Saturday, April 4, 2015

MA - Rusties and much more on the move

April 3rd: Another fantastic morning in Gill. Eastern Phoebes clearly arrived en masse last night with singing birds at many properties along North Cross, Boyle and Main Roads. Also very pleasant to hear a Field Sparrow singing on North Cross Road this morning, my first local bird of the year. As the day slowly warmed up it became clear that a major arrival of American Robins had taken place overnight. The fields, meadows and lawns around Gill were simply full of them! Yesterday's hundreds swelled to thousands and I estimated about 5000 American Robins widely scattered throughout the fields along Boyle Road, North Cross and Main Roads, Bascom Road and West Gill Road (just inside the Bernardston town line). With them came hundreds of Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Brown-headed Cowbirds. Sorting through them I found some Rusty Blackbirds, and good numbers of them to boot! The Rusties blended in beautifully with the blackbirds, cowbirds and grackles. In fact, they reminded me very much of the Brewer's Blackbirds seen earlier this year in California. In particular, the dull gray female Rusties might have caused some real identification issues with that species had it not been for the obvious pale eye visible at some range and shown by all the birds this morning. Surprisingly, the same field hosted two American Pipits, yet another first for the year.

Rusty Blackbirds - West Gill Road, Bernardston, Franklin Co., MA. April 3rd, 2015.
About 25 birds foraging in an open meadow with American Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, and Brown-headed Cowbirds. Difficult to photograph as the birds were distant and the field clearly posted. 

With so many fresh arrivals in the area, I could hardly resist a quick visit to Barton Cove. The planned five minute check became 45 minutes as the cove was teaming with birds. Easily 400 Ring-necked Ducks were present along with a couple more season firsts - American Wigeon and a female Greater Scaup, plus well over 20 Green-winged Teal, 12 Bufflehead, 10 Wood Duck and numerous Common Goldeneye, Common and Hooded Mergansers. New arrivals including three Great Blue Herons 'barking' as they flew in and a single Belted Kingfisher.

Great Blue Heron - Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. April 3rd, 2015.
One of three new arrivals today.

The morning also produced two 'fresh' gull arrivals with another smart adult Lesser Black-backed and a Kumlien's Iceland Gull.

Lesser Black-backed Gull - adult, Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. April 3rd, 2015. 
Another pristine breeding plumage bird, seemingly much smaller than the adult/near adult seen on March 31st. 

Kumlien's Iceland Gull (front center) - first-cycle, Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. April 3rd, 2015. 

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