Yet another return trip to Hadley, this time hooking up with local birder Brian Kane. Rain at first light visibly moved away to the East as clear skies pushed in from the North-west producing a fine morning. Beautiful though it was, fewer birds appeared to be on the move compared to yesterday. In addition, solar glare was a slight problem when trying to view larks on the ground. Having said all that, we had a fine morning with good views of Horned Lark (250+), Snow Bunting (3), Lapland Longspur and American Pipit (25). Careful scrutiny of the many Canada Goose (600+) flocks eventually paid dividends as Brian expertly picked out a distant Cackling Goose with six Canada Geese heading towards Easthampton. I think this maybe the same Cackler that flew over me yesterday heading towards Amherst.
Finally, a rather productive walk around the perimeter fence of the Hadley Transfer Station gave us 5 White-crowned Sparrows, 45 Savannah Sparrows, 25 Song Sparrrows, 1 Vesper Sparrow and plenty of American Goldfinches and Dark-eyed Juncos. The undoubted highlight here was a Bobolink, not a rare bird locally, but after mid-October, certainly noteworthy. In fact, 'The Birds of Massachussetts' only lists one record in November with another for December.
Another great morning in Hadley, though our hopes were a little dashed early in the day. A local hunter told us of a Snowy Owl that he'd seen and photographed (!!!) in the corn fields just off Honey Pot road during the middle of the week. At first he thought it was a very white gull, but on investigation realized it was an owl and took some pictures from within a few yards. This bird was undoubtedly related the broad movement of Snowy Owls currently going on in New England. During the same period, two Snowy Owls turned up in coastal Connecticut, both of which were digiscoped by Nick Bonomo yesterday.
Snowy Owl is very close to the top of the list of the birds that I'd most want to see in the Pioneer Valley, and it looks like I narrowly missed one last week. But watch this space - I'll definitely be out looking and this exciting month may be the time to find one.
Lapland Longspur - Hadley Honey Pot. Fairly pale bird, but still with striking chestnut greater coverts.
Cackling Goose - (second from right in each shot) Very distant, taken through scope. First rate spot by Brian Kane. Much smaller size with tiny body, proportionately shorter neck and slimmer wings. Wingbeats more rapid than Canada Goose, at a stretch recalling Brant. This bird was found after a morning of scanning through hundreds of Canada Geese moving between feeding sites in Hadley. Rather interestingly, this bird was with just six Canada Geese recalling the bird over Hatfield on October 27th. There's at least some chance that it could be the same bird lingering in our area.