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.

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