Saturday, March 1, 2014

March begins very cold

Common Goldeneye, Holyoke Dam area, South Hadley, MA, Mar 1, 2014
Greater Scaup, Holyoke Dam area, South Hadley, MA, Mar 1, 2014
Ring necked Ducks and Wood Ducks, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Mar 1, 2014
Another record setting cold morning (-4) is truly beginning to sound like a broken record but unfortunately there is no end in sight. With the continued cold weather the amount of available open water for waterfowl to use continues to decrease once again which concentrates the birds to just a few areas. I headed back over to the Connecticut River once again today to see if I could turn up any unusual species. I started at North Lane in Hadley but the river had no open water, just large sheets of ice moving down river. There was however a Song Sparrow singing predawn despite the temperature being below zero. I then headed down Honey Pot Road and the river held five Canada Geese and half a dozen Common Mergansers but no sign of the Red breasted Merganser present there yesterday. The Bald Eagles were quite vocal and one was at the nest moving sticks around. Just a couple Horned Larks seen there this morning but I'm sure more showed up later once it warmed up a bit. My journey south next brought me to the Coolidge Bridge and yet again a nice gathering of waterfowl kept me busy searching through the tightly packed birds for something besides Mallards. I had the following waterfowl there: five Canada Geese, six Wood Ducks (three pairs), 29 Black Ducks, 585 Mallards, two male Ring necked Ducks, a pair of Hooded Mergansers and five Common Mergansers. As I drove down Aqua Vitae Road after the leaving the bridge I had a small flock of ten Horned Larks but not much else. My next stop was down at Mitch's Way which featured just a few small open spots of open water and held eight Common Goldeneyes and a immature Bald Eagle that kept the goldeneyes up in the air as it made a few passes by them. My final stops along the river were above and below the Holyoke Dam. Surprisingly there was quite a bit of open water up above the dam which held a couple Mute Swans, four Hooded Mergansers and six Common Mergansers. Below the dam the water was a bit more frozen than yesterday but the vast majority of the area were still open and featured 97 Canada Geese, a pair of Mallards, half a dozen Greater Scaup (one male and five females), a Lesser Scaup (female with Greater scaup), at least 37 Common Goldeneyes, five Hooded Mergansers and ten Common Mergansers. 

Late in the morning and early afternoon I made few stops at Winsor Dam to see if the southerly winds were moving anything. I did manage to see at least two Turkey Vultures (no hoped for Black Vultures today) and three Bald Eagles that appeared to be moving north plus a few dozen crows moving the same way. The Bald Eagles were also hanging out and picking around the nest site. The other notable species was a group of five Common Ravens flying southwest chasing each other and calling back and forth.

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