Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ross's Goose and lots of other waterfowl

Canada Goose with neck tag, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Apr 1, 2015
Great Blue Heron, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Apr 1, 2015
Connecticut River at dawn, North Lane, Hadley, MA, Apr 1, 2015
April has begun with a continued push of waterfowl and I have managed to get out before and after work the last couple days and have found some good stuff.  Yesterday morning I made a couple stops with my first being to the Connecticut River in Hadley where I found the neck tagged goose that was present there the day before still around among the 344 Canada Geese plus 8 Wood Ducks, 9 Black Ducks, 56 Mallards and two each of Green winged Teal and Common Merganser. The only other notable species there was a Great Blue Heron. My other stop yesterday morning was over to North Lane in Hadley where I had half a dozen Wood Ducks, 39 Black Ducks, 36 Mallards and 4 Common Mergansers. During the day I got a call from Jacob telling me he had a Ross’s Goose at the UMASS campus pond (a very nice showing of unusual geese there this year). I unfortunately was not be able to go to try to see it until later in the day and by the time I did the bird had apparently moved out north with a group of geese. I checked a variety of areas but had no luck finding the goose. The best spots I could find for geese included Mitch’s Way that held 220 Canada Geese plus a Common Goldeneye and a handful of Black Ducks and Mallards. The campus pond held 650+ geese but nothing unusual among them. Mill Valley Road started to have one group after another of geese coming in to feed in the fields with the numbering growing to 530 before a Bald Eagle flew by and flushed them all. Other notables there included 18 Turkey Vultures and 110+ American Crows. 
Ross's Goose, Connecticut River, Northampton, MA, Apr 2, 2015
Ross's Goose, Connecticut River, Northampton, MA, Apr 2, 2015
Canada Geese with yellow neck tags, Connecticut River, Northampton, MA, Apr 2, 2015
Connecticut River at dawn, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Apr 2, 2015
Cackling Geese, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Apr 2, 2015
Cackling Goose, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Apr 2, 2015
Cackling Goose, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Apr 2, 2015
I was out early again today and decided the most likely spot to find the Ross’s Goose (or anything else unusual) would be at roost in the river (before the crew boats made it out for the morning). I stopped to view the Connecticut River from both the Hadley and Northampton side and found a large group of waterfowl. The group included a Snow Goose, a Ross’s Goose (likely the same one discovered by Jacob yesterday), two (possibly three) Cackling Geese, 3255+ Canada Geese (including two birds with yellow neck tags that were just too far away to read the numbers on), 21 Wood Ducks, a pair of American Wigeon, 36 Black Ducks, 112 Mallards, 5 Green winged Teal, 38 Ring necked Ducks, 4 Bufflehead, 8 Hooded Mergansers and 7 Common Mergansers. Many of the geese were distant but it was interesting to have a Snow Goose and Ross’s Goose in the same general area to compare sizes and appearance. I managed some distant photos of many of the geese. Most of the geese (and others) were flushed up by the crew teams training on the river and most headed either east or north. A total of thirteen species of waterfowl this morning was quite respectable. The other species of note along the river was my first Eastern Phoebe of the season.
Although the warmer temperatures today (into the low 60's) and the southerly winds will probably keep the birds moving north, you never know. Tomorrow I will have some time to check other areas in more detail and perhaps turn up something else noteworthy. There have been five species of geese in the valley in the last few days (I have only missed the Greater White fronted Geese). There is a chance to find a sixth or seventh species (Barnacle or Pink footed, but both are very rare).

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