Friday, October 13, 2017

A detailed look at various warblers this fall compared to previous years

Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 10, 2017
Tennessee Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 17, 2017
Cape May Warbler, Amherst, MA, Sep 11, 2017
Bay breasted Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 12, 2017
Now that mid October arrived and the warbler migration is largely over (although there is always a chance for a rarity to show up through the late fall into winter).  The fall warbler migration season (mid August-October) produced a total of 28 species.  The fall was especially great for warblers associated with spruces (Tennessee, Cape May and Bay breasted Warblers) in addition to Connecticut Warblers.  I will delve into each of the above mentioned in greater detail below (prepare for major bird geeking).
Tennessee Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 1, 2017
This fall was easily my best ever for Tennessee Warbler by a long shot with at least 76 individuals starting in late August and ending in early October.  The peak of this species occurred in early to mid September with less numbers later in the month into October.  I looked at the number of individuals seen the last five previous fall seasons and came up with the following:

2017     76
2016     12
2015     2
2014     4
2013     40
2012     18

To illustrate just how good a fall it was for this species I had 13 at just one spot on September 11th...more birds on a single day then I have gotten in entire years!
Cape May Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 2, 2017
Cape May Warblers were also around in greater than typical numbers but this year fell just short of setting a fall record for me with a total of ten individuals.  I also looked at the previous five autumns for this species and came up with the following:

2017     10
2016     1
2015     1
2014     1
2013     11
2012     5

As you can see from the above numbers this year was well above normal with the last three years featuring just a single individual sighting.
Bay breasted Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 12, 2017
Bay breasted Warbler were seen in above numbers this fall with a total of 13 individuals seen with a number of them photographed.  The peak numbers for this species showed up in mid September and then quickly trailed off.  Numbers from this year and the previous five fall seasons below:

2017     13
2016     1
2015     1
2014     2
2013     15
2012     2

It will be interesting to see if the increase in numbers seen this fall corresponds with a larger number of these species next spring.  My data clearly shows there was another big influx of these species back in fall of 2013 and the following spring featured above average numbers of all three species so get ready.  Here are the spring numbers if one is interested in more numbers.

Tennessee-spring                 
2017     5
2016     17
2015     8
2014     16
2013     6
2012     8

Cape May-spring
2017     3
2016     1
2015     1
2014     3
2013     1
2012     0

Bay breasted-spring
2017     3
2016     4
2015     3
2014     9
2013     1
2012     1

Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 10, 2017
Now on to Connecticut Warblers which I once again had some incredible luck with this fall.  I managed to find a total of ten, possibly eleven different individuals spanning the dates of August 29-October 7 (my first year of ever getting one in August).  I only managed photos of one individual this year but did get recordings of six.  I thought my luck of finding ten last year was an anomaly but this year produced about the same number so I think it may just be a matter of spending lots of time looking and knowing what to look and listen for.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Warblers during the first part of October

Northern Parula, Quabbin Park, MA, Oct 12, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', Quabbin Park, MA, Oct 12, 2017
Black throated Green Warbler , Quabbin Park, MA, Oct 12, 2017
Palm Warbler 'yellow', Quabbin Park, MA, Oct 12, 2017
Tennessee Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Oct 6, 2017
Blackpoll Warbler, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Oct 6, 2017
Common Yellowthroat, Herman Covey WMA, Belchertown, MA, Oct 5, 2017
Palm Warbler 'yellow', Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Oct 5, 2017
As the middle October rapidly approaches the numbers and diversity of warblers continue to drop but there are still some to be seen.  A Northern Parula this morning at Quabbin Park is getting late for that species and there are still a few Tennessee Warblers moving through too.  The vast majority of warblers now are Yellow rumped Warblers but it is still worth going through them all to try to find something different.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

September ends and an update on the impacts on warblers in the Caribbean

Northern Parula, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Sep 28, 2017
Magnolia Warbler, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Sep 28, 2017
Tennessee Warbler, Silvio Conte NWR-Fort River, Hadley, MA, Sep 28, 2017
Pine Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 27, 2017
Blackburnian Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 27, 2017
Black throated Green Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 25, 2017
Common Yellowthroat, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 24, 2017
As September comes to an end there are still a number of warblers around with 19 species still around for the last week of the month.  Tennessee Warblers and Connecticut Warblers continue to be around in decent numbers (more about these species over the course of the entire fall in a later post).  A total of 26 species of warblers for the month was fairly decent.


Thankfully some good news coming out of the storm battered Caribbean with word that at least some Barbuda Warblers survived the 185 MPH winds of Hurricane Irma.  A survey team from Birds Caribbean made a one day survey of the island and found eight individuals.  The hope is there are others surviving in different sections of the island.  Although eight is a tiny fraction of the population before the storm at least the species avoided extinction.  A link to the article from Birds Caribbean: Barbuda Warbler survey trip
No word yet from Puerto Rico on the two endemic species there but hopefully good news will come from there at some point.
Blackpoll Warbler, Home, Belchertown, MA, Sep 20, 2017
Tennessee Warbler, Home, Belchertown, MA, Sep 25, 2017
Tennessee Warbler, Home, Belchertown, MA, Sep 26, 2017
At home I have managed to capture two new warbler species on the motion camera at the water feature bringing the water feature list to ten species.  The two new ones were Blackpoll Warbler (9/20) and Tennessee Warbler (9/25 and again on 9/26).

