Gill - Another terrific week for local incidental sightings. Great Horned Owls have been vocal on several mornings this week predawn being the best time to hear them. The 'event' of the week was a mini fall-out of Catharus thrushes on Oct 19th along Main Road, with Swainson's Thrushes (6) and a Gray-cheeked Thrush frequenting the yards and woodland fringe at dawn, but also including a nice Swainson's in our yard in mid-morning. The following day saw 4 Swainson's, again birds calling at dawn and likely birds left over from the previous day. October 21st had singles of Swainson's, Gray-cheeked and Hermit Thrushes calling at dawn from yards on Main Road.
Northern Harrier - first-winter migrating over our yard in Gill. Franklin Co. MA. October 17th, 2011.
Our yard has seen some fantastic feeding flocks consisting mainly of Yellow-rumped Warblers (20+), Eastern Bluebirds (8), Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets (2 of each), and surprisingly, Chipping Sparrows with up 20 occasionally dropping down onto the lawn to feed. After last week's post, Swamp Sparrows have been a permanent feature in the weedy tangles around the vegetable plot with up 8 present at times.
Swamp Sparrow - Gill yard, Franklin Co., MA. October 17th, 2011.
Interesting ' fly-over' migrants included another Northern Harrier (Oct 17th) and an American Pipit (Oct 18th) with Canada Geese commuting everyday between Gill's fields and the CT River at Barton Cove. Despite regular checks, I never did relocate the putative 'Taverner's' Cackling Geese from Oct 14th but on Oct 19th and 20th, there was a large Canada Goose closely resembling the maxima subspecies - 'Giant' Canada Goose. This bird was seen both at Upinngil Farm and Barton Cove.
A few late/lingering migrants in the yard included an Eastern Phoebe and a Blackpoll Warbler on the 17th, Palm Warbler on the 18th, a Gray Catbird on the 20th and up to 2 Common Yellowthroats through to the 21st.
Despite several visits, Barton Cove and Turner's Fall power canal have been slow for waterfowl with only a Hooded Merganser and 5 Ring-necked Ducks last Sunday (Oct 16th).
Finally, Oct 17th produced the first calm evening for days which seemed liked a good cue to try a few local plots for Northern Saw-whet Owls. I tried three areas coming away with nothing definitive but did have possible contacts in two plots. All three spots produced saw-whets last fall/winter. Doubtless, I'll be trying again next week!
Palm Warbler - possibly a dull Eastern showing a weak yellow wash on the underparts, but I decided to leave this one unidentified as it looked quite pallid and washed out at times, more closely resembling a Western Palm Warbler.