Sunday, January 25, 2015

Birding after the snow storm

Savannah Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Jan 25, 2015
Savannah Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Jan 25, 2015
Horned Lark, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Jan 25, 2015
Horned Larks, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Jan 25, 2015
Savannah Sparrow, Aqua Vitae Road, Hadley, MA, Jan 25, 2015
Horned Lark, Aqua Vitae Road, Hadley, MA, Jan 25, 2015
Peregrine Falcon eating Black Duck, Coolidge Bridge, Hadley, MA, Jan 25, 2015
After being stuck at home yesterday during the snow it was nice to get out for a bit this morning despite the less than ideal road conditions early on.  It was still snowing a little this morning at home when I got up but eventually the skies cleared and the wind picked up.  I met up with Jacob just before dawn and we hit several spots including the Honey Pot, the Coolidge Bridge, Aqua Vitae Road and Mill Valley Road.  Nothing extreme this morning but still some good stuff around.  Highlights as follows for the following locations:

Honey Pot-  80 Horned Larks, a Snow Bunting and a number of sparrows including a Savannah Sparrow.

Coolidge Bridge- 283 Canada Geese, 4 Black Ducks (technically 4.5 as the Peregrine had only consumed 1/2 the bird when we saw it), 89 Mallards, two Common Mergansers, a Peregrine Falcon dining on a Black Duck

Aqua Vitae Road- 58 Horned Larks, a Lapland Longspur, at least a dozen Savannah Sparrows,

Mill Valley Road- 310+ Horned Larks
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Jan 25, 2015
After dropping Jacob off I headed toward home with a brief stop at Winsor Dam which was very windy and quiet.  The ice continues to cover more and more area and soon there will be no open water left but that is hopefully still a week or more away.

Late morning I heard of a report from Scott Surner of three Snow Geese and a Turkey Vulture along Mill Valley Road in Hadley.  Both of these species are quite unusual around here in January and would have been great to catch up with but I had other plans through the early afternoon.  I eventually made my way over that way when I ran some errands in the early afternoon but the birds were gone but the fields along Mill Valley Road still produced impressive numbers of Horned Larks with at least 200 still flying around.  I also checked some nearby fields for the geese as well as making a stop at the US Fish and Wildlife HQ looking for waxwings but no luck with either.  I then worked south along South Maple Street and made a stop at the Silvio Conte NWR where I scanned the skies for awhile, finally turning up a first of the year Red Shouldered Hawk soaring distantly to the west (species #85 for the county this far).  I was running out of time so headed for home despite my initially inclination to head over to the river to try to find the geese.  I should have made the detour to the river as someone reported two Snow Geese mixed in with the Canada Geese below the Coolidge Bridge later in the afternoon...oh well!  Hopefully they will still be there tomorrow when I make it over that way again.
Tree Swallow nest with unhatched eggs, home, Belchertown, MA, Jan 25, 2015
I spent the late afternoon cleaning out the various nest boxes around the yard and one of them contained a Tree Swallow nest with four unhatched eggs.  I thought the box had fledged birds this year but it appears that they were not successful.  Tree Swallow nests are always cool to see as they use lots of feathers in their nests, especially Ruffed Grouse feathers.

The predictions are calling for a massive storm starting tomorrow evening...more about that later.
Wilson in the snow, Jan 24, 2015
Wilson in the snow, Jan 24, 2015
Wilson in the snow, Jan 24, 2015
With the snow during the day yesterday (around 6-8" or so of heavy, wet snow) I spent time around the house cleaning up and playing with Wilson.  The feeders were really jumping during the storm with a total of a dozen species including a Common Redpoll, a Pine Siskin, 40+ American Goldfinches and a Carolina Wren.  Also had a couple of Great Horned Owls hooting early this morning despite the heavy snow coming down.

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