Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap day snowstorm

screen grab from Quabbin reservoir camera, evening Feb 29, 2012

No real bird sightings to report today but I could not pass up the once every four years opportunity to post on a leap day.  The addition of one of the only snowstorms of the year on this day just begged for a quick post.  It has snowed since late morning and we have managed a total of about 3 inches of slushy accumulation.  It is suppose to continue to snow/sleet/drizzle overnight through tomorrow likely adding a couple more inches to the storm total.  Amazingly this will likely be the largest storm since the late October storm and the largest snow storm of the actual winter season.  It should warm up by the weekend back to near 50 so hopefully the snow will be short lived.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quabbin, Holyoke Dam and north along the river

Iceland Gull, Holyoke Dam, S. Hadley, MA, Feb 28, 2012

I spent the morning visiting various spots in the valley starting out with a quick stop at Winsor Dam and then the route 9 marsh around 7.  The weather was sunny but breezy with the temperature topping out in the low 40's.  Winsor Dam had little activity beyond the Bald Eagle sitting tightly on the nest.  The route 9 marsh had a little more activity with a pair of Ring-necked Ducks, nine Hooded Mergansers and a small group of Canada Geese including one neck tagged individual (Yellow w/ black writing E878) that I reported.  I'll post later if I find out more information about this individual. 

Iceland Gull, Holyoke Dam, S. Hadley, MA, Feb 28, 2012

Iceland Gull, Holyoke Dam, S. Hadley, MA, Feb 28, 2012

Iceland Gull, Holyoke Dam, S. Hadley, MA, Feb 28, 2012
Following my stops at Quabbin I then headed over to UMASS to meet up with Ian Davies.  I stopped briefly at the campus pond before meeting up and had just the usual suspects there with just under 300 Canada Geese and numerous Mallards.  Ian and I then headed down to the Holyoke Dam area to see if we could find any good gulls.  We viewed from the South Hadley side and had an odd looking Iceland Gull below the dam, in among nearly 300 hundred Ring billed and a handful of Herring Gulls.  The exact subspecies and age of this Iceland Gull is certainly up in the air at this point but I will add more details as I get them.  Besides the gulls we had a half a dozen Common Goldeneyes further south.

Common Mergansers (part of large group), Oxbow, Northampton, MA, Feb 28, 2012

After some time viewing the gulls we checked above the dam but had no birds at all.  We then made our trip north along the river stopping at the Dinosaur Footprints park (little activity) and then onto the Oxbow.  Despite the strong northerly winds we had some good stuff here.  We had a total of 154 Common Mergansers with most in one large group feeding out in the oxbow.  There were also three Mute Swans that flew around the area several times.  A couple of Bald Eagles, several red-tails and a Turkey Vulture rounded out the birds here.  After the oxbow we headed back across the river stopping a few other times briefly before returning to UMASS.  We added an inflight Killdeer at the horse farm as we drove by.  Another stop at the campus pond turned up a large increase in the number of Canada Geese present with the total over 1050 now.  No odd geese in among them unfortunately.  We didn't find the western dark morph Red-tailed today but we did try.  Still quite a few Red-tails around at the various stops. 

A nice way to spend the last sunny day before our forecasted snow storm hits tomorrow.  Likely the largest storm since our October storm.

In addition this morning I turned up a few nice birds at home including a Winter Wren and a large Cooper's Hawk flying by at dawn.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Review of rare Connecticut valley birds -Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit (Point Reyes, CA)

The next bird in the review of rare Connecticut Valley birds is the Marbled Godwit discovered by Tom Gagnon on July 24, 1977. The sighting was the first (and so far only) sighting of this species in the valley. Here is the report of the sighting in Tom's words:

July 24, 1977
Hadley Cove.
The Hadley Cove as you know it today was VERY DIFFERENT back in the 70's comparing it with what we see now in 2012. For starters, the last three houses that are there today were not there. That area was someones vegetable plot and a small old gravel pit, with a dirt road that went down to the waters edge and you could stand there and look up the river. At that time there was a very big sandbar on the north side of the river just before the where the cove entrance is today. We always would fine some shorebirds there. That was why I was there that morning. My entry for that day reads:
Marbled Godwit 1 Excellent look. This is a first for Western Massachusetts. I called many people and everyone came and saw it. (There was also an Upland Plover there with other regular shorebirds.)
It rained on July 25th, but I saw the bird on the 26th and the late Bob Goodrich of Pittsfield saw it there on the 27th.
A few years after this great discovery, the river took away the sandbar it had created in the first place and it has never reappeared again to my knowledge.

