Saturday, July 25, 2009

Great Meadows Walk with Peter Alden

July 10, 2009 CONCORD, MA.
A.M. - To Great Meadows

Another walk not to be missed when attending the Gathering is “Anywhere-with-Peter-Alden.” Peter is a Concord naturalist who is a world-renowned birding expert. He organized the first of several Biodiversity Days, gathering botanists, field biologists, even scat-ologists, to take a one-day survey of all flora and fauna in Concord.
In between jetting to other continents, he leads walks in Concord during the Annual Gathering, at places like Great Meadows, or to a heron rookery near White Pond. Peter emphasizes the Big Picture - especially where migratory birds are concerned – that it matters what happens, not just at the ends, but in all places along a migratory route.

The walk this year was along the trails at Great Meadows. It didn’t matter that I had been there just a day or two before. Peter is up with the birds, and so it was a beautiful dew-speckled scene that greeted us at 6:30 a.m. on the path between the two great marshes. Canada geese were the prevailing big bird, though I saw more herons in one place than I’d ever seen outside of a rookery.
An osprey was hovering and plunging into the shallows after fish. Peter mentioned that there were nesting ospreys in the Concord area for the first time in decades. (We are fortunate to have had a nesting pair at Glen Lake for many years, and others settle along Lake Champlain, where there are nesting-platforms set up. They are not so rare a sight here.)

The causeway trail is excellent for viewing, as the cattails provide a sort of natural blind. Some of the birds are just a few feet away from you!
The marsh wrens chattered, perched on top of cattail stalks.
A heron was close enough to hear us talking, but chose to preen himself nonchalantly.

Unfortunately, it's a blurry heron, because I had not yet figured out why my new camera was not focusing when zoomed in on such sights – arrgh.
So as usual, I took the short view and admired plants up-close.

The roses were fragrant, and the bumblebees were lining up to get at the rosebuds -- one seemed to be rolling around in there in a sort of nectar-induced high:

We trotted after Peter like ducklings, as he pointed out various birds and told us interesting facts about their lives.

He's got a long stride. But being a great birder, he knows the value of standing still. And waiting. Patiently.

The Concord River flows by here. We stood quite a while, searching for a glimpse of the warbling vireo in the treetops, while hearing its song as clear as day. Pishing brought out others – a mob of nuthatches! A blue-grey gnatcatcher! Cedar waxwings!

The trail came through a soft wooded area and I saw a new flower: swamp honeysuckle.

Another high point of this day was attending a presentation by D.B. Johnson. His children’s books featuring a bear named “Henry” are a delight to the eye. The author explained that these books are an attempt to get very young people interested in what HDT had to say about life. If you haven’t read any of these books, check them out. They are NOT just for kids! The latest book in the series is called Henry’s Night and was inspired by Thoreau’s moonlight walks.

P. M. – As soon as the sun came out strongly, I knew that I was not going to sit indoors this afternoon! It seemed important to try that trail over to Fair Haven again …
after the clamor of the crowded beach at Walden Pond, things got quieter as I crossed over the tracks again.
At one of the Andromeda Ponds, I happened upon a man sitting quietly. I noticed a copy of Walden in his hat.

He did mention that the lower trail at Fair Haven was blocked by high water,
but I continued on in that direction nevertheless.
What is it about clethra that attracts me so? It is so pleasing to the eye.

The trail ended at the log where, a year ago, Corky and I stopped to eat lunch before getting thorough-ly lost on Fair Haven Hill.
It was a fine view of the bay where I had paddled a few days ago.

I walked back home a different way, taking as long as possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment