Friday, April 24, 2015

Trip to the hilltowns of Hampshire County

Sandhill Crane, Worthington, MA, Apr 24, 2015
Sandhill Crane, Worthington, MA, Apr 24, 2015
Sandhill Crane, Worthington, MA, Apr 24, 2015
I was feeling OK this morning so decided to make a trip up to the hilltowns of Hampshire County in search of a few target species and managed to find them and more despite the non spring like conditions.  I was certainly questioning my decision as the ground was dusted with snow and there were flurries in the air when I arrived with temperatures just below freezing with a strong north wind.  I first stopped at Fisk Meadow WMA in Chesterfield and had a flyby Evening Grosbeak and three Purple Finches.  I then continued further west into Worthington searching for the Sandhill Cranes (up to three have been seen lately) that have returned for yet another year.  After initially striking out at several locations I caught up with a single individual walking along the edge of a private field.  I managed some distant scope shots before it walked out of view.  It will be interesting to see if they finally breed successful up there.  The other notable birds around the various fields included a few calling Savannah Sparrows and an Eastern Meadowlark.
American Bittern, Cummington, MA, Apr 24, 2015
I then headed over to Cummington in search of bitterns and came across two American Bitterns both pumping away from a marsh.  I also had at least two calling Virginia Rails but never got a look at them.  With my two main targets found (the crane and bittern) plus a bonus of Evening Grosbeak, I headed back down to the valley.
Tree Swallows, Great Pond, Hatfield, MA, Apr 24, 2015
My last stop on the west side of the river was over to Great Pond in Hatfield where I hoped to find some unusual waterfowl (like coot) or wader (egret or ibis) but despite much effort I came away empty for those species.  The pond was still productive with 21 Wood Ducks, an American Kestrel, 340+ Tree Swallows, 2 Bank Swallows, 11 Barn Swallows, a single Cliff Swallow and three Rusty Blackbirds.  The swallows were all feeding low over the water trying to stay out of the strong winds.

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