Favorable weather conditions, with clear, warm temperatures in the 80's and light to moderate winds, brought out six birders plus the trip leader. Roadside birding, focusing on stops at five upland marshes, yielded 72 species. The trip began at 6:45 a.m. at a large marsh adjacent to Fisk Road, located in the northeast section of Chester. An elevated woodland trail running the entire western edge of the marsh affords excellent views of the marsh. Two female Hooded Mergansers, several Wood Ducks, a Virginia Rail and a variety of other expected wetland species were observed. Unfortunately no American Bittern was located here or at the other marshes we visited.
Next, a leisurely three-mile drive down Kinnebrook Road yielded many of the expected upland species, including a nice view of a Ruffed Grouse. This narrow woodland road is unique in the lack of other vehicular traffic and a general quietness that's hard to find. It is easy to become lost in the overall beauty of the experience. One marsh along this road provided a somewhat uncommon occurrence of the upland Alder Flycatcher singing together with the lowland Willow Flycatcher, which is generally not found in the hills of Western Massachusetts.
Kinnebrook Road ends at the Littleville Fairgrounds where Kinne Brook intersects the Middle Branch of the Westfield River. From here we followed the Westfield River down to the boat launch at the north end of the Littleville Reservoir. Spotted Sandpipers, Yellow-throated Vireo, Warbling Vireo and several Indigo Buntings were added to the species list for the day.
Next, roadside birding along East River Road produced a singing Winter Wren, a Red-shouldered Hawk and a Broad-winged Hawk. Another female Hooded Merganser, this time with 4 young, was spotted during a quick stop at the Lyman Road marsh. A vibrant Bobolink population was observed at an active farm at the corner of East River Road and Skyline Drive. The trip ended at 11:30 a.m. after visiting one last marsh adjacent to Skyline Drive.