Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Summer in Quabbin - Three July Trips

During the month of July we made several trips inside Quabbin to check on the several breeding blocks we've been covering for the Breeding Bird Atlas.  The most frequent gates we visit are Gate 22 on the northwest side of Quabbin, Gate 35 in the northeast corner, and Gates 37 and 39.  We also travel through the Gate 40 area so that we can get to Grave's Landing (which is in one of the blocks.)
This summer we've been able to watch Bald Eagles pretty regularly, since there has been a breeding pair on one of the islands you can see along Gate 35.....so it's not too unusual to have an immature bird pass over.  Although this bird was promptly escorted (or should I say driven) out of the area by an adult Bald.
While we have not been able to confirm breeding loons in our northern blocks, we did have this bird hauled out on one of the islands visible from an overlook in Gate 22.  Lots of adult birds in this area, but no sign of young ones this summer.
We did, however, have a Ruffed Grouse confirmed this year....thanks to this little baby hiding behind the parent!
And of course great warblers breeding throughout....like this male American Redstart....
bringing food home to the female while she was sitting on the nest.
And while there are good numbers of Ovenbirds during the early part of the breeding season, they seem to disappear (or get very, very quiet) by the time July rolls around.  Needless to say we were delighted to get this bird responding to my screech owl imitation in early July.
The photo below shows you how difficult it can be to find a bird who's good at the camouflage game.
Although from a slightly different angle these Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are easy to spot...and of course much easier to hear since they are quite noisy.
By the time early July rolls around (and especially after a wet spring and early summer) the mushrooms start to appear.
Both the photo above and below are good examples of Amanita species of mushrooms.  The ones below remind me of pretzel nuggets popping up through the soil.  I can imagine a child finding these mushrooms and being tempted to pick one up and pop them in his mouth!
Butterflies always delight me when I come across them.  This Spicebush Swallowtail sunning himself on a fern stayed just long enough for me to get off a quick shot...
while this Northern Pearly-eye was much more accommodating.
One of my more exciting finds was this Striped Hairstreak at Gate 35.  I can't recall having seen this species before....or at least I haven't photographed it.
But as much as I love to photograph and id butterflies and birds (and fungi to a lesser extent) I love getting a good shot of a dragonfly.  It's always fun to thumb through Blair Nikula's A Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Massachusetts and come across a photo that cinches your identification.  This Spangled Skimmer is the only dragonfly n the Northeast that has white stigmas.  Now that's an identification even I can feel confidant about!
And then there's the Wood Lilies that bloom near the powerlines off of Dugway Road near Gate 39...always a delight to come upon.
Of course one of my least favorite animals at this time of year is the Deer Fly.  The nice thing about them (if there is anything nice) is that they don't seem to bite (not like Greenheads).  Often they just follow the car buzzing around Mark's hand as he tries to entice them to land....go figure....
This year instead of trying to swat them and get them out of the car, I used the opportunity to take some photos as they wandered across the inside of my windshield.  
And if you leave Quabbin via Gate 37 you're likely to come across a flock of Turkeys visiting any of a number of feeders along West Street.  
So now you've had a sample of Quabbin wildlife.  And I hope it entices you to visit one of the gates and venture a little ways into our last great semi-wilderness in central Massachusetts.  It's always a great place to visit.


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