Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring paints the landscape with new sights and sounds

Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is located west of Boston, Massachusetts and has much to offer for birders looking to see a variety of species. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.
I was delighted to get outside today and finally feel the earth soft beneath my boots, ready for spring and new life.  The air was filled with the distinctive call of Red-winged Blackbirds and the croaking call of Common Grackles, as I spent the afternoon birding at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Concord, Massachusetts today. I had seen multiple reports online of Rusty Blackbirds as well as a report of an American Pipit, so I was hoping I might be able to find one or both species today, but in the end they proved elusive. Fortunately there were a lot of other things to see, including two American Tree Sparrows who greeted me as I began my walk along the impoundment.

 Since I started this New England birding big year project in January I've spent a lot of time outdoors in cold, snowy, icy conditions, often visiting the coast to look for wintering sea ducks or in forests searching for finches, chickadees and other common New England Birds. While mixed foraging flocks of Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches and other small songbirds can often be quite boisterous as they move through the forest, the noise they make does not compare to the spring chorus just getting underway now. Within a few minutes of starting my walk today my ears were filled with the sounds of Red-winged blackbirds, Common Grackles, Song Sparrows, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Wood Ducks and other birds.

The presence of this beaver lodge at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is further evidence of the impressive comeback of the Beaver in Massachusetts. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.
More and more I'm beginning to see spring as a paintbrush, filling in the canvas of the landscape - not only with images, but sounds, smells and sensations. Even animals which I saw throughout the winter are behaving differently now: birds are singing different songs and today the air above the water was filled with the graceful arch and swoop of at least thirty Tree Swallows, catching insects which have also somehow miraculously appeared and I saw several Canada Geese dunk below the water, completely submerging themselves and then popping up again.

I decided to follow one trail a little farther today, and came to a small pond separated from a wetland  by a narrow strip of land. Above the pond a Red-tailed Hawk caught the wind as it increased, cutting across the sky and disappearing into the clouds, while on the other side of the path I saw many signs of the presence of beavers, including a large lodge at the far edge of the wetland. It was a beautiful spot, very quiet save for the wind, until I managed to accidentally flush a pair of Wood Ducks which let loose their squeaky call as they took to the air and then vanished again into the cattails. Walking back I came across a male Northern Shoveler and a Hairy Woodpecker. Spring is definitely here.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.

No comments:

Post a Comment