Sunday, February 14, 2016

A very cold weekend

Winsor Dam (with ice forming), Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 13, 2016
Mallards, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 13, 2016
Belted Kingfisher, Mass Wildlife fish hatchery, Belchertown, MA, Feb 14, 2016
Winsor Dam (with low fog as strong northwest winds blow over open water), Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 14, 2016
The arctic chill certainly arrive for the weekend as predicted. Saturday morning was thankfully quite calm and not extremely cold to start (around 10 degrees) so I managed to get out a little before the winds picks up by mid morning. I stayed around the south Quabbin area and managed to find a few noteworthy birds including an adult Iceland Gull at Winsor Dam sitting on the rapidly forming ice with a small group of Ring billed Gulls. All the gulls took flight and headed southeast before I could get any photos. The Iceland Gull becomes species #90 for the county so far this year. Other notable birds around included at least 92 Common Mergansers around Quabbin as well as a calling Common Loon. The rest of the day just got colder and windier with the temperature in the low single digits by nightfall. Overnight lows bottomed out around -12 with wind chills down near -40.  I didn't even venture out on Sunday until midday when the winds slackened up a bit and the temperatures reached a toasty 5 degrees.  Winsor Dam was fairly quiet but it was neat to see the low fog being created by the cold winds blowing across the open water.  A check along the Swift River produced a Belted Kingfisher at the fish hatchery and seven each of Hooded Merganser and Mallard in a small section of open water.  Late in the afternoon while driving to Northampton I came across a group of at least 42 Wild Turkeys along Bay Road in Belchertown and also spotted two Turkey Vultures circling over the area of Bay Rd/East Hadley Rd/ South Maple St in Hadley.  The Turkey Vultures became species #91 for Hampshire County this year so far.  The cold weather looks to continue overnight with lows tomorrow bottoming out between -10 and -15.

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