Sunday, June 2, 2013

Berkshire Birds Of Hawley Bog & High Ledges

Before visiting the Berkshires I asked some western Massachusetts birders if they knew of any good places to check out near the Mowhawk Trail. One of the locations I chose to visit was Hawley Bog. There were numerous Black-throated Blue and Black-throated Green Warblers along the wooded trail leading to the bog. It might just be my imagination but the BT-blues seemed to have a Massachusetts accent.

I was told that Hawley is known more for rare plants than it is for birds but there is something about wild natural places that fascinate me. It has a 30 foot thick condensed layer of peat floating on water. 

 As I walked along the boardwalk trail, unseen warblers and flycatchers were singing in the surrounding vegetation. The first warbler to reveal itself was Chestnut-sided Warbler, quickly followed by a Northern Waterthrush. I recorded the sound of one secretive warbler that I later determined to be a Canada Warbler.
If I had just walked out to the end of the boardwalk and came back then I would have only seen a limited number of species but a special habitat like this requires time and patience before it reveals its secrets. Instead of walking around I chose a couple of select places to sit, watch, and listen. It payed off with some sightings of birds that landed near me instead of flying away from me (Yellow-bellied Sapsucker photo).
A Common Yellowthroat may be common but watching a brilliant colored male singing from a branch above your head is a rewarding experience in my book.
Another place suggested to me was High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary. I only wish  I was able to spend more time there because there were a lot of trails left to be explored. One of the trails led to this scenic farm.
I wasn't sure if the farm was open to the public so I turned around and out popped a Chestnut-sided Warbler singing pleased-pleased-pleased-to-meet-you! 
I also had a surprise encounter with a Lincoln's Sparrow which is an uncommon sighting in Connecticut. I'm not sure what their numbers are in Massachusetts. 
Here's a short video of a proud Common Yellowthroat singing his famous song. A Chestnut-sided Warbler can also be heard in the background.

Thanks to the birders in western Massachusetts who suggested these great places!
For anyone interested in birding Western Massachusetts there is an excellent book called : Bird finding Guide To Western Massachusetts available at amazon. Both of the places I visited are included in this book.