We have had such lovely weather here in New England that I just cannot stay inside! So, on November 9th I decided to go exploring at one of the Andover Village Improvement Society or AVIS Sites that I had read about on the internet. The webpage claims that over 145 species of birds have been observed at Baker’s Meadow. I figured it was time for me to check this out for myself!
From the directions on the internet and by using my GPS I finally found Meadow View Lane and parked in the cul de sac. From there I followed this path down between the houses to the trail surrounding the pond.
The large pond opens out before me through the tall pines, maples and oak trees. I observe a lone fisherman casting from the bank. He and I are both content with the quiet and we each engage in our separate activities without a word. I find a spot along the edge of the pond and gaze out over the water. While I can see birds along the far shore I know I need to get closer in order to identify some of them, though the geese are quite easy from this distance with my binoculars. After evaluating my options I turn to the right and follow the trail though the woods…
…and over the brook with its spillway..
…and a makeshift bridge!
Quiet waters gather in the cove by the spillway but on the other side the water tumbles with noisy abandon. Late autumn sun still warms the air around me. the path beneath my feet is soft with pine needles a rotting leaves. I step gingerly over tree roots and wind my way around tree trunks where moss grows green and vibrant along the ground. I make my way off the path through the underbrush to the pond’s edge where I can get a better view of the open water and the birds.
I soon find myself close enough to photograph a pair of Canada Geese. They watch me warily trying to decide if it is safe for them to stay or if they should take flight. But I move slowly and keep my distance and soon they relax while keeping one eye on me.
As I am watching the geese a Mute Swan comes paddling by around the bend of the next cove. With the autumn colors reflecting in the water affording me a perfect view. I am starting to feel the magic of this place. I am reveling in the quiet.
The swan was one of 3 I saw on the pond this day, but far across the water other birds gather. I can tell they are diving ducks by their behavior and am soon able to make out the black heads and necks of Ring-necked ducks with their black backs and the white spur onto their shoulders which helps in identifying them from a distance. A few mallards float nearby, the males with their glossy green heads and necks, the females drab but subtle in their beauty. In front of the ring-necks a lone Pied-billed grebe floats, then dives. While I can see there are a few shorebirds of some sort on the spit of mud the geese are gathered on, they are too far away from me. With the low angle of the sunlight reflecting off of their bodies it makes it difficult to see any kind of field marks. I try photographing them and enlarging the shots but they are little more than white blurs on the screen.
While I do not hear or see many woodland birds beyond a Downy Woodpecker and a chickadee, this was certainly worth the trip to Baker’s Meadow for me. The Ring-necked Ducks and the pied-billed grebe were first my sightings of these species in Massachusetts.
I probably would have lingered here longer but soon other hikers came along, almost all of them with dogs off leashes with almost all of them rushing up to smell me. Some of them were barking and one was even growling. Golden Retrievers must be the official dog of Andover because I swear everyone had one. I met one group of women with 4 or 5 of them romping around! Yes, all off leash. I like dogs, but not when I am birding! I think I counted more golden retrievers than bird species in the woods on this day! (15 dogs, 9 species of birds!)
Still, this is such a pretty place. I will come back again (I hope!) and see if I can find more of the 145 species purported to be here!
Birds Seen at Baker’s Meadow November 9, 2011:
- Canada Goose
- Mute Swan
- Ring-necked duck
- Pied-billed Grebe
- Downy woodpecker
- American Crow
- Black-capped chickadee