Saturday, October 22, 2011

Our EPIC bird day in Western Mass

Lily and Harris's Hawk #95, New England Falconry, Hadley, MA
Up at sunrise and out the door for the two-hour drive to Lenox, MA.  The reason: Bird-banding at MassAudubon's Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

Lily's become very interested in birds recently, but I know that birding of the walking-through-woods-and-fields variety can get tedious very quickly for a seven year-old. So I've been searching for more direct forms of interaction.
Lily just about to release a chickadee, Pleasant Valley, Lenox, MA
The bird-banding session at Pleasant Valley was just the right scale, a good combination of skillful veterans, active but not crazily active mist nets, and indulgence of a second grader. Thus Lily got to release not only a chickadee but a nuthatch.
Lily about to release a nuthatch, Pleasant Valley, Lenox, MA
What a lovely place and what a lovely bunch of folks. Lily was completely thrilled by the experience. (Me too).
Harris's Hawk #95, New England Falconry, Hadley, MA
And then we moved on to New England Falconry in Hadley, about an hour away. Lily is crazy for peregrine falcons (the result of a Wild Kratts episode, I think). So I arranged for a short instructional session that would allow both her (and me) to do a little bit of hawk handling.
Lily and the Harris's Hawk, New England Falconry, Hadley, MA
I had seen Harris's Hawks in El Paso and was charmed by their sociability (not to me, to each other). These are alert, relatively self-controlled raptors. Chris Davis, the Master Falconer, gave us a little introductory talk and then we had the chance to have the veteran Harris's hawk male, #95, land on our outstretched gloved hands.
Lily took this one
Another delightful, thrilling outing. I highly recommend the experience.

We weren't ready to go home, so as long as we were in the area we thought we might check out another local MassAudubon property, Arcadia, in Easthampton.
Lily on the sensory trail, Arcadia, Easthampton,MA
More loveliness, and there were plenty of song birds around, including palm warblers and juncos,  to point at. And best of all, Lily got a new stamp for her MassAudubon Passport to Nature book. This stamp project, which started at Broadmoor last week and continued at Habitat in Belmont, is going to take us more places in the coming weeks (tomorrow's plan: Joppa Flats and Ipswich River).

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