Friday, January 27, 2012

Hadley Cove waterfowl

Northern Pintails (and others), Hadley Cove, Jan 27, 2012

Northern Pintails, Black Ducks and Mallards, Hadley Cove, Jan 27, 2012

Following up on a report from Ian Davies of some good variety and numbers of waterfowl at Hadley Cove I stopped briefly this morning on the way to work in a very cold and steady rain.  I managed some great numbers and variety with a total of eight waterfowl species present in a very small area.  The sightings included:

Wood Duck 1 male
Gadwall 1 female
American Wigeon 1 female
American Black Duck 42
Mallard 190+
Northern Pintail 6 four males and two females
Green-winged Teal 1 female
Common Merganser 9 one male
I decided to try my luck back there again late afternoon to see if anything new arrived and possibly try to get a few photos while it was not raining.  On my afternoon stopped I added another species of waterfowl when a group of Canada Geese flew by.  There was a similar number of Mallards and Black Ducks as well as one Wood Duck.  The number of Northern Pintails had increased to eleven with seven males.  The other birds had either left or where hidden in the many areas here that cannot be readily viewed.  I also found a Belted Kingfisher successfully hunting the cove.  I took a few photos through the scope of the pintails but could not get any shots of the more unusual species.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ring-necked Duck (and Greater Scaup) in January

Ring-necked Duck and Greater Scaup, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Jan 23, 2012

Ring-necked Duck, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Jan 23, 2012

Ring-necked Duck and Greater Scaup, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Jan 23, 2012

After taking Wilson for a walk and before the rain hit today I made a brief stop at Winsor Dam to see if there was an activity out on the water.  I immediately noticed two birds in fairly close which I originally ID'd as a pair of Ring-necked Ducks but upon closer examination and comments from others turned out to be a Ring-necked Duck and a Greater Scaup, which are both quite rare occurrences inland in Massachusetts in winter.  I did not have my usual camera set up with me but did manage a few record shots through the scope using my iPhone (digiphone type shot).  After a few shots I headed for phone to drop off Wilson and get my other camera.   The only other birds of note here was a Bald Eagle adult in flight and a juvenile Bald Eagle sitting in the nest tree.

Ring-necked Duck and Greater Scaup Hanks Meadow at Quabbin Park, Jan 23, 2012

When I returned the birds had (of course) left.  I decided to make a loop through Quabbin Park and see if they had moved to there.  I had a first of season Common Loon at Goodnough Dike as I scanned the water.  I then went to Hank's Meadow and walked down to the waters edge.  Well out to the west was a group of five Black Ducks, a Common Merganser and the presumed same Ring-necked Duck and Greater Scaup.  I took a few distant shots.  Beyond this little activity the park was relatively quiet.  The drizzle then started in earnest at this point so I headed back out to the car and headed home.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk, Hadley, MA, Jan 22, 2012

Rough-legged Hawk, Hadley, MA, Jan 22, 2012

A very cold (4 degrees) but sunny morning found me heading out to try and take advantage of a day without snow or ice.  I started at Quabbin but the air was so cold it resulted in a low layer of fog hanging over the water which made viewing of any waterfowl impossible.  I did have one adult Bald Eagle flying over the water well out from Winsor Dam.  I then decided to head toward Amherst.
American Tree Sparrow, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, Jan 22, 2012

White-throated Sparrow, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, Jan 22, 2012

Song Sparrow, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, Jan 22, 2012

Rough-legged Hawk, Hadley, MA, Jan 22, 2012
I stopped at the UMASS campus pond to see if any odd geese were around but the pond was nearly completely frozen and the only waterfowl were 300+ Mallards and a few Black Ducks.  I then headed over to the UMASS horse farm as well as some other fields in the general area.  No luck here so I decided to head south and go to Hampshire College to see if the Dickcissel survived the latest bout of snow and cold.  On the way I noticed a large raptor at the top of a tree along South Maple Street south of Mill Valley Rd.  I was thinking Rough-legged and sure enough that is what it was.  The bird was in an area that is difficult to stop along and view the bird.  I managed a couple of quick views and photos but I really wish the bird was in a safer spot to pull over and view it from.  After a few rides back and forth viewing the hawk I headed to Hampshire College.  Despite a bit of looking I did not manage to find the Dickcissel.  It may indeed still be around but I could not locate it today.  There were a fair number of sparrows around here including Song, White-throated and American Tree Sparrows as well as Dark-eyed Juncos.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snow brings in the feeder birds

