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Field Trip Report: Birding for Everyone, Goodnough Dike, June 15, 2024

June 22, 2024 10:53 AM | derek allard (Administrator)

With almost perfect weather conditions, the monthly Birding for Everyone walk of 30+ participants met at Goodnough Dike in Quabbin Park in Ware. June can be a tricky month as many migrants have passed through, however we were all treated to a great morning.

As we were doing introductions, an American Redstart was joined by a Chestnut-sided Warbler, singing away, which, understandably paused the intros. We all tried to find the bird, but only saw it as it flew out and over the group. So, we're off to a good start.

Walking towards the dike, we hit a little patch of birds singing: White-breasted Nuthatches, an Eastern Towhee, and a Black-and-white Warbler that seemingly paused to make sure everyone could get a look. A real treat. Moments later we caught a glimpse of a small hawk pestering a larger hawk in the sky. After explaining the difference between accipiter and buteo hawks, sure enough, a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew over the group. 

I mentioned the day being almost perfect on the weather front because when we reached the dike, the wind was whipping and the reservoir had white caps rolling in the water. Though we tried, we weren't able to find a Common Loon or even a Bald Eagle.

We quickly walked the length of the dike, seeing some Tree Swallows, Red-winged Blackbirds, and a Brown-headed Cowbird on the grassy slopes.

Once we got out of the wind and into tree cover we were treated to three warblers all singing intermittently: an American Redstart, another Chestnut-sided Warbler, and a Blackburnian Warbler. We spend about fifteen minutes trying to locate the birds, in part because they would be life birds for a number of participants. We were able to locate the Chestnut-sided Warbler, which many got a look at but, being a warbler, it never quite stood still. 

For those who were unable to get eyes on the warblers, a few steps away a super cooperative Eastern Towhee calling away. Everyone in the group was able to get great looks at this bird and were able to lock in that distinct call note into their mind. 

Heading back towards the parking area we paused at the marshy area to the left where a Yellow Warbler, a Common Yellowthroat, and a Least Flycatcher were all vocalizing. Then, what I would argue was the highlight of the morning (at least on the bird front), a Black-billed Cuckoo began cooing its three note song. What a treat! For many this was the first time ever experiencing this sound.

As if this wasn't enough, the youngest birder on the walk used his pre-teen eyes to locate a Porcupine in a tree at the edge of the grassy slope. Everyone was able to get wonderful looks at this prickly fellow, even seeing those orange teeth!

Up the paved incline we went and with the wind having died down many Eastern Towhees were singing, more Chestnut-sided Warblers, and our first Brown Creeper of the day singing their full song and walking up the side of a tree. Right after that a Prairie Warbler sang away it's upward spiraling song from a clearing in the forest. Everyone was able to hear this unique song and, despite best efforts, we couldn't get eyes on this character. Warblers.

Shortly thereafter, we were back at the parking area where we ended our walk. As these walks go, this was one of the best both in terms of number of participants, but also in terms of interesting species we encountered.

Here is the full list from eBird. Thank you to everyone who came out and we'll do it again next month! Thank you to MJ Tash and Rosemary Laporte for the photos!

Hampshire Bird Club, Inc.

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Amherst, MA 01004-3637

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