Magazine Beach is a relatively unknown treasure and destination spot for local birding. No, it’s not Costa Rica and you won’t find any Lyrebirds here. You will find lots of familiar faces and wonderful breeding activity during the spring and summer, if you’re patient.
With the addition of small wetland features (aka water storm basins), butterflies and dragonflies abound. Swallowtails and Azures have been seen flitting about.
Beginning at the intersection of Pleasant Street Extension and Memorial, I walked along the edge toward the BU Bridge, watching and listening. Mallards, (especially when they’re in eclipse, in the late summer/early fall) and Double-crested Cormorants often alight on the booms on the other side of the river. House sparrows are everywhere.
On a recent foray in June, I saw or heard thirteen species including Cedar waxwings, Northern Rough‑winged Swallows, and Robins. The Roughies appear to be breeding along the river because I saw feeding activity high in the Cottonwood tree. I found American Robins and the juveniles in abundance this year. The young show the telltale signs of their thrush heritage in the prominent black cheek patches that are visible before they grow adult plumage.
Because this area provides diverse environments, it encourages a variety of birds to settle in. The water’s edge encourages waterfowl; the high shrubs on the river between the MWRA building and the Magazine, itself, offer protection and food for Yellow Warblers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, and the elusive, but chatty, Gray Catbird. The tall trees near the river offer nesting sites for Black-capped Chickadees, European Starlings, and Song Sparrows. I heard and saw many cheerful Yellow Warbler high in the trees. Old tree snags encourage Eastern Kingbirds who like to sit at the top of the tallest branch to observe their territory.
Even though I didn’t see any Black-crown Night Herons on this walk, they do spend time along the muddy edge of the river or in the overhanging branches during the day. If you’re vigilant, you can discern the difference between the flight of Gulls and that of the Herons when they fly back to the Harbor Islands in the evening. Canada Geese and their crèches of babies are visible in large fields all along the river until they grow up. Occasionally, I have seen banded birds.
I will be leading a Magazine Beach Bird Walk on Saturday, September 7, 2013 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m Meet at the traffic light at the intersection of Memorial Drive and Pleasant Street Extension (at the Courtyard Marriott). Bring binoculars, scopes, and cameras, if you have them. All levels are welcome.
Update: David Craft will join Janet for the tour and share foraging tips. See his description below:
The birds are the real foragers out there, but we’ll do our best to find some plants good for human consumption. We’ll have our eyes out for lamb’s quarters, lady’s thumb, milkweed, burdock root, curly dock, wild black cherries, acorns, and maybe even some mushrooms if the rain gods are pleased.