Friday, February 19, 2016

Another fruitless search for Long eared Owls but did find a Northern Shrike and some unusual waterfowl (at least unusual for winter)

Cedar Waxwing, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 19, 2016
Ring necked Pheasant, Hatfield, MA, Feb 19, 2016

I started off a rather cold morning in southern Hatfield looking for any Long eared Owls that might be around. Despite a lot of looking over the course of a few hours I didn't have any luck but there is so much good habitat for a roosting bird to hang out in I may have just missed them. The best I could come up with was an old owl pellet but no new ones. The best bird I had there was a male Ring necked Pheasant that called a few times and gave brief looks. I worked my way north up through Whately but didn't see anything noteworthy although a few of the fields look ripe to welcome geese as they move north in a few weeks. I then crossed back across the river and headed south on Route 47. When I was just past the Hadley/Sunderland line I had a Northern Shrike (#93) sitting at the top of a small tree just off the road. I got a great but brief look at it before I had to move due to traffic. I turned back around and came back but the bird was gone. I could not find a good spot to park in the area so I couldn't spend more time trying to relocate it.
Green winged Teal, UMASS campus pond, Amherst, MA, Feb 19, 2016
Gadwall, UMASS campus pond, Amherst, MA, Feb 19, 2016
Canada Geese on fields, UMASS, Amherst, MA, Feb 19, 2016
I checked numerous fields in northern Hadley and Amherst but didn't find any geese until I stopped at UMASS where I had 1300+ geese on the athletic fields near the Mullins Center. I scanned through them all three times but couldn't find anything besides Canada Geese although some birds were hidden from view, others were tucked in and the heat shimmer was a bit of an issue. My biggest group of geese so far this year and hopefully a good sign of more to come. I also stopped by the nearby campus pond and the Green winged Teal and Gadwall continue along with a few Black Ducks and hundreds of Mallards (much better looks at the birds today compared to a few days ago in a wind swept rain). I searched a few more fields to the south for geese or some other notable species but no luck.

Common Loons, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 19, 2016
Common Loon, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 19, 2016
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 19, 2016
Cedar Waxwing, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 19, 2016
I then headed over to Winsor Dam where I had four Common Loons (the highest count ever for this species around here in February on eBird). The only other waterfowl I had there were 22 Common Mergansers. I then made it home to get Wilson and we went for a walk at Covey WMA and also stopped along the Swift River where we had a dozen each of Hooded Mergansers and Mallards. A pair of Mallards kept repeatedly diving under the water for up to ten seconds at a time....not very dabbling duck like behavior! Overall another nice morning out despite the cold start.

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