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hurricane devastation in the Caribbean from Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Jose, Sep 19, 2017
I figured I would do an update on the recent hurricanes that have devastated a number of islands in the Caribbean and what impact these storms had on the various warbler species that call these islands home.  As I mentioned in a previous post Barbuda was absolutely destroyed by a direct hit from the powerful Category 5 Hurricane Irma.  Satellite images show the complete denuding of all vegetation on the island with the previous tropical green color replaced by a dingy brown.  The entire islands human population was evacuated immediately after the storm as the damage was that extensive (the first time in over 300 years that no humans were on the island).  Before the storm the endemic Barbuda Warbler population was thought to number between 1500-2000 (about the same as the human population on the island).  A brief return by a few researchers to the island found no warblers at all.  The hope is that some were able to ride out the storm but the road ahead for them will be difficult with no vegetation left to provide cover and the all important insects the birds depend on.  Certainly there is hope but it is not good news for this endemic.  Thankfully the island just avoided more major hits when Jose veered off to the north a bit and Maria stayed south.  This is one warbler species I have never seen and one I had plans to catch up with in the next couple years...hopefully I will still get a chance.
Elfin Woods Warbler, Bosque Estatal de Maricao, Puerto Rico, Dec 3, 2016
Adelaide's Warbler, Ceiba-Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, Puerto Rico, Dec 2, 2016
Hurricane Maria developed quickly and reached Category 5 status before landing a direct hit on the small, mountainous island of Dominica, home to the Plumbeous Warbler (found also on the nearby island of Guadelope).  The damage on the island sounds like it is just as extensive as in Barbuda.  Hopefully the mountainous terrain protected a few pockets of birds.  I have plans to be down there in a few months and I hope the birds, the people and the island recover enough to allow the trip to go forward.  After hitting Dominica the storm continued northwest and struck Puerto Rico directly on the southeast coast and traveled across the island bringing strong winds and heavy rain island wide.  There are two endemic warbler species on the island, Adelaide's Warbler and Elfin Wood Warbler.  The Elfin Woods Warbler is the rarer of the two and is considered endangered.  I'm sure the population took a hit but hopefully a decent number pulled through.  I was down in Puerto Rico last year and managed to find both warblers and I hope to make a return visit there someday to see them once again.  Post from my visit there: Puerto Rico Dec 2016
Hurricane Maria should continue off to the northwest and then north hitting the Turks and Caicos and southern Bahamas which may impact a number of migrant warblers including the endangered Kirtland's Warbler that winters in the area.

The hurricane season is not yet over and there is certainly a chance of additional storms to impact the area but hopefully the worst is behind them.  The birds here have evolved with the existence of hurricanes but the difference is that habitat destruction and reduction due to human development and a variety of other human involved issues have moved ever smaller populations into smaller areas making the birds less able to recover from the storms.  In addition the storms have continued to become stronger and more frequent as the climate continues to change due to global warming.

What can you do to assist?...you can always make a donation to Birds Caribbean to assist those that will be on the front line assisting the birds that made it though.  Link here:  Birdscaribbean-Hurricane-Relief

Friday, September 15, 2017

Fall totals as of mid September


Cape May Warbler, Amherst, MA, Sep 11, 2017
Bay breasted Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 12, 2017
Blackpoll Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 15, 2017
Magnolia Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 15, 2017
Ovenbirds having a squabble, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 15, 2017
Ovenbirds having a squabble, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 15, 2017
Nashville Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 13, 2017
Prairie Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 12, 2017
Pine Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 12, 2017
With the arrival mid September warbler migration has reached its peak and so far this month I have found 26 species and a total of 27 for the fall migration season so far (I consider the start of fall migration season to be mid August).  The only species I saw after mid August that I didn't see in September was Louisiana Waterthrush (an early migrant that barely hangs around through mid August).  The warbler diversity will continue to drop off over the second half of September but there is always the chance of a rarity popping up most anytime through the end of the year.  The great year for spruce nesting species continues with loads of Tennessee, Bay breasted, Cape May and (to a lesser extent so far) Blackpoll Warblers.  It is easily one of my best falls ever for some of these species and I will post later about it in greater detail.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Connecticut Warbler today among 22 species of warblers the last two days


Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 10, 2017
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 10, 2017
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 10, 2017
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 10, 2017
Connecticut Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 10, 2017
Prairie Warbler, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Sep 10, 2017
I met up with Keenan this morning and we explored quite a bit of area around Arcadia with one of our main goals being Connecticut Warbler...and we were quite successful!  It will be interesting to see how many of them I can find this year, I'm off to a good start with two so far.  Last year was my best year ever when I tallied a total of ten individuals (Connecticut Warblers 2016).  Besides the CT warblers we had 13 other species of warblers.  Full list with additional photos here:  Arcadia
Nashville Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Magnolia Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Pine Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Northern Parula, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Tennessee Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Blackpoll Warbler, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Black throated Blue Warbler, Amherst, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Bay breasted Warbler, Amherst, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Wilson's Warbler, Amherst, MA, Sep 9, 2017
Yesterday morning I got up and out before dawn heading out to various locations to catch up with what I was sure would be lots of migrants.  I stopped at various spots around Amherst for the morning until the wind picked up and then I headed over to a more sheltered spot at Quabbin Park.  An absolutely great early fall morning with good numbers and good diversity.  Highlights for the morning included 21 species of warblers (12 Tennessee, a Mourning, 13 Northern Parula, 24, Magnolia, 2 Bay breasted, 30 or so Blackpoll, 3 Canada and 2 Wilson's and others).  The diversity the last couple days in unlikely to be duplicated again until next spring as more and more species move out for the winter.