It was amazing just to listen to the sound of all these birds filtering through. I tried taping a bit with my Iphone, but it doesn't really do it justice. The poor Red-winged Blackbirds that were trying to set up their territories in the marsh were just about frantic with all of the activity of the Grackles as they passed through.
We drove up the 117 side of Bolton Flats and were finally able to drive into the area behind the red barn.
On our way home we checked all the back fields around Neck Road, the soccer field and the model airplane field, but it was pretty quiet.
We checked Wachusett on the way home, but it, too, was still pretty frozen. Although the area around River Road had definitely started to open up a bit. We had Tundra Swans, Common and Hooded Mergansers and a lone Ring-necked Duck (male) in the open water.
Even though we didn't have any unusual early migrants, you could definitely tell spring is on the upswing just based on the song. Everyone was singing their spring song and it was really quite nice.
On Sunday, we decided again to stay local. We thought it would be fun to trace the Quineboag River from the Connecticut border (near Dudley, MA) to it's other end in Brimfield. We hoped that we would find lots of waterfowl if we could get some good overlooks of the river.
We headed to Southbridge knowing there are lots of stretches we could view there, along with being able to check out the Westville Dam area before we headed west. We had done several Southbridge blocks for the breeding bird atlas so we were quite familiar with the area. Our first stop was to be where the Quineboag meanders through the Southbridge Industrial Park (the old American Optical complex.) At the little parking area near the hotel and conference center, we had our first real sign of spring in Worcester County....we heard the chip of an Eastern Phoebe along the river. We had another one later in the day in the Brookfields, but this is the only one I was able to photograph. I'm willing to bet that this bird will be nesting under the bridge within the next few weeks. Of course, that assumes an optimistic outcome for him with the forecast for record cold and a storm on Tuesday into Wednesday.
We checked in at Westville Dam and had Mallards, a Black Duck and several Common Mergs below the dam in the water.
We knew that the road through the lower part of the recreation area was still closed but we decided to check out along that lower part just in case. And while we had a Tree Swallow the day before flying over Bolton Flats, we had 20+ flying along the river in the Westville recreation area.
We had checked the heron rookery the weekend before and counted about 19 nests from the previous year, but we didn't see a bird in the area. As we were following the river, though, we did have a nice breeding-plumaged Great Blue in the river so we thought there might be one or two back this weekend. Much to my surprise there were 11 nests with activity....
We headed up to Brookfield and stopped at the river crossing of the Quaboag along Rt. 148. We had a nice flock of Ring-necked Ducks and still a few Common Mergansers. Still no Red-winged Blackbirds on territory from the back of the Brookfield Cemetery, but we did have a pair of Mourning Doves preening each other on top of one of the larger stones.
A check-in at Coy's Brook in West Brookfield had lots of displaying Hooded Mergs...
As I finish writing this blog, I'm looking out the window on this cold Monday (high temp for the day so far is 28) and hoping that the Tree Swallows and the Phoebe make it through the next few days of cold temps and possible accumulating snow. I hear the Cape is supposed to get hammered by the storm Tuesday night, and all I can think of is how many of these early spring migrants aren't going to make it.
Of course with warmer weather in store for Friday and next weekend, I'm going to believe that any swallows or phoebes I see then are actually ones that I saw yesterday. Now how's that for "the glass is half full" thinking?