|Clay-colored Sparrow, Honeypot, Hadley, MA, Feb 5, 2012|
|American Tree Sparrow (one of 75+), Honeypot, Hadley, MA, Feb 5, 2012|
|Northern Pintail and Common Merganser, Power Canal, Turners Falls, Feb 5, 2012|
|American Wigeon, Power Canal, Turners Falls, Feb 5, 2012|
|Lesser Black-backed Gull (left most bird) digiscope shot, Barton's Cove, Turners Falls, MA, Feb 5, 2012|
After a non productive trip to Quabbin Park this morning I spent the entire afternoon until dusk with Ian Davies checking various areas around the Connecticut River valley for birds. Just before meeting him I briefly stopped at Hampshire College and found the continuing Dickcissel still there. I then met up with Ian and we stopped briefly at the UMASS campus pond and had a large gathering of Canada Geese as well as the usual Mallards and handful of Black Ducks. There was also an adult Peregrine Falcon on top of the library. We next went to the Honeypot in Hadley and had a Rough-legged Hawk along the dike. Our focus here was to try and find the previously reported White-crowned and Clay-colored Sparrows, both very odd sparrows for western Massachusetts in winter. We spent an hour and a half looking and only on our way out did we see the Clay-colored (we may have heard the White-crowned but it was not confirmed). The Clay-colored was literally the last bird we saw here as we flushed it on the way back to the car. The number of American Tree Sparrows here was amazing with at least 75 present. We next made a quick stop at Hadley Cove but had nothing of note here as large areas of the cove had frozen overnight. After this stop we headed up to Turners Falls with a brief detour at Lake Warner to check out some ducks seen in open water. We added Hooded Mergansers as well as a pair of Mute Swans in addition to other expected waterfowl. Upon our arrival in Turners Falls we started at the power canal and had 1000+ Canada Geese and some other birds of note. There were at least ten Common Goldeneyes, a pair of Common Mergansers, three Northern Pintails and a female wigeon that was very interesting. In addition there was a large number of Mallards as well as groups of American Crows heading to roost. With light fading fast we headed for Barton's Cove to check on the gulls that gather there every night. Although the gulls were on the Gill side we still managed to find some good stuff. Besides the usual three expected species we had three Iceland and two Lesser Black backed Gulls. Waterfowl of note here included a pair of Hooded Mergansers as well as a male Ring-necked Duck. A Merlin buzzed past a few times and perched in a nearby tree for some great looks. With the sun down and the light gone we headed for home after a quite successful day.