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Westover Grasslands, Chicopee

Westover Grasslands, Chicopee

June 4, 2016

Howard Schwartz

The 10 participants of this trip promptly (well, mostly) met at 7:00 at our meeting place and quickly drove to the gate of Westover Air Reserve Base where we met another 34 people from two other clubs (Hampshire Bird Club & Brookline Bird Club).  Unlike other years in which we were able to drive our own cars inside Westover to the birding location, this year was different.  We were met by an Air Force bus which took us on our birding trip, first stopping for a bathroom break and informational talk by Frank Moriarty, our leader from Westover.  The bus accomodations were more comfortable than I had initially thought.  The seats were roomy and there was air-conditioning which came in handy later in the day when the temperatures and humidity rose.  It was a little cool and somewhat foggy when we arrived at the birding field, but about an hour later the sun came out and the temperature started to rise along with the humididy.  At first everybody walked down the gravel path together to view any birds that would show themselves.  When we got to a side path that led off to the right, about a dozen people took that path and remained there for just about the entire trip.  The rest of the group stayed spread out on the main path with some people walking quite a bit ahead of everyone else while others arranged themselves somewhere in between.  

During the entire walk Bobolinks were flying all over the place.  There was a tie for the next most abundant bird between Meadowlarks and Upland Sandpipers.  It seemed as though there could have been many more Uplands than I counted only because once they landed in the tall grass they disappeared.  When they flew again it was hard to determine if it was the  same bird or a new one flying off.  Since the grass was not as tall as last year the number of grasshopper sparrows, in my count, was not as high as in past years.  In addition they were farther away sitting on whatever tall bushes they could find.  In past years these tall bushes were adjacent to the path.  After about 1 1/2 hours of walking through the field we were called back to the bus and taken to a wet area on a part of the base we had not previously visited.  Since we had to walk through tall grass to get a good look at the small cattail marsh, my aversion to ticks kept me and quite a few other folks outside at the bus to see what showed up.  We were rewarded with looks at a Kestrel and a pair of Bluebirds along with a few other common birds.  Back on the bus we went and drove in air-conditioned comfort back to our cars waiting for us outside the gate.  All three clubs, I'm sure, were very pleased with this trip and the target birds which we all saw in abundance.  We'll have to wait for next year to do it again.