Birder Seamus strolls the Lower Alewife
"This region known as the Alewife Reservation must have more hawks than anywhere else in America!"
by Seamus Palmer
added to website March 12, 2008
Two days ago I took a walk to the lower Alewife spotting this Red Tail watching me from atop Clarendon Towers.
He was perched about 14 stories high keeping vigil over the Broadway / Route 16 intersection between Somerville and Arlington.
This region known as the Alewife Reservation must have more hawks than anywhere else in America!
Today I took the same walk along the Lower Alewife and was immediately struck by the absence of any birdsong.
The brook side was devoid of any sign of life.
Turning in amazement - for this spot is usually so full of life - the reason became apparent.
There in the tree sat a hungry looking hawk.
I believe it to be a Sharp Shinned hawk.
Further along 6 Mallard Ducks waddled within a gaggle of 50 geese.
The undergrowth on the Somerville side of Alewife brook was teeming with sparrows.
Hearing me approach, around 200 birds exited and hopped from branch to branch turning the hedgerow into an eerie living entity.
I also encountered a couple of Mockingbirds, some Black Capped Chickadees and two Downy Woodpeckers.
As I came to where the Alewife joins the Mystic, I was reminded of seeing a flock of sparrows being chased by a Red Tail Hawk on my earlier visit.
Right across from the Rotary is a new construction site with machinery and workers in hard hats.
The sparrows zipped just inches above the workers and a dramatic dive by the Red Tail almost hit one worker on the head.
The hawk came up empty handed and left a whole flock of very nervous twittering sparrows seeking refuge in an adjacent tree.
Not one of the workers even saw what had transpired mere inches above them.
Today, finding a gap in the fence, I ventured along the Route 16 side of Alewife Brook.
I disturbed about six Dark Eyed Juncos feeding.
Attempting to traverse the dense undergrowth I was startled by a Great Blue Heron which took off from almost under my feet.
I saw him again later where his gigantic wingspan seemed all the more impressive appearing to almost span the width of the brook.
I remember living near waterways like this in other countries.
When I return to them today they are in pristine condition with people clamoring to live nearby.
It is so sad that the Alewife and other places like it are in such disarray, disrepair and so neglected.
Even the much loved Mystic River is shamefully shabby.
I hope to see the day when people will stroll unimpaired along the banks of the Alewife and remark on its’ beauty and wealth of wildlife.
16th Feb ‘2008