Many people in New England think nature reserves are dead places of activities in the winter. But this is far from the truth.
Get off the couch, put on some snowshoes, follow some tracks and you’ll quickly realize that even in our harsh winters in New England wildlife abounds – you just have to know where to look – or know somebody that does.
This is a slight detour for me in my blog as normally I write about places I’ve seen and loved in the area – and I must admit my ideal winter excursion is bringing in wood from the piles on the deck to fuel our stove and keep everybody warm and happy. I’m also known among my friends as a bit of a wise ass. Today I won’t be – or not much.
As the first blog entry of 2010 I want to acknowledge the outstanding work the people of the Audubon Society do for people in keeping conservation alive in Massachusetts and provide some wonderful destinations for kids and adults.
Over the years I’ve reaped benefit from their work and recently came across a catalog of their winter activities for 2010. I’ve pulled a few interesting ones out to share and suggest you extract yourself out of your cabin for a few hours one weekend and go enjoy nature bringing harmony to our winter.
In Search of Bald Eagles at Quabbin Reservoir:
Quabbin Reservoir is one of my favorite walking and hiking places in central Massachusetts. It has an abundance of paths and wildlife. In fact it’s been said that today this area of Massachusetts is wilder than it was 100-years ago.
The reservoir, built for a thirsty and growing Boston, has had the impact of turning the clock back and many types of wildlife have taken the opportunity to return.
One of these is the Bald Eagle. There are about 30 eagles who find enough food to winter at the reservoir. And on Saturday January 23, and Sunday February 28, 8:30am-4:00pm you can go with a guide in search of these magnificent birds of prey.
Quabbin Reservoir also is winter home to other wildlife you may spot such as ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, porcupines, and coyotes. And if you have snowshoes bring them along to take some walks – or they’ll be provided for you. There’s a fee of $20 for nonmembers. Contact the Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuary main office in Lenox at 413-637-0320.
Winter Birding Trip to Plum Island:
For those of us that enjoy the summer beaches on Plum Island but failed to recognize it also houses one the gems in the Massachusetts wildlife refuge collection then we can be forgiven. But now there’s a chance to explore the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge out of season and discover one of the most important bird areas along the Massachusetts coast and Atlantic Flyway.
On Saturday, January 23 from 9:00am-5:00pm you can join a party of folks leaving from the Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Worcester to check out the refuge for yourself and discover the abundance of water fowl that winters there, and also shrikes, snowy owls and snow buntings.
There’s also a stop at the Joppa Flats Education Center. Price is $37 for nonmembers and you can reserve a spot by calling 508-753-6087.
Ducks in the Connecticut River Valley:
Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary is in the Pioneer Valley region of Massachusetts in the town of Easthampton, and carved out over thousands of years by the Connecticut River.
As the winter lessens its grip on the region and March comes around then the ice melts and temperature rises welcoming the ducks and other birds back to the area. The first to see will be mergansers, black ducks, wood ducks, and mallards.
Spend 4 hours on Saturday March 13 from 10:00am-2:00pm at the Sanctuary welcoming the return of the birds as well. Fee $20 nonmembers and call main office at 413-584-3009 to reserve a spot.
Let me know how you make out, and maybe you’ll see me there. I’ll be the one with the dark glasses and trying to keep my identity under wraps!
Jack “the bird” Spratt