Monday, November 5, 2012

Black-legged Kittiwake at Quabbin and lots of scoters


Black legged Kittiwake, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Nov 5, 2012

Black legged Kittiwake, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Nov 5, 2012

Black legged Kittiwake, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Nov 5, 2012

Black legged Kittiwake, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Nov 5, 2012

Black legged Kittiwake, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Nov 5, 2012

What a great day to be outside despite the cold temperatures and brisk breeze. The bird of the day was without question a Black legged Kittiwake I found at Winsor Dam in the afternoon while I was checking out the large scoter flock I had seen earlier (more on that later). I had seen a report from earlier in the day that James Smith had found a kittiwake in Turners Falls in Franklin county http://pioneerbirding.blogspot.com/#!/2012/11/ma-black-legged-kittiwake-gill.html this morning and I certainly would love to find one at Quabbin but realized the chances were exceedingly rare. This species is very seldom seen inland in Massachusetts with only a handful of records with most (all but one really) occurring following a storm in October of 2005. I ran into Steve Motyl almost as soon as I got back to Winsor Dam and after we talked for awhile, mentioned birds being seen (including the kittiwake in Turners Falls) and checked out the various species of waterfowl a bird flew past that I saw as different and once I got a look at it I knew it was a Black legged Kittiwake! I ran to the car, got the camera and managed a few shots before it flew out of view. It reappeared a few minutes later flying north along the shore. It landed on the water briefly before heading north and eventually out of view toward Gate 8. Steve left at this point and I continued looking for the bird.  After about 20 minutes it reappeared near the dam flying west and I got additional photos and great views of the bird before it disappeared into the cove in the southwest corner. The bird was almost certainly moved inland by Hurricane Sandy but where it (or they) have been before today is any one guess. I left a bit after 2:30 after getting word out via facebook of the sighting. I'm not sure if anyone else got to see it later.  In addition to this sighting being a new Quabbin bird for me it became species #221 for the county this year.
Canada Geese, Arcadia marsh, Nov 5, 2012

Mallards, Arcadia marsh, Nov 5, 2012
I started the day by heading over to the Northampton and Hadley looking for geese. I started at Arcadia in Northampton and ran across a few nice birds.  At Arcadia marsh I had 436 Canada Geese, 11 Black Ducks, 282 Mallards, 21 Green winged Teal, 16 Wood Duck, 2 Gadwall and an American Wigeon. One unusual sight was watching all the waterfowl on the lower end keep flying further and further upstream. I could not figure out why until I saw a River Otter working his way up river and moving all the birds in front of him.  In addition to the waterfowl I had a half dozen White winged Crossbills flyover.  I scanned through several fields in Northampton and Hadley as I headed back home but found no geese at all. I also stopped briefly to search for the Northern Shrike at Hampshire College but it appears to have moved on.

Black Scoter flock (part of at least 610 birds present) Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Nov 5 ,2012

Black Scoter flock (part of at least 610 birds present) Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Nov 5 ,2012

Black Scoter flock (part of at least 610 birds present) with Bald Eagle(lower right) Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Nov 5 ,2012
video
Black Scoter flock (part of at least 610 present at this location), Winsor Dam, Nov 5, 2012

Besides the kittiwake at Winsor Dam there was a great waterfowl show here which included at least 610 Black Scoter (flocks counted in photos taken, the birds were quite active at times flying around), a dozen White winged Scoter, two Surf Scoter, 3 Bufflehead, 7 Long tailed Duck, 8 Lesser Scaup, Horned Grebe, Red necked Grebe, Common Loon, seven Common Merganser and a few Mallards.  Occasionally a Bald Eagle would make an appearance and send all the waterfowl up to fly around for several minutes before finally settling down again.  Elsewhere at Quabbin Park I had another flock of Black Scoter numbering 173, three Horned Grebes and a couple Common Loons. There was likely at least 783 Black Scoters present at Quabbin park today which is by far the largest number I have ever had inland for this species.  There certainly was an incursion of this species overnight as many people reported groups of this species on various water bodies in the area.  Other notable birds included a flock of 21 Snow Buntings at gate 52, a Fox Sparrow and a Winter Wren.  The 'Monday morning bird group' also got to see many of these species as they decided to spend part of the morning at Quabbin. 

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