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.

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