After spending a chilly week in Southern Israel, I would confess that I didn't expect to return to find Western Mass a lot warmer than the week I'd just experienced in the desert! Afternoon temperatures this week have consistently reached the 80s which strikes me as being ludicrous for mid-late March. Still, the balmy, foggy mornings have been perfect for listening for Woodcocks and they seem to be everywhere in Gill. Just this morning I tallied about 12 displaying birds on a six mile run covering Main, Boyle and North Cross Roads. Further displaying birds could be heard around the Main and Mountain Road intersection, all pre-dawn of course with birds starting up around 5 am. Killdeers appear to be present in most of the farm fields too, often vocalizing pre-dawn along with the woodcocks.
Susannah tells me that the first Eastern Phoebes arrived at our home on the 15th, and certainly by the 20th it seemed like most of the homesteads along Main Road in Gill had at least one calling bird. Slightly less expected was a singing Pine Warbler in the White Pines at the Giving Tree School on Wood Ave, Gill on the 20th and the 22nd, almost certainly my personal earliest in the state and a species I wouldn't typically expect before April.
Other chance sightings included a daytime Barred Owl at about 9am on North Cross Road, on the 22nd, and an American Kestrel on Main Road on the 22nd and 23rd. That bird was just north-east of Upinngil Farm.
At home, a few Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows remain around the feeders, whilst Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds have become regular fare over the last few days, plus an occasional Belted Kingfisher on the brook.