Sunday, January 31, 2016

January comes to an end

Mute Swan, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Jan 31, 2016
White tailed Deer, Connecticut River, Hadley, MA, Jan 31, 2016
Today I headed back over along the river with early, quick visits to the East Meadows and the Honey Pot in search of owls and managed just a single Great Horned Owl.  After my owl search I spent a few hours looking for waterfowl and sparrows along the river.  No really notable waterfowl at all besides perhaps a single Mute Swan in Hadley (a species I thankfully do not get often in this section of the river.  No sign of the Barrow's Goldeneye from a couple days ago, just some Common Goldeneye.  The best sparrow of the morning was the continued 'Gambel's' White crowned Sparrow that showed itself very briefly at the Honey Pot.  Also had a male Ring necked Pheasant at the Honey Pot once again.  Otherwise a fairly average morning for late January.  Overall the month has been warmer than normal with way below the average for snow with just a few minor storms.  There is no appreciable snow anywhere in the local area and only small bodies of water are frozen with the Quabbin Reservoir and the Connecticut River mostly ice free.  The forecast for the next week features temperatures well above normal (perhaps reaching the mid 50's) and some rain but no frigid temperatures or large snow storms on the horizon for the beginning of February...quite a change from the last few years!
Bald Eagles, Quabbin Gate 8, Pelham, MA, Jan 30, 2016
Wild Turkeys, Quabbin Gate 8, Pelham, MA, Jan 30, 2016
Looking south toward Quabbin Tower (Left) and Winsor Dam (center), Quabbin Gate 8, Pelham, MA, Jan 30, 2016
Yesterday I stayed around the Quabbin area starting off before dawn checking the waterfowl roost (numbers were less than Friday but it was a lighter earlier and a bit breezy.  I had no luck relocating either the Gadwall or American Wigeon in the Swift River despite checking a few spots.  I then made a long hike down the Gate 8 road out to the boat launch area.  As expected for a hike in the deep woods of Quabbin in the winter it was overall quiet with just a few pockets of birds with the most down at the end of the road near the water.  Nothing way out of the ordinary but a nice walk nonetheless.  It was odd to make this hike at the end of January and have no snow and only a little ice around.

I ended the month with a total of 88 species in Hampshire County which fell just short of beating my best January last year when I had 89 species.  Trying to maximize my species in the first month of the year was a nice way to encourage myself to get out and bird in what is normally a slow birding month.  To keep myself motivated I may try to see if I can get to 100 species earlier this year than in any previous year.  The date to beat is March 15, set in 2014.  Below are the last few years showing how many species I had in January and what date I reached the one hundred species mark.

Year                       January total                   Date for 100 species
2015                       89                                  March 25
2014                       81                                  March 15
2013                       85                                  March 16
2012                       60                                  March 31

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