Monday, April 25, 2011

a rainy day at the heron rookery

I took a walk along the Carter Fields Trail, one of the Essex County Greenbelt trails, this morning.  Everywhere there were signs of spring and remnants of winter. The transition seems so gradual this year.
North Andover Heron Rookery
The great blue heron rookery on the North Andover/Boxford line was quietly busy with herons attending to their nests. I watched for a long time as light rain fell, redwinged blackbirds called, spring peepers and American toads sang. Once the leaf blowers and other landscaping equipment in the nearby residential neighborhood stopped, it was so quiet that I heard a chipping sparrow walking around on the leaf litter before I saw it. The quork of a raven sounded in the distance and some mallards quacked overhead.

Ghost of Winter
The herons were pretty quiet until one of them landed on a nest and starting making the barking call.  A flock of redwinged blackbirds mobbed a heron as it was doing that slow stately walk they do when fishing. I've seen redwinged blackbirds mob great blues before, but usually when the heron is in flight. These guys gathered on a snag in the wetland and all went after the heron at once. It all took place just above the water.
Great Blue Herons on the Nests
Common grackles chased each other and chased the redwinged blackbirds. A black-capped chickadee flipped itself over on a branch. American robins descended in a group and started singing up a storm.

Common Grackles
The rain felt soft and not terribly cold. Maybe I was just in the mood for it.  Along the trail, I could hear running water, more chickadees, more redwinged blackbirds, wood frogs, and rain hitting the forest floor.

Every once in awhile the rain let up and the forest got this moist pink glow from the tree buds.

Sign of Spring -- Skunk Cabbage
As I headed back home,  an eastern bluebird flew across the road in front of me. A gray and rainy day can also be beautiful.

No comments: