Sunday, May 2, 2010

Forbush Bird Club-Quabbin Reservoir May

I attended another Forbush Bird Club trip this past Sunday at the Quabbin Reservoir. The trip was led by Tom Pirro and would start at Gate 45 in Hardwick. As soon as we got out of the car, we would hear the now very familiar Ovenbirds as well as other birds who have all made sudden appearances over the past couple of days with all of the warm weather we have had recently.
We would make our way along a path where were would see and/or hear a Wood Thrush (FOY), Purple Finch, Common Yellowthroat (FOY), Gray Catbird and others as well as this Pickerel Frog which was a great sight to see since I had developed a fondness for frogs this past summer. This one is so handsome with its earthy colorings.
We would make frequent stops here and there with one of the highlights being a swampy type habitat where there would be plenty of Least Flycatchers (FOY) doing their "Chibeck" call, some Hooded Mergansers, a very vocal Yell0w-throated Vireo, a couple of Eastern Kingbirds (FOY) and another Common Yellowthroat shown above.

We continued along the way and would come to one of my favorite spots for this particular trip which is a running stream where we would get a FOY Louisiana Waterthrush. The bird would never be seen, but clearly heard which was a welcome song after trying to get it for the past couple of weeks.
The sun would start to break through clouds and the humidity and black flies would start to take hold as we made our way to another area. The highlight of this would be a Blue-gray Gnatcathers nest that Susan had spotted with a gnatcather in the process of building a nest (pictures came out lousy, but I didn't want to get too close as to disturb this busy bird doing as nature intended as bird must always come before birder. So nice to see though and the sun would shine in such a way that the blue on the gnatcathers head and back really pop in a way that I and many others had never seen before.
There would be another spot nearby where we would hear the wonderful song of a couple of Baltimore Orioles, a Black-throated Green Warbler and a bonus Northern Parula as well as my official nemesis warbler of the year which is the Yellow-rumped Warbler. Seriously, I can't get this birds song straight in my head as every time I hear it, I think its something else and wishful thinking will always have me thinking Nashville Warbler so imagine my disappointment when I realize it is yet again another lousy Yellow-rumped. ;-). May have to play this song on the way to work this week in a continuous loop just so it will sink in which will be torture in itself!
We would also have our fair share of raptors including a good look at some Broad-winged Hawks flying overhead (one of my favorite ways to see them), another Broad-winged Hawk flying up to a tree with prey in tow, a Red-tailed Hawk, Turkey Vultures and a Sharp-shinned Hawk with what appeared to be a missing feather on its tail. At another spot we would see two or three (forgot exact count), Bald Eagles including the nice adult shown above. Like this shot in that it shows off those plank like wings when in flight as well as its white tail and head.
Lunch for most (I would have already eaten mine in the car) would be at Danna Common where there were quite a few birds including a Chestnut-sided Warbler and a FOY American Redstart Tom had spotted for us. We would hear it singing in some thick brush and would be reminded at how confusing the song can be and once again, it would live up to its promise as the song always sounds like an incomplete Chestnut-sided or Yellow Warbler to me, depending on its mood. I really love the stone work they still have at the common from when it was a small village, so had to take a picture. Check out the detail in the picture above. They just don't make things like that anymore that's for sure which is evident by the fact that it's still around!
There would be a nestbox here that would have quite the activity as you can see. The picture is of a Tree Swallow peeking its head inside of the nest box at something that would be inside.
And what would be inside would be a House Wren, who wanted to claim the box as its own for nesting this year. The House Wren would sing on top of the nest box, only to have the Tree Swallow flutter about -squacking in protest. The wren would be smart enough to realize it would stand a better chance in winning the battle if it went inside the nest box and that's exactly what it did as the swallow would peek its head in there in defiance.
The wren would fly to a nearby bush and start its song and the swallow would enter the nestbox and give me the "hairy eyeball" as it didn't want anyone else messing with its potential summer dwelling for the year. It will be interesting to see who wins this battle as both species of birds are not known for giving in unlike the Eastern Bluebirds.
There would be many other stops after lunch including another stop where I would see my first ever Spring Peeper (how cute it this!). And I would finally get a picture (despite it being a lousy one) of a Blue-headed Vireo. Seriously, this has been my nemesis photo bird for the past three weeks or so as it has never been kind enough to be somewhere where I could get at least a record shot. Today the bird would pass the torch to others which are all of the warblers up high in leaf covered trees where you are lucky enough to get just a glimpse of them, let alone a photo!
Another interesting shot of a plant Joan had pointed out to me which I thought was really neat and is called Indian Poke . I really like how green the foliage is as well as the shape of its pretty leaves.
One of the biggest highlights of the trip would be a small body of water that is usually pretty full but for some reason the water was down significantly and would form many mud flats and when there are mud flats, there is a good chance one will see shorebirds which is always a highlight for me as looking for shorebirds puts me in that same intense focus zone as hawkwatching which I never tire of. Joan would spot a Killdeer faraway and then Tom would spot a Solitary Sandpiper which was very impressive given the fact that the bird was so far away it would be pretty hard to spot. I would get a far away look at it in Alan's scope, but then suddenly we would see two other Solitary Sandpipers take to the air as they would make their peet-Weet flight call as they flew overhead. Awesome spot which makes me wish Quabbin was a bit closer and the water would stay just as it is now, as Bolton Flats is drying up fast with the lack of rain we have had which means not that many local places to chose from when needing a shorebird fix which seems to be weekly for me lately.
One of our last stops would bring many of the usuals including Canada Geese and Mallards and this very handsome Chipping Sparrow shown above. We would also make a stop along the reservoir where we saw three Common Loons and 7 or so Common Mergansers. Our final stop would be a powerline where I would immediately hear my favorite warbler of all time which is the Prairie Warbler. One may wonder why I would chose that as my favorite since there are so many exotic others to chose from and the answer is quite simple. It's the one warbler that is there for me every time I hit a powerline. One of my biggest summer highlights last year was running trails in the morning and hearing them sing and it's something I have longed for since the cold, raw days of January. Hearing that warbler singing its song is probably one of the most welcome sounds of summer I have heard so far this year besides the Chimney Swifts who are flying past my house every evening now as the sun starts to set.

All in all, a fantastic trip with a lot of really good birds. A great way to start the month of May.

Take care all.


Samuel said...

Nice pictures of the Purple Martin.

grammie g said...

I especially like the frogs---and birds heads sticking of there houses is always so cute!! Thanks for the trip! :~}

Anonymous said...

Hello Kim is there an email address I can contact you at that you can post on your blog. I am working on a woman and nature calender and would like to discuss it with you


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