Wednesday, December 9, 2015

MA - more owls

Barred Owl - Gill, Franklin Co., MA. December 9th, 2015.

Continuing Sunday's owl theme, I was intrigued enough to head back to Arcadia Meadows on Tuesday (Dec 8th) hoping for another close encounter with Asio owls but it wasn't to be. Again, I had prolonged views of a Short-eared Owl hunting over the meadows, sometimes sparring with two juvenile Northern Harriers but the views were nothing like as good as we experienced on Sunday due mostly to heavily overcast skies - dusk came in early and thwarted any aspirations that I may have had for photos. On the plus side, Arcadia Meadows did produced my only Lapland Longspur of the fall/winter when a dog walker pushed a calling bird up from one of the fields. Meanwhile, on the same afternoon, a good friend observed an Asio owl, probably a Short-eared, on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River in Hadley at dusk. 

Short-eared Owl - Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, Northampton,  Hampshire Co., MA. December 8th, 2015.

On the way home, I tried for Saw-whet Owls at a sweet spot in Gill which had produced them before. After five minutes of whistling, a Barred Owl responded with a prolonged series 'hoo-aw' calls so close I was able to get a pretty good sound recording on my iphone. The next day I found a Barred Owl hunting in the day in Gill, again really nice prolonged views.

 American Tree Sparrow -  Gill, Franklin Co., MA. December 9th, 2015.

 Cedar Waxwing -  Gill, Franklin Co., MA. December 9th, 2015.

The fields and hedgerows around Gill continue to be productive with good numbers of Cedar Waxwings, especially on River Road, and American Tree Sparrows increasing as the winter progresses. This morning (Dec 9th) I had 25 of the latter on North Cross Road and a further 35 on River Road. Less expected were three fine male Ring-necked Pheasants on North Cross Road on Dec 7th, and a huge flock of 250 Brown-headed Cowbirds near Upinngil Farm on Main Road also on Dec 7th. I've seen local cowbird flocks numbering 35-40 birds before, but 250 is by far the largest flock that I've encountered in Franklin County.

 Red Squirrel - Northfield, Franklin Co., MA. December 7th, 2015.

  Brown-headed Cowbirds -  Gill, Franklin Co., MA. December 7th, 2015.
A small portion of the 250 or so roadside birds near Upinngil Farm

Ring-necked Pheasants -  Gill, Franklin Co., MA. December 7th, 2015.
Three fine males, 'survivors' from released stock. 

Down at Turner's Falls, very little in the way of new birds but the Greater White-fronted Goose turned up after a 10 day absence on Dec 7th when the continuing Cackling Goose and Lesser Scaup were also present. An adult Peregrine also continues around the Great Falls Discovery Center.

 Cackling Goose - Turner's Falls, Franklin Co., MA. December 7th, 2015.

Greater White-fronted Goose - Turner's Falls, Franklin Co., MA. December 7th, 2015.

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