Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Snowy Owl and other unusual species including Red eyed Vireo, Red throated Loon and Pine Siskin

Snowy Owl, Hadley, MA, Nov 18, 2017
Snowy Owl, Hadley, MA, Nov 18, 2017
Snowy Owl, Hadley, MA, Nov 18, 2017
Snowy Owl, Hadley, MA, Nov 18, 2017
Snowy Owl, Hadley, MA, Nov 18, 2017
On my way to work on Saturday I headed over to Hadley checking a few spots briefly before heading over to Honey Pot to check to see if the MacGillivray's Warbler was still around despite the cold (temps in the teens).  As I was driving toward the dike I noticed a odd white lump at the top of a telephone pole right next to to the dike and immediately knew it was a Snowy Owl.  I quickly pulled over and got out the scope and got some fantastic close up views (and photos).  It was as close as I have ever been to this magnificent beast of the arctic and those piercing yellow eyes really felt like they were boring right through you.  I would normally post this sighting right away to various sites but given some recent poor behavior from a number of people regarding another Snowy Owl I decided to keep the sighting somewhat secret notifying just a few people.  It was tough to not let more people know about it right away as even those slightly interested in birds love owls but I could not be the one who instigated undue pressure on the bird.  I knew such an obvious species in such a well traveled location on a weekend would not stay secret for too long but I had to do my part to try to limit disturbance.  I have only had three Snowy Owls ever in the county with all three coming from Hadley with the one this year within just a few hundred feet of the one I had back in 2014 (Snowy Owl 2014).  With little time left in the morning before work I had just a brief few minutes to try to relocate the MacGillivray's Warbler and I was unsuccessful in my quest.  More information on what could be a very good year for Snowy Owls around here (as well as many other locations)...Project SNOWstorm.
Snowy Owl, Hadley, MA, Nov 19, 2017
On my way home on Sunday morning in the on and off rain and strong winds I checked to see if the Snowy Owl was still present and it was right back on the same pole I saw it on the day before.  I stopped briefly and got a few photos and then quickly left the area.  A brief stop at Quabbin Park produced a flyover Pine Siskin (perhaps a harbinger of things to come as far as irruptive species are concerned?)
Red eyed Vireo, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 20, 2017
Red throated Loon, Oxbow at Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 20, 2017
Snowy Owl, Hadley, MA, Nov 20, 2017
My original plan on Monday was to stay local as the winds were forecast to be strong and I figured finding small passerines would be hard to do and the winds might bring in some waterfowl to Quabbin.  I stopped at Winsor Dam at first light and the winds were light and the water devoid of waterfowl so I scrapped my original plan and instead headed over toward the river.  My first stop there was the Honey Pot where I once again had the Snowy Owl.  I checked for the MacGillivray's Warbler again without any luck (it may have moved on but the winds were kicking up a bit so perhaps it was just hunkered down).  I then headed across the river to Arcadia in search of a very late Red eyed Vireo photographed there the day before.  I ran into Keenan there and after a bit I picked out the vireo feeding in the fruiting trees along with many waxwings.  A really late date for the species and just another in a long string of rarities in the same small area.  Nothing else too unusual around the old orchard area but I did once again see the continuing Red throated Loon in the Oxbow.  I left Arcadia and made a brief drive through the East Meadows were I had at least one Lapland Longspur mixed into a large flock of Horned Larks.  My final stop of the morning was a return back to Winsor Dam where I found a Long tailed Duck, a Red breasted Merganser and a Horned Grebe.
Red throated Loon, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 21, 2017
Canada Goose with extensive white on neck, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 21, 2017
Cedar Waxwings, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 21, 2017
Tufted Titmouse, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 21, 2017
White throated Sparrow, Arcadia, Northampton, MA, Nov 21, 2017
Song Sparrow, Honey Pot, Hadley, MA, Nov 21, 2017
Today I once again headed over to the fields and meadows along the Connecticut River starting off at the Honey Pot where the Snowy Owl was not in the areas I checked.  No luck relocating the MacGillivray's Warbler once again so I think the bird has either moved out of the area completely or it has taken up residence somewhere else in the local area...lots of good habitat around.  Best species during my times there was a singing White crowned Sparrow.  Most of my time out this morning was spent at Arcadia where I once again had the continued Red throated Loon, a Yellow rumped Warbler,  285+ Cedar Waxwings and an odd Canada Goose among the few hundred geese present.  No luck in  relocating the Red eyed Vireo from the day before.  Still lots of activity in the old orchard area which still looks prime to attract additional rarities.

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