Thursday, February 25, 2016

More waterfowl continue to arrive with more warm weather

Winter Wren, Ware, MA, Feb 25, 2016
Winter Wren, Ware, MA, Feb 25, 2016
Snow Goose, Amherst, MA, Feb 25, 2016
Common Loon, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 25, 2016
Ring necked Duck, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 25, 2016
I enjoyed a day off today which coincided with warm weather and strong southerly winds through midday which certainly got some birds moving with some obvious raptor movement (Red tailed Hawks, Northern Harrier and Turkey Vulture) as well as crows.  I spent a good portion of my morning checking fields in Amherst and Hadley for geese and I eventually caught up with a group of almost 1100 birds along Meadow St which included a Snow Goose.  The area also held at least a couple Killdeer. Lots of other fields looked great to host a variety of species but they were empty today.  I also checked the river briefly but it was running fast and was very muddy so very few species of waterfowl were around.  I also stopped at Quabbin on my way home and had a couple Common Loons as well as a Ring necked Duck and both expected species of mergansers.  The Swift River also held a few species of waterfowl but nothing unexpected.  I did run across a vocal Winter Wren there that allowed for some photos but it would never pop out into the open for a good shot.  Most bodies of water have now thawed at least partially with some totally ice free...very different from the last few years when the ice hung on for most of March (or later).
Wood Ducks, Connecticut River, Northampton, MA, Feb 22, 2016
Canada Goose with white spot on head, Connecticut River, Northampton, MA, Feb 22, 2016
I made a few stops in the morning (and one in the evening) earlier this week that produced a fair number of waterfowl but nothing too unusual. On Monday I stopped to check below the Coolidge Bridge and found 800+ Canada Geese (with one having extra white on its head), five Wood Ducks, 7 Black Ducks, 34 Mallards, four Northern Pintails, four Common Goldeneyes and a pair of Common Mergansers. During the day on Monday I saw a report of a Snow Goose and Cackling Goose among the other geese at the UMASS pond but I did not get a chance to check the pond until Tuesday morning. Neither unusual goose showed itself predawn and I checked the river once again below the bridge and they were not roosting at that location either (the Snow Goose did show again later on Tuesday so it must be roosting elsewhere along the river). I also tried without success to relocate the Long eared Owl in the spot I heard it a few days ago. On my way home on Tuesday I made a stop off at the Wentworth Conservation Area and was able to relocate a Field Sparrow (#96) that Keenan found earlier in the day. A stop on Wednesday morning below the bridge in the rain produced lesser numbers and variety compared to earlier in the week with nothing too notable.

A very odd roller coaster of weather this week with cold mornings Monday and Tuesday, some snow/sleet/rain Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and then heavy rain later Wednesday into Thursday with temperatures that climbed up to the mid 60's overnight plus severe thunderstorms.

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