I've been absent from my blog. I didn't have a good camera for a long time and I was posting more and more on Facebook. But Facebook postings go by so fast, they disappear in the stream. Eventually I felt that I wanted to make posts again that lasted longer and that I could go back to and look at. Writing a narrative is challenging but I feel some of the pictures deserve more than a caption. I also bought a new camera, Canon SX60, which I absolutely love. Its zoom is so powerful that you might believe I'm standing next to the heron's nest poking it with my my lens, but I'm far away enough not to disturb anything. I'm looking forward to post more this year.
My naturalist and tree climbing partner recently moved to the old, beautiful and affluent city of Carlisle north of Boston. Here the houses are big and gracious, sometimes old, sometimes new but made in typical New England style, and their lots are big and wooded. There are plenty of wetlands preventing further development - not that the Carlisle inhabitants would want any more anyway!
In addition there's a lot of conservation land to explore. Right outside Concord center is a big wetland in between two cemeteries. We have been there before to look at the Great Blue Heron rookery with over 20 nests, and once we also saw a great horned owl.
This day we didn't see any trace of the owl, but a new song called to us: Rusty blackbirds. They're rare enough to get excited about in this area, although this wetland is just a stop on their migration north.
We then moved along the path until we reached the best spot for watching the herons' nests. Already about 8 herons were coming in and out of nests, one even appeared to sit on eggs.
Here a heron comes in for landing, neck, wings and legs all stretched out.
In breeding plumage
The next day we decided to explore Estabrook woods, a fairly large conservation area bordering Concord and Carlisle. Much of the land is privately owned. We entered from the Carlisle entrance, and at first we were quite disgusted by the amount of dog poop everywhere. Apparently dog owners park and open the car doors and just let their pups run out without supervision, and the dogs go all over the path before the owners have caught up to them. As expected, the farther away from the entrance the better it got and we got a good walk.
It didn't get interesting until we left the beaten path, though. A bluejay met its fate somewhere under a pine tree. There were dozens of feathers spread out in all directions but no carcass, so we cannot be sure who killed it. I picked some of the beautiful feathers and already felt it was worth stepping into dog excrement.
Then we reached a pond. Along the shore were some low, gentle lands where many birds were active. Chickadees and the other foragers were busy, and we saw and heard the Eastern phoebe, just about returned to Massachusetts.
The pond is called Mink pond and it felt like a peaceful treasure. Here are wood duck boxes in need of some renewed attention. I imagined a slow canoe ride over the water trying to steady those boxes up a bit, but I'm not sure if canoes are allowed.
And an enormous beaver lodge at the other side of the pond.
Wood ducks, ring necked ducks and goldeneyes were in the pond, and a belted Kingfisher flew by, calling. A pair of herons sat on the other shore. I continued imagining being there on a warm sunny day when the turtles would surely sit on those logs in the water and dragonflies would be darting around.
The beaver lodge up closer - no recent activity but the beavers surely have lived here for many generations.
The dam was old and strong enough to walk on and had significantly altered the landscape, as beavers will do.
A first for me - and the first of the season in this area. The osprey were perching here for a long time until it took off to chase away a red shouldered hawk squawking in the woods. Again, although it looks like I'm close enough to touch it, I'm on the other side of the shore.
Looking good among swelling maple buds.
A bit further along the path, a beautiful chatter in the treetops appeared and a flock of redpolls settled down in a tall black birch, which carries their favorite winter food.
They were high up against the sun, about 12 of them. We stayed for a long time.
I was already ecstatic after the kingfisher, osprey, phoebes and the redpolls, and to then get to see this owl right above our heads was almost more than I could handle in one day. In a tall pine right next to the path, its gentle face and sleepylooking eyes followed us when we finally had to move on.
Here is a link to Estabrook Woods, should you ever be in the area and interested in a great hike.