Long-eared Owl. Smith College campus, Northampton, Hampshire Co., MA. December 17th, 2009. Not only a rare bird in Western MA but a rare opportunity to observe one in a completely exposed day-time roost. Clearly my approach to checking for them in extensive stands of pine and spruce in wilderness areas isn't the right one! My sixth species of owl in the Pioneer Valley since late October.
A brutally cold day with temps only in the low 20s, plus a brisk cold NW wind that never eased up all day. As fortune would have it, I was working at my computer when Seth Kellogg circulated an email concerning a Long-eared Owl at a roost in a deciduous (!) tree on the Smith College campus in Northampton. I couldn't leave straight away but an afternoon visit found it still roosting out in the open in an 'Armstrong Maple' (apparent hybrid) just south of the Nelson Library,Sm or 25-30 yards north of the small Smith College parking lot off Green Street, Northampton. The bird seemed unfazed by its admirers, birders and passers by alike, barely moving during thirty minutes of observation.
Snow Geese (6) - with Canada Geese, CT River, Hadley/Northampton, Hampshire Co., MA. December 17th, 2009.
On the way home I checked the Connecticut River from the East Meadows in Northampton and found six Snow Goose amongst a pre-roost gathering of c.1300 Canada Geese. Also present, some 25 Common Mergansers. This particular corner of the East Meadows and the adjacent Northampton airfield was the last spot where I observed Long-eared Owls in Western MA, back in February 2007.