Tuesday, November 14, 2017

MA - more Red-throated Loons

Red-throated Loons - Turner's Falls Rod & Gun club, Franklin Co., MA. November 14th, 2017.

After an all-too-brief Red-throated Loon at Barton Cove/Unity Park on Nov 6th, it was more than rewarding to see a mini arrival of the species at the Rod & Gun club this morning. The day had a pretty dreary start with sleet showers and apparently no new waterbirds at Barton Cove but as I arrived at the Rod & Gun club just before 8am, a party of three Red-throated Loons touched down on the water. My impression was that they'd just arrived but I couldn't say for sure. Some 35 minutes later, all three loons began giving wailing calls from the water and a fourth Red-throated Loon dropped out of the sky to join the group. The quartet then settled in for the day and quite a few birders got up to see them. Somewhat surprisingly, no other waterfowl appeared to be associated with the loon movement, at least at Turner's Falls, and I didn't detect anything new although it was nice to see the Common Loon at Barton Cove lingering for its fourth day.

Red-throated Loons - Turner's Falls Rod & Gun club, Franklin Co., MA. November 14th, 2017.
Camera data info placed the fourth bird arriving at 08:38 hours, slightly later than I initially thought.

Other birds of note included single Snow Buntings at Barton Cove boat ramp in Gill, and at South Ferry Road in Montague, plus a 'getting late' Yellow-rumped Warbler, also at the boat ramp.

The evening saw the first significant arrival of Great Black-backed Gulls with around a dozen dropping into the cove at Unity Park. With them came a crisp, smart looking juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull before a pair of Bald Eagles flushed the lot and began chasing down one of the Great Black-backed Gulls.

After sunset, I tried my luck at a traditional spot for Northern Saw-whet Owls in the north of Franklin County and had some excellent success with three individuals heard giving a broad range of vocalizations  including soft 'tooting', squealing or wailing calls, 'kew' calls often delivered in twos or threes and sometimes strung together in a  short series, and a scolding 'chitter' which I tend to hear less frequently than the other call types. In the distance, a pair Barred Owls called back and forth as if to supplement the pair of Great Horned Owls that I heard and saw in courtship in Gill this morning - three owl species for the day! The best actual 'sighting' in the woods this evening was a Flying Squirrel that glided some distance before landing flush on the side of a deciduous trunk. I haven't seen too many Flying Squirrels in Western Mass and to see one actually 'flying' was completely cool! 

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