Waiting for the warblers in Holyoke

With a week off and plenty of time to look for birds, I was hoping the spring migration would kick into high gear this week with at least the arrival of Yellow-rumped Warblers in the city.

That turned out to be wishful thinking. Factor in unseasonably cool temperatures on a few days, and other days when it seemed like it would start to rain within 10 minutes any time I stepped outside, and it wasn’t the productive week of birding I’d anticipated.

Realistically, looking at last year’s records, it’s still a week or two ahead of last year’s arrival of Black-and-white, Black-throated-blue, and other warbler species. Holyoke’s parks this week held a lot of Eastern Phoebes and a few American Goldfinches, but few other migrants.

So, on Friday morning I headed down to the Fannie Stebbins Wildlife Refuge in Longmeadow to get a read on what birds are moving through other parts of the Pioneer Valley — and what I might find back in the city if I put in a little more effort.

There were a number of birds I’ve been seeing regularly in Holyoke so far this spring: Northern Flickers in particular. There were also dozens of Yellow-rumped Warblers, several Palm Warblers, a handful of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, a few Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and three Osprey.

With the exception of the gnatcatchers, those are all birds I’ve seen in Holyoke before — and birds I’ll be looking out for as better weather moves through this weekend.

Back in the city, I stopped by the canal in South Holyoke to check on the Red-winged Blackbirds. I started seeing male birds there earlier this month, and on Friday there were a number of females present.

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