Al and Lois Richardson
It was a very cool early spring morning when 10 birders met to search for ducks and early spring migrants. We were very happy to meet 4 new birders and also happy to see 6 other familiar faces.
The trip got off to a slow start at Pynchon Point. The high water from recent rains and snow melt had forced ducks and gulls to other places, and so the confluence of the Westfield River and the Connecticut River failed to produce. We moved on to another view of the Westfield River at the end of Hunt St. After checking out the whimsical wood sculptures near the parking area, we began to get bird activity. Downy woodpeckers were drumming, a Carolina Wren (with feathers fluffed from the chill) belted out his song, juncos trilled, and House Finches and a Northern Cardinal added a flash of color. An adult Bald Eagle circled low over our heads, and then an early American Kestrel flew in to perch, immediately chased off by a scolding Blue Jay.
Our next stop was to check the lagoons of the Big E, also flooded, but we did find a Great Blue Heron hunting for breakfast. Here we also added Mallards, a pair of Wood Ducks and a calling Killdeer to our list. We then moved on to the dike and another view of the Westfield River where a fast-flying Sharp-shinned Hawk was spotted.
The day was warming up and it was time to see what could be found along Pondside Road in Longmeadow. This was the place to find ducks. The first pond held Green-wing Teal, Black Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, and more Wood Ducks. As we walked along from pond to pond, there were opportunities to scope out Pied-billed Grebes, Common Mergansers, and Hooded Mergansers, to see Goldfinch coming out of winter plumage, and to watch early Tree Swallows feed over the water. We also found that Canada Geese and Mute Swans were sitting on nests, as was a Bald Eagle (the first to do so at Pondside). As we reached the next to last pond there were more new species of ducks - Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, and Blue-winged Teal. Though the morning started slowly, the birding ended on a high note. The tally for the trip was 37 species.