Tim Carter & Beth Spirito
Started at 7:30 in the morning at our usual meeting place for the Lake Wallace walk, the Dunkin’ on State St in Belchertown. The weather was sunny, cool, and very breezy. Seventeen members gathered and then we headed across the street to Lake Wallace, which is located hidden behind the Belchertown Police Station.
Lake Wallace has had some new improvements this past year. The Lake Wallace Sensory Trail is a fully accessible education and recreation trail. It is still in the process of being constructed, however we were able to utilize some of it. One of it being the new dock and observation point. It is a large wooden platform that overlooks the side of the lake. It provides a beautiful view, and at the start of our walk this morning, provided a wide variety of birds and other wildlife as well. The swallows were plentiful - Tree, Barn, and Northern Rough-winged. Also seen from this point were Great Blue Herons, a Great Egret, Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, Mallards, 3 Hooded Mergansers, and a Belted Kingfisher. Walking along the new trail, we observed a variety of sparrows: Chipping, White-throated, House, Swamp, and Song. We had beautiful views of Eastern Bluebirds, Yellow, Palm, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Phoebe, and a Warbling Vireo.
We then drove into the Foley Field area, parked out cars along the fence outside the soccer fields, and just walked along the edge of the lake. The first few minutes gave us some great views of a Chestnut-sided Warbler, along with some Black-and-White's. Woodpecker’s spotted were the Northern Flicker, Red-bellied, Downy, and Pileated. Eastern Phoebe, Warbling Vireo, Mourning Doves, Robins, Blue Jays, Tufted Titmouse, and White-breasted Nuthatch's were all seen in the shrubbery along the edge as well.
While we continued to walk along the edge, in the trees and looking out onto the lake, we saw Red-winged Blackbirds, a Brown-headed Cowbird, Grackles, Starlings, Cardinals, and Catbirds. We also had a wonderful view of the Great Blue Heron's nest. At the end of the soccer field area, in the backside of the lake, we walked into the woods along the trail, that follows the other side of the lake. We were hoping to see the resident Virginia Rail and Sora, but they were not home at the time. This area did provide us with Ovenbird and Northern Waterthrush.
Flyovers that topped off our list at 42 species included Crows, a Raven, a Red-tailed Hawk, and a few Turkey Vultures. It was a great day with a great group of birders, a first time at Lake Wallace for many of them.
More information can be found about the Lake Wallace Sensory Trail on their Facebook Page. It truly is a great place to bird any time of day!