Monday, February 23, 2015

MA - patch is frozen

This afternoon I had a quick drive down to Turner's Falls. It was my first visit since late January and, being fresh back from Arizona, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I anticipated cold but the ice cover was more than impressive with Barton Cove almost completely iced over other than a tiny fraction of open water near the fish ladder at Unity Park. Less expected was the virtual complete ice cover at the power canal. Only last month I'd been watching hundreds of goldeneyes and mergansers flying into roost on the now completely frozen stretch of power canal. Birds were few, but it was still great to see a beautiful adult Kumlien's Iceland Gull careening above the power canal when so few other gulls were present. I also reminded myself that this week back in 2009 produced a Slaty-backed Gull, my one and only record in Franklin County. That bird was often among 700 or so large gulls at Barton Cove, the sort of numbers that seemed very distant today.



 Kumlien's Iceland Gull - adult, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. February 23rd, 2015.


Slaty-backed Gull (center) - third-cycle, Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. February 23rd, 2009.


Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. February 23rd, 2015.

Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. February 23rd, 2015.


 Looking toward Barton Cove from Unity Park, Franklin Co., MA. February 23rd, 2015.


Looking toward Turner's Falls bridge from Unity Park, Franklin Co., MA. February 23rd, 2015.



Monday, February 16, 2015

AZ - Harris's Sparrow

Been having some relaxing days in Arizona having just wrapped up a tiring tour of Southern California and Southern Arizona. Located this handsome male Harris's Sparrow at my second attempt, a bird first found on January 17th by Jay Miller. This wasn't an easy project by any means. Both of my visits produced over 100 White-crowned Sparrows and the Harris's was known to be associating with them! Loose, scattered flocks of White-crowns were present through the Mesquite scrub along both sides of the entrance road to the recreation area. I admit to being really impressed with the area overall and found it to be full of relatively common desert species such Cactus Wren. Black-tailed Gnatcatcher and Phainopepla, all of which were nesting. The morning also produced an Ash-throated Flycatcher and a slightly unexpected Sage Thrasher.





Harris's Sparrow -  male, Coon Bluff Recreation Area, Salt River, Maricopa Co., AZ. February 16th, 2015.

Harris's Antelope Squirrel -  Coon Bluff Recreation Area, Salt River, Maricopa Co., AZ. February 16th, 2015.
Lots of these grubbing around in the same habitat as the Harris's Sparrow!


Sage Thrasher -  Coon Bluff Recreation Area, Salt River, Maricopa Co., AZ. February 16th, 2015.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

MA - Redpolls and other local delights

The last few days have been relatively mild for January with a small weather event on the 24th bringing some fresh snow but not too much accumulation. Locally, I stumbled across a few decent birds whilst jogging or doing other incidental activities. Jan 23rd saw two Common Redpolls joining the American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins on the feeders at home in Northfield. They appeared before sun up and had gone by the time the sun came up over the hills. On the 24th, I heard a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in North Cemetery, Gill just off Main Road and a surprise Belted Kingfisher behaving more like a Northern Shrike, teed up above a snow covered meadow off Main Road, Gill. Still in Gill, I again saw a Hermit Thrush on North Cross Road and a spectacular Barred Owl hunting close to the intersection with Boyle and Main Roads, both birds on the 25th.


Common Redpolls - Northfield yard, Franklin Co., MA. January 23rd, 2015.


Belted Kingfisher - Main Road, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. January 24th, 2015.

On Saturday afternoon, Brian Kane and I got together at the power canal and went through some gulls before eventually getting 'weathered-out' by an encroaching snow storm. However, the male Barrow's Goldeneye arrived nice and early among the first flocks of the 400 or so Common Goleneye that had arrived by 5pm. Goldeneyes were still coming in when we left. It's really been an amazing diving duck spectacle at the power canal so far this winter.

Kumlien's (Iceland) Gull (right) - first-cycle, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. January 24th, 2015.


Kumlien's (Iceland) Gull - second-cycle, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. January 24th, 2015.


 Kumlien's (Iceland) Gull - first-cycle & second-cycle together, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. 
January 24th, 2015.


 Lesser Black-backed Gull (right) - adult, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. January 24th, 2015.




Barrow's Goldeneye (left) - male in snowstorm, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. January 24th, 2015.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

MA - Thick-billed Murre 01/23






Thick-billed Murre - Parker River NWR, Essex Co., MA. January 23rd, 2015.
Nice close fly past at low tide. Snapped a few record shots from the top of the dune boardwalk at Lot 6. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

MA - Merlin, Kumlien's Gull

Had a fairly low key evening visiting to Turner's Falls with Matan. Bald Eagles were pushing the gulls around quite a bit and I ended up settling for Unity Park where a nice Merlin was teed up for a while on the Gill side of the river and a first-cycle Kumlien's Gull showed up quite late but with enough light to make it easily identifiable.

At home in Northfield, the Hermit Thrush continues, along with slightly better numbers of Pine Siskins (5) and American Tree Sparrows (10).

Merlin - Riverview Drive, Gill but seen from Unity Park, Turner's Falls, Franklin Co., MA. January 22nd, 2015.



