Until a few years ago, I had no idea that our local ponds were part of the great highway that is where birds stop to rest on their short and longer migration paths. These wild birds are wary, and tend to move away from shorelines whenever they spot people nearby. It was a chance sighting in late afternoon light that clued me in that our local waterway, Silver Lake, was a waystopping place for migrating waterfowl. The bright red crested plumage of the red breasted merganser caught my eye, and since then we have come to see that large flocks of birds stop by each spring and fall.
No visitors stay for more than a few days, but then another flock replaces them, all headed farther north. Each day there seems to have been a different variety to stop in for a short time.
Buffleheads, scaups, hooded and red breasted mergansers are what I’ve seen so far. Large flocks of red-winged blackbirds fill the trees along the shore of the lake.
I visited a different pond in Franklin for a morning walk and expected to see migrating visitors there as well at Delcarte, but other than some Canada geese, the ponds were empty.
A red-winged blackbird stopped to pose for me on some nearby cattails, still coated with snow from the recent snow storm (the cattails, not the red-winged blackbird).
The trails was frozen mud, slippery in a few places, but mostly a relaxed one-mile walk around the pond.
The still water offered a mirror for the blue sky with dramatic clouds overhead. Yet another winter storm is approaching, so any trail conditions I report will change by the next day. It felt good to stretch our legs, chat with a new hiking buddy, and explore. For now, the birds are on the move, and each day will bring new birds finding their way north. Which means we’ll have to come back, since we just never know what we will find on a visit to our local outdoor open spaces.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed two guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,” and “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! Marjorie is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com