Sunday, February 23, 2014

The last three days...lots of good stuff for late February

White winged Scoter, Mitch's Way, Hadley, MA, Feb 23, 2014
Wood Duck, North Lane Conservation Area, Hadley, MA, Feb 23, 2014
Connecticut River at dawn, Hadley, MA, Feb 23, 2014
Greater Scaup, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Feb 23, 2014
Today I once again headed over to the area of the Connecticut River in Hadley before heading south along the river with the main focus being waterfowl. The warm temperatures yesterday and overnight continued to melt large amounts of ice in the river which resulted in the waterfowl being more spread out today. I started before dawn at the Honey Pot were I had a single Short eared Owl as well as a Great Horned Owl. I then headed over to North Lane and checked out the river and found a male Wood Duck, three each of Common Goldeneye and Black Duck plus 60+ Canada Geese. I then headed back through the Honey Pot to view the river and had 31 Canada Geese, a couple Black Ducks, 28 Mallards and a couple Common Goldeneyes for waterfowl. The Bald Eagle was perched near its nest and I also had nine Horned Larks and a flyby Snow Bunting. I wanted to check near the bridge again before the crew teams headed out on the river so I stopped there next and had much reduced numbers of waterfowl there compared to recent visits. A pair of Greater Scaup continued as well as four Hooded Mergansers and 87 Mallards. My last stop before I headed south was along Aqua Vitae road where I picked up a flock of 19 Horned Larks and a couple Red winged Blackbirds.
White winged Scoters, Mitch's Way, Hadley, MA, Feb 23, 2014
White winged Scoters, Mitch's Way, Hadley, MA, Feb 23, 2014
White winged Scoters, Mitch's Way, Hadley, MA, Feb 23, 2014
My first stop as I headed south along the river was Mitch's Way which turned out to be a great stop when I ran across a couple of White winged Scoters which are very unusual here in February. Likely pushed here by the freeze out of the majority of the Great Lakes like other unusual species of waterfowl this season. Besides the scoters I had half a dozen Canada Geese, a Black Duck, 8 Mallards, five Common Goldeneyes and three Hooded Mergansers. A brief stop at Brunelle Marina turned up 11 Hooded Mergansers, a couple Common Mergansers and seven Mallards. 
Ring necked Ducks, Hadley Falls Canal Park, South Hadley, MA, Feb 23, 2014
Ring necked Ducks, Hadley Falls Canal Park, South Hadley, MA, Feb 23, 2014
 
Common Goldeneyes, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Feb 23, 2014
Wood Duck, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Feb 23, 2014
I then made it down to South Hadley near the Holyoke Dam and viewed both above and below the dam. Up above the dam I had 44 Canada Geese, four Mute Swans, five Black Ducks, 42 Mallards, a dozen Ring necked Ducks, a Common Goldeneye, five Hooded Mergansers and four Common Mergansers. Below the dam I had 18 Canada Geese, three Mute Swan, four Wood Duck, 19 Mallards, eleven Common Goldeneye (ten males), six Hooded Merganser and a couple Common Merganser.