 Hadley Cove continues to produce some great sightings but the access to the area is very limited now that several houses have been built here. It is a truly great spot for waterfowl in migration and during mild winters (like this year). At least 15 species of waterfowl have been seen in this very small area over the last several years including notables such as Greater White-fronted Goose, Snow Goose, and Gadwall. It is no longer as much of a shorebird hotspot as it once was but given low water levels in the river some fairly large mudflats occur which could attract any of a variety of shorebird species at the right time of year.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Brief stop at Winsor Dam and Route 9 marsh

Common Merganser, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 23, 2012

Common Merganser, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 23, 2012

Despite fighting a cold I decided to get out a little and headed over to Quabbin Park to make a couple quick stops before the predicted rain showers moved in.  The morning started off fairly warm around 40 degrees.  As per usual I stopped briefly at Winsor Dam to see what birds might be on the water first thing in the morning.  The Bald Eagle was sitting on the nest but his/her mate was not in sight.  A group of three Common Mergansers were the only waterfowl present.  I experimented a little more with getting photos through the scope with my iPhone.  Not the best in quality but an interesting way to document a bird if I don't have my regular camera with me.  After about 15 minutes here I headed east to make a brief stop at the route 9 marsh.  The marsh is now almost completely ice free with large amounts of open water on both sides of route 9.  A total of 14 Hooded Mergansers were present as well as half a dozen Canada Geese plus a couple of calling Red-winged Blackbirds 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Quabbin Park

Common Mergansers, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Feb 19, 2012

Common Merganser, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Feb 19, 2012

Bald Eagle at dawn, Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park, Feb 19, 2012

I started today a little earlier than yesterday arriving at Winsor Dam at Quabbin Park just before dawn to see if I could get a better count of robins leaving their roost and see if I had another show of crows moving northwest.  I had a total of 362 American Robins moving south but had very few crows at all, with none moving northwest.  My assumption is that the large number of birds seen yesterday were in fact migrants.  The pair of Bald Eagles continue at their nest and a handful of Common Mergansers, including three quite close, rounded out the birds at Winsor Dam.  I then made my trip through Quabbin Park with a stop at Route 9 marsh where the number of Hooded Mergansers had grown to sixteen birds.  The few Red winged Blackbirds continued to call from the swamp and a lone Eastern Bluebird called constantly.  Within the park I ran across a Common Loon near Goodnough, another Hooded Merganser at Gate 52, a kingfisher and a tick, despite the temperature at 27 degrees!  The ticks are tough at Quabbin!  I then returned back to Winsor Dam briefly but had nothing new there.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A day of rarities in the valley

Long-eared Owl, Hampshire College, MA, Feb 18, 2012

Hooded Mergansers, Quabbin, Feb 18, 2012

I began the day by going over to Quabbin Park.  I began at Winsor Dam around 6:30 and had a few hundred American Robins heading south and a steam of American Crows heading northwest.  I had over 125 within the few minutes I was there watching.  The Bald Eagles appeared to be sitting on the nest.  I then headed into Quabbin Park with a brief stop at the nearly ice free route 9 marsh.  The Hooded Mergansers numbers had grown to a total of fourteen birds.  In addition a few Red-winged Blackbirds had arrived on site and were beginning to get vocal.  I next stopped at the gate 52 road and finally caught up with Horned Grebes there (three in total).  I then noticed that the stream of American Crows I had noticed while at Winsor Dam continued moving along the west ridge of Quabbin heading northwest.  I decided to head up to Enfield lookout and get a count of these guys.  Within a few minutes of arriving I had a group of 103 American Goldfinches going past (I tried to find something unusual with them but had no luck).  I then concentrated on the crows and managed to add another 985+ to my earlier total.  I had to head out after about 20 minutes of watching but the birds were still moving.  I assume it was a bit of migration as I have never seen anywhere near that number heading past Quabbin coming from a winter roost.

