It was a very windy morning, but nine eager members met at the Atkins farm in Hadley for a ride along the upper Connecticut River lowlands north to Turners Falls. The nearby fields proved sparse, except for a couple of Cowbirds in a pack of many hundred Starlings crowded among the cows at the South Maple Street farm. From there, we headed east and north, spotting our first Red-tail Hawk perched low in the trees, but the East Meadows was bereft of birds.
Crossing the river into Northampton, we got close looks at a single Common Merganser plus a Mockingbird and an adult Bald Eagle perched in a tree along the shoreline. We hurried toward Arcadia and found cars parked along the way beside a weedy meadow. Others were waiting there for a reported Redpoll flock and we eventually got good looks at a single one munching contentedly at the top of a weed. A few Canada Geese, another Redtail and Bald Eagle were also present. Here and at Arcadia itself there were sparrows and Chickadees, Nuthatch, Titmouse and a Carolina Wren.
We decided to head north as scheduled and arrived at Turners Falls, counting up to eight Redtails along the way. A small area was unfrozen in the river above the dam, where four Mute Swans and about 30 of the three common gull species were bathing and resting. We continued through town to the Canal, where hordes of Mallards and Canada Geese plus a dozen Mute Swans were keeping the near side along the road free of ice. We waited for some time, hoping that the reported rarer ducks would arrive from the river. Finally, we spotted a lone Goldeneye and 6 Black Ducks, as well as two Bald Eagles. There were a few gulls among them and more gulls joined them, including a sparkling Iceland Gull.
One car had to leave, but the others continued to the river above the dam and the Airport, where they found 40 Snow Buntings and another Bald Eagle. Some more Black Ducks and a Kingfisher were in the Montague center pond. In the Plains were found two Bluebirds and a Red-breasted Nuthatch.