Monday, January 7, 2013

Another morning of looking for the Gyrfalcon...another morning of not finding it.

Clay colored Sparrow, Aqua Vitae Rd, Hadley, Jan 7, 2013
Distant scope view of Peregrine Falcon, Honeypot, Hadley, Jan 7, 2013
I embarked on yet another quest to find the alleged Gyrfalcon in the Hadley area.  I started out by checking the Coolidge Bridge as a possible roost site and then headed up to the fields around Valley Street in the southern part of Hatfield (across the river from the Honeypot).  I then headed down to a couple of spots in the East Meadows and scoped the trees around the area without any luck.  There were a handful of Snow Buntings and Horned Larks as well as several hundred American Crows heading north from their roost to the south.  I then headed back across the river to Aqua Vitae Road where I found the previously reported Clay colored Sparrow and Vesper Sparrow among the Savannah Sparrows.  Oddly no Snow Buntings along the road today there.  With my continued lack of sightings of the Gyrfalcon I continued my search by heading over to the Honeypot where I held vigil atop the dike for a couple hours.  Some decent flocks of Horned larks and 80+ Snow Buntings in a couple flocks as well as dozens of Common Redpolls.  Other birds of note included a single American Pipit and a flyover Red winged Blackbird.  There were a handful of raptors around including a Northern Harrier that buzzed through a few times, a few Red tailed Hawks, a Bald Eagle and a Peregrine Falcon that quickened my pulse for a few moments before I got the bird in the scope and saw it was not my main target.  As the wind really picked up I headed back down off the dike and took a quick run through the remaining sections of the Honeypot trying to find a shrike or other noteworthy bird.  A handful of Common and Hooded Mergansers were down in the Connecticut River but there was little other activity.  As I was leaving the Honeypot a large contingent of birders had arrived and I wished them luck as I headed back through Aqua Vitae Road before heading north through North Hadley and Amherst heading over to the UMASS horse farm and then the campus itself before a run back down South Maple Street.  Yet again no luck with the rumored to exist Gyrfalcon.

I took a break from looking for the bird with a diversion to Hampshire College looking for owls, which I had no luck with either.  I then headed for home to get Wilson and head out for a walk along the Jabish Canal where the best birds were a couple of Winter Wrens jumping around through some tangles and blow downs.  I also had a couple of Winter Wrens at the house yesterday.

Although I failed in my quest to find the Gyrfalcon the birding has still been spectacular for the first week of January and I have found 69 species in Hampshire County in just seven days (all but one in the first 6 days).  Some truly great birds for this time of year.

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