A small group of birders gathered at Riverbend, the Ipswich River
Watershed Association's property on County Road in Ipswich. Our 6:00am
start on Saturday, May 2, was cool and damp. Ava Streenstrup, the property
caretaker, was a gracious hostess and guide.
We heard Wild Turkeys awakening in their roost. With a trained scope on a
Cooper's Hawk's nest, we looked at the nest in a thin White Pine. We
discovered the male Coop's sitting in a tree nearby. American Crows were
being secretive around their own nest. We came across a newly foraged area
with Wild Turkey tracks seemingly where food had been discovered.
Wood Ducks were vocal and splashed in the river, then waddled to shore. No
doubt they have a nest nearby. We studied a tree cavity in hopes of a gray
Eastern Screech Owl or a female Wood Duck previously reported there but
found no activity. We heard and saw Tufted Titmouse, Great Blue Heron and
Canada Goose. Three Downy Woodpeckers were playing chase ~ tis the season
for mate chasing. We could hear the sneeze of an Eastern Phoebe. We saw
newly emerging Poison Ivy, Canada Mayflower, Lily-of-the-Valley, Iris,
Meadow Rue, Trout Lily and Wood Hyacinth. Participants each shared their
knowledge of the river, the flora and the fauna.
Our group viewed "the dust bowl" where the Wild Turkeys regularly dust bath
to control ectoparasites. A beaver informed us of its presence by slapping
its tail on the water's surface. Beavers are known for their danger signal
~ when startled or frightened, a swimming beaver will rapidly dive while
forcefully slapping the water with its broad tail. This creates a "slap"
that's audible over great distances both above and below water. This noise
warns other beavers in the area. Once a beaver has made that "slap", nearby
beavers dive and may not reemerge for awhile.
We took time looking at an Eastern Phoebe's nest and viewed the nest's
contents with a telescoping mirror. It held five, white eggs and one
Brown-headed Cowbird egg which our nest expert, Jim Berry, removed. We made
certain that the egg was indeed a cowbird's egg by looking it up in our
reference guide of nests, eggs and nestlings. We saw both phoebes perched
nearby, and the female returned to her nest and settled in comfortably.
While we gathered for refreshments and some "bird chat", we viewed an
assortment of birds' nests. Each participant took home an appreciation for
nest-building and of the materials nests are constructed. A sample of
shade-grown coffee was a gift to each early riser this morning so that the
connection between birds, migration and their winter habitat was
reinforced. This early May outing may become another ECOC tradition...