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Monday, July 11, 2011

June 27, 2011 Sunny 80` Mount Greylock, North Adams MA

Later that day we went for a hike up Mt. Greylock - at least we tried to hike up Mt Greylock-but ended up taking the longest route starting at the base of Mt Williams one mountain over. When we reached the summit of Williams we decided to walk back to the car and drive up Mt Greylock instead.

As we started our hike I easily found all the commonest species of the area: Veeries, Ovenbirds, Wood Thrushes and the like. On a tree a little way up we discovered bear claw marks stretching all the way up the trunk. It was a thrilling find.

About half way up we discovered probably the most exciting species of the hike. A stunning male Blackburnian Warbler which we found singing its high pitched song at the top of an oak tree. It was kindly, every 30 (or so) seconds, hopping out onto randomly selected exposed branches, showing off it's stunning flame colored throat. The throat was so flame colored that I bet that if you got close enough you could smell smoke wafting from its throat! We watched it for a little while longer before continuing up the mountain.

When we reached the summit of Williams we were disappointed to find the stunning lack of a stunning vista. We ate our lunch then started hiking back down the mountain.

We were almost at the very bottom when we scared up a flock of small bobwhite-like birds. My mother said she saw one with the tail pattern of a Ruffed Grouse though the ones I saw didn't seem too have any field marks on the tail. My father said that they were Forest Pigeons. If they were they would be both a year bird and a new species to science! They were perfectly hidden among the leaves, only showing themselves once they took flight because one of us got too close. Their alarm calls were high pitched whinnies. Their size was that of bobwhites, but I think the birds we saw were fledgelings which could explain that. Due to range and habitat I expect that they were Ruffed Grouse though I cannot positively rule out the much smaller Northern Bobwhite (incidentally, a flock of bobwhites is called a "name-dropping") or the Forest Pigeon.

When we got back to the car we drove up Mt Greylock. At the top we had an amazing view. A ranger told us that this was the only place in Massachusetts with a sub-alpine ecosystem that has nesting Bicknell's and Swainson's Thrush along with another species which I can't think of at the present moment. He was wrong about the Swainson's Thrush which nests all along the western most edge of Massachusetts.

We climbed to the top of the rickety-staired lookout tower towering a good fifty feet above the ground. After we climbed the extremely scary and shaking, rusty, spiral tower stairs we had a fantastic view stretching away for countless miles. The map they gave to name the hulking mountains off in the distance was completely screwed up putting mountains in New Hampshire next to the mountains in Connecticut!

To end the hike I was treated with a lovely view of a stunning male Yellow-rumped Warbler.

A nice finishing touch to the lovely hike!

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