Monday, January 14, 2013

Foggy morning, sunny afternoon with Canvasbacks and another interesting bird

Canvasbacks (five males, two females), Connecticut River below Coolidge Bridge, Hadley,MA, Jan 14, 2013
Canvasbacks (five males, two females), Connecticut River below Coolidge Bridge, Hadley,MA, Jan 14, 2013
Canvasbacks (two males, one female), Connecticut River below Coolidge Bridge, Hadley,MA, Jan 14, 2013
A little taste of spring today after the morning fog burned off and the sun finally came out.  The temperatures quickly rose topping out in the low 50's.  A lot of snow has disappeared over the last several days with no replacement snow on the horizon. With the early morning fog I ditched my plans to head over to Quabbin and instead headed over to the Honeypot area of Hadley to take a look around.  I specifically was not looking for the Gyrfalcon in the hopes that this may finally make it appear.  The 'ignoring it to make it appear' theory did not work this morning at all.  The fog once again made viewing difficult but I found a few birds around.  I had American Pipits in a couple spots (S.Maple St and Honeypot), a handful of Horned Larks, Winter Wren at the Honeypot, American Kestrel along Mill Valley Rd, 45+ Common Redpolls at the Honeypot and the continued Vesper Sparrow along Aqua Vitae Road.  I also added another species, Cedar Waxwing, to my county list for the year-#79. The fog did not seem to be lifting and I was feeling a little less than 100% so I headed for home.  Once I got home the fog had burned off so Wilson and I went for a walk and enjoyed being outside in somewhat warm temperatures.

Although I was fighting a headache I got a message from Scott Surner about a group of seven Canvasbacks in the Connecticut River found by Bob Bieda so I decided to try my luck.  I headed over to Aqua Vitae Road to try and get a look from that side of the river and not have to go over the bridge.  As I was driving down Aqua Vitae Road a large falcon was flying fast toward the river at tree top level that I had in view for about three seconds and by the time I stopped and got the binoculars up, it was gone.  A very interesting bird that I cannot say with any certainty what it was.  I would love for it to have been the Gyrfalcon but it was probably just a Peregrine Falcon.  Certainly would have liked a longer look through binoculars or scope.  My records for now will just say 'falcon species'.  Once I arrived near the end of Aqua Vitae Road the large Canada Geese flock (530+) was immediately evident.  I quickly scanned through and found the Canvasbacks in among them.  A total of seven birds (five males and two females).  I have only had Canvasback two other times in the county (once in the same spot as these birds in Jan 2004 and the other time at the Oxbow in Northampton in Mar 2008 and both times they were single birds, not a group).  The Canvasback made species #80 and a flyby Common Grackle made amazing month that is only half over!

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