Clay-colored Sparrow, Honeypot, Hadley, MA, Feb 18, 2012

Red-tailed Hawk -dark morph, Hampshire College, Feb 18, 2012

Northern Harrier, Mill Valley Rd, Hadley, MA, Feb 18, 2012

Dickcissel, Hampshire College, Feb 18, 2012

Red-tailed Hawk -dark morph, Hampshire College, Feb 18, 2012

Rough-legged Hawk, Hadley, MA, Feb 18, 2012
After Quabbin I headed home before making the trip over to Amherst to meet Ian Davies and then head down to Hampshire College to look for Long-eared Owls.  We briefly stopped at the campus pond but there was nothing out of the ordinary there.  We met up with several people down at Hampshire College including Jacob Drucker, Tom Gagnon, Scott Surner and Andrew Magee.  We searched for quite some time and finally found a Long-eared Owl as well as a number of pellets.  After some great, if a bit obstructed, views of the birds we headed back to campus.  Just before some people leaving I spotted the dark morph Red-tailed Hawk discovered yesterday by Jacob and managed a few photos.  It is likely this is a bird from some western subspecies and a very unusual occurrence here.  Ian, Jacob and I then headed over to the Yiddish Book Center to get the Dickcissel, which we succeeded at fairly quickly.  We then decided to leave campus and try our luck at a variety of areas in Hadley and Amherst.  Our first stop at Hadley Cove found the area deserted and void of bird life.  Our next stop in the Honeypot proved more successful with several Savannah Sparrows as well as the continuing Clay-colored Sparrow.  The river nearby contained a Common Goldeneye as well as several Common Mergansers.  We continued north along the river stopping at Lake Warner where we added a few more Common Mergansers, Mute Swans, mallards and a pair of Wood Ducks.  We then shifted back east and stopped at the UMASS horse farm where the raptor show was in full effect with a few Turkey Vultures, three Bald Eagles and at least eleven Red-tailed Hawks.  Our travels then took us back south where we ran back into Scott Surner along Mill Valley Road where we had a large group of starlings with a few Red winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles and Brown-headed Cowbirds mixed in.  The Rough-legged Hawk continued in its usual area as did several Red-tailed Hawks including a mating pair.  As we stopped to turn around on Mill Valley Road we had a Northern Harrier come up from the field and had us rush out of the car to grab a few photos.  Our day ended back at Hampshire College where we tried (and failed) to find that odd Red-tailed.  We did add another raptor when a Sharp-shinned Hawk came over.  A truly fabulous day of birding. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Review of rare Connecticut valley birds...Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron (Sanibel Island, Florida)

The next installment of reviews of rare birds in the valley is a Tricolored (Louisiana) Heron found by Tom Gagon on April 17, 1971 in the Northampton West Meadows (also known now as the Arcadia Meadows). 
Again, Tom in his own words:

LOUISIANA HERON April 17, 1971
I was birding by myself after supper in the Northampton West Meadows, driving across Old Springfield Road, checking out the pools of water in the hay meadows. After driving down Fort Street, then onto Old Springfield Road, the bird was in a pool of water in the second meadow on the right. Now a days this is the first meadow on the right. There use to be a nice meadow on the right but, it is all grown up now. Once Audubon purchased the property, it was not maintained and is now brush. Knowing I had never seen one in the valley, I quickly drove over to Sam Eliott's place on Fort Hill Terrace and told him about it. He asked if I could give him a ride back to see the bird, since he had never seen one in The Valley either. Before I left his house I called Mary and Sab Yenlin of Holyoke. She said she was in the middle of cooking dinner, pulled the dinner from the oven and they drove up to Northampton and saw the bird also. I tried the next day for the bird but, it was gone. Two days later, Mary and Allen Muir of Smith's Ferry section of Holyoke, found a Louisiana Heron at Brad Street Marsh in Hatfield. We just presumed it was the same bird. A few years later Colleen Withcott of Longmeadow found one on the Sand Bar on the Connecticut River. According to "Birds of Massachusetts/Veit and Petersen there was one seen in 1966 in Williamstown. Sam Eliot felt mine was the FIRST record in the Valley.
The bird found by Tom and the two seen 12 years later in Longmeadow remain the only records for the valley (Bird Observer, Feb 2007).  Certainly a bird that is likely to reappear again at some point and likely somewhere along the Connecticut River.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Long-eared Owl last night and Winsor dam this morning.

