Date: 6/9/18 7:01 pm
From: Josh <opihi...>
Subject: [MASSBIRD] HBC June meeting, trip cancellation, Fort River walks, and cuckoos
Hi MassBirders,

I’ll get the bad news out of the way first. The leader of our previously scheduled trip to Mount Greylock tomorrow had to cancel. Anyone who saw this on the club’s field trip schedule and was considering showing up spontaneously, should not do so.

This leaves just one trip remaining on the schedule before the club’s annual summer hiatus, the last of this spring’s Fort River Trail bird walks on June 23, led by George Regmund, Laura Beltran, and yours truly.

We also have one more meeting before the summer, this coming Monday. The program will feature Al and Lois Richardson recounting their trip to Papua-New Guinea.

Full details of both the program and the trip are on the club’s website: <>
Hope to see y’all there!

George, Laura, and I also co-led the penultimate Fort River Trail walk of the spring this morning. Our group tallied 47 bird species plus a a couple of butterflies, dragonflies, and herps. Tim Carter and I proceeded to loiter around a few minutes after everyone else had left and added 5 more species to the morning’s haul. Pretty much all of them were regularly occurring breeding species for the site, there was no real evidence of migration. A few of the highlights:

Great Blue Heron - a distant flyover
Red-tailed Hawk - at least four, as I saw pairs soaring together on both sides of Maple St. One bird was being relentlessly assaulted by a couple of either kingbirds or blackbirds for a few minutes.
Northern Flicker - fairly certain we located a nest and watched a parent flying off with fecal sacs.
American Kestrel - perched on one of the nest boxes
Great Crested Flycatcher - heard a few, but one flew in and perched overhead for excellent looks
Barn Swallow - a whole bunch of them were lined up along one end of the front barn, while a few more foraged over the fields
Veery - heard singing faintly
Wood Thrush - a few heard singing much more clearly
Blue-winged Warbler - great looks at a male which was singing a slightly rough version of its song
American Redstart - as with the GCFL, we heard a few, but one came out and perched in the open right in the sun, didn’t even need binoculars…
Field Sparrow - several singing
Scarlet Tanager - one brief sighting
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - nice looks at one male, heard others
Bobolink - as usual, lots of them performing in the fields along Moody Bridge Road
Eastern Meadowlark - stinker appeared both before and after the walk but not during
Orchard Oriole - another post-walk sighting, first I saw a female flying off with nest material, then a pair flew in and disappeared into the long weeds along the driveway. Peculiar.

Herps: Eastern Painted Turtle, Green Frog
Lepidoptera: Black Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail, Viceroy, Common Ringlet, a few very small orange grass-skippers, a glimpse of a fairly large sphinx moth in flight
Odonata: Ebony Jewelwing, Common Whitetail

After the trip I got home to east Amherst and heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo calling outside, then saw another cuckoo sp. flying across Route 9 as my son and I drove our household garbage to the town dump. And, I’m hearing it again now as I type this. After barely encountering cuckoos at all for several years when I moved up from Texas - from 2009 through 2016 I had seen Yellow-billed exactly once each in Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester, and Essex counties, and Black-billed only once in Hampshire but a few more in Franklin - the recent Gypsy Moth plague has really boosted the local population. I’ve heard a Yellow-billed in our yard almost daily since May 22 of this year. Black-billed was present almost daily last year from May 25 through July 1, but this year seems less regular here than the Yellow.

Good birding,


Joshua S. Rose, Ph.D.
Amherst, MA

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