Recent Central Mass Bird Sightings
Sightings are listed in reverse chronological order. The email address of birders submitting reports, as well as other Central Massachusetts birding info can be found via the Central Mass Bird Update homepage.
Note added 5/30/14:A previous post relating to this has been removed, because the information proved to be erroneous. Information on the current nesting status of the downtown peregrines is still being sought.
Note added 5/12/14 from Chris Buelow:
In the past year the Heritage Program, with its cooperators, developed an Action Plan for the listed grassland birds in the state (UPSA, GRSP & VESP): http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dfg/nhesp/species-and-conservation/grassland-bi rd-plan-final.pdf . One of the primary conclusions that resulted from this process was the confirmation that the vast majority of habitat acreage and percentage of population for these species in MA occurs on private lands with tenuous futures. Therefore, the primary recommendation from this plan was to identify the DFW-owned lands that had the greatest potential for supporting these species, and focus management on those lands toward these species to the maximum degree appropriate. The top three sites identified were Frances Crane WMA in Falmouth, Southwick WMA, and the Pine Hill section of Bolton Flats.
We've since developed management plans for all three sites and have secured funding to execute these plans. Specifically for Bolton Flats, we're focused upon the spent sand pits of the Pine hill area. The general plan is to push the core areas of the sand pits toward sandplain grassland for the benefit grasshopper and vesper sparrows, and push the edges toward pitch pine-scrub oak community for shrubland birds and rare leps. As you mentioned, vespers (and occasionally grasshoppers) already occur here, so the idea is to enhance the existing features that suit these species and expand that habitat as much as possible. The mowing was step one, the idea being that pitch pine succession was reaching a point where it was about to change the structure and composition of the site, leaving it no longer able to support these species. There will soon be more mowing at the site, with all scrub oak and some emergent peripheral pitch pine retained. Once the site is prepared, a regime of prescribed fire will be introduced, with the ultimate vision for the site being a 100-acre core of little bluestem grassland with interstitial heathland and bare spots surrounded by pitch pine-scrub oak shrubland of various densities and heights. Picture Montague Plains with a large sandplain grassland at its center.
For the short-term, I expect that the sparrows will continue to use the site: the patchy grasses and bare ground is still there for the vespers, and with many of the interior pitch pines removed, the areas of dense bluestem should actually be more attractive than they were last year.
As for the other two sites, We've just added an additional 40-acres to the sandplain grassland at France Crane WMA through the clearing of adjacent land, bringing the total size of that grassland to over 200-acres. And yesterday was a big day at Southwick, with the site's first prescribed fire occurring. Hedgerow clearing will begin at Southwick this fall, resulting in over 300 contiguous acres of grassland between the MA and CT properties.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns: I know that these sites are very important to many people (and to the species that they support), and that it is unsettling to see such work being done without explanation.
Thanks - Chris
Chris Buelow Restoration Ecologist Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program PLEASE NOTE NEW FIELD HEADQUARTERS ADDRESS (Phones and Emails have not changed.) 100 Hartwell Street, Suite 230 West Boylston MA 01583 (508) 389-6350 firstname.lastname@example.org
To get to the Power Canal: head south on Avenue A (the main street of Turners Falls); and take a right on 11th Street, cross the bridge over the canal and take a left on G Street. Follow this to a small parking lot (on left) and gate. Beyond the gate is the paved road right along the canal. The gate is generally closed on weekends, but open during the week at which time you can drive the road. You can walk in anytime.
For previous sightings, see January 2014 Archives or Archive Index