Parker River National Wildlife Refuge [Newbury, MA]
Our visit to the birding paradise of Plum Island coincides with the return of the Purple Martin, which will have just pulled into town after a journey of many thousands of miles from the lowlands of South America. Many dozens of these large, blue-black swallows nest at the Refuge in man-made “hotels,” though here, as elsewhere, increased competition (with House Sparrows and European Starlings) has helped speed this species’ decline. The smooth arcs of the Martin’s flight will be one of the first things we see on Plum Island, which is one of the great birding spots of the New England coast. Visits to the spring hawk-watch, the ocean, the dunes, the salt-marsh, and the brackish “pannes” will make for a wide variety of sights and sounds. Nearly 100 species can be counted here on a late-April morning, with a little luck! Meet at the first parking lot beyond the entrance to the Refuge, at 9:00 a.m.