Red Crossbill - first-year male, Franklin Co., February 28th, 2017.
The end of February has been incredibly mild and exceedingly spring-like. Suffering from a little cabin fever, I felt the need for a full day in the field but rather than drive two hours to the coast I chose to stay local. With no fixed agenda or premeditated plan, I attempted a rather low key 'big day' in Franklin County, something that I've never tried before but I am likely to repeat. The goal was to simply poke around and see what I could dig up within a few miles of the house. The day was split into two sessions (06:30-12:30 and 15:00 - 19:30hrs) and I ended up with a tally of 54 species which I thought was pretty decent considering that it was a solo effort. As so often with big days, the 'big misses' hurt and Cooper's Hawk, Wild Turkey, American Woodcock, Horned Lark and Golden-crowned Kinglet somehow managed to elude me, and all of which are present currently in the local area. Then there's the 'near misses' with species such as Black Vulture and Barrow's Goldeneye seen before the 28th, or the Northern Harrier and Merlin in Gill the day after! Anyhow, it was a great test and a nice reminder of just how diverse the Pioneer Valley can be at times.
Red Crossbill - adult male, Franklin Co., February 28th, 2017.
Red Crossbill - adult male, Franklin Co., February 28th, 2017. Apparently collecting nest material.
Red Crossbill - adult male and female, Franklin Co., February 28th, 2017. Courtship feeding?
Red Crossbill - adult female, Franklin Co., February 28th, 2017.
Highlights were many with just about all of the following sightings within a mile or two of the Connecticut River between Montague and Northfield;
Ring-necked Duck - 42 (one raft of 31 at Barton Cove).
Greater Scaup - 2 males at Turner's Falls. Nice but down from the five males on the 26th.
Great Horned Owl - 1 (seen at 07:15 in Gill)
Barred Owl - 3 (1 seen, pair heard catawauling)
Northern Saw-whet - 3 (all males 'soft' tooting).
Kumlien's Iceland Gull - 4 (3 first-cycle, 1 second-cycle), Barton Cove, Gill.
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 15
Red Crossbill - 12 plus. Males singing, several pairs seen carrying nest material and courtship feeding observed. However, no actual nests located.
Fish Crow - 1 calling Unity Park, Turner's Falls. Back at one of last year's breeding sites.
Weather: 32 deg F at first light rising to around 62 deg F by late afternoon. Clouds and light showers early giving way to a clear, sunny afternoon with a light but sometimes blustery south-westerly breeze.
Miles: 58 driven; 4 walked.
Fish Crow - Unity Park, Turner's Falls, Franklin Co., February 28th, 2017.
Eight pairs bred in Turner's Falls in 2016 including three pairs in Unity Park alone.
Greater Scaups - two males with Ring-necked Ducks, Turner's Falls, Franklin Co., February 28th, 2017.
Hooded Mergansers - adult male and female, Franklin Co., February 28th, 2017.
Breeding pairs moving back into the small ponds and swamps, this pair was in Gill.
Kumlien's Iceland Gull - first-cycle, Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. February 28th, 2017.
Kumlien's Iceland Gull - second-cycle, Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. February 28th, 2017.
Red-breasted Nuthatch - Franklin Co., February 28th, 2017.
Barred Owl - Franklin Co., February 28th, 2017.
Northern Saw-whet Owl - Franklin Co., February 28th, 2017.
A busy evening for these with three males calling from just one location.