Wednesday, December 16, 2015

MA - mid-week round up

The last few days have remained incredibly mild for the time of year, though the recent spell of warm air gave way to cooler northerlies today (12/16). Locally, it's been a bit of mixed bag of bird species with nothing in particular jumping out though the owl theme continues. Last night (12/15), just as I  stopped at a pull-out on Bascom Road, Gill a Northern Saw-whet Owl flew through the beam of the headlights and alighted in a roadside oak! By the time I'd sorted out the camera it was gone but I was pretty happy with the observation and it was my first in Gill this winter.

Purple Finch - male, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. December 16th, 2015. Photographed before sunrise.

This morning (12/16) I had a cracking male Purple Finch on North Cross Road in Gill, in fact the quiet roads in Gill seems to be only area where I'm seeing this species with any sort of consistency at the moment - pretty much every day.

Common Goldeneyes - Turner's Falls, Franklin Co., MA. December 15th, 2015.
A small portion of the considerable roost that gathers on the power canal most evenings.

At Turner's Falls, the Goldeneye roost has been typically unpredictable but some evenings have produced up to 75 birds and included a female Barrow's Goldeneye on the 13th. The Lesser Scaup also continues at the power canal but two Greater Scaup above the dam at Unity Park were new on the 15th.

Lesser Black-backed Gull - adult, Turner's Falls power canal Franklin Co., MA. December 15th, 2015.
The left-most bird in both images above.

Last week's single Kumlien's Iceland Gull remained just that, a single! I was hopeful of more this week but so far it hasn't happened though the adult Lesser Black-backed Gull continues with almost daily appearances at the gull roost, although some evenings it can arrive very late.

 Northern Harrier - juvenile, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. December 10th, 2015.

 Swamp Sparrow - Gill, Franklin Co., MA. December 10th, 2015.

Notable December birds for Gill last week included a juvenile Northern Harrier and a Swamp Sparrow on Ben Hale Road, both on the 10th. The latter is usually very difficult to find in the winter months in our area. 

'Cackling-like' Geese (3) - Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. December 15th, 2015. Three newly arrived birds with the gray cast and broad pale fringes to the upperparts often associated with the expected form of Cackling Goose in our area - B.c. hutchinsiiBut I wonder if the bill length of these birds might eliminate Cackling Goose and point towards something else? They were still present on the 16th. 

*Three more confusing white-cheeked geese arrived at Turner's Falls on the 15th. These birds initially looked so distinctive that I was able to pick them out easily with the naked-eye. They showed several pro-hutchinsii features but on closer inspection I was put off by the bill length which just didn't look stubby enough for a typical Cackling Goose. For the time being, I'm just going to leave them as 'Cackling-like' Geese but I can't help but wonder if B.c. parvipes (Lesser Canada Goose) should be seriously considered for this group? I also recalled David Sibley's excellent blog post on "Cackling-ish Geese" from December 2014;

1 comment:

Cliff Cook said...

The geese are a bit of a muddle. I can't help but wonder if the problem is more that the larger birds in the photo look more "cacklingish" that the smaller birds look more "canadaish" . The larger birds have rather stubby bills for Canadas, esp. the one on the left in front.

- Cliff Cook