A Walk at the Wayside Inn

By Ellie Johnson, Office Assistant
“I thought it would always be there”.  This was the sentiment expressed in a note from a donor to SVT’s conservation fund for Pantry Brook Farm.  Having moved out of the area, she still had fond childhood memories of this piece of land, and was happy to contribute towards its maintenance, and grateful to SVT for our efforts to conserve it.  Not an uncommon thought, one that most of us subconsciously hold – that the beautiful places around us are simply part of the landscape, forever unchangeable.  Of course, we know that in fact, change is all around us, and the landscape we remember may not always be there.  
On a beautiful May morning, I joined SVT Executive Director Ron McAdow and a small group of other birders for an early bird walk around the Wayside Inn property in Sudbury – a lovely piece of land hidden down behind the Inn.  With a bright blue sky against which to view the birds, crisp still weather, and early morning sunlight sparkling on the waters of the ponds, the conditions couldn’t have been better.
We met in back of the Inn, and before we even set off on the trail, were surrounded by birds swooping and calling – swallows darting around the parking lot, catbirds screeching in the trees, and a beautiful duck floating in the mirror-still waters of a small pond whose surrounding greenery was exactly replicated upside-down in the water.
Setting off on the trail, we approached Carding Mill Pond, part of the Wayside watershed and one of the ponds of Hop Brook.  What a perfect vista, with geese floating and diving at the far end in the glassy water.  As we stood focusing our binoculars on an eastern kingbird and a green heron in the distance, a great blue heron sailed over the tops of the trees and out of sight on the other side of the pond.  Further along the path, while most of us were looking up, one of our party looked down and discovered the clean, perfect bones of a small animal – perhaps a coyote.  Laid out neatly, they were a reminder of the unseen life and death of the creatures living not far from our habitations.    
Our walk was bird-productive, with over 23 species sighted, including orioles, song sparrows, wrens, an eastern kingbird, a sandpiper, red-winged blackbirds, a vireo, and towards the end, a beautiful bluebird with its rosy breast, flitting around in an apple tree in front of the Inn.  We learned some bird songs and calls as well, including that rollicking “wichety, wichety, wichety” of the common yellow-throat.  
Let’s hope that, with our care, these landscapes and creatures that surround us, will survive and thrive, and that we’ll remember never to take them for granted.