue Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 4, 2017

Yellow Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, May 4, 2017

Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler hybird, Quabbin Park, MA, May 4, 2017

After hiking back down the mountain I decided to head back east and spend the rest of the morning around Quabbin Park.  I ran across a number of migrant flocks as well as increased numbers of on territory breeders.  The odd Blue winged x Golden winged Warbler hybrid was still around and I got some additional photos. I turned up a total of 20 species of warbler for the day and got great looks at many of them (as well as some decent photos).  Full lists for the morning below:

Mitch's Way:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36530710
Skinner SP: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36532175
Quabbin Park: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36532744


American Redstart, Home, Belchertown, MA, May 1, 2017

I checked the motion camera mounted above the pond yesterday and found that I had a visit from an American Restart on May 1st.  I have not seen or heard a redstart in the yard yet this year but it is nice to have the motion camera looking out for what I miss. The redstart became a new species at the water feature (#32 so far) and the seventh species of warbler.

The forecast for the coming days look to feature more rain, below average temperatures and overall cloudy weather.  Migration will likely slow but once the weather changes to more favorable conditions there should be a big influx.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Big influx of warblers the last couple days


Black and White Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 28, 2017
Black and White Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 28, 2017
Blue wingedWarbler, UMASS Amherst, MA, Apr 29, 2017
After several days of cool, cloudy and occasionally rainy weather the conditions changed on Friday bringing in sunny, warm weather on southerly winds.  This in turn resulted in a large influx of warbler species the last couple days with eleven species yesterday and seventeen today!  Friday had my first Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, Black throated Green Warbler and Blue winged Warbler while Saturday brought in my first American Redstart, Chestnut sided Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Black throated Blue Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler and Northern Parula.  This has certainly been one of the bigger pushes as far as variety in late April that I have seen around here....perhaps my largest number of warbler species here in April.
Yellow rumped Warbler 'Myrtle', Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 28, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler 'Myrtle', Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 28, 2017
Pine Warbler, Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 27, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler 'Myrtle', Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 28, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler 'Myrtle', Home, Belchertown, MA, Apr 28, 2017
At home I have had several species of warbler around with a few captured on my motion cameras...it will be interesting to see what the nest of the season brings in.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Five warbler species to end the third week of April


Palm Warbler 'yellow', Rail trail, Amherst, MA, Apr 20, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler 'Myrtle', Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Apr 19, 2017 (digiscoped shot)
Pine Warbler, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Apr 19, 2017 (digiscoped shot)
Pine Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 5, 2017
Louisiana Waterthrush, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 20, 2017
As we close out the third week of April the variety and number of warblers continues to slowly increase with a total of five species seen so far (Pine Warbler, Palm Warbler, Yellow rumped Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush and Black and White Warbler)...all of which I managed to find today.  The next week into early May should bring in loads more species and numbers.  Beyond trying to get photos of all of the species I'm also going to try to get audio recordings of every species.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Golden cheeked Warbler and Colima Warbler in Texas


Golden cheeked Warbler, Balcones Canyonlands NWR, TX, Apr 8, 2017
Colima Warbler, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
I headed down to Texas for a brief trip starting on Saturday the 8th and began in Austin to visit the Texas hill country before making the long ride down to Big Bend National Park. The main targets for the trip included Golden cheeked Warbler in the hill country and Colima Warbler at Big Bend NP. Both of these species have limited range in the US with Golden cheeked being an endangered species, mainly due to ongoing habitat destruction. Colima Warblers are not as rare overall but the only spot they nest in the US is within Big Bend NP.
Golden cheeked Warbler, Balcones Canyonlands NWR, TX, Apr 8, 2017
Golden cheeked Warbler, Balcones Canyonlands NWR, TX, Apr 8, 2017
Nashville Warbler, South Llano River SP, Junction, TX, Apr 9, 2017
Yellow breasted Chat, South Llano River SP, Junction, TX, Apr 9, 2017
Yellow breasted Chat, South Llano River SP, Junction, TX, Apr 9, 2017
I arrived in Austin around midday and after a quick lunch headed over to St. Edwards Park northwest of the city to try to catch up with some Golden cheeked Warblers seen there recently but the park was quite busy without many quiet spots. Without too much luck at St Edwards Park I decided to make a run out to Balcones Canyonlands NWR to try my luck there. I arrived there late in the afternoon and despite the late hour and a near continuous wind I found first one and eventually four Golden cheeked Warbler including at least three males singing, all in the area of the appropriately named Warbler Vista. The Golden cheeked Warbler became my 69th warbler species (as well as my 1300th life bird). A very productive start to the trip to be sure.