Kumlien's Iceland Gull - first-cycle. Unity Park, Turner's Falls, Franklin Co., MA. January 22nd, 2015.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

MA - Fifteen minutes at the power canal

This morning I briefly stopped by the power canal to get some shots of the Mallards and Black Ducks lurking under the northern bank. The ducks tend to hang out near the powerline cut but it wasn't long before my attention was drawn to things other than waterbirds when a party of three Common Redpolls flew over calling. The shrubbery underneath the powerline was busy with Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nutchatch, Tufted Titmouse, American Tree Sparrow, and some very smart Eastern Bluebirds. Above all, woodpecker activity was exceedingly busy with lots of drumming and a remarkable gliding display flight from a pair of Downy Woodpeckers, something which I've only seen on a handful of occasions. It was pretty close to a woodpecker bonanza with Hairy, Downy, Red-bellied and Pileated all on view simultaneously. It could hardly get better.....but it did as a couple of Hermit Thrushes and Golden-crowned Kinglets also popped into view. I might also have heard a Winter Wren but decided to let that one go. Nice birds, nice morning, great place!



Hermit Thrush - Turners' Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. January 21st, 2014.
Two present giving 'chut' calls back and forth.



Golden-crowned Kinglets - Turners' Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. January 21st, 2014.
Pair consorting around together.


Pileated Woodpecker - Turners' Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. January 21st, 2014.
Currently almost daily in the power canal surroundings but usually heard, and not seen.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

MA - Cassiar Junco, Barrow's Goldeneye

Today's freezing rain curtailed any thoughts of late afternoon birding at Turner's Falls. Before the rain really started in earnest, I went out in mid-morning hoping to find a few Horned Larks in Northfield. I found no larks in the spot that I was hoping for but instead found three Dark-eyed Juncos, one of which had a distinct (convex) hooded appearance with a relatively clean demarcation between the 'bib' and flanks. The flanks of this bird were also much paler than the other two male Slate-coloreds that it was feeding with. It looked much as I'd expect a Cassiar Junco ((Junco hyemalis cismontanus) to look like and the first time I've seen a male in Massachusetts. Cassiar Junco is a much discussed intergrade form (between Slate-colored and Oregon Juncos) originating from the northern Rockies.

 Cassiar Junco (right) - male with typical Slate-colored Junco, Caldwell Road, Northfield, Franklin Co., MA. January 18th, 2014. 
Distinctly hooded appearance but otherwise paler especially on the flanks. 


 Cassiar Junco (rear) - male with typical Slate-colored Juncos, Caldwell Road, Northfield, Franklin Co., MA. January 18th, 2014. 
Distinctly hooded appearance but again much paler especially on the flanks. 


 Cassiar Junco (rear) - male with typical Slate-colored Juncos, Caldwell Road, Northfield, Franklin Co., MA. January 18th, 2014. 


Saturday evening saw a few of us gather at the Turner's Falls power canal in frigid condition. Cold it may have been but it was well worth it as a spectacular roost of Common Goldeneyes eventually built up to over 380 birds! That's the most I've ever seen in one gathering anywhere in the Pioneer Valley and what's more, birds were still coming in when we left well after sunset. The spectacle almost overshadowed the continued appearance of the fine male Barrow's Goldeneye. The gull show was cut short by Bald Eagle activity once more, but the Lesser Black-backed Gull showed well and seems to be pretty reliable at the moment.

 Lesser Black-backed Gull - adult, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co. MA. January 17th, 2014.


Barrow's Goldeneye (center) - adult male, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co. MA. January 17th, 2014.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

MA - adult Kumlien's Gull, Barrow's Goldeneye

A few nice birds around today. Despite the frigid start (0 deg F), two Hermit Thrushes and a Northern Flicker were along North Cross Road in Gill. In the afternoon, what should have been a quick check of the power canal became a more extended visit as a small group of birders gathered and watched flights of gulls and ducks arrive to roost. A beautiful adult Kumlien's Iceland Gull, as well as the contiuning adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, came into join the gulls which numbered over 300 by the end of the evening. 

The Goldeneye roost is getting really impressive and over 200 birds came in to roost this evening. Sadly for the assembled birders, the male Barrow's came in quite late and was quite difficult to pick out in the fading light. But it was great to see it (or another?) back on the power canal, and I think this bird has been recorded daily since Josh Rose pinned it down on January 12th.



 Kumlien's Iceland Gull - adult, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. January 15th, 2015.


Barrow's Goldeneye (center) - adult male, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. January 15th, 2015.
The image doesn't really reflect on how dark it was when this bird came in. A desperate record shot but the essential field marks can still be seen. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

MA - Northampton shrike

Yesterday afternoon I called in at Arcadia Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary hopeful of catching up with a dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk seen there over the weekend. It was late in the day when I arrived and I didn't have any luck with the hawk, but I did find this smart Northern Shrike. It was actively harrassing Horned Larks and Snow Buntings though I didn't actually see it catch anything whilst I was there. It seems to be a decent winter for these denizens of the north and I'm pretty happy that I'm bumping into them so frequently.








Northern Shrike - Arcadia Meadows, Northampton, Hampshire Co., MA. January 14th, 2015.


Snow Bunting - Arcadia Meadows, Northampton, Hampshire Co., MA. January 14th, 2015.
One of about 20 being persued by the Northern Shrike above.