Sunday, March 31, 2019

March ends with warm weather and an influx of early migrants

Palm Warbler, Home, Belchertown, MA, Mar 31, 2019
Wood Duck, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Mar 31, 2019
Hooded Mergansers, Lake Wallace, Belchertown, MA, Mar 31, 2019
Winsor Dam, Quabbin Park, MA, Mar 31, 2019
Rusty Blackbirds, Jabish Canal, Belchertown, MA, Mar 30, 2019
Fox Sparrow, Jabish Canal, Belchertown, MA, Mar 30, 2019
The last couple days have really felt like spring with temperatures reaching 70 yesterday and getting up to the low 60’s today before a cold front arrived midday with heavy rain. The southerly winds that brought us our warmest days of the season so far also brought in an influx of new migrants with several notable sightings. I got out a bit yesterday before spending the majority of the day around the house catching up on yard work. My stops in the morning yesterday included Lake Wallace, Quabbin Park, and Jabish Canal.  Highlights included nine species of waterfowl overall, a Yellow bellied Sapsucker and two Winter Wrens at Quabbin Park, two American Tree Sparrows (one singing), a Fox Sparrow and eleven Rusty Blackbirds along the Jabish Canal.  The afternoon around the house while doing yard work produced my second ever sighting of Fish Crow for the yard as well as a Red shouldered among some 33 species over the course of the day.  It was nice to have a warm day after another long winter. 

Today started out warm and breezy with lows in the mid 50's and I was out before dawn to see what the overnight southerly winds had brought in.  I started my day at Lake Wallace where I had a single Virginia Rail sounding off a few times before the sun was up.  My next stop was over to Winsor Dam where I arrived a bit after nine and noticed a large group of gulls on the water and quickly scanned them and noticed a relatively small dark backed gull among the Herring and Ring billed Gulls...a Lesser Black backed Gull!  I immediately got out and set up the scope and the birds all flushed up as a Bald Eagle made a pass across the reservoir.  The birds circled around and then almost all headed off to the southeast...damn eagle!  I took a few shots of the flock as they milled overhead but I was unable to pick out the LBBG among them after the fact.  The dam also featured a Double crested Cormorant and a singing Field Sparrow.  I then went into Quabbin Park which had a somewhat late flyover Snow Bunting and two Fish Crows plus an obvious influx of Turkey Vultures, Eastern Phoebes and American Robins with decent numbers at all my stops.  I then spent some more time at the dam to see what was moving on the strong southerly winds and had lots of flybys including my first Pine Warbler of the season (a species that was a bit overdue).  I hoped to turn up an early Palm Warbler at my stops this morning but I struck out, at least until I got home.  I headed out to do some yard work and came across a group of three Palm Warblers together..very unusual for late March!  The yard also produced another Pine Warbler.  More details on the warblers can be found at the following link.
Dark eyed Juncos, Home, Belchertown, MA, Mar 30, 2019 (ignore the date, forgot to change it when I put the camera out)
 Gray Squirrel with white tipped tail, Home, Belchertown, MA, Mar 30, 2019
I took advantage of the warm weather yesterday and tried to get the water feature up and running.  Unfortunately the vast majority of the water left in the pond was frozen solid.  I tried to melt it out but it was just not worth the effort.  I decided to set up the motion camera on the water to see if anything showed up and I managed to catch four species using it by the end of the day including Dark eyed Junco, Black capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse and Song Sparrow.  I tried again today but the large block of ice in the water reservoir was still in place with little melting having occurred overnight...hopefully it will melt enough this week to get the pump in and the water circulating.  Another notable sighting in the yard was a Gray Squirrel with a white tipped tail that showed up.  I got a few photos through the window before it disappeared.

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