Sunday, September 27, 2015

A couple of early Brant yesterday and more fog today

Bald Eagle, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 26, 2015
Common Ravens, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 26, 2015
Black Ducks, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 26, 2015
Cooper's Hawk, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Sep 26, 2015
As I only had a limited time in the morning on Saturday to get out I opted to stick close to home. I started predawn at Winsor Dam and noticed a fairly strong north to northeast wind. The wind made it impossible to hear any owls calling but I hoped it would entice some more birds to move. I then headed over to the park and had a few highlight including a Virginia Rail still calling and a single group of 72 Double crested Cormorants heading south.
Quabbin Park:

As the wind continued to blow I headed back to Winsor Dam to do a little skywatching in the time I had left. Almost immediately it was clear some birds were taking advantage of the winds as I saw small groups of Canada Geese moving southwest as well as groups of Blue Jays moving north to south (I had nearly 300 jays over the course of the morning). Also some decent raptor movement with highlights including 9 Osprey, all three expected falcon species and a smattering of other species. The real highlight were the waterfowl with the most unexpected species being a couple of Brant moving quickly south. I first picked them up as I was checking out a small group of Canada Geese and the two Brant flew past them. The two birds were moving fairly quickly and stayed near the horizon but I had satisfactory looks through the scope. I attempted photos with the phone but the phone just could not lock onto such a distant target. This species is not unexpected here but usually they would not show up until weeks from now.  The Brant become species #228 in the county for the year. Perhaps the sustained winds from the north pushed them along a bit early?  I wish I could have stayed longer but just could not.
Bobolinks, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 27, 2015
Swamp Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Sep 27, 2015
Lincoln's Sparrow, Aracdia, Northampton, MA, Sep 27, 2015
Northern Harrier in the fog, Aracdia, Northampton, MA, Sep 27, 2015
Today I debated about spending more time at Quabbin or heading over to the fields along the river to look for sparrows. With the winds forecast to be calm and then turn south I figured Quabbin would not be as productive as yesterday but I also knew the fog could be a problem along the river. I decided to take my chances along the river and had foggy conditions my entire time there. I started off at Arcadia where I hit the marsh (which was at least visible despite the fog) and then over to the meadows. Unfortunately the fog got worse plus a large number of workers were in the fields harvesting crops. These two issues taken together cut down quite a bit on the activity but I still had some good stuff (just nothing really unusual). A cool sighting occurred near the Ibis Pool as I was watching some sparrows along the road when a Sharp shinned Hawk suddenly appeared out of the fog rocketing down the road just a couple feet off the ground. It just missed a sparrow and then zipped past me almost at arms length away...very cool.  With no sign of the fog lifting I decided to head back across the river to the Honey Pot which turned out to be just as fogged in. I walked the edge of some of the roads and then through 'That's a Plenty Farm'. Again nothing really unusual but some good numbers of sparrows and Palm Warblers.

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