Friday, March 14, 2014

Morning along the Connecticut River and then Quabbin

Merlin, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Mar 14, 2014
Lapland Longspur, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Mar 14, 2014
Mink carrying Muskrat, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Mar 14, 2014
Bufflehead, Wood Duck, Mallards, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Mar 14, 2014
Red necked Grebe, Hadley Falls Canal Park, South Hadley, MA, Mar 14, 2014
Connecticut River at dawn, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Mar 14, 2014
Despite the morning starting off around ten and having the feel of a mid winter day the temperatures eventually warmed up to just above freezing (a big improvement from yesterday when we had snow showers and a strong north wind with temperatures not making it much above 20).  I spent the morning with Jacob exploring various stops along the Connecticut River trying our best to turn up some unusual waterfowl.  We hit several areas starting in Hadley down south to Holyoke and across the river to South Hadley and then back north.  After I dropped off Jacob for his class I hit a few spots in Hadley for a second time and turned up more 'stuff'.  Beyond the birds I had a neat mammal sighting when I noticed a Mink carrying what appeared to be a Muskrat.  Always amazing how big a prey item a Mink will take down.

Below are the waterfowl numbers and other highlights (some spots I stopped at twice...totals are highest count from most productive stop).

North Lane Conservation Area- 16 Canada Geese,  8 Ring necked Ducks, 2 Common Goldeneye, 2 Hooded Merganser and 3 Common Merganser.

Honey Pot- 4 Wood Ducks, 2 Black Ducks, 270 Mallards (most put up by eagle), 3 Ring necked Ducks, 2 Hooded Merganser, 6 Common Merganser, 3 Bald Eagles, a Merlin, 80 Horned Larks, at least two Lapland Longspurs, 6 Snow Buntings and a FOY Fox Sparrow.

Connecticut River near Coolidge Bridge- 191 Canada Geese, 4 Wood Ducks, male Gadwall, pair of American Wigeon, 4 Black Duck, 418 Mallard, 3 Ring necked Duck, 5 Hooded Merganser and 3 Common Merganser.

Hadley Falls Canal Park- 4 Mute Swan, 3 Wood Duck, 2 Black Duck, 2 Mallard, 14 Ring necked Duck, 7 Hooded Merganser, 5Common Merganser and a Red necked Grebe.

Below Holyoke Dam- 17 Canada Geese, 5 Wood Duck, 11 Mallard, 4 Bufflehead, 20 Common Goldeneye, 12 Hooded Merganser and a Common Merganser

Mitch's Way- 14 Canada Geese, 2 Black Duck, 2 Common Goldeneye and 6 Common Merganser.
Bald Eagles on carcass, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Mar 14, 2014
Turkey Vulture, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Mar 14, 2014
Bald Eagles, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Mar 14, 2014
Great Blue Heron, state fish hatchery, Belchertown, MA, Mar 14, 2014

After my time along the Connecticut River I headed home and picked up Wilson to go for a walk at Covey WMA. After our walk we stopped briefly at the fish hatchery in Belchertown and I found another new species for the year when I found a Great Blue Heron walking along the hatchery ponds looking for a meal. The Great Blue Heron becomes species #99 in Hampshire County for the year. We then made a brief stop at Winsor Dam and immediately saw a deer carcass on the ice with a few Bald Eagles in attendance. I eventually had four eagles but couldn't stay too long as I had some errands to run. After running my errands I stopped back by Winsor Dam and watched the carcass for more activity (mainly hoping for a Golden Eagle). After an hour of watching,  no Golden Eagle showed up but I did manage to have at least seven Bald Eagles plus a Common Raven and three Turkey Vultures moving northeast. I also spotted another carcass way out that had at least two coyotes partaking in the bounty of dead deer.

Winsor Dam at dusk, Mar 14, 2014
I returned to Winsor Dam at dusk and the carcass was reduced a bit but still intact enough for more feeding tomorrow provided the coyotes don't come in overnight and destroy it...which is what I suspect will be the case.  Also tried for woodcocks again at Covey and Quabbin but no luck...just too windy and cold I suspect.

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