Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quabbin Gate 40 11/25/07

A walk into Gate 40, in Petersham, Ma. on the eastern side of Quabbin Reservoir, is a very popular walk for birders, wildlife watchers and history buffs. The walk is quite flat, on an old paved road and leads to the center of Dana (a town that was abolished with the building of the reservoir). My girlfriend, Laura, and I walked to Dana center and enjoyed some views of Pottapaug Pond, with some Hooded and Common Mergansers along with 3 Bald Eagles and 2 River Otters.

A sunny shelter cove on Pottapaug Pond just outside Dana Center.

We continued another 2 miles to the eastern shore of the reservoir where we found "limited" water birds, 1 Common Loon, 1 Ring-billed Gull and a distant Bald Eagle "putting up" with a few pesky American Crows. In the back of my mind was 3 Western Grebes that were found by a New Jersey birder a few weeks ago down the south end of Quabbin. The birder carefully described these birds and seemed to clearly have a knowledge of the difference between Red-necked (not uncommon on Quabbin this time of year) and Western Grebes! Sure enough a few local birders re found the Westerns a few days later, but they were not where we were, today!

The real high light of the 8 mile walk was the pre-winter sunshine, sheltered from the wind in such a beautiful remote area along the eastern shore across from Mount Zion (now an island).
Looking north

The low water levels had exposed several old stone walls (below).

Looking west toward Mt. Zion (Mt. Zion Island).

On the return walk we had a nice look at a Fox Sparrow and had a Saw Whet Owl answer my "tooting" whistles just before we got to the car. It first responded with a cat-like mew call and began the typical toot-toot-toot... from a stand of short White Pine. Roosting Robins and Mourning Doves were "rattled" a bit and could be heard shuffling about in the dark.

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