I went out owling with Ian Davies on Wednesday evening along the rail trail in Amherst.  We started just before 6pm and spent a couple of hours along the trail.  It was dead calm and just above freezing the entire time.  We oddly struck out on getting any Great Horned Owls in areas that they typically would be.  We were beginning to think we would not find a single owl for the night.  After a couple of playbacks of a Long-eared Owl we stood around for a bit and just when we were about to give up on that spot we had a Long-eared give its single hoot call.  The habitat was right for this species and I have had them in the general area in the past.  Long-eared Owl is a very uncommon visitor here and difficult to find.  We attempted playback one more time but had no more success so we left the owl as being heard and not seen.  The only other bird heard the entire evening were some Canada Geese making lots of noise in Hop Brook.

Common Mergansers at Quabbin

This morning dawned cool (low 20’s) and very calm.  Looking up the camera at Quabbin ( I noticed how calm the reservoir appeared.  I decided to make a quick stop at Winsor Dam on my way to work.  The water was indeed like glass there this morning.  I quickly scanned the water and saw nothing initially.  A Bald Eagle sat in the nest that can be viewed from here but I did not see his/her mate.  I then saw a ripple in the water along the shoreline in front of me and two adult male Common Mergansers popped into view, quietly croaking as they worked the shoreline.  I took a quick couple of photos with my phone and then decided I had to head off to work.  It would have been a great day to spend some time around Quabbin with the water being so calm but I could not.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review of rare Connecticut valley birds...first bird- Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl (Cape Coral, FL)

I'm going to branch out a little with an ongoing series of posts beyond my typical sightings and observations.  After reading through some old issues of bird observer (particularly the western Massachusetts centered February 2007 issue) and looking over the many rare records of birds from here in the valley and at Quabbin, I thought I would try to elaborate on some of these sightings both to capture something more of the record then the species, place and time.  I will include photos of the subject species if I have one available for illustrative purposes but will not be of the subject individual unless specifically noted.  If any one has additional information concerning any of the sightings I will mention or other information pertaining to other rare birds in the valley or around Quabbin please let me know.  Any feedback at all would be great.  Not only do I find these stories interesting but educational in that they capture a snapshot of how birding has evolved and changed as well as provide some insight into how the bird was discovered so perhaps others can repeat finding similar rare birds in the future.  I will begin with the many sightings from Tom Gagnon.  As a long time birder in the area (I will not say how long!) Tom has found many a rare bird in the valley and he has graciously agreed to share in more detail some of his finds over the years.  Thankfully Tom has also agreed to let me share them on here so others can enjoy the stories too.  I will begin with a review of a Burrowing Owl found in the East Meadows in Northampton on May 4, 1982.  Here is the recollection from Tom:
Ed Cotton (owner and founder of Cotton Tree Service) of Northampton and George and Helen Champoux of Holyoke and I had been over in Hadley looking for shore birds and decided to check out some of the low spots in the Northampton East Meadows. I was leading the way, just south of the Four Corners in the East Meadows when George tooted his horn at me. I stopped the car and jumped out and he yelled to me that I had just flushed a Short-eared Owl, (it flew BEHIND my car) and pointed to where it landed. I put my glasses up and screamed "BURROWING OWL!" We saw the bird fly four times, each time landing in a small, thick bunch of grass. (cover crop-rye or something like that). One time it landed where we could see it and put the scope on it. Very exciting.
Of course we all knew how RARE this find was and wanted to share it with as many as possible. We decided that George and Helen would meet people at 5:00 P.M. at the Four Corners of the East Meadows. We all went home and called everyone we knew. Everyone was instructed NOT to go looking for the owl until everyone was there at 5. (I really think there was better communication back then and no cell phones or computers were heard of) TO THIS DAY, I REGRET making the decision of going into work instead of calling in sick. They all told me the next day that at 5:00 P.M. there were about 50 cars all in the meadows and THEY GOT THE BIRD. I believe Scott Surner was there and I am sure he can tell you more details. I went back the next day and there were more people there looking for the bird but, it was never seen again.   
My journal entry for the next day reads, Northampton East Meadows: Water Pipits, 1 Upland Plover and one singing male Loggerhead Shrike trying to build a nest. Shrike still there on the 7th of May.
To my knowledge, this is still the ONLY WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS RECORD of a Burrowing Owl.
A truly amazing discovery that indeed has not been repeated since in western Massachusetts.  There are several other state records but all from the east and mainly at the coast.  I found Tom's mention of his journal entry for the next day also quite interesting in that he had an Upland Sandpiper as well as a singing male Loggerhead Shrike attempting to nest.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Quabbin Park, Amherst and Hadley

Mallard, UMASS Pond, Feb 13, 2012

Mallard x American Black Duck hybrid, UMASS Pond, Feb 13, 2012

Wild Turkeys (part of flock of 31), Quabbin Park, Feb 13, 2012
I decided to take quick swing through Quabbin Park and then head over to Amherst and Hadley to hit a few areas before I ran some errands over that way.  The day started cloudy with some flurries and relatively calm.  As the morning moved on it got sunnier but also got quite a bit windier.  At Quabbin Park the highlights included a continuing group of 31 Wild Turkeys at the administration building feeding in (yes in) and around a large crab apple tree, a Bald Eagle back at the nest site and a total of 16 Common Mergansers (the only waterfowl present).  The last few cold days had actually added a little bit of ice around some of the coves at Quabbin but given the wind and above freezing temperatures today I'm sure all the ice is broken up again.  After leaving Quabbin I headed over to UMASS to try once again to catch up with the Cackling Goose but again had no luck.  The campus pond held 216 Canada Geese, just over 300 Mallards and a handful of Black Ducks.  As I was leaving campus I noticed groups of geese coming into one of the athletic fields.  I pulled over and watched group after group of geese come in but all were Canada Geese (total of with a aluminum leg band...too far away to read). 

Red-tailed Hawk, Hampshire College, Feb 13, 2012

Northern Mockingbird, Hampshire College, Feb 13, 2012
I made brief stops at the horse farm, South Maple Street (the Rough-legged Hawk was actively hunting), Hadley Cove (mostly frozen), the Honeypot (no Rough-legged here today) and then over to Hampshire College.  Not too much of note at many of the spots but the wind was really kicking up and keeping activity to a minimum.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Amherst and Hadley

American Kestrel, Honeypot, Hadley, MA, Feb 11, 2012

Canada Goose with odd coloration, UMASS campus pond, Amherst, MA, Feb 11, 2012

Canada Goose with odd coloration, UMASS campus pond, Amherst, MA, Feb 11, 2012

Canada Goose with injury, UMASS campus pond, Amherst, MA, Feb 11, 2012

Ring-necked Pheasant, Honeypot, Hadley, MA, Feb 11, 2012
Despite the predictions of a small snowstorm with snow all day with 1-3" of snow we ended up with a dusting with the snow stopped by 7:30am.  After a quick morning trip through Quabbin Park that produced a few good birds including three Bald Eagles (with one in the nest), seven Hooded Mergansers on Rt 9 marsh (the marsh is nearly 80% ice free already), a single group of 31 Wild Turkeys and at least four Pileated Woodpeckers.  During the afternoon that turned a little breezy but at least partially sunny I headed over to Amherst and Hadley to see what I could find.  I began at the UMASS campus pond in hopes of catching up with the Cackling Goose that has been there but had no luck.  I went through the flock of Canada Geese three times but found no Cackling Goose...just 781 Canada Geese.  One goose appeared to have an injury of some sort and had blood on its feathers.  A couple other geese had some odd white coloration on their heads but otherwise appeared normal.   I then made a quick stop at the UMASS horse farm and had an American Kestrel right away as well as a few Red-tailed Hawks and a Turkey Vulture.  I then went over to Lake Warner in North Hadley which held a Mute Swan, a couple Hooded Mergansers and a pair of Mallards.  As I continued my trip south I stopped briefly at the honeypot in Hadley but did not find the Rough-legged Hawk.  I did however catch up with yet another American Kestrel as well as a beautiful Ring-necked Pheasant male along the road.  An introduced bird released for hunting that somehow escaped despite being quite tame.  A final stop in Hadley at Hadley Cove produced a kingfisher, a dozen Black Ducks as well as Mallards.  The entire cove was ice free and quite low as far as water level is concerned.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Florida Day 5 (Feb 1)

Crested Caracara, Indian River Co. Wetlands, FL, Feb 1, 2012

Sandhill Crane, Indian River Co. Wetlands, FL, Feb 1, 2012

Osprey, Indian River Co. Wetlands, FL, Feb 1, 2012

Crested Caracara, Indian River Co. Wetlands, FL, Feb 1, 2012

The final day in Florida started at our lodging right on the coast where I found all the typical and expected birds here.  After walking the beach in the morning we began our trip back south the fly out of West Palm Beach.  We split the trip up with a stop at the West County Wastewater Treatment Facility.  This series of manmade ponds hold some nice variety of birds and provided a final test of the warm Florida weather before our return to home.  Several Sandhill Cranes provided close looks including one that walked along with us for several hundred feet never getting more than ten feet away.  In addition a pair of Crested Caracaras poised nicely in a tree before flying off not to be seen again.  We then continued on to catch our plane back north.  Oddly we returned to very warm weather at home with a temperature of 59 degrees (from high of 61!) when we arrived around sundown.  A very nice (and unusual) transition back ton February in Massachusetts!

