Sunday, December 2, 2012

Northern Saw-whet Owl (species #226) plus others on a foggy day

Northern Saw-whet Owl, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, Dec 2, 2012

Dark eyed Junco, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, Dec 2, 2012
Today started out foggy and stayed that way through midday with cool temperatures starting out just below freezing.  I tried my luck at Quabbin Park first thing in the morning but the fog made viewing quite difficult.  I did manage to find a few landbirds of note including a Hermit Thrush, a Winter Wren, and a Ruffed Grouse.  As I was trying to find additional birds there I got a message from Ian Davies that they had refound a Northern Saw whet Owl at Hampshire College that was first discovered by them over a week ago in the same spot.  I headed my way over there and after a bit of looking, found the bird roosting near the top of a pine.  I managed a few photos but the conditions did not allow for any great shots.  I was very happy to find this bird as it became #226 for Hampshire County this year.  This may be perhaps the last species I add for the year but who knows? 

I then headed back through the fog to Quabbin stopping at Winsor Dam to see if I could once again catch up with Pine Grosbeaks there.  I immediately found them feeding on the ground and in the crab apple trees.  As the fog made viewing the water nearly impossible I spent some time just admiring the grosbeaks.  As I stood there watching them several dropped in around me and walked right up to me.  One even came and and walked over my feet as I stood there...amazing to see!  Pine Grosbeaks can be so much fun to watch as they are usually so oblivious to people.  There were birds out on the water as I could hear Mallards, Ring billed Gulls and loons but only the loon was ever visible in the dense fog.

I also took a walk with Wilson along the Jabish Canal but the birds were very few and far between there.

A return trip to Winsor Dam in the early afternoon found the fog starting to lift but the grosbeaks gone.  There were a handful of birds out on the water including a couple Common Loons, four Hooded Mergansers, four Black Ducks and a Mallard.  A flyby adult Bald Eagle also made a short appearance.
Pileated Woodpecker, Belchertown, MA, Dec 2, 2012
Besides the usual feeder birds at home today I had a Pileated Woodpecker make an appearance.  Wilson noticed it first as he stared out the window at the bird.  I managed to get a few marginal photos through the window before the bird moved on.


  1. Hi Larry, I Have been reading your blog for some time. Enjoy reading your Quabbin encounters. I also was at Quabbin Park both Saturday and Sunday staying till mid morning.
    This weekend I reached 500 miles hiking the roads and trails of Quabbin Reservoir. You can veiw my wildlife encounters @
    What type of camera and lens are you using?
    I am sure we have crossed paths. I typically have a pack on carrying my camera on a monopod.
    If you happen to see me I would enjoy meeting you

  2. I'm sure we have crossed paths a few times. That is quite a milestone...congrats. Some amazing stuff over those 500 miles I'm sure.

    I'm using a Canon 7D with a 300 prime lens with a 1.4x converter for most photos. Some photos are through the scope using my iPhone or just the iPhone itself.

    I'll check out your site and keep my eye out for you while I'm out and about.


  3. Larry,
    You've had some great birds in Hampshire County this year, perhaps the county will give up 4 more for an even 230! Though adding 4 to your already impressive list will prove tough, you can't have any easy ones left!

  4. Tom,

    Indeed it has been a great year. I would love to add 4 more but that will be tough! I missed on some easy ones over the course of the year (American Bittern and Black Vulture for example). Still have a few weeks, so who knows?