Saturday, April 19, 2014

American Coots in Hatfield

American Coot, Great Pond, Hatfield, MA, Apr 19, 2014
American Coot, Great Pond, Hatfield, MA, Apr 19, 2014
American Coot, Great Pond, Hatfield, MA, Apr 19, 2014
Sunrise over the fields, Hatfield, MA, Apr 19, 2014
The string of unusual birds continued today when I managed to catch up with a couple American Coots up at Great Pond in Hatfield.  This species is surprisingly difficult to find around here and is missed most years.  This is actually my first spring record and my first away from Quabbin (most of my records come from mid October to early November).  My last sighting of this species was back in October of 2011.  My plan for the morning was not to make the trip over that way but I woke up earlier than planned and saw a post from eBird that Bob B. had a couple coots at Great Pond yesterday morning so I figured why not try for them?  I made it over there just as the sun was coming up following a brief stop at Aqua Vitae Road to check on things there (just the typical stuff there with continued good numbers of Ring necked Ducks and Green winged Teal).  The pond continues to be quite high due to flooding with lots of places for coots to hide.  Luckily one of the first birds I saw driving in was a coot...if only all birds were so easy!  I managed to get a few pictures before it moved deeper into the flooded brushy areas.  I eventually found both coots but the other one was even more distant.  I also had a calling Virginia Rail there which brought me up to 140 species for the year in Hampshire County...still ahead of last years pace.
Killdeer, Old Pilgrim Airport, Hatfield, MA, Apr 19, 2014
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Apr 19, 2014
After my luck with the coots I made a few other stops for the morning.  My first was to the Old Pilgrim Airport looking for shorebirds.  I only found a few Killdeer there and not much else.  I then headed down to the Silvio Conte NWR in Hadley and found another new bird for the year when I came across at least three Brown Thrashers.  Other birds of note there included at least three Hermit Thrushes, three singing Field Sparrows and a Eastern Meadowlark.

A brief stop at Winsor Dam produced a couple Common Loons, a distant Red necked Grebe and a Porcupine sitting in a tree on the far western shore.

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