[CT Birds] Meadowlarks, and other birding sites in Salem area.

david bingham dbbingham at sbcglobal.net
Wed Mar 21 23:42:45 EDT 2007

Directions for a stop on Rt 82 in Salem (the heart of the Eightmile River watershed, East 

The "Meadowlark field" is on our farm. It is in the SW corner of Salem, on Rt  82, 0.3 mi west of the southerly end of Rt 11.We have no objection to people stopping at the turn-in to the field on the south side of 82 to scan the field, but ask that you avoid going through the field because nesting of Meadowlarks, Bobolinks, Kingbirds and Savannah Sparrows in the area may be discouraged by too much activity as nesting season approaches.

My expectation is that the current group of about 8 Meadowlarks will move on soon, but that in a couple of weeks more will move in and some hopefully will stay to nest.

Sometimes birds will allow a closer look if you stay in the car. But if you get out and walk along the edge of the field near Rt 82, you can get views across most of the field and see grasses managed with different mowing regimes to attract different species. Meadowlarks may hang out in the trees along the highway overlooking the field, or in trees over a brushy depression (really a vernal pool), in the middle of the field. Savannah, Song and Field Sparrows may be flushed from the field margin. I think the Pipits have moved on for this year.

When there are large puddles in the field, which there will be after the snow melt, look for puddle ducks like Teal and Pintail, along with Black Ducks and Mallards in the puddles.
Scan around the edges of the puddles for Snipe.

There is a farm road that goes through the field on the western border, but it is gated off. That area, just across from the pond, is a safer place to park, but hard to scan much of the field from that end even with a scope. On the other hand, this little area is a hot warbler spot at times during peak migration. Fishermen park here and cross Rt 82 over to a trail on the south edge of Mitchell Pond which gives views of all areas of the pond. You may begin to see large egg masses of yellow perch along this edge (in the water) in a few weeks, which look a lot like Salamander egg masses, but are golden to silver in color, shiny, sometimes in gossamer-like sheets.

The Pond attracts reasonably large numbers of diving ducks on migration (eating young perch?), mostly Ring-necks but also Common and Hooded Mergansers, and an occasional Bufflehead. Green-winged Teal,  or Pied-billed Grebe, and rarely a Widgeon or Pintail are also seen on migration, but all disappear on the first day of the fishing season. An occasional Osprey, Kingfisher or Cormorant may drop in any time of year. Also keep an eye out for resident Red-tailed Hawks. Harriers occasionally cruise through (one seen last week).

Today there was a Tree Swallow scooping up some early insects hatching out on the pond surface. Soon large flocks of Swallows will migrate through and feast during major fly hatches - we may see all of our swallows plus Purple  Martins from a single spot overlooking the Pond at times in late April or early May (including mostly Tree and Barn swallows, a few Rough-wings, some Bank swallows and an occasional Cliff Swallow).

I am hesitant to invite the world to see, as I am just one of many family members that have inherited the farm together, and some really want their privacy. But birders have never been a problem and just showing you have binoculars puts them at ease.

Hope you get a good view of some of our grassland specialties, maybe while on your way to Gillette's Castle for a beautiful view across the Ct River (and sometimes for great Eagle views at eye level), or to Devil's Hopyard for conifer forest species, or up the road cut on the unfinished Route 11 in Salem for shrubland species like Blue-winged and Prairie Warblers, when they come in to nest in May. Salem also has Walden Preserve which is great for butterflies and shrubland birds, and right now is great for Woodcock displays at dusk, whuch can be seen from the parking lot on Hagan Road.

We run birding hikes at times in the area sponsored by the Salem Land Trust (see www.salemlandtrust.org for dates and times - no charge but donations welcome!).

David Bingham

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Larry Nichols" <lvn600 at hotmail.com>
To: <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 6:59 PM
Subject: [CT Birds] Fox Sparrow, Eagles, Ducks, banded Geese,keeping records-Salem Farms?

> >From Larry Nichols:

>  Also ,I remember seeing a report about Eastern Meadowlark being seen at 
> Salem Farms-Does anyone have directions for that location? Is it open to the 
> public?

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