Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Vermont Golden Eagle and more - 03/25

Yesterday provided a pleasant break from the norm when I was joined by visiting Belgian birder Martin Boer. Although we initially planned an owl/woodock start to the day, the frigid pre-dawn temperatures were enough to put us off and we met at the rather civilized hour of 06:30am. From there we scoured numerous sites along the Connecticut River Valley beginning at the Turner's Falls power canal, heading as far north as Vernon Dam, Vermont before returning to finish at Barton Cove, Gill. It turned out to be a fantastic day with large numbers of birds greeting us at almost every stop. In particular, Canada Geese featured throughout the day with the largest numbers at Vernon Dam and later, a huge flight of birds over Barton Cove heading for the Turner's Falls power canal. In West Northfield and Vernon it seemed like every patch of open grass was filled with American Robins and with them Brown-headed Cowbirds (and Starlings!). We also had great looks at Killdeers in West Northfield, Horned Larks in Vernon and all the continuing waterfowl at Barton Cove.

The day got off to a terrific start with six calling Fish Crows flying over the main parking lot at Turner's Falls power canal, only my third local record. Martin's sharp eyes soon picked out a drake Northern Pintail among the Mallards in the early morning gloom, and minutes later we were looking at three drakes together! But our personal highlights came later in the day with a Golden Eagle over the Connecticut River at Vernon, VT, and a drumming Pileated Woodpecker at Ben Hale Road in Gill. Ironically, we only found the Golden Eagle after Mike Resch gave us a spot to try for Carolina Wren. It was pretty astonishing to step out of the car hoping to hear a Carolina Wren singing only to be confronted by a Red-tailed Hawk mobbing a sub-adult Golden Eagle! Just a couple of hours before I'd read a post from Hector Galbraith describing a sub-adult Golden Eagle over Vernon Dam the previous evening but I really wasn't ready for the same bird to still be around on our day......amazing! Only my third Golden Eagle in the CT River Valley since 2005. Exciting though this was for me, Martin had seen Golden Eagles before and his big highlight came half an hour later with the Pileated Woodpecker. This bird had been on our minds all day after we heard, but did not see, a drumming Pileated at Turner's Falls first thing in the morning.

A brilliant day with great company ended on 43 species, all of which we saw fleeting glimpses or 'heard-only' birds for us!

Being mobbed by a local Red-tail. 

 The tree in the foreground in is Vermont and the woodland at the rear is New Hampshire - 
the eagle is over the CT River. 

Golden Eagle - from Stebbins Road, Vernon, Windham Co., VT. March 25th, 2014. 
Sub-adult, first seen by Hector Galbraith on March 24th, 2014.

 Fish Crow - Cherry Rum Plaza, Greenfield, Franklin Co., MA. March 26th, 2014. 
Could this bird be one of six seen dispersing from roost at Turner's Falls on March 25th?

 Hooded Merganser - male, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. March 25th, 2014.
Every stop on the Connecticut River produced this species. 

 Northern Pintail - male, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. March 25th, 2014.
A fine morning for these with four males seen on the power canal. 

Pileated Woodpecker - Ben Hale Road, Gill, MA. March 25th, 2014. 
Great spotting by Martin to pick up this drumming male. 

Brown-headed Cowbirds -  males, West Northfield, Franklin Co., MA. March 25th, 2014.

Canvasback (center) - male, Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. March 25th, 2014. 
Extra-ordinary head and bill shape! Continuing from March 12th. 

1 comment:

Martin Michael Boer said...

James it really was a very enjoyable day with lots of interesting birds, many of them new for me. The weather kept us on our toes but it made the hot coffee all the more better. Thanks again for some great birding and all the excellent descriptions of all we saw. Best, Martin