Friday, March 6, 2015

A sunny and cold day produces some birds (and mammals)

Red Fox with Hooded Mergansers and a Bufflhead, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Mar 6, 2015
With the hopes of finding some waterfowl starting to move into the area I went over to the Connecticut River in Hadley and then checked a few other areas in the Hadley area before heading south to the Holyoke Dam and then back toward home with a stop at Winsor Dam and various locations along the Swift River. 
Bald Eagles at nest, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Mar 6, 2015
White tailed Deer, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Mar 6, 2015
The area of the Coolidge Bridge held only a single Mallard with no other waterfowl around (very odd).  The only bird of note was a Peregrine Falcon that was hanging out near the bridge.  The nearby Honey Pot was also quiet with just a handful of birds including a pair of Bald Eagles at their nest.  The frozen river held a group of 14 White tailed Deer crossing over to the Hadley side near dawn.

I then headed over to the malls in Hadley to try to catch up with the large group of larks feeding in a field that recently had some manure spread on it.  The Horned Larks were still there in numbers with at least 225 present (tough to count as they moved in and out of view).  The larks were joined by at least one Lapland Longspur.
Bufflehead, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Mar 6, 2015
Common Goldeneyes, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Mar 6, 2015
Red Fox, Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Mar 6, 2015
I then headed south to the Holyoke Dam in South Hadley where I had my biggest groups of waterfowl for the morning with 42 Canada Geese, six Mute Swans (three pairs), a Mallard, a Bufflhead, 34 Common Goldeneyes, 4 Hooded Mergansers and three Common Mergansers.  Also notable was a Red Fox working the Holyoke side of the river.
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Mar 6, 2015
A stop by Winsor Dam found that barren icy wasteland nearly devoid of life except for a Bald Eagle sitting on its nest plus a single Eastern Coyote crossing the ice.  No waxwings at all despite the presence of lots of good feed...maybe tomorrow.  The nearby Swift River produced a single Canada Goose, 16 Mallards, five Hooded Mergansers and a Common Merganser plus a Red breasted Nuthatch and a singing Brown Creeper.

February finally ended but the cold and snowy weather has continued into March but at least there are some signs of spring with temperatures forecast to reach 40 next week. There has been some melting and a slight (very slight) increase in open water in the area despite the continued cold temps (just below zero again today with high in the low 20's).  To show just how cold it was last month many area cities set all time record cold February's with the average temperature in nearby Amherst topping out at a frigid 11 degrees (at least 15 degrees below normal).  This became the coldest February in the 180+ years of record keeping in Amherst..crazy cold!)
Northern Pintails, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Mar 5, 2015
Northern Pintails, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Mar 5, 2015
On Wednesday I made a brief stop to check out the open water below the Coolidge Bridge and found around forty Canada Geese, four Black Ducks, 247 Mallards, a half a dozen Northern Pintails and some hybrid ducks.  There were also some gulls around including the expected three species plus a report of an Iceland Gull that was seen by others earlier (not present when I was there). 

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