Despite a temperature of ten degrees and strong winds, seven hearty souls came out to the Fannie Stebbins Wildlife Refuge in Longmeadow for the first Birding for Everyone walk of the year. Among the attendees was an eleven year old boy and his dad, the former on his first ever bird walk.
Perhaps it was the beginners luck that the boy brought because we had great looks at a number of species. Right at the start, during introductions, a Hermit Thrush flew up as if to check out what the heck we were doing out on a day like this. We also had several sparrow species (White-throated, Song, American Tree) wondering the same thing.
As we walked down the easy, paved road an adult Red-shouldered Hawk was found perched in a tree right above the road. Everyone had great looks at the bird and the distinguishing field marks (and habitat) were pointed out while the bird scanned for prey.
At the patch of unfrozen water a number of Mute Swans, Canada Geese, Mallards, and American Black Ducks (the latter two we were able to get a good comparison of the differences) were found. And, on the back edge sitting on ice was a female Northern Pintail. Quite a good treat! A couple minutes later, a Great Blue Heron flew across the back edge of the frozen pond. Unusual for this time of year with so much ice now formed.
All of that was great, however the biggest thrill of the walk came near the end when a Bobcat (and a very healthy looking one at that) was spotted at the edge of some cattails and walked out so that everyone had a great view. Not a bird, but still pretty darn cool.
Here is the eBird checklist from the walk (most of it done from memory as we didn't want to lose fingers!)
Thank you to everyone who came out for this walk. I'd be willing to bet next month will be warmer!