Saturday, September 8, 2012

rough meadows

Last Friday's search for shorebirds yielded lots and lots of least sandpipers. It also marked my first visit to the newly opened Mass Audubon Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Trail to Nelson Island Was Mobbed with Least Sandpipers
Coffee of the Day: Tanzania Peaberry
Bird of the Day: Least Sandpiper
Invisi-bird status: Final count on the refuge: 27 pairs, 39 chicks fledged. Number actually seen by me: 2.
Weird wrack item of the week: a Hooksett disc on Patmos Road. It's not weird to find Hooksett discs anymore, but the location so deep into the Great Marsh is weird.

Cabbage White
After checking out the least sandpipers at Nelson Island, I headed over to Rough Meadows and Sawyer's Island. The grasses and autumn wildflowers were waving in a steady breeze. Butterflies were having a hard time hanging onto the flowers. I saw monarchs, cabbage whites, and a mustard yellow within seconds of getting out of the car at the Rough Meadows parking area.

Besides walking along Patmos Road to admire the great egrets in the marsh, I did the Kestrel Trail -- a short loop through meadow and woodlands. Acorns were everywhere.

Great Egret in the Great Marsh
Essex County Greenbelt's Sawyer's Island property preserves yet more of the Great Marsh in the same area of Rowley. Walking the trails there, I came across lots and lots of shed horseshoe crab shells of all sizes, saw many more great egrets, and savored beautiful marsh views.
One of Many Horseshoe Crab Shells at Sawyer's Island

In search of more shorebirds, in case the tons of least sandpipers who surrounded me at Nelson Island weren't enough, I finally headed to the refuge beach. Lots of both greater and lesser yellow-legs were hanging out at the North Pool overlook along with mallards, Canada geese, and blue winged teal.  I found a parking spot at Lot 6  and walked the beach. Immediately, 2 piping plovers landed nearby. They don't seem nearly as invisible on wet sand as they do on dry sand.
Piping Plovers

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