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Canal Park, South Hadley

South Hadley

February 3, 2024

Harvey Allen

After more than a week of overcast skies, it was "sunny with a chance of bird sightings" for the Saturday, February 3 field trip to Canal Park in South Hadley. Twelve participants joined leader Harvey Allen in the parking lot behind South Hadley Public Library. Temperatures were in the 30s with a chilly breeze, and birders enjoyed three hours of birding in five different, nearby locations. The locations were South Hadley Public Library, the Ted Belsky Overlook at Canal Park, River Road, Brunelle's Marina, and Bachelor Brook Conservation Area.

Special circumstances for this trip included the fact that the gate allowing access to an excellent river viewing platform behind the South Hadley Public Library is locked October through April. Also, the Connecticut River was rapid and high due to more than 6 inches of rain and 5 inches of snow in January, following the second rainiest summer in recent history.

Still, there were birds to be seen.

A highlight of the morning was when birders spotted two adult and one juvenile bald eagle soaring over the river, perching in trees, and one flying into an established eagle's nest visible across from the Belsky Overlook. Another notable moment occurred when, upon returning to their cars after walking in Bachelor Brook CA, birders saw three Red-tailed Hawks standing in the parking lot, offering a memorable end to a pleasant day.

Birds seen included: Common Merganser, hooded Merganser, Common Goldeneye, American Bald Eagle, Mallards, Great Blue Heron, Black Ducks, Belted Kingfisher, Red-tailed Hawk, Raven, Crows, Herring Gulls, Cardinal, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Robin, Blue Jay, Herring Gull, Rock Doves, Starlings, House Sparrow, and Canada Geese.

A couple of members extended this trip, heading to the Quabbin Reservoir Visitors Center. There, they were rewarded with excellent views of a Say’s Phoebe feasting on stink bugs. Unusual for our area, the Say’s Phoebe has been reported there intermittently since November.