Monday, December 30, 2013

MA - Greenfield CBC - 12/29

Yesterday I joined Josh Rose for his sector of the annual Greenfield Christmas Bird Count. It's becoming something of a tradition for Josh and I to get together for this and I believe this was the third successive year that we've joined forces. The areas covered included most the spots that I've come to regard as 'my patch' so it was no hardship at all to be out birding in my favorite local hot-spots. This year we were joined Lee Halasz and Joel Ralston, both new to the Pioneer Valley, and certainly first-timers for this count.

Glaucous Gull - 3rd-cycle (rear) with adult American Herring and adult Ring-billed Gulls, Unity Park, Turner's Falls, Franklin Co., MA. December 29th, 2013. One of three seen on our sector of the Greenfield CBC. 

Feeling restless, I was down on the power canal nice n' early and well before the rest of the team arrived. I had only limited success with owls with nothing for saw-whet or screech-owl, but a Barred Owl did emit a drawn out screech in response to saw-whet sound recordings. In the gloom of pre-dawn I was really surprised to see over 300 gulls roosting, or attempting to roost, on the flowing water of the power canal. The first gull of interest that I noticed was a pristine adult Glaucous  (wow!!) and subsequent searches produced more pale-winged gulls with two more Glaucous (3rd-cycle and 1st-cycle) and four Kumlien's (Iceland) Gulls, followed by an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and another similar darker-mantled gull which looked better for a hybrid (Lesser BB x American Herring) to me. A fly-over Snow Bunting, a calling Pileated Woodpecker and a nice raft of Common Goldeneye and Common Mergansers rounded of a scintillating first hour, and all before I'd even met to the crew! Fortunately for the team, we caught up with most of the gulls later in the day when the afternoon became increasingly soggy, gloomy and fog-bound. Susannah and Matan quite sensibly joined us before the rain started and managed to contribute the only Belted Kingfisher of the entire day. We closed play at about 4pm, just after nailing a female-type Barrow's Goldeneye when it became almost to observe birds through our very wet optics.

Glaucous Gull - 1st-cycle  Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. December 29th, 2013. 
Horrible shot taken in the pre-dawn gloom. This bird was seen at the same site late in the day 
but moved off toward Barton Cove to roost. 

Hermit Thrush - powerline at Depot Road, Turner's Falls , Franklin Co., MA. December 29th, 2013.

Field Sparrow - powerline at Depot Road, Turner's Falls , Franklin Co., MA. December 29th, 2013. 
We tallied about four of these, a very good showing for mid-winter. 

 Kumlien's (Iceland) Gulls - 1st-cycle (upper)  and 2nd-cycle (lower), Unity Park, Turner's Falls, Franklin Co., MA. December 29th, 2013.  A truly outstanding day for 'Iceland' Gulls with four together on the power canal at dawn, up to two a Unity Park, two at the Greenfield Savings Bank in Turner's and the late discovery of a full adult on the power canal towards to end of the day.  Five individual birds was our conservative tally for the day. 

Lesser Black-backed Gull - adult (center), Barton Cove, Gill/Turner's Falls, Franklin Co., MA. 
December 29th, 2013. Found late in the day with the rain coming down hard, hence the dodgy record shot. 

Golden-crowned Kinglet - powerline at Depot Road, Turner's Falls , Franklin Co., MA. 
December 29th, 2013. Quite good numbers of these with birds on either side of the power canal. 

As with the previous two Greenfield counts with Josh, it turned out to be another massively enjoyable day with great company. Now I just need to shake the chills that I picked up late in the day after getting soaked through to the skin!

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