The Friends of Arlington Great Meadows are delighted to have this short report from birder and butterfly seeker Mark Rosenstein about opportunities to enjoy birds and butterflies at AGM, especially in the spring. Many thanks, Mark!
I first visited Arlington Great Meadows when I heard through the Menotomy Bird Club that this was a good place to see the courtship flight of the American Woodcock. It is performed from late winter through spring at dusk each day, above wet meadows next to woods, as found in the southern and northern ends of AGM.
The variety of habitats at AGM makes it a good place to see both marsh and woodland birds. During spring migration many warblers can be seen in the tree canopy, and three of them (Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, and Blue-winged Warbler) will stay to nest. Other migrants like flycatchers are common, with Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Wood-Peewee, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Eastern Kingbird all present and usually easy to hear if not see. It’s not hard to see four different woodpeckers at any time of the year: Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, and Northern Flicker. For the best chance to see these birds, look before mid-May when the tree canopy leafs out.
One hundred forty four species have been reported at AGM, according to eBird. This list also shows the rarities that have been reported from here, like Yellow-breasted Chat, Rusty Blackbird, American Kestrel, Philadelphia Vireo, and others.
Arlington Great Meadows can be a good place to look for butterflies. One species that is uncommon in Massachusetts is Henry’s Elfin, which is small and mostly brown. It flies in the spring, from mid-April to mid-May and can usually be found in AGM near the northeast part of the park. The Massachusetts Butterfly Club often leads a walk here at this time specifically to look for Henry’s Elfin. The open meadow near the Emerson Gardens entrance is also usually good for hairstreaks at mid summer. And of course, widespread species like swallowtails, sulphurs, Monarchs, and many others can be found where wildflowers bloom.