Friday, May 3, 2013

Two more species bring my big year birding list to 121 species

After such a long and cold winter it felt amazing to be outside today in the bright spring sunshine, under a perfectly clear blue sky, surrounded by birdsong. Today was one of those days where I wander along the trail stopping every once in a while just to appreciate how green and vibrant the natural world has become in the last two weeks. With so many plants budding and flowering the insects have returned, and with their presence many of the familiar warm-weather birds are back as well. I had a little time this afternoon after work to get outside, so I drove over to Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick, Massachusetts, where I managed to see 27 species of birds in a couple of hours, along with a few other surprises.

Spring comes to Broadmoor wildlife sanctuary in Natick, Massachusetts. image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.
I started out by visiting the marsh along the boardwalk, where a number of Eastern painted Turtles were out basking on half-submerged logs. There were also plenty of nosiy Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles calling from trees along the edge of the water and from within the marsh itself. As I was watching the blackbirds I spotted a pair of Canada Geese on a nest and looked up to see two Wood Ducks come careening down toward the water, their nervous call echoing out as they disappeared into the vegetation. One of these days I plan to spend some time learning to ID the most common local plants beyond Skunk Cabbage and Poison Ivy. Today I spent some time taking photos of plant life that caught my eye and I would certainly welcome any assistance in ID'ing the plants in the photos below.

A plant emerges from the marsh. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.

New plant life in the marsh. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.

With the trees and other plants in bloom both insects and birds are re-appearing after a long winter. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.

As I left the shade of the pine woods I came out into the sunlit open fields and decided to walk through the old orchard, one of my favorite spots in the sanctuary. It's a marvelous, sunny, open and rolling stretch of land with what looks like shrubland to me on one side, and grassland on the other. It's a great place to look for flycatchers, Eastern Bluebirds and a variety of other species. This afternoon I spotted my first Eastern Kingbird of the year in this area, bringing my New England birding big year total to 120 species. As I was about to turn and keep going something caught my eye in the distance at the far edge of the field, and I looked carefully through my binoculars, scanning the area. At first I thought it might be a fox or coyote, but I was very happily surprised to see that it was in fact a Fisher, a fairly common but rarely seen member of the weasel family.

A former orchard and the surrounding woods and grassland provide important sources of food and shelter for Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows and other species of birds. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.
I finished up the afternoon by adding one more bird to my New England birding big year list - a beautiful Eastern Towhee singing from the top of a dead branch at the edge of the orchard. I heard the bird before I saw it, and was excited to follow the sound of its song until I got a clear view of it perched at the top of the tree. Between the weather, the kingbird, the towhee and the Fisher, I would have to say that today was a pretty great day to be outside.

Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.

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