A little snow storm brought in a few inches of snow today and also produced the best day this season for feeders birds here at home.  The activity continued heavy all day long.  The birds included 70+ Dark-eyed Juncos that took full advantage of the feeders as well as the hedgerows of cover I created with all the limbs downed during the October snow storm.  I also had eight Blue Jays which I wouldn't ordinarily even mention but they have been few in number so far this season.  There were also a handful of American Tree Sparrows and up to five woodpeckers of three species coming into the suet at once plus the other usual birds.  No photos today but I will try and get out tomorrow to get some.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The cold continues

This morning started out at a frosty 2 degrees, which was a few degrees colder than the previous morning.  Certainly the coldest weather so far this year.  With a fair bit of sun the temperature has moderated today reaching the upper 20's so far.  With the warmer air comes the chance of snow, sleet and freezing rain tonight.  Despite the cold weather I got out at least for a short time with a walk at Covey WMA as well as a stop by Quabbin Park.  The best bird of the day was actually at home this morning at first light when I heard a Pine Siskin among the goldfinches.  I never got a look at the bird so I'm not sure exactly how many siskins were around.  A female Common Merganser and a pair of Common Ravens were the best birds at Quabbin Park and the usual assortment of birds were at Covey WMA.  No photos today, just too cold to get any.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winter has arrived

Black-capped Chickadee
It appears winter has finally made an appearance here in Massachusetts but hopefully for only a brief time.  We had a couple inches of snow and sleet on Thursday and then it turned quite windy on Friday with gusts over 40 MPH which brought in cold air overnight.  The temperatures today have not gotten above freezing and will bottom out tonight around 5 above zero.  Tomorrow promises to be less windy but even colder with temperatures at 20 for a high.  We barely missed some heavy snow here in the valley yesterday while the hills west and north got several inches of snow.  On the positive side the snow and cold brought more birds into the feeders.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hampshire College Dickcissel

Dickcissel, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, Jan 9, 2012

Dickcissel, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, Jan 9, 2012

Dickcissel, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, Jan 9, 2012

I made a trip back over to Hampshire College to hopefully get some pictures of the continuing Dickcissel that has been present there since at least November.  As soon as I got out of the car I could hear it chipping.  It took awhile to find the bird as it moved around the hedgerows with groups of House Sparrows but I eventually got great looks at it.  I also had a nice selection of other sparrows including a Fox Sparrow, three White-throated Sparrows, an American Tree Sparrow and two Song Sparrows plus 30+ Dark-eyed Junco's.  It will be interesting to see how long the bird can make it through the winter.  It may have a chance if the warm weather continues.  Although it started out cool this morning around 22 it warmed up to near 40.  A warm day to be sure but still a far cry from the record setting warmth this past Saturday when the temperature topped out at 60 degrees.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dickcissel continues at Hampshire others

Savannah Sparrow

I made a swing by Hampshire College this morning to try and relocate the Dickcissel that has been present for several weeks now.  After a bit of looking I found it still in the same general area although today it was with a couple Song and American Tree Sparrows.  Besides the Dickcissel there were three White-throated Sparrows plus the other sparrows mentioned above as well as a few Cedar Waxwings.  I also stopped briefly by Aque Vitae Road in Hadley and had a dozen Savannah Sparrows as well as a few Snow Buntings.  After my stops in the Hadley area I headed back towards home stopping by Quabbin Park where I had three Hooded Mergansers, two pairs of Common Mergansers, 16 Wild Turkeys and the other usual birds.  My final stop of the day I was joined by Wilson and we went to the Jabish Canal and the birds of note here included Winter Wren, Northern Flicker and several Golden-crowned Kinglets.  A nice day to be outside for early January with sun, little wind and temperatures starting out around freezing and getting up to the mid 40's.  Our winter of no snow and warmer temperatures continues for now.  The real question is when does the honeymoon end?

Monday, January 2, 2012

New yard bird...Wilson's a goal for the year.

I added yard bird #132 this morning when I took the dog outside and flushed a Wilson's Snipe.  A nice way to start the new year.  I visited several other areas today but didn't turn up anything too unusual.  I tried for the Dickcissel at Hampshire College and any odd waterfowl at the UMASS pond.  I struck out at both spots for anything unusual but did have a very large gathering of geese at the pond (almost 1400) plus a great look at a flyby Peregrine Falcon.

As I looked through eBird data for the last several years I noticed that I have never reached the 200 mark for species seen in one year in Hampshire County.  I have come close before with totals of 199 in 2007 and 197 in 2011.  I will update on occasion as I move toward the goal.