After a very mild week, the day became one of brisk Westerlies and signficantly colder than of late. Being a national holiday we had plans for a family hike into North Quabbin. Having dipped miserably on the reported Western Kingbird at New Salem yesterday, I couldn't resist swinging by there on the way to Gate 35. Fortunately, Jacob Drucker and others were on South Main Street, New Salem searching for the bird and it wasn't long before Jacob refound it feeding in a sheltered field behind the Congregational Church. Views were distant but good enough in the scope.
A little later we were at Gate 35 at the North end of the Quabbin Reservoir and had a pleasant but bracing stroll down to the water's edge. Ten Bufflehead and a Common Loon were the only birds visible on the water, and two immature Bald Eagles drifted slowly SW giving reasonable views. As we packed up an early lunch, a high flying raptor gliding south at speed caught my eye. One glance through the bins and I immediately yelled to Susannah "it's a Golden Eagle!!". Sure enough, we both had great views as it bolted south at speed without flapping its wings once! Personally, I've found Golden Eagle to be a rare bird in the Pioneer Valley having seen it just once before in Whately in October 2005. On the walk back to the gate, we had nice looks at a Porcupine on the ground rounding off a fine family walk in the Quabbin.
Golden Eagle - high flying migrant gliding south, North Quabbin, Franklin Co., MA. November 11th, 2011. First identified by 'classic' Aquila flight shape and pale based remiges contrasting with dark brown underwing coverts. The golden brown nape was surprisingly striking, even though this bird was more or less overhead. The dark terminal band to the tail and buffy undertail coverts were also notable. In view only for a few seconds at it glided south at terrific speed.
Quabbin Reservoir - North end on a raw day in November.
North American Porcupine, North Quabbin, Franklin Co., MA. November 11th, 2011.
Closer to home, the best bird of the day was a Pine Siskin over Main Road, Gill just after dawn.
Overall, a fine day to be in Franklin County.