Monday, May 18, 2009

Inside Quabbin - Saturday May 9th

On Saturday (right before Mother's Day) we spent about 10 hrs. INSIDE Quabbin driving from south to north to see if we could add any additional birds to the Breeding Bird Atlas. Some of the atlas blocks were our own from previous years and others were unfinished partial blocks we wanted to make sure were covered in case the person atlasing didn't finish up. We had a total of 87 species which was great for a cool, damp day still early in migration. We also had lots of other observations, including snakes, turtles, odenates, butterflies, plants and just great quiet time.... Even in Quabbin you have to watch for snakes crossing the road...
When we stopped to "help" this Garter Snake, it was pretty clear she wanted to do it herself. I did think it was rather funny watching her pretend to be a little rattlesnake.
We tried to watch out for as many Red Efts as we could.
And this Painted Turtle put up with us photographing her carapice and plastron before she scuttled off into a pond. Luckily there's not a lot of car traffic inside Quabbin, but I do wonder whether the loggers will stop for a turtle or not.

After we put her back down it took her a while to come out of her shell....she was a very cautious turtle.
Some of our first odes of the season. Mark wasn't sure about the ID on this one, but Blair Nikula thought it was a young female Bluet.
And this dragonfly we identified as a young Chalk-fronted Skimmer.
We had lots of Juvenal's Duskywings
And this Spring Azure decided there was something good on my car
The plants were as impressive as the animals...with this extensive stand of False Hellebore....
the always-present, but cheery Bluets....
some Golden Alexanders...
"blossoming" ferns (which I know next-t0-nothing about)

And the always-lovely Fringed Polygala (aka Gaywings). While this looks like a little orchid, it's really a member of the Milkwort family, and it used to be thought that if you gave it to pregnant women or cows, it would increase milk production.....I just love old lore!
The only place we ran into people inside Quabbin was when we got close to the Gate 40 area and down at Graves' Landing.
As we were coming up the long hill before reaching the top of the rise and Deadman's Curve, we can across this family of Canada Geese. Why were they walking up the hill away from any water? Why did they have young so early in the season? Where were they going? All these questions remained unanswered.....
The rest of the birds seemed rather normal for Quabbin in early spring...lot's of calling Towhees in the freshly-cutover areas.
Along with Catbirds all setting up territories...
We had a Nashville Warbler near the crossroad at Gate 45...
And singing Black & Whites were everywhere....this was a big migration day for this species.
At one point we spished to see what was around, and this territorial B&W immediately came in to investigate. He decided to vocally reassert his territory.
We also had a fair number of Redstarts -- both migrants and residents on territory.
The big surprise for us at Gate 45 was a singing White-eyed Vireo -- not a bird we've ever had in Quabbin -- and clearly not a breeding bird....but still nice to hear and see!
And, of course, there was the signature Quabbin breeding bird -- Bald Eagle. If you click on the picture to enlarge it you'll notice not just the adult bird but the nest (with young birds) at about 7 o'clock from the adult in the next tree over.
A very satisfying trek up the east side of Quabbin. Needless to say, we were exhausted when we got home, since it had been a full 12 hours either in the car or on foot.

Sunday, we took it easy by checking out some potential block-busting blocks in north county. Ayer 1 & Ayer 2. Our purpose was to check habitat and ensure we knew the boundaries. We found some great habitat and a wonderful parcel of Conservation land that looked promising.
And we did come across a Blue-winged Warbler singing the Golden-wing of course we had to stop and check it out.
And one of my favorite sightings of the weekend was this "herd" we found as we were leaving the blocks and heading back to Worcester.....
I'm so fascinated by what people are thinking when they do things like this.....maybe some day I'll just stop and knock on the door and interview them. With all the bizarre photos I could definitely publish a book.....
Again, a long post and one that's a week late. I certainly plan to update from this past weekend much sooner.....especially because it's me anti-bird-a-thon posting.....more to come!


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