Home   Birds and Birders at the Arlington Reservoir
By Karsten E. Hartel. 22 April 1999 

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Birders are very appreciative of the opportunities at the Reservoir and make the following comments:
  • "Reservoir is very a very significant site for ease of waterfowl & shorebird observation. The site is exceptional for waterfowl variety." Geoffrey Wood, Newbury
  • "I think Arlington Res is one of the birding gems of our local area." Albert Young, Medford
  • "I've been birding at the Res for about 5 years & think that it has gone from very good to excellent for migratory-duck-watching. This past year has been the best ever. I am a little worried about the problems of growing populations of Canada geese, mute swans and water chestnuts. It would also be nice if the trash & broken glass could be reduced but it's clearly a teen hangout, so I am resigned to their detritus to some degree" Jennie Rathbun, Arlington
  • "I like the Res, and get the impression that most everyone who uses it also likes it... I hope that any "improvements" would not have a negative impact on the value of the Res as a migratory resting stop for birds, as well as a breeding spot for resident birds. One relatively easy improvement I would like to see would be a couple of strategically placed signs asking dog owners to please use pooper scoopers. It's a popular dog-walking area, and not everyone is responsible along those lines." Sam Miller and Carla Dengler, Arlington
  • "Arlington Reservoir was one of my first birding discoveries ten years ago, and it has been one of my favorite spots ever since. I look forward every spring and fall to the lowering of the water which means an incredible influx of water birds into this area. The variety of ducks than can be seen there is unmatched in any other pond I know of, probably because there is a "deep end" for diving ducks and a "shallow end" for dabbling ducks. This exposure of the mudflats is a big attraction for shorebirds. There is no question that the Res. is an important stopover for huge quantities of birds, but just as important is the pleasure it brings so many people. Birders come here from all over the greater Boston area. I've often run into friends there, and even made new friends. Just Wednesday I ran into two women I didn't know, and introduced myself. I set up my telescope for them so they could enjoy the snipe feeding by the shore, and later showed them the incredible plumage on a Ruddy Duck. While we were admiring, a dog walker walked by and we showed her, too. She was thrilled to discover that there were several different types of ducks - until she had a chance to look, she had assumed they were all the same. It is this last anecdote that typifies so many of my experiences at the Res. Every time I walk around I run into kids playing, people exercising, dog walkers, or people just enjoying being outside. I cannot count the times we have paused to talk, and I have shown people what is out there. They are always thrilled." Marjorie Rines, Arlington Marj Rines is an editor of the Bird Observer of Eastern Massachusetts (http://people.ne.mediaone.net/marjrines /BirdObserver.htm) and a member of the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee. She also co-authored the chapters on finding birds in the Boston area in A Birder's Guide to Eastern Massachusetts.
  • "As far as I'm concerned, the Res is a much more valuable place to me as an adult going birding than it ever was when I was a kid going swimming, and I go there *much* more often than I did in those long-ago days. It's an absolute marvel to have a place so near that's so full of a wonderful variety of migrating ducks and shorebirds, and the edges and trees so full of dickey-birds. You just never know what you'll find there on any given day. The place is just right when you have an hour's break for a little birding close to home. As far as I'm concerned, it's just fine the way it is, if they can keep the water chestnut problem under control without decimating the area moving equipment in and out or poisoning things in some other way. Outside the height of the summer season, it seems to me that it accommodates a whole variety of uses very nicely and without conflict-- folks walking dogs, folks with kids, people like me with binos, just plain walkers. " Jane Stein, Arlington
  • "There are very few spots in Arlington as "wild" as the Res, and it would be nice to see its potential for wildlife and wildlife watching enhanced. There is much to be said for a place that you can get to know well, visit on a regular basis, and observe the changes from season to season and year to year. In an urban area such as ours, these places are treasures." Andrea Golden, Arlington
  • "In my opinion the reservoir is the best duck place in the state. Where else can one go and see good close views of Northern Shovelers, Blue Winged Teal, Canvasbacks, and a Redhead along with many other duck species all at the same time?" Halina Raymond, Roslindale
  • "I love birding at the Res. I like the fact that almost everything that is there is within view, instead of a lot of territory being out of reach or off limits likes other birding spots. I also photograph birds (and nature) and have taken some of my favorite pictures at the Res. It was nice having that tame Pintail around this past fall. Also, because it's not very big, it's a place where I often stop and really observe bird behavior (like the Kingfisher I watched in Nov. that was catching fish much too big and smashing them over & over against a branch. It was also great this past fall to have the Canvasback & Redhead in the same view for comparison (and without having to look through a fence). I'd also like to mention that I've gotten more than one life bird there." Dianne Hartman, Somerville
  • "I am a residence of Arlington; my husband and I own the property at 26 Lombard Rd. We and our 16yr.old son have lived at that address for 2 yrs. in August. We all bird the Arlington "Res", Spring and Fall and recognize its primary importance as a migratory trap much like Mt Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. The Arlington Reservoir is regularly mentioned on the Eastern Voice of Audubon as a location of important and often rare bird species especially migrating waterfowl and is known as such by the larger Boston birding community-and even state-wide. When relocating from western Mass. two years ago our family looked for a location that was convenient to urban Boston yet had some elements of nature and birding "hotspots". Arlington, with the Arlington "Res" and its proximity to other "natural areas" such as Great Meadows, fit the bill. Spy Pond is great but doesn't compare to the diversity of habitats and bird species that the "Res" supports. Yesterday, by coincidence, I began my Spring ritual of biking to and from the "Res" in the morning before work, binoculars hanging from my neck. I saw ruddy ducks, ring-necked ducks and a killdeer. I didn't have time to make my way around the perimeter as I do on most trips but still, it made my day." Sharon Dombeck, Arlington
  • "My wife and I take a walk around the Res about once a month year round; we almost always have our binocs with us and enjoy the wildlife; we are beginner birders who live in Arlington. We saw our first osprey at the Res 3 years ago; it came swooping in from the west; we got really good looks at it; it spotted something below the water and, to our surprise, plunged headfirst from about 2 feet and disappeared for a moment, then came up empty. Some years ago, the Res was responsible for teaching me that all ducks are NOT mallards, you know the ones who beg for handouts at the beach when you are trying to watch your food and kids. I started noticing that some were beautifully different and this stimulated me to get a field guide to figure out what I was looking at. I think it is fair to say that my wife and I have seen ten waterfowl species for the first time at the Res, not to mention the big snapping turtles and muskrats and assorted songbirds." Tom Christensen, Arlington
  • "I am an Arlington resident and am VERY concerned about the ecology of the Res and its value as habitat. (In fact I recently wrote a letter to the Advocate about the Water Chestnuts, trying to explain that their presence is not only an aesthetic problem.). The Res is an important asset to the town, in my view. We love to swim there, but more importantly I treasure my walks there year-round, among the birds and other wildlife. We have so little open space in Arlington that I would like to see the Res managed as a multi-use resource, INCLUDING maintaining the marsh/wet land ecology that supports so many species, not just focusing on it as a beach. As far as how I see the Res, I would note that currently, the area to the left of the beach (on the road from the parking lot) is looking unattractive. There are piles of gravel and logs. It looks like a place in transition, but to what is unclear. This area could certainly be improved. The rest of the circuit is very nice, although the run off area seems rickety." Ellen Duranceau, Arlington

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