With all the obvious waterfowl at every stop along the river and many areas inaccessible for viewing I wonder what other unusual species remained hidden for the day.  I had lots of American Robins around today as well as lots of singing Carolina Wrens and Song Sparrows at various stops.
Bald Eagle, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Feb 23, 2014
Bald Eagle, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Feb 23, 2014
Bald Eagle, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Feb 23, 2014
Bald Eagle, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, Feb 23, 2014
Once I had my fill of waterfowl for the morning I headed home and spent some time at Winsor Dam and managed to find some decent birds including a flyby Killdeer, a couple flyby Snow Bunting and at least six Bald Eagles including a very light individual and the pair at the nest. Crows continued to move northeast and I counted at least 171 while I was there.
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Greater Scaup and Common Goldeneye, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Feb 22, 2014
Greater Scaup and Common Goldeneye, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Feb 22, 2014
Greater Scaup and Common Goldeneye, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Feb 22, 2014
Greater Scaup and Ring necked Duck, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Feb 22, 2014
Common Goldeneye, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Feb 22, 2014
Connecticut River, North Lane Conservation Area, Hadley, MA, Feb 22, 2014
Horned Lark, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Feb 22, 2014
Snow Bunting, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Feb 22, 2014
On Saturday I headed over to the area around the Connecticut River to see what I could find.  I almost turned back due to some ice and fog but decided to press on.  I hit several areas multiple times including North Lane Conservation Area, the Honey Pot, below the Coolidge Bridge and along Aqua Vitae Road.  The fog did make viewing a challenge at times but it wasn't too bad most of the time.  The Honey Pot and Aqua Vitae Road produced a few dozen Horned Larks and Snow Buntings as well as singing Song and White throated Sparrows (almost like a spring day!).  The river below the bridge held lesser numbers of waterfowl than past visits probably due to the rapidly opening water of other parts of the river.  Nonetheless I still found ten Greater Scaup, ten Common Goldeneye, a Ring necked Duck, a couple Common Mergansers, about 200 Mallards but only a handful of Canada Geese.  While I was there viewing the crew teams were getting ready to head onto the icy river to practice.  This will certainly curtail the congregations of waterfowl below the bridge as long as they head out on the river.  It seemed a bit crazy to me to have to put on cold water survival suits so you can take a narrow long boat onto an icy river with icebergs floating by  just to go up and down the river, but what hobby isn't a little crazy when you take a step back and really think about it.
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 22, 2014
Eastern Coyote (one of three), Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 22, 2014
After my trip over to the river I headed back over toward home and stopped at Quabbin Park.  I did a few stationary counts looking for birds moving on the strong southerly winds.  I was thinking vultures but I didn't turn up any today (although others found both species around the area today).  There was a northeast movement of crows numbering into the hundreds that seemed to be more than just those leaving a roost as the flow continued throughout the morning.  The best bird of the day turned out to be a Golden Eagle viewed quite distantly out toward the fishing area viewed from Winsor Dam.  I assume this bird is the one that has been seen occasionally in the southern Quabbin area since at least January.  The bird had white in the tail with dark ends but no white on the wings so perhaps a second year bird?  The bird circled around a couple times as I viewed it through the scope.  I attempted a few digiscoped shots but the bird was flying away at the time and the photos were not diagnostic for identification.  I last saw the bird heading north along the west side of Quabbin.  More coyotes were in evidence of the reservoir today as well but no sign of any Bald Eagles at all.

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Hooded Mergansers, Swift River, Belchertown, MA, Feb 21, 2014
Hooded Mergansers, Swift River, Belchertown, MA, Feb 21, 2014
Hooded Mergansers, Swift River, Belchertown, MA, Feb 21, 2014
On Friday I stayed close to home due to the early morning freezing rain and the all day low clouds.  I tried to catch up with the pair of Red breasted Mergansers that were seen on the Swift River a few days ago but no luck.  I did have at least 22 Hooded Mergansers in a single group (plus a few others further upriver).  The Swift River is always a good spot in winter to catch up with this species.  Other waterfowl around included a couple Black Ducks and several Mallards.  Not much else of note to report from my various stops along the river.
Wild Turkey, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 21, 2014
Eastern Coyotes, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 21, 2014
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 21, 2014
I also made a few stops at Winsor Dam searching in vain for a Golden Eagle to appear.  The low clouds and drizzle didn't exactly help the viewing conditions.  I did have two mating Bald Eagles at the nest site so they seem to be getting down to business for another breeding season.  The number of robins continues to dwindle as they have eaten through most of the crab apples at the HQ building.  A few Wild Turkeys also made an appearance...first time I have seen any in a few weeks.  A group of three coyotes crossed the reservoir and then disappeared into the woods near the eagle nest.  In another chapter in our odd weather we had a thunderstorm roll through during the late afternoon...Wilson was not impressed at all!

2 comments:

  1. Really have enjoyed your blog! You take some great photos. I was hoping to get in touch with you but couldn't find any contact info. I hope you will get back to me.
    ernie.allison63@gmail.com

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    1. Glad you enjoy it! I'll e-mail you.

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