Friday, March 21, 2014

First full day of spring.

Canada Geese, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Mar 21, 2014
Canada Geese flying over meadows, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Mar 21, 2014
Canada Geese, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Mar 21, 2014
Bufflehead, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Mar 21, 2014
Greater Scaup, Mitch's Way, Hadley, MA, Mar 21, 2014
Northern Pintail, Mitch's Way, Hadley, MA, Mar 21, 2014
Peregrine Falcon, UMASS, Amherst, MA, Mar 21, 2014
American Wigeon (pair far right), Gadwall (bottom right) and Mallards, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Mar 21, 2014

Although today was the first full day of spring it certainly did not feel like it with temperatures in the 30's with a strong northwest wind with occasional flurries in the morning and more clouds than sun. Despite the less than stellar weather I headed out before dawn in search of waterfowl along the river and ended the morning with a total of 18 species of waterfowl including some unusual species. Certainly an influx of geese today with thousands around the valley but catching up with them to sort them out was quite difficult but I eventually had some success. Trying to stay ahead of the crew teams out on the river also proved difficult and frustrating but without a way to sink them I had to deal with them. Besides the waterfowl I had some other good birds but nothing too unexpected. I have included my stops below with the waterfowl totals and other highlights.

Coolidge Bridge area: 446 Canada Geese, 54 Mallard, 2 Ring necked Duck, 2 Common Goldeneye, 2 Hooded Merganser and a very vocal Peregrine Falcon.

Honey Pot: 31 Canada Geese, 2 Common Merganser, a Red necked Grebe and an adult male Northern Harrier.

North Lane Conservation Area: 620 Canada Geese (all flying north), 9 Mallard, 16 Ring necked Duck, 24 Common Goldeneye and 5 Common Merganser.

Numerous fields in Hadley and North Hadley: a handful of Canada Geese.

UMASS Campus Pond: 573 Canada Geese, 44 Mallard and a Peregrine Falcon at the nest box.

Mitch's Way: 1800+ Canada Geese, 12 Wood Duck, 6 Mallard, a pair of Northern Pintail, a Greater Scaup female and 4 Lesser Scaup. Probably the most frustrating stop of the day as I only had a brief chance to start going through the large flock on the river when a few crew boats flushed everything. I'm sure there were other things to be found in that huge flock.

Hadley Falls Canal Park: 22 Canada Geese, 2 Mute Swan, a Wood Duck, a Black Duck, 13 Ring necked Duck, a Long tailed Duck (distant and constantly diving...seems like this is a good spot for this species) and 4 Hooded Merganser.

Below the Holyoke Dam: 6 Canada Geese, 4 Mallard. 6 Bufflehead, 8 Common Goldeneye and 2 Hooded Merganser.

Silvio Conte NWR-Moody Bridge Road: 170+ Canada Geese in flight.

East Hadley Road-Hadley: 5 Canada Geese and 2 Killdeer.

East Meadows: a single Cackling Goose (seen well but briefly as it fed along Canada Geese...short neck, stubby bill and small overall size compared to Canada moved in and out of view among the corn and then flushed along with all the geese and could not be relocated), 1940+ Canada Geese (truly impressive when they all took flight when flushed), 4 Wood Duck, a Gadwall, a pair of American Wigeon, 9 Black Duck, 34 Mallard, a Turkey Vulture (which oddly flushed all the geese as it came by), at least 3 Red tailed Hawks, a flyover Snow Bunting and about 120 crows. Most of the ducks were seen only after everything flushed...when they settled back into the corn stalks they disappeared from view.

Perhaps some southerly winds will bring in more migrants tomorrow...time will tell.

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