Saturday, January 23, 2016

The last couple days around the valley

Common Mergansers, Quabbin Park, MA, Jan 23, 2016
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Jan 23, 2016
With the forecast calling for some late morning snow arriving in the area (part of a large snow storm hitting just to our south) I headed out early to explore areas close to home.  I started out at Quabbin Park and once again had some decent waterfowl at a nighttime roost including 90+ Black Ducks, 76 Mallards, two Hooded Mergansers, 131 Common Mergansers and a Red breasted Merganser.  I tried to get some photos early but the light was just too low and wind too strong.  Just as it was getting a bit lighter an adult Bald Eagle made a couple passes on the birds and they all scattered in various directions.  I then made stops at various spots along the Swift River and turned up a total of at least 31 Hooded Mergansers as well as smaller numbers of Mallards, Black Ducks, Canada Geese and Common Mergansers.  As I explored one area along the river in Ware I came across a nice flock of birds feeding in some thickets that included a Hermit Thrush which became species #82 for Hampshire County this year.  I still need seven more birds in the next ten days to tie my previous January record but I still well ahead of an average January.  I also managed to add my 18,000th eBird checklist today while out with Wilson at Covey WMA.

As mentioned above a large snow storm just missed us to the south today with very heavy snow as close as lower Connecticut with blizzard conditions.  The dry, cold air over us managed to evaporate the snow as it closed in on us and we ended up with no snow through mid afternoon, just lots of northeast winds.
White crowned Sparrow, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Jan 22, 2016
White crowned Sparrow, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Jan 22, 2016
White throated Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Jan 22, 2016
Ring necked Duck, Quabbin Park, MA, Jan 22, 2016
Blowing dust over the fields, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Jan 22, 2016
I spent a good portion of the morning Friday exploring many areas throughout the county on a sunny but cold and windy day.  I started off before dawn at Quabbin Park where I wanted to check on the waterfowl roost that has hosted hundreds of birds.  The wind made viewing quite tough but I still managed to find over two hundred individuals (170+ Mallards, 33 Black Ducks, 3 Hooded Mergansers and 14 Common Mergansers).  I then headed over to the various farm fields along the river hitting the North Hadley fields, the Honey Pot and the East Meadows.  I hoped to find some raptors I have not yet had this year (mainly American Kestrel and Rough legged Hawk) but no luck.  I also had no luck relocating the 'Gambel's' White crowned Sparrow in the Honey Pot or the 'Ipswich' Savannah Sparrow in the East Meadows.  The wind made viewing anything quite tough as the morning moved on.  I did manage to find a few pockets of sparrows and one contained a typical eastern White crowned Sparrow in the East Meadows.  With the increasing winds and blowing dust I instead concentrated on finding waterfowl and/or gulls along the river down to South Hadley.  I did not have anything beyond the usual stuff on the increasingly frozen river.  I then headed back home to pick up Wilson and go for a walk along the Swift River.  Again nothing too unusual but a brief stop back at Quabbin Park produced a male Ring necked Duck.  

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