Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quabbin 11/8

A recent hike into the North East watershed of Quabbin reservoir was very rewarding. Beginning at gate 35 and I traveled south along the east shore on what was known as North Main Street. After about 3 miles I bush whacked off road along the shoreline (the North Dana area) and back toward Soapstone Hill on to gate 36 then traveling west back to the shoreline and traveled back to gate 35.
Under a powerline cut was a stand of Winter Berry, which attracted a dozen American Robins, also in this area was a Red-bellied Woodpecker, Dark-eyed Juncos and an assorment of Tufted Titmice, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches and Golden-crowned Kinglets.
Abundant Winter Berry
Along the road was a good deal tree damage from the recent blizzard, I imagine the DCR crews will be busy clearing off the roads over the next few weeks. While walking the road I flushed a Bald Eagle from the tree tops a few times. As typical for this area, I would see at least five of this species over the course of the day.
Just a few downed branches early on.
Some areas had more extensive damage than others.
Weight must have been evenly distributied on this tree and the trunk split down the middle!

Weather predictions had called for a calm day,  I could not recall the water ever being this calm at the Quabbin. The glassy conditions made for nice scenery and photos. Below are just a sampling of the remarkable calmness.

While I would see no mergansers of any species all day there were at least 21 Common Loons, several Ring-billed Gulls, 2 Red-necked Grebes, a single Long-tailed Duck (formerly known as Oldsquaw) and the 34 Horned Grebes I counted was the highest inland total I've ever counted. There was one raft of 9, two of five and and assorted groups of 2 and 3. While on a remote point in the North Dana section of the hike I could hear a few Horned Grebes calling back and forth, something I had never heard before!

A small raft of 5 Horned Grebes
I had heard these two birds calling along the North Dana shore!
This single Long-tailed Duck dove frequently, apparently feeding.

While bush whacking the shoreline I had to cut into the woods in places, as the water level was high, I flushed two American Woodcock and a Ruffed Grouse. Near the shoreline I came across a Snapping Turtle shell and skull, saw 2 White Tailed Deer along the NE shore of Mt. "L" and heard a pack of Coyotes howling from the south end!
Almost made it to shore!
A handsome "Chippy" along a stone wall.
In the North Dana area I found, and left unmolested, various artifacts from "days past". One appeared to be the remnants of an old vehicle, some pails, broken stoneware (below) and the base of an old observation tower. I understand there was a tower in this area that was used during WW II when the military used the area to drop "dummy" bomb, for practice.

Broken Stoneware
Square pail.
A nice stop for lunch!

All was calm, and no boats made the trip all the more special.
The view looking South East.
The view from atop Soapstone Hill.

A digi-bin shot of a Bald Eagle in the distance.

Toward the day's end, looking South West.

Bird list and count
Canada Goose 12
Long-tailed Duck 1
Common Loon 21
Horned Grebe 34
Red-necked Grebe 2
Bald Eagle 5
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
American Woodcock 2
Ring-billed Gull 30
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 3
Pileated Woodpecker 4
Blue Jay 11
Raven 1
American Crow 9
Black-capped Chickadee 22
Tufted Titmouse 18
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 9
Brown Creeper 4
Winter Wren 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 21
American Robin 14
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
American Tree Sparrow 2
Dark-eyed Junco 12
American Goldfinch 9

Other Wildlife included White-tailed Deer (including several scraps), Fisher, Beaver, Coyotes (Howling), River Otter, Gray and Red Squirrels, Eastern Chipmunk and blooming Witch hazel.

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