Monday, July 16, 2012

Forbush Bird Club Wachusett - A Wild Mountain Thyme Princeton and Mud

On Sunday I joined other members of the Forbush Bird Club on their annual Wachusett Reservoir loon trip started long ago by Fran and now led by Kevin Bourinot..  This would be my first official Forbush trip since this past October so was looking forward to doing some social birding for a change and seeing folks I haven't seen for ages.

We'd meet up at Gate 35 and make our way to Wood Island in hopes for Common Loon's with their young.

With other stops along the way including the one above where Kevin is adding another bird to the list (I believe Spotted Sandpiper) as there were quite a few at this location.

We'd continue along our way while picking up more passerines and see the many Asian Long Horned Beetle traps set out which was nice because I've been seeing quite a lot of these lately and didn't know what they were so now I do!

We'd finally make our way to Wood Island in search for the Common Loons.  Notice Kevin again updating the list as he is an obsessive/compulsive lister which I can totally appreciate!  ;-).  Note:  He'd already be at over 20 when I got to the parking lot a little before 7 so it pays to have OCD every once in a while.  HA

We'd move up a little figuring they may be hidden by a small island and sure enough that would be the case as we'd be very happy to see two adult Common Loon's with two of their young!

Pardon the lousy pics, but it's the best I can do with my camera when the birds are this far out.  Some of the sweetest moments were watching one of the parents feed the young.  So cute!  Should be noted we'd see another pair with young as well as a couple of other chickless adults.

We'd make our way back toward the trail heading back to the car and find this very tame Wild Turkey heading for cover.

Next it would be gate 39 to check for anything of interest and with it being the end of July, there wouldn't be!  It was still nice to see though.
And another stop at the dam as Kevin really wanted Mallard's for the day and he'd know exactly where to get them here and he'd be right.  So funny how birders can remember things such as this even for the common birds which do come in handy when you're doing a daily list!  It would really start getting warm at this point so off we'd go to one more spot with more shade.

Which would be the overlook off of Route 146.  Picture is lousy but what you see above is an island with about 100 Ring-billed Gulls and one lone Double-crested Cormorant right in the middle.   HA!!!   There'd also be about another 25 RBG's headed toward it to get on as well and the only thing I could think of was sending this picture to Ken MacKenzie at DCR in a post card format with the tag  line "Having Fun, Wish you were Here!".  So funny!

After the trip I'd head on out to Princeton to pick some blueberries at A Wild Mountain Thyme.  Many local birders may know the owner Bobbye who is an avid birder whose very involved in the Westminster Christmas Bird Count and a dedicated Hawk Watcher.

Well not only does she bird, but she also runs a pick your own blueberry business using organic gardening methods which is another one of my passions so off I went to do some picking!

Bobbye's love of birds would be evident as there'd be scores of birds every where, including a Scarlet Tanager that flew right by me, many Cedar Waxwings enjoying some of the delicious blueberries and a pair of very tame House Wrens like the one in the photo above.

And this would be the yield of my labor.  Seriously if you are in the Central Mass area and looking for something fun to do this week head on up there (see link above for address).  I think one of the best things we can do to support the environment is to support local farmers, especially those who think of birds as friends vs. foes.  There will also be a blueberry fest this upcoming Sunday with local musicians, crafts and other entertainment if your'e looking for something fun to do this weekend.

I'd head back home after that and start canning the majority of them for blueberry jam which was killer with the hot temps but so worth it as with berry season comes sweating season so I just grin and bear it as much as I can.

Going into the water canner to make sure they're safe and sterile for winter eating.

And with me being frugal and all, I never waste what's at the bottom of the pan so I paired it up with some vanilla ice cream and had myself a blueberry sundae.  So good after all that labor in a hot kitchen!

The end result would be 6 jars of jam, a blueberry cobbler and plenty leftover for snacking.  Pardon the missing piece on the left, but I had to check it to make sure if was safe for eating!  ;-)

And now for probably the most comical part of the day (although I didn't find it funny at first of course).  It would all start Saturday evening when I was on beer number two and in a wonderful mood between the endorphin kick of the hike earlier as well as the beer of course.  I'd hear my son's friends truck enter the drive way so look out the window and my jaw would drop when I took a look at it.

And this is what I'd see.  Of course, I'm fascinated with mud so I'd go out there with my camera for pictures and questions considering none of this crew would be considered the rugged outdoors type which had me even more mystified.

Well come to find out there's this huge mud pit on some kid's property in Grafton and all the kids from Millbury, Grafton and Sutton have taken a huge liking to it.  The main objective is to go there dressed up as red necks and do as many donuts as you can within the pit and which ever vehicle is the muddiest when all is said and done is the winner.  Hmmmmm, I'd think......Now the muddy and cut up clothes in the laundry I've been seeing lately is making sense.....While they were telling me this I'd continue to take pictures and scrape the mud with my finger in awe over how cement like it was as it reminded me of the mud at Bolton Flats so I'd start telling them all my own mud stories which they all found amusing considering I'm a mom.  I'd then remember my job as mom is to remind them  to be careful when out there and not go overboard as the transmission could go and blah, blah, blah and then I'd retire for the evening to get ready for an early start Sunday morning to make the Wachusett trip.

I'd wake up late the next day and run out to my car to make it to Wachusett for 7AM and I'd see this.

My calm, serene manner would disappear in a matter of seconds and would be in an outrage swearing like the dad from A Christmas Story at 6:30 in the morning.  I'd run hollering back in the house and all I could get from my groggy son is he thought that I'd like it since I loved mud so much which ticked me off even more but didn't have time to argue so ran out the door ranting about how I'd be the laughing stock of the bird club and blah, blah blah.

I'd get to Wachusett and realize not only was there mud on my car, but on my legs as well as the little buggers drove through the pit with the windows open!  Needless to say I'd spend the entire day with my head down while driving, especially at red lights when people couldn't help but to stare.

Like Donna, said though---It certainly goes with my bumper sticker!  Yup I guess an open invitation to a red neck mud christening now that I think of it between my fascination with it the evening prior and the bumper sticker of course.

I'd get home in a much calmer mood and watched one of my offending son's clean up the mess and ask the question that would be bothering me all day.  "Why did you think I'd like to drive around with mud all over my car like that?"  And this is the answer I'd get.  "Well you said you liked mud last night so thought you'd like meeting your friends with your car a little muddy because then they'd all think your'e an extreme birder."  You know that point in your life as a parent (and it doesn't matter is they're small children or already adults), when your child says something and you have no idea how to respond as they're answer may say more about you than  them?  Well this would be one of those cases.  First, I'd be impressed that he used the word birder of course as it would be the first time I'd ever hear him say it.  Then I'd wonder what the heck he thinks we birders do?  Does he think we're the Crocodile Hunter types running through swamps and wrestling water snakes in our hunt for a rail??  My hip waders probably help feed the stereo type as well, but those are only used for special occasions!!!  Sigh, and you all wonder why I spend so much time in the woods.  Sometimes I just want to go out there and pitch a tent and not come back home until both have found an apartment and left my crowded nest.

Take care all.

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