Sunday, May 4, 2008
Inland Willet, Franklin Co., MA
The cold, damp conditions with some especially heavy overnight rain left me hopeful that five terns reported from Barton Cove, Turner's Falls yesterday might still be around today. No such luck. On my way out there I stopped very briefly by the road at Montague Plains hearing numerous Field Sparrows and Eastern Towhees, and made another quick stop at Turner's Falls airfield. At least five Field Sparrows were audible from the public parking lot, and a Killdeer was at the far end of the airfield. Dropping down to Barton Cove, the first couple of binocular scans produced no terns, so I gathered my scope to determine a couple of distant specks out in the main bay. A heavy looking, medium sized shorebird, already in flight as I approached the bank, gave an explosive call as it departed - Willet!! Realizing it was a very good inland record for Massachusetts, I watched with great disappointment as it headed South-East without showing any signs of returning. A brief check of the power canal didn't find it there either. Veit and Petersen list just two inland records for spring (both in May) in the Birds of Massachusetts, and I'm sure I can remember Mark Lynch and Sheila Carroll reporting one from the Quabbin sometime last spring, again in May.
Not too much else in the way of notable birds at Barton Cove, though a nice gathering of swallows over the water included over 300 Tree Swallows, about ten Bank Swallows and a Cliff Swallow among the five species present. Twenty Common Mergansers, 2 Green-winged Teal, 2 drake Wood Duck and a female Ring-necked Duck were also present. Further south, a short stop in Old Deerfield produced several Warbling Vireos and a nice male Merlin perched up over the river.
At home, on North Whitney Street, Pine Siskins and Yellow-rumped Warblers were still present in the area but a singing Wood Thrush this evening was new.