Sunday, January 3, 2016

First weekend of the year brings more new birds

Bufflehead, Beaver Lake, Ware, MA, Jan 2, 2015
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Jan 2, 2015
I spent both mornings this weekend out looking for some new species for the year and I had quite a bit of good luck.  On Saturday I stayed relatively close to home making stops at Quabbin Gate 5, Quabbin Park and Beaver Lake.  The Quabbin CBC was going on that day so I added a few species for the count even without being a formal part of it.  At Gate 5 I made it down to the water for first light and had 400+ gulls on the water (with Ring billed and Herring being the only ones I could ID).  Most left before it got light enough to really go through the flocks.  I also had a calling Northern Saw Whet Owl (which the CBC team covering the area also were able to hear) and a Ruffed Grouse.  Quabbin Park was fairly quiet with just a few Common Mergansers, a Horned Grebe and a flyby Pine Siskin with a group of goldfinches plus at least 110 Cedar Waxwings near Quabbin Tower (no Bohemian Waxwings with them that I could find).  Beaver Lake was fairly active with the highlight being two Bufflehead.  I missed two good birds seen on the CBC...Long tailed Ducks from gate 5 and a Blue winged Teal at gate 52...both would have been great to see but you can't see everything.
Snow Geese, UMASS pond, Amherst, MA, Jan 3, 2015
Goldeneye species, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Jan 3, 2015
Northern Pintail, Swift River, Ware, MA, Jan 3, 2015
Today I headed over across the river to Arcadia to start the morning and then came back across the river and checked the river and fields in Hadley and Amherst before hitting the UMASS pond and then back south through Hadley and finally heading back toward home with stops at Winsor Dam and Covey WMA (and the nearby Swift River).  Arcadia produced a continued Short eared Owl plus a pair of Great Horned Owls plus two Wood Ducks in the oxbow.  Decent numbers of American Tree Sparrows were in evidence in the meadows at Arcadia (as well as other locations throughout the morning).  I finally caught up with a Savannah Sparrow for the year too.  The Honey Pot was overall fairly quiet but I did pick out a single White throated Sparrow among the hordes of tree sparrows.  The Connecticut River produced hundreds of Canada Geese, a calling Eastern Screech Owl plus 16 Common Goldeneyes and an intriguing goldeneye that may have been a Barrow's Goldeneye.  The bird was in view for a short time at a distance through the scope before it was flushed by an eagle.  I managed just a few iPhone digiscoped shots before it disappeared not be be found again.  I immediately picked the bird out as different in shape from the near Common Goldeneyes.  It had a steeper forehead giving in a more box like head that appeared pushed forward.  There was obvious yellow on the bill but not complete on the entire bill.  Really wish I was able to find it again as I had the bird in roughly the same area a Barrow's Goldeneye was seen during the Northampton CBC.  After trying in vain to find the goldeneye again I headed over to the campus pond and found the two Snow Geese back on the pond in the company of several hundred Canada Geese plus 17 Black Ducks and roughly a hundred Mallards.  The rest of the fields and areas of the river I checked on my way home were not too productive.  My visit to Covey WMA with Wilson produced several good birds including a Great Blue Heron flushed from a small frozen pond, a kingfisher and a female Northern Pintail.  Overall a very good day with several new species for the year bringing my county total to 65 for the first three days of the year...a very good start to the year.

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