Sunday, October 18, 2009

Northern Berkshires in September & October

Okay so the first big, white snowflakes are falling and I feel the need to look back at warblers and fall foliage....of course it was only a few weeks ago! Anyway, this blog is actually the result of two different trips to the northern Berks -- one on Labor Day and one a few weeks later when we were on vacation a few weeks later (10/1 to be exact). In the first trip we spent most of our time in Florida and Monroe right up on the Vermont border....We visited the Bakke Mountain Trust area and had great views to the north. Hopefully, this area will be spared the proposed windfarm that's been in the courts for several years.
This area had a good showing of Kestrals on the day we visited, and I do wonder if they would breed there if someone erected a kestral box. Of course, if this place does go the way of the windfarm developers, we can say goodbye to that possibility.
Between this area and the dirt road in Monroe up to Raycroft Tower, we had a great showing of landbirds. It's sorta hard to tell who's a migrant and who's a permanent resident in this neck of the this Blue-headed Vireo.
Black and White Warbler
Immature Common Yellowthroat, along some powerline cut-throughs.
We also had a good number of female Blackburnians.
And both male and female Black-throated Blue Warblers.
And this immature Magnolia warbler.
We even managed to spish in an Ovenbird who acted quite territorial.
The dirt road to and from Bakke Mountain proved to be quite interesting as well. One of the odder sightings are these road signs, since you're clearly in the middle of no-where.
And while I know it's a necessity, it's always disconcerting to see the dead ground cover and plantings along the power lines once the electric company has been in there with their herbicides. It really makes you wonder about the damage it's doing to the environment. I'd love to know the cancer rates in the areas close to this sort of spraying.
Two highlights of the trip were this Red-backed Salamander Mark found after turning over ten's of rocks along the road.....
and most impressively this Spring Salamander along the side of this same wet dirt road.
The opportunity to photograph these two little guys was very exciting. Although I must say that Gyrinophilus porphyriticus is quite hefty. Being a lungless salamander we quickly got this guy back into a nearby fast-moving mountain stream. I'm not sure he would have made it under the rock where we found him.
And we had quite a few woodpeckers as well.
We found Bottle Gentian at the higher elevation as we approached the open area near the Bakke Mountain property....
and we found Nodding Ladies' Tresses in the lower parts of Monroe along the brook leading down to Dunbar Reservoir and the Deerfield River.
In fact I actually found this petite member of the orchid family as I was trying to get a good close photo of this Common Ringlet.
Our 2nd trip to the northern Berkshires a few weeks ago allowed us to enjoy the area in her most colorful fall wardrobe.
Even the goldenrod and asters seemed to be brilliant.
We spent most of this trip doing the areas in Cheshire that we had down for the BBA, only now we were looking for migrants and not just breeding birds. In areas where the corn had been harvested already, we found good numbers of American Pipit. I put this photo in so you could experience the same frustration as I did trying to find the darn birds when they were down on the ground. Believe me, there is a pipit in the photo below!
Once I got home and was able to enlarge the photos I could actually see the least in most of the photos.
The scenery was just as impressive as the fall birding...
We spent some time at the WMA on Stafford Hill and were able to get great looks at Black-throated Greens feeding on the goldenrod and ragweed.
This towhee actually seemed to be wagging his tail....
And, of course, everywhere we stopped (in the right habitat) we had tons of Palm Warblers.
They really are a smart-looking bird -- even in fall plumage.
The fall colors were amazing....and I probably took more than my fair share of photos -- partly because I promised my niece in California that I would "share" fall foliage with her and partly because I'm just a sucker for the colors!
We actually spent the night in Great Barrington, so now I have to dig out those photos and do a southern Berkshires blog within the next few days.

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