Friday, December 13, 2013

A very cold morning spent searching for a Snowy Owl....yeah, you guessed luck again!

Dawn in the East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Dec 13, 2013

I spent a very cold morning searching in vain once again for the elusive Snowy Owl.  Although this year is suppose to be a major invasion year of this species in the east I’m beginning to think that is a bunch of bullshit.   Yet another one has been seen around Barnes Airport in Westfield the last few days but despite much effort again today on my part I could not find a single damn one.  There is so much good habitat for them I can't understand why I couldn't find even one...oh well, at least I tried...again.  Now that I don't have time to look for them any more they will show up in droves!  Well enough of my venting over those mythical creatures of the north.  I still had a nice morning out birding and found some decent stuff.  I started at dawn in the Honeypot hoping to catch the Short eared Owl that has been seen there the last several days by a few lucky people.  No luck with that owl either, just a handful of larks.  I then headed over to the East Meadows to check the area before too much activity scared off any owls that might be around.  The meadows held a single flock of 68 Snow Buntings and also various flocks of Horned Larks that totalled at least 115.  I also had at least three Northern Harriers working the area.  The Connecticut River below the Coolidge Bridge once again held some waterfowl with the vast majority being Canada Geese.  I had a total of 2329 Canada Geese (yes I counted every one of them!) plus nine Black Ducks, 192 Mallards, a few hybrids and a couple Common Mergansers.  I also had a flyby group of 14 Red winged Blackbirds rocket by heading south. 
Mallards and Black Ducks, Connecticut River, Hatfield, MA, Dec 13, 2013
I then headed north to Hatfield checking lots of fields along the way.  The fields were quite quiet but I found some waterfowl on the river including 41 Black Ducks, 16 Mallards, a few hybrids, half a dozen Hooded Mergansers and three Common Mergansers.

Northern Pintail, Hadley Fall Canal Park, South Hadley, MA, Dec 13, 2013
Northern Pintail, Hadley Fall Canal Park, South Hadley, MA, Dec 13, 2013
After checking many fields in Hatfield I decided to head south and once again checked fields along the way without any luck.  At least the Connecticut River produced some waterfowl.  Up above the Holyoke Dam I had the following:  nine Canada Geese, four Mute Swans, 28 Black Ducks, four Mallards, a female Northern Pintail, a pair of Bufflehead, and four each of Hooded and Common Mergansers.
Long tailed Duck, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Dec 13, 2013

Long tailed Duck, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Dec 13, 2013

Long tailed Duck (with Common Merganser), Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Dec 13, 2013
Below the Holyoke Dam I had even more waterfowl with the highlight being an unusual Long tailed Duck which I managed a few crappy photos of.  I also had 288 Canada Geese, 17 Mallards, five Common Goldeneyes, 11 Hooded Mergansers and five Common Mergansers.  Just over a hundred gulls were almost all Ring billed with just a handful of Herring Gulls.

Winsor Dam in snow showers, Quabbin Park, Dec 13, 2013
I got home later in the morning and picked up Wilson and we went for a walk at Covey WMA.  Nothing too unusual there but nice to be out with my little buddy even if we did freeze out asses off.  I briefly stopped at Winsor Dam as snow showers started moving through.  Just a taste of what is forecast to be our biggest storm of the season starting tomorrow into Sunday with up around a foot possible.


  1. I would have guessed that you had found one because there seems to be so many. Good luck next time.

    1. I would have thought the same thing! I will keep my fingers crossed for finding one in the next few days before the end of the year.