Friday, December 21, 2007

Wompanoag Sanctuary, Gardner, Ma. 12/20/07

The trail map of the sanctuary
Yesterday I took the opportunity to snowshoe, in some pristine conditions, at the Massachusetts Audubon Wompanoag Sanctuary at the end of Raymond Street in Gardner. I have the "brilliant" idea of doing some owling out there for the Westminster Christmas Count (on 12/22/07) and figure if (a big if) I decide to give this night time hike a shot, I'd better break a trail ahead of time. Traveling the edge of the fields would be easy enough in the dark, but the woodland section of the Moosewood Trail is narrow, lightly used (as is the whole sanctuary) and tough to follow.

A typical scene along the wooded portions of my hike

As I was strapping on the "shoes" I could hear a Pine Grosbeak calling in the distance, once I'm underway I find this female and its all alone and feeding in a small vine of oriental bittersweet. The snow is absolutely perfect, but as expected there are not be too many birds. Once I reach the forest I hear and see a Ruffed Grouse flush, during the Breeding Bird Atlas project I confirmed breeding of this species in two different areas of this sanctuary.

Pileated Woodpecker work

The remainder of the walk is very uneventful, bird wise, a few Black-capped Chickadees and an Evening Grosbeak heard calling as it passed over the tree tops. While I am still "up in air" on this idea, there is good habitat for Northern Saw Whet Owl and I have had Barred and Great Horned in here before. It turned out the Moosewood loop is a very nice snowshoeing route, not too long (1.5 miles), fairly level and a nice variety of open fields and thick mixed forest.

My tracks upon completing the Moosewood Loop

Bird list from the hike

Ruffed Grouse....1
Blue Jay....1
American Crow....2
Black-capped Chickadee....4
Cedar Waxwing....3
Pine Grosbeak....1
Evening Grosbeak....1


Larry said...

Exploring a wilderness area does not always yield a lot of species but I don't care. I love ventruing out in to the woods.

Tom Pirro said...

I agree, also on CBC's I feel it is important to cover all habitat types to "sample" the area's bird life.