May 13, 2017

Concord Town Bird Walk - An Annual Tradition

Early morning birdwatching on the Minuteman National Historic
Park's trail, not far from Meriam Corner.
For the past 70 years, Concord has offered an annual spring birdwalk during the height of spring migration.  Initially begun across the state by Mass. Audubon, it has since been carried on by volunteer coordinators, leaders, and post-walk breakfast hosts.  Today's walk included about 30 bird lovers with two field forays led by naturalists Peter Alden and myself.

Our highlights included a scarlet tanager (Ball's Hill); an indigo bunting, numerous blue-winged warblers, Baltimore orioles, a great-crested flycatcher, and lots of yellow warblers along the Minuteman Park trail; and the spectacular opportunity to witness "jump day" for a family of wood duck babies at Great Meadows.  The morning was completed by a delicious potluck breakfast at the home of Peggy Brace and a dizzying array of beautiful birds at her bird bath and feeders.

A rare opportunity to see an indigo bunting singing right next to the trail,
in concert with Baltimore orioles, a great-crested flycatcher,
and numerous other songbirds feeding high in the oak-flowered canopy.
Indigo bunting

Blue-winged and yellow warblers were singing
along the wetter, brushier trail edges.

Male blue-winged warbler sings his buzzy song

The highlight and, for many of us a life event, was the surprise witnessing of "Jump Day" at Great Meadows, when young wood ducklings leap from their duck nesting boxes to the water many feet below.  Truly a somewhat harrowing and hilarious sight to behold and one I'd been hoping to see for many years.





Above, Mama wood duck circles below her nest box (left) waiting for her last baby to take the leap.  If you enlarge the image, you can see his head poking out of the hole.  "Jump day for wood ducks" has become an internet meme over the last few years and Googling the phrase will pull up some wonderful videos of the event.

After two hours in the field, we adjourned to Peggy Brace's home for breakfast.  Peggy is also caretaker of several bluebird houses on her property and one of the busiest bird feeders in town.  This year's cold and rainy spring was sadly lethal for the bluebird hatchlings, so we missed the annual delight of her introductions to these tiny ones.



Peter Alden (center) is longtime coordinator of the
annual boardwalk.
This was my last annual birdwalk as a longtime Concord resident, before a summer move to Vermont, but one of the most memorable!