I was up before dawn on Sunday and was greeted with clouds, a decent breeze and occasional drizzle as I drove back out to Balcones Canyonlands NWR again. I managed to find another singing Golden cheeked Warbler despite the less than ideal conditions. I was certainly happy I made it up the previous day when the weather was nicer. As the morning wore on and the weather did not seem to be improving in the area I was in, I decided to begin my long drive over to Big Bend (with frequent stops to stretch my legs). My best stop along the way was at South Llano River SP just south of Junction. It turned out to be a very active place with yet another Golden cheeked Warbler as well as five other species of warblers including Black and White, Orange crowned and Nashville Warblers, Northern Parula and Yellow breasted Chat. The chats were especially cooperative and vocal. It was tough to tear myself away from the area but I still had a lot of driving to make it to my lodging near Big Bend.
Colima Warbler, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Colima Warbler, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Colima Warbler, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Painted Redstart, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler 'Audubon's', Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Townsend's Warbler, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Townsend's Warbler, with limited yellow on chest,  Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Townsend's Warbler, with limited yellow on chest,  Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Looking toward Mexico from Boot Spring Trail, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
I was up and out the door bright and early on Monday to make the long run down to the Chisos Basin in Big Bend NP. The ride should take around 90 minutes but I took about two hours with frequent stops to let jackrabbits, deer and coyotes move out of the road. I arrived in the basin before sunrise and started the hike up the Pinnacles trail to get to Boot Spring where my main target (Colima Warbler) can be found. The trail was steep but not too bad considering some of the horror stories I had heard regarding the difficulty. The scenery was truly spectacular with each new turn in the trail producing a new awe inspiring view. I made it up through the gap in the basin via the Pinnacles and then started down the Boot Spring trail where I ran across my first Colima Warbler which popped into view briefly but disappeared before I could get the camera on it. I continued down toward Boot Spring itself and continued to run across various mixed species flocks but I didn't have another Colima Warbler until I made it to Boot Spring where I had two more individuals which eventually showed but still not very well. I continued down the trail past the springs where I found another interesting warbler. The bird was in a mixed species and was singing an odd song. The mask of the bird was quite dark (more like a Townsend's Warbler) but the belly was almost all white except for a hint of yellow just below the black throat. A very interesting bird to be sure. Although it was still very comfortable in the shade of the upper mountains I knew I had a long walk back out through Laguna Meadow much of which would be put in the open sun. I started down and while still up in the oaks I had two more singing Colima Warblers (bringing my total for the morning to five). I also got my best views of the bird on my down as well as the best photos I was able to get. The Colima Warbler became warbler species #70. In addition to the Colima Warblers I ran across a number of other warblers in several mixed species flocks including Yellow rumped Warbler (Audubon's), Black throated Gray Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Wilson's Warbler and Painted Redstart.

My last full day in Texas was the worst weather wise but was not totally lost as a large portion of the day was spent driving back to Austin. I had more and more clouds and eventually rain as I drove east. I made another stop at South Llano River SP but due to occasional rain I didn't stay as long as I had on the previous day there. I made it back to the Austin area by early afternoon where I tried my luck in finding a reported Yellow throated Warbler at Common Fords Park. A severe thunderstorm was rapidly approaching so I was unable to locate the bird but the small park was quite active and produced Orange crowned Warbler, Northern Parula and Yellow rumped Warbler (Myrtle).


Overall for the trip I ended up with finding both of my target warblers as well as ten other species of warbler bringing my trip total to a dozen (plus both subspecies of Yellow rumped Warbler, which looks to be split into distinct species soon).  So far this year I have seen 31 species of warbler.