Monday, April 2, 2018

MA - March in northern Franklin County

Northern Shovelers - (with Mallards) Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. March 27th, 2018.

After a promising start, March turned out to be a relatively quiet and rather wintery month. Numbers of waterfowl appeared to be fairly stable with continued large numbers of Ring-necked Ducks, Common and Hooded Mergansers loafing at Barton Cove and the female Redhead present through to at least mid-month. The last few days saw better diversity with increased numbers of American Black Ducks, Wood Ducks (19 together on the Connecticut River at Erving), Green-winged Teal ( 9 together at Barton Cove on the 30th) and Northern Shoveler (4, including three males at Barton Cove during 27th - 29th), and Lesser Scaup (3 at Barton Cove and 2 at Erving), and also a smattering of Bufflehead, Northern Pintail and American Wigeon on several days throughout March. And there was a nice early Pied-billed Grebe at Barton Cove on the 30th. 

Pied-billed Grebe (in the mist) - Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. March 30th, 2018.

Cackling Goose - with Canada Geese, Turner's Falls power canal, Franklin Co., MA. March 10th, 2018.
Image appears courtesy of Josh Layfield . 

On March 10th, Josh Layfield found a Cackling Goose at the power canal in Turner's Falls. It was a typical Richardson's (B.h.hutchinsii) and remarkable in the sense that it was the only definitive Cackling Goose that I've managed to see in Franklin County all winter. Moreover, it appeared for just one day and was evidently associated with the large numbers of Canada Geese (1500+) moving through that particular weekend. On the 30th, both Brian Kane (in Sunderland) and Josh Layfield (at Barton Cove) had a large flock of Snow Geese migrating north in late afternoon, most likely the same individual flock of around 100 birds.

The first two weeks of March also saw continued numbers of Iceland Gulls (up to 7) and Glaucous Gulls (up to 2 first-cycle birds) at  Barton Cove through to about March 12th. After that, gull numbers and diversity gradually dwindled, though a single Iceland Gull was still present through to March 28th at least.

Iceland Gull (first-cycle) - Barton Cove, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. March 27th, 2018.

At beginning of the month, Black Vultures began to appear over downtown Greenfield with increased numbers of Turkey Vultures with no less than 11 Blacks in one flock over Federal Street on March 8th, by the far the largest single flock of Black Vultures that I've recorded in Franklin County. Towards the end of the month, and perhaps a little later than average, Fish Crows started to appear along Federal Street in Greenfield, with others in Turner's Falls including seven together in Unity Park on the 29th.

Fish Crows - three of seven feeding on Sumac, Turner's Falls, Franklin Co., MA. March 29th, 2018.

Arrivals of summer breeders also appeared to be later than average this year Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1 at Gill Elementary on the 30th), Pine Warbler (1 at Gill at Elementary on the 30th) and Eastern Phoebe showing up before the end of the month but only just, and none of them widespread before April 1st. Indeed, Tree Swallows seemed absent altogether and I was unable to find any in Gill before the month ended. A strong contender for bird-of-the-month was stunning adult Red-shouldered Hawk along Boyle Road, Gill on the 27th and spotted by our son Matan as I drove him to school. Equally memorable has been the impressive concentration of displaying American Woodcocks along North Cross Road in Gill, with seven seemingly undeterred by a foot of fresh snow on the 14th, and at least 10 displaying there on the 29th.

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