Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another Sandisfield/New Marlborough Trip

I've come to realize that I'm totally in love with the southern Berkshires. I've always felt it was a wondrous place at the "far ends" of the state, but I think it my love affair with the area started seriously several years ago with the magical Tyringham valley. Maybe that's why every year Mark & I have chosen to atlas multiple blocks in the Berks.So this post combines a couple of different trips from late June and early July when we were putting in some atlas time in our 4 blocks mostly in the towns of New Marlborough and Sandisfield. If you go to the Breeding Bird Atlas website, you can check out all the actual results for these blocks, as well as any other block in the state. If you're not familiar with the BBA website you can find you're way there fairly easily from the main Mass Audubon website.
The Mountain Laurel just seems to be more vibrant along this one little pond tucked down a dirt road in one of our blocks. While the pond itself seemed a little light on birds, the woods around the area held all sorts of avian treats.....like this nest of Broad-winged Hawks who were almost ready to fledge.
Even though it's only July I'm already dreading the silence that fall brings when the Ovenbirds are no longer in full song. It seems they get really quite for a few weeks in mid-summer and I start to think "oh no it's over" and then song comes back for the final weeks before you start to hear them overhead at night as they're heading south.
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are always a treat to find nesting. They're so noisy and even the young in the nest can be quite evident. We passed this nest hole on two separate trips to the area at least two weeks apart and each time you could hear the young birds squabbling in the nest. I was lucky enough to catch Dad coming in to feed these guys on one of those occasions.
This male Scarlet Tanager was starting to show some early signs of molting into his fall plumage. The scarlet was less brilliant and with close observation you could see some orange flecks starting to appear.
There were juvenile Purple Finch in lots of places. In fact we've found them throughout our blocks in both the northern and southern Berkshires this year. In most instances, though, we seem to come across them down on the road "gritting".
One of the spots we keep visiting is an Alpaca farm in our Otis 6 block. Judging by the shear marks on this one's coat, he's freshly shorn.
In addition to producing Alpaca, we've found Bobolink, Killdeer and Cliff Swallows all breeding at this same farm -- a treasure trove of birds!
You really can't ignore the other natural treasures when your atlasing.....like this Great Spangled Fritillary....
or this species of fungus -- which looks like some form of coral growing on a tree.
And sometimes it's what I've been able to capture on film that tickles me. Lots of American Goldfinch around now, but this one looked like a wind-up toy being propelled up from the road.
Another one of our later nesters, Cedar Waxwing were all over. Since we haven't yet seen those streaky-breasted young ones, I'm assuming they're still on the nest in many of our breeding blocks.
While young Turkeys are clearly in all stages of growth at this point.
I recently saw a posting from Fish & Wildlife about a "citizen science" project where they were asking people to report sightings of young turkeys so that they could gain insight into their reproduction success. Being the cynic that I am, I wondered if that was just a ruse to determine how expansive they become with hunting season. In any event, I've decided NOT to submit any sightings to them.
Our two blocks seemed to be full of Wood Thrush this breeding season. While I've often been able to get both Hermit Thrush and Veery perching up for a photo, I don't have a lot of luck with Wood Thrush.....so I was delighted to get one quick shot of this before he flew off.

And as I mentioned earlier, Sapsuckers were abundant. This juvenile bird was quite close to the car when we stopped on a dirt road and seemed very obliging when I pulled out my camera. In fact it was so close that I didn't even need to crop this photo.
And being the southern Berkshires you can always count on something just a little bit out of the ordinary....

1 comment:

  1. Great report! Makes me want to visit there. I have been able to get a photo of a wood thrush only once. I have tried to sneak up on them but no luck. That last pic, I had to enlarge it to see what it was, then it made me laugh out loud.