Saturday, February 1, 2014

Another cold month begins with some good birds

I woke up early today and couldn't get back to sleep so I decided to take advantage and head out looking for owls. I had a pair of Great Horned Owls calling back and forth at home before I even headed out so I had high hopes of having some luck. I made a few different stops in Amherst and Hadley and found another pair of Great Horned Owls but oddly no screech owls. However the lack of screech owls was made up for in a big way when I had a Long eared Owl! I was walking through the woods and thought I heard a Long eared Owl call so I stopped walking and listened for several minutes but didn't hear anything else. I then played a Long eared Owl call a couple times and then waited. After several minutes the owl called again. I was ecstatic to hear it again. I didn't want to cause any undue stress to the owl so I headed back toward my car. I think I heard the owl call distantly one more time on my way out but could not be certain. The Long eared Owl was one of my big misses last year so finding one his year was fantastic. As it was starting to get brighter I headed over to the Honey Pot and had at two Short eared Owls working the fields while I viewed them from the dike. There were also groups of Canada Geese moving around before dawn.
Hybrid goose, Connecticut River, Northampton, MA, Feb 1, 2014
Hybrid goose, Connecticut River, Northampton, MA, Feb 1, 2014
Northern Pintail (center with Mallards and Canada Geese), Connecticut River, Northampton, MA, Feb 1, 2014
Dawn along the Connecticut River (with the remains of an old toilet), Northampton, MA, Feb 1, 2014 (In case you wonder what happens to toilets when they get old...they make there way to the river and then blow themselves up...sad)
I wanted to make another check on the waterfowl below the Coolidge Bridge so I headed over there next. The goose hybrid was still present along with 630+ Canada Geese, a couple male Northern Pintails, 38 Black Ducks, 380+ Mallards, a pair of Hooded Mergansers and half a dozen Common Mergansers. In addition to the waterfowl I had a couple Cooper's Hawks and half a dozen Snow Buntings flyby plus lots of crows moving north.
Mallards and Black Duck, Honey Pot, Hadley, Feb 1, 2014
A return trip over to the Honey Pot finally produced an American Kestrel for me this year. No idea how it has taken me so long to find this species this year when so many others have seen it. I also checked out the river and found 157 Mallards and a few Black Ducks plus a few hybrids. I also made a trip down Aqua Vitae Road but it was quiet.

The Eastern Meadowlarks continued to be seen along Moody Bridge Rd at the Silvio O. conte NWR but I was only able to find two this morning. The birds were distant and the topography of the land probably hid others. I then drove down South Maple St to Mill Valley and had a few cowbirds in among the groups of starlings. I also made a brief stop by a location where a Dickcissel has been coming to a feeder but I didn't know the exact address in the residential area so didn't have any luck.
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Feb 1, 2014
I then headed back toward home with a brief stop at Quabbin. I was hoping some areas of water were opened back up but no luck. Just a couple adult Bald Eagles near the nest and little else. Tough to have my 'go to' birding spot not productive...oh the humanity!

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