Howard and Marcy Schwartz
This field trip was rescheduled from the day before due to inclement weather. We also had to change breakfast locations since the restaurant we had been going to for years, Sylvester's, closed during this past summer. The new restaurant is not as fancy as Sylvester's was, but the service was good and the food was filling. We had 10 people who attended breakfast and four more joined up later for birding. The weather was sunny, with low-40s in the morning and high-40s in the afternoon.
Our first stop was along the CT River on Riverview Drive, where we were greeted by bunches of swallows, both tree and rough wings. For many of us they were first-of-year birds. We had a very good scope view of a rough-wing swallow preening, who landed on a branch near us. Since all of the ice was gone from the river, we did not have many gulls as we usually do when there are huge chunks of ice floating on the river. Other waterfowl seen from there include Canada Geese, Common Merganser, Mute Swan and Bufflehead. The usual early spring songbirds were heard and seen from there also. The next stop was at the boat ramp where we saw similar birds as we did on Riverview Drive.
From the boat ramp we went to the far end of Barton's Cove to find more ducks. On the way down the entrance road, about 25 feet up on a dead tree, an immature bald eagle was sitting and not paying any attention to us as we passed by in our cars or stopped to take pictures. Eventually, it did fly off after we all had a good look. On a rise overlooking the cove, we spotted a large raft of ducks which turned out to be Ring-necked Ducks. Along the shore, we also spotted a pair of Wood Ducks. A keen-eyed observer noticed a 'ringneck' that didn't look quite like the others. It turned out to be the only Greater Scaup we saw on the trip.
Our next stop was across the bridge that goes into Turner's Falls to a large parking area on the river. We stayed only a short time because there wasn't much different from the previous stops. One new sighting, though, was a Double-crested Cormorant.
We left the river at Turners to go to another river viewing area at the Rod and Gun Club. The river here was also sparse on bird species. We did however, after a little discussion, agree that a duck at the far end of the river was a Pied-billed Grebe. From here we headed off to the Turners Falls airport about a mile down the road.
We go here to check for early arrival Killdeer and the possibility of getting a Kestrel. We were not disappointed. We did see two Killdeer running around on the grassy strip of land next to the runway. We also had our best looks at a few low flying eagles here. There was a little excitement in the sky above the airport for a while. There was a little discussion about one particular immature eagle which had a different looking plumage other than the 'normal' pattern of a juvenile that we see. Some thought it could be a Golden Eagle, while others just an immature Bald Eagle. We did have a member who was able to take some pictures of the bird. This discussion continued a few days after the trip was over when we checked the internet for pictures of immature bald eagles. At that point, the concensus was that the bird was an immature Bald Eagle. We also had two eagles performing acrobatics with one another above our heads at the airport. It was quite interesting to watch them weave around one another.
Our final stop was the power canal. It was, unfortunately, very quiet on the water. There is always something, though, and here it was, a beautiful male Ring-necked Duck in perfect light and close to the road. While the trip was coming to a close, a few people took a little walk to try and find a tree in which a Screech Owl was previously seen. While they were gone, those remaining heard then saw a pine warbler a short distance down the road up in a pine tree. This was a fine ending to a wonderful trip on a very nice early spring day. We all should be proud of the fact that we didn't lose any of the cars in our caravan except when someone decided to leave of their own volition. The total species count was 32 and the birding highlights were eight Bald Eagles (two different instances of two eagles playing with one another), Pine Warbler, scope view of a Rough-winged Swallow, Pied-billed Grebe, and Killdeer.