Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chasing the Gray Ghost..Gyrfalcon

Well, Western Mass doesn't usually see large concentrations of birder's, but every once in a while a bird changes that. On Dec 13th a couple found and photographed a GYRFALCON! in the Honey Pot, Hadley, Mass. However the Gyr was not seen again until late afternoon on New Years Day, and that sighting set in motion a wave of scope carrying birder's that came from as far away as Virginia. 
The next day the Arctic Falcon put on a show in the Honey Pot for most of the day. Birder's were not only able to view the bird but got some amazing shots. However....I found myself unable to escape from work and was left to provide updates on Western Mass Birder's-facebook Page & Massbird.
The Falcon wasn't the only story going on in Hadley....with the recent snowstorm, a lot of birds found themselves looking for food! Most of the time birder's have to walk through the many weedy fields of the Honey Pot looking for Larks, Longspurs,Buntings and Sparrows. This time many of the birds were right by the road eating grass seeds that the local snowplows had unearthed. 50+ Savannah Sparrows, 2 Clay-colored Sparrows, 1 Vesper Sparrow, many Horned Larks, Snow Buntings and even a few Lapland Longspurs made an appearance. Besides the sparrows, good numbers of Common Redpolls remained along with 1-2 Hoary Redpolls, and then the raptor show got even better.....

During this week...a Long-eared and Short-eared Owls were seen and photographed, Northern Harriers, Peregrine Falcons, Merlin, American Kestrel, Cooper's Hawk, Red-tailed & Rough-legged Hawk and a Bald Eagle or two. An AMAZING WEEK is clearly an understatement. I was able to get some photos of the birds reported out there this past week, but missed the Gyrfalcon & Long-eared Owl/Short-eared Owl.

American Pipit- one of three birds I found on New Years day on South Maple Street/Hadley.

Horned Lark- hundreds in the Hadley area. 

Horned Lark- Aqua Vitae Rd

Lapland Longspur- So.Maple Street/Hadley.

Rough-legged Hawk (Light Morph) So.Maple Street.

Rough-legged Hawk- So.Maple Street

Snow Buntings- So.Maple Street/Aqua Vitae Rd & the Honey Pot. Some reported a flock of 200

Snow Buntings

Vesper Sparrow-honey Pot. A good find in winter.

Savannah Sparrow- as many as 60 reported.

Common Redpoll- Honey Pot. 

Cooper's Hawk- My feeding station.

Clay-colored Sparrow. one of two in Hadley.