Date: 11/1/17 1:38 pm
From: Josh <opihi...>
Subject: [MASSBIRD] Montague Shrike, Pink-footed Goose joins the Barnacle, inland Brant fallout, etc.
Hi MassBirders,

I had some pretty good birding luck today. Started out (as usual) at Barton Cove. After spotting an adult Bald Eagle from Riverview Drive in Gill, I headed to the BC Campground and scoped a Long-tailed Duck across the bay. Then I looked up from my scope and noticed an American Coot by the near shoreline, right under my nose! Finished surveying the cove from Unity Park with a sighting of 8 extremely distant American Wigeon.

I picked up a breakfast burrito and took it to the Turners Falls Rod & Gun Club. Before I even got out of the car I spotted a Brant on the water, amid the usual gang of Mute Swans. I got out to scope it, but while I was setting up, a previously unnoticed landbird flew out of one of the nearby trees and across the water. I got my binoculars on it and realized that it was a cuckoo! I initially ID’d it as a Black-billed but after getting home and consulting a few more images, I swayed to Yellow-billed. Even seeing a cuckoo after the first week of September is noteworthy this far north, but November? Mind. Blown. … Also at the Club, spotted another Coot, a female Wood Duck, and a distant Green-winged Teal, and heard but could not see a Greater Yellowlegs. The remaining half of my breakfast was cold by the time I made it back into the car.

On my way home, I drove through the Montague Meadows. On my way down South Ferry Road, a Northern Shrike flew out of a roadside tree! It relocated to a large shrub in the middle of one of the fields and spent several minutes sallying from there to the surrounding ground, presumably attacking large insects or maybe earthworms.

Yesterday, I didn’t have any time dedicated for birding, but took a walk with the wife, dog, and in-laws at Wentworth Farm Conservation Area in Amherst, and saw a Rusty Blackbird while we were there.

The biggest news today on Western Mass Birders (FaceBook) is that a Pink-footed Goose has reportedly joined the flock with the continuing Barnacle Goose in Westfield/Springfield, along with at least two Cackling Geese and one Brant, according to Griffin Richards.

Griffin’s Brant, and mine, are apparently just part of a significant regional influx. Yesterday evening, John Lambdin and Noah Kahn both encountered a flock of 20 on South Maple Street near Goulet Farm (just south of the mall in Hadley). Add these to the birds in Deerfield and Northfield just posted here by Bob Packard, and from Westborough by Bob Gervais, and the flock of 8 that Eric Huston saw flying over the power canal the day before yesterday, plus another that day in Sheffield by Rene Wendell, and the flock of 10 that Larry Therrien had on the Quabbin on October 27, well, a whole lotta Brant are finding their way inland over the past few days!

In non-Brant-related news, Tom Collins reported a Golden Eagle and a Red-throated Look from Onota Lake yesterday, Larry had another RTLO plus a Bonaparte’s Gull from Winsor Dam, and Peter Gagarin had two more Bonaparte’s from the TFR&GC.

Good birding!


Joshua S. Rose, Ph.D.
Amherst, MA

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