Monday, November 30, 2009

Berkshire Lakes - Sunday, November 29th

Okay, you're right -- Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg isn't one of the Berkshire Lakes. It's really Webster Lake and we visited it Saturday to check on ducks. We did the ponds of southern Worcester County and there wasn't much going on. We had a Gadwall on nearby Wallis Pond in Webster.....
and an immature Brant -- which really is a great bird in Worcester County. But that was about it.
So on Sunday we headed out to the Berkshires to see if we could get more waterfowl action. Mark had tried to pull the trip together as a sort of "class reunion" trip with former students and friends from previous birding classes. But it was the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and most people had commitments. So we headed off bright and early with Kevin & Rebecca Bourinot and made a day of it.
Finding SNOW on Mt. Greylock was a not-so-pleasant surprise. I guess I knew it would happen, but I'm not sure I actually was really to see it in the flesh!
You really need to click on this photo and the next to see the Long-tailed Duck (in both) and Red-breasted Merganser (above) on Lake Pontoosuc. Both are great birds inland -- although not totally unexpected. And, of course, lots of Common Mergansers were present.
The sign below made it into my "unusual signs" collection. I've seen this "Witness Post" one other place, but for the life of me I can't remember where.
This gorgeous male Wood Duck at the north end of Lake Onota was looking like he might settle in for the winter. We've had a paid in the dead of winter in this same area several times.
However, landbirds were pretty scarce.....Juncos being the most common.
With all the water still open, we had a couple of different Belted Kingfisher.
And we definitely didn't expect this fellow as we headed to the Stockbridge Bowl. How does one decide to paint a roadside boulder like this. And on both sides so you could see it coming and going....and a little back road with not really any pulloffs.
And another carousel horse for my collection of lawn trinkets.
Unfortunately, the Stockbridge Bowl had a good number of waterfowl. And I can only assume that they didn't read this sign before they decided to spend some time on the lake.
Clearly, Canada Geese were the predominant species of waterfowl for the day.
Eastern Bluebirds were found in several areas....
And Chickadees were starting to build up their noisy winter flocks.
And I can remember when we would have never found a Red-bellied Woodpecker in the Berkshires!
We had worked out way north to south all day, with the Stockbridge Bowl and Richmond Pond being our last two "lake" stops. We ended the day with a total of 12 species of waterfowl; although we had a lot of onesies and twosies, including Green-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup and Goldeneye.
Since this was Kevin's and Rebecca's first birding trip to the Berkshires, we had to stop in the Tyringham Valley before getting the Mass Turnpike in Lee.

Even thought there weren't many birds to be found, we did get a chance to show them some of the better spots to bird, with a promise to come back again in the spring so they could see it in full birding splendor.

We did take a detour to show them the unusual graves we had found in the Tyringham Cemetery earlier this year. The following three pictures are from a trip earlier this fall, but I wanted to include them since I haven't previously published them on my blog.
The detail on the "gravestone" above is fantastic....from the carving of the ferns at the base to the detail on the tree trunk and the rope. It's truly impressive. I've tried to find out more about the family buried here, hoping that would lead me to the artist who did the gravestone, but I wasn't too successful. That's probably a good job for later this winter when I'm stuck inside in a snowstorm and looking for things to research on the web.
The other remarkable gravesite we found is for Jean Brown. Now when you look at the obelisk you might just think it's rather plain. Even carving of the name and date is rather simple......
but a close-up view of the top shows just how unusual it really is. And I did find alot of information when I researched this one. The brief version is that she and her husband were collectors of many of the work papers of some of the most prominent 20th century avant-garde artists -- very involved in the Fluxus art movement, Dadaism and Surrealism. The top of her gravestone is a metronome. Given Mark's love of contemporary art, he knew immediately that this was an homage to Dadaist, Man Ray's Indestructible Object. In fact Man Ray, along with Marcel Duchamp and others, spent time at Jean Brown's cottage in Tyringham, and her collection of work papers was bought several years ago by the Getty Museum in LA. Here's a link for those of you who want to learn more

All in all a wonderful day in the Berkshires, with good friends and a great mixture of birds, craziness and unusual stuff!


  1. years and years ago, that "shark rock" use to be a frog...then the movie Jaws came out

  2. WOW....that is so cool to know. Thank you!

  3. Hey Sheila! What a wealth of birding info and other insights. Glad to be able to say I knew you back when. Connected with Mark on FB which has been real fun. Keep up the great work.

    Paul Cleary

  4. fantastic to be back on touch! I'm so glad you found my blog...not as entertaining as Mark's FB, but some things never change. My best to Julie as well.

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