Monday, February 15, 2016

Very cold morning out on President's Day

American Robin, Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 15, 2016
Common Goldeneyes in the fog (part of flock of 54), Holyoke Dam, South Hadley, MA, Feb 15, 2016
Winsor Dam (iced over completely overnight), Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 15, 2016
Common Mergansers (part of flock of 71), Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 15, 2016
Savannah Sparrow, East Meadows, Northampton, MA, Feb 15, 2016
Dark eyed Junco, Belchertown, MA, Feb 15, 2016
Winsor Dam (after a brief snow shower), Quabbin Park, MA, Feb 15, 2016
Despite near record cold temperatures (-15!) I headed out this morning to check various locations.  I started off predawn in Amherst looking for owls (Long eared Owls in particular) and found just a single Great Horned Owl.  As the sun started coming up I made it to the river which was almost totally ice covered and featured just a few Common Mergansers and Canada Geese.  A brief stop along Aqua Vitae Road turned up a few Savannah Sparrows and I ran into even more of them at the Honey Pot.  I then decided to head south to the area of the Holyoke Dam which usually has some open water when everything else is frozen solid.  I arrived to find some open water but the low fog caused by the very cold temperatures made viewing a bit of a challenge.  Nonetheless I turned up a feeding flock of at least 54 Common Goldeneyes plus the usually expected waterfowl.  Oddly there were very few gulls around (just four) and I had no luck finding any concentrations of gulls at all during the entire day despite hitting several spots that typical host decent flocks in past idea where they all are.  After the dam I worked back north to the snow filled East Meadows where I struck out on the White crowned Sparrows that have been around all winter but I did find another dozen Savannah Sparrows.  I then went back across the river and worked my way back to Quabbin.  When I arrived at Winsor Dam I was surprised to see the entire area frozen.  It was totally open water yesterday and frozen solid today.  As I was scanning the sky I noticed a large flock of Common Mergansers (at least 71 individuals) heading south and then east, probably searching for some open water to land in.  The nearby Swift River had just a couple small open spots of water and these held just a few Hooded Mergansers and Mallards.  Without much activity around the south Quabbin area I headed home and picked up the Wilson and headed to the land trust trail but not before making my first of a couple attempts to catch up with a Fox Sparrow that showed up the Griffith's house yesterday.  No luck finding the bird but with so many good bits of habitat around it may indeed still be around....hopefully it shows back up again.

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