Thursday, April 2, 2015

MA - more migration and a Glaucous Gull

Another busy day with the pulse of migration evident throughout. After yet another frigid start (24 deg F) the day warmed up nicely with a genuinely warm southern wind by early evening.

Tree Swallow - Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. April 2nd, 2015.
At least 18 Tree Swallows appeared rather suddenly over the ice at Barton Cove this morning.

Throughout the morning good numbers of migrating Canada Geese headed north, not big flocks but constant groups probably totaling about 700 birds for the morning. At Barton Cove waterfowl numbers again improved with over 45 American Black Ducks and 12 Green-winged Teal and continuing good numbers of Ring-necked Ducks (100+), Common and Hooded Mergansers, Buffleheads and Common Goldeneyes. As I watched the ducks, a flock of 18 Tree Swallows swept through my scope view. Another highlight of the morning was a first-cycle Glaucous Gull, my first in a while and an excellent bird for a morning visit. It ultimately remained throughout the day was still present in early evening.

Glaucous Gull - first-cycle, Barton Cove, Franklin Co., MA. April 2nd, 2015.

Heading back to Northfield my journey was interrupted by hundreds of American Robins in Gill feeding in a broad scatter across the increasingly snow-free fields. I'm comfortable with an estimate of about 1000 birds including a decent percentage of birds showing the characteristics of the darker-backed form nigrideus. As much as 15-20% of the birds showed varying degrees of dark pigmentation in the mantle though only 4 or 5 birds jumped out as being especially black-backed. Among them, lots of Brown-headed Cowbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds and a handful of Killdeers. Also had my first singing Eastern Phoebe this morning on North Cross Road, though as usual, I was scuppered by Susannah who had one singing on Main Road two days earlier, on March 31st!

 American Robins - showing characteristics of T.mmigratorius (front left) and T.m. nigrideus (rear right).
Gill, Franklin Co., MA. April 2nd, 2015.

 American Robin - showing some characteristics of  T.m. nigrideusGill, Franklin Co., MA. April 2nd, 2015.

American Robin - showing characteristics of  T.m. nigrideusGill, Franklin Co., MA. April 2nd, 2015.
These dark-mantled birds seem to appear within a fairly narrow time window in Gill, the 
first week in April consistently being the best period to find them. 

A short visit to Barton Cove in the evening found an interesting looking Cackling Goose, and a high flying Double-crested first local bird of the year.

 Cackling Goose (center) - Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. April 2nd, 2015.  Alert posture.
Small size not particularly evident in this shot but very interesting head and bill structure may point 
towards taverneri or Taverner's Cackling Goose.

  Cackling Goose (right) - Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. April 2nd, 2015. Alert posture.

Cackling Goose (extreme left) - Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. April 2nd, 2015. Relaxed posture.

Double-crested Cormorant - Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. April 2nd, 2015. 
First of the year headed straight up the Connecticut River. 

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