September 22, 2011

Where to bird watch this weekend - Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

Ducks, raptors, songbirds, and shorebirds are all beginning to make their way south in the great autumn migration. Leaving at different times, stopping at different locations, and utilizing different habitats migration is a complex yet reassuringly static process. “Rafts“ of ducks like teal and widgeon use open ponds while swallows migrating by day congregate in large “flights”. Warblers, vireos and thrush migrate at night and spend the early morning and pre-dusk picking flies, berries, worms, and bugs off the trees. “Flings” of shorebirds like yellowlegs and Semipalmated sandpipers work the mud edge of ponds and raptors soar leisurely overhead on clear blue afternoons.

One location that finds all these various migratory journeys overlapping is located just 30 minutes northwest of Boston.  The Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is located just down stream from the iconic, though seldom seen Egg Rock. The refuge lies on the banks of the Concord River and serves as impoundment for annual spring flood waters. Its confluence of river, forest, still water, and marsh make it a wonderful bird watching site. Parking can be reached from Monson Rd off Rt. 62 (have faith there are few signs). Crossing the long dyke between the two pools and then making a slow circle around the East pond, returning to the woods, and circling back the parking lot can produce some wonderful birds. Fall finds swallows and ducks, along with herons, hawks, and wrens.


Moose said...

Fall is my favorite time of the year even though the approaching winter may seem daunting. I do feel a sense of sadness when I see our hummingbirds and warblers leaving for the season. The goldfinches turning their brownish colors and the thrush singing their last songs for the year give me a sadness in my heart, but I look forward to viewing their remarkable flight in places like The Great Meadow or Allen's Pond in Westport, MA. It's sad to see them go, but I embrace them each spring when they return.

Moose said...

It's always sad to see these seasonal birds go, but I welcome them back with open arms in the spring. Fall is my favorite time of the year, despite the daunting approach of winter, but it is also a great time to see some of these birds in migration. I like to visit Allen's Pond in Westport, MA for the fall migrations as well. I wish that our hummingbirds, thrush, and red-winged blackbirds could stick around all year, but then it wouldn't be exciting when you see them for the first time in the spring.

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is an educator, bird watcher, and writer fascinated by the intersections of place, people, nature, and culture. He works for Mass Audubon and lives in the heart of Massachusetts. For questions or comments please contact:

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