Mockingbird behind the mills

A Mockingbird behind the Gill paper mill. (c) Greg Saulmon 2011

I watched a Mockingbird for a long time Sunday afternoon.

I’d taken a walk at one of my favorite Holyoke birdwatching locations: the path that runs between the old paper mills and the river out behind Water Street.

I see a lot of hawks out here, and a lot of Mourning Doves hanging out on the power lines. It’s in the flight path of the American Crows on winter afternoons. One day I followed a Baltimore Oriole into an eerie courtyard between the Albion and Crocker mills. And during Sunday’s walk I even startled one of the Bald Eagles that makes its home along the river — my second eagle sighting in the city that day.

Arriving at a large pile of brush behind the Gill, I spotted a trio of Mockingbirds taking turns swooping in from a nearby tree to land on the tangle of branches. Each time the birds would sit for a few seconds, fidget a bit and fly back to the tree.

A Song Sparrow. (c) Greg Saulmon 2011

Finally one landed and just sat. And for over 15 minutes, it sat on the same twig. It was around 5:30 p.m. Every once in a while it would make a chewing motion with its beak and spit out what looked like the red shells of a seed. Sometimes it would throw a nervous glance my way — but it didn’t seem to worry about the fact that I kept inching closer, and it held its ground when I moved around to the other side of the brush pile to shoot from a different angle.

Eventually it darted over to a rusted chain link fence topped with barbed wire, and then joined the others in a tree by the mill.

And the Mockingbirds weren’t the only ones enjoying this little corner of the world: I managed to snap this photo of a Song Sparrow in the same spot Sunday, only noticing the delicate spider web when I opened the file on my laptop.



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