Newburyport Birders – May Update

Newburyport Birders – May Update


May, the month we birders live for… 

Up before dawn, in the field with bug spray and boots…

We’ve got those extra layers in the car for the cool mornings. 

Sleep deprived, but visually stimulated by the colorful wood warblers, orioles, grosbeaks and hummingbirds… 

It’s here; it’s migration; it’s unfolding; it’s May! 

Join us for the excitement of May birding…


Blackburnian Warbler by Tim Spahr

 Evenings in Wild West Newbury
Dates: Wednesdays, May 4, 11, 18, & 25

Time: 6:00 pm to dusk
Fee: $15 
Meeting Location: Pike’s Bridge Road parking area on Turkey Hill Road in West Newbury

We’ll be exploring the Pike’s Bridge Road area and other highly productive, birding locations in West Newbury during these evening programs. Some carpooling is involved. No facilities are available during this program.

Directions: From the Scotland Road exit off I-95, take Scotland Road heading west; then take an immediate right onto Turkey Hill Road. Drive north on Turkey Hill Road about half a mile to a large, dirt pull off on the left [this is where the road curves right]. Pike’s Bridge Road is a dirt road with a metal gate across it which allows no vehicles to enter.

Indigo Bunting by Bob Stymeist

Marvels of Migration & Book Reading with Doug Chickering

Date: Saturday, May 7 
Time: 5:00 pm to sunset 
Meeting Location: Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport at the observation deck at Parking Lot #1 
Free Program! 

Join Doug Chickering for an evening of birding and listen to Doug read from his book Reflections on a Golden-winged Warbler. Light refreshments will be served and copies of the book will be available for purchase and for Doug to sign. 