During this short trip down to Florida I managed to find 112 species with four of those new for me in Florida (Least Bittern, Eurasian Wigeon, Vesper Sparrow, Greater Scaup).  A short, but fun trip.

Additional photos on my Flickr page:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Florida Day 4 (Jan 31)

Caspian Tern, Viera Wetlands, FL, Jan 31, 2012

Glossy Ibis, Viera Wetlands, FL, Jan 31, 2012

Ring-necked Ducks, Viera Wetlands, FL, Jan 31, 2012

Northern Shovelers, Viera Wetlands, FL, Jan 31, 2012

Wood Stork, Viera Wetlands, FL, Jan 31, 2012

My last full day in Florida I started with a dawn trip up to the Viera Wetlands.  I had visited this place in the past but I have never been here at dawn before so I was excited to be here before the large crowds arrived.  One of the first birds seen here was an adult Peregrine Falcon that buzzed through the area.  I spent most of the morning here before moving back south.  This man made wetland held many great birds with a wide variety of ducks, waders, raptors and others.  The number of American Coots was quite impressive with large rafts out on some of the larger water areas totaling in the thousands.  Following my morning long stop here I headed back toward Melbourne stopping briefly at Lake Washington as well as Nixon Park in Melbourne before making it back out to the beach.  At the beach the usual suspects were present and the number of Northern Gannets topped over 30.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Florida Day 3 (Jan 30)

American Wigeon in flight, Merritt Island NWR, FL, Jan 30, 2012

Eurasian Wigeon (two of three), Merritt Island NWR, FL, Jan 30, 2012

Florida Scrub Jay, Canaveral NS, Jan 30, 2012

Royal Tern, Indiatlantic beach, FL, Jan 30, 2012

Black Vulture, Canaveral NS, Jan 30, 2012

Great Horned Owl on nest, Merritt Island NWR, FL, Jan 30, 2012

The third day found me travelling north to Merritt Island NWR arriving around dawn to find the gate on the Black Point Wildlife Drive closed.  I waited a bit but it didn’t open so I headed to Canaveral National Seashore instead.   I made several stops along the beach checking both the beach and the ocean.  Nothing too extraordinary, but some nice looks at birds fighting the strong winds here.  The road out was more productive with several groups of Florida Scrub Jays along the roadside that provided some great looks at this Florida endemic.  After leaving the national seashore I checked out a nest that had held Great Horned Owls in the past and held them yet again with a bird sitting in the nest and giving great views.  I stopped briefly at the Visitors Center and heard the area of the wildlife drive was now open but remained quite dry so I decided to bypass it and instead concentrate on the various ponds along the road that held some waterfowl.  The most productive pond was on the road out past the Visitors Center where one area held several thousand American Wigeon as well as three male Eurasian Wigeons.  Besides the large numbers of wigeon I had Lesser and Greater Scaup, Northern Shovelers, dozens of Redheads, American Coots by the thousands and Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal.  Oddly I did not have a single Northern Pintail my entire time here (I have had several thousand here in the past). 
Sanderling, Indiatlantic beach, FL, Jan 30, 2012

Royal Tern, Indiatlantic beach, FL, Jan 30, 2012

Tree Swallows, Blue Heron Wetlands, Titusville, FL, Jan 30, 2012
After spending the early through mid morning on Merritt Island I travelled south a few miles to the Blue Heron Wetlands in Titusville.  This area of water impoundments can be quite productive at times and usual is not too crowded.  It was indeed not crowded and provided all the typical species expected.  The highlight here was seeing swarming grounds of Tree Swallows moving through feeding on the abundant insect life.  It is always an impressive sight to see thousands and thousands of Tree Swallows swarming over a small area.  I tried to pick some odd swallow out of the masses but had no luck.  I then made the drive back down to the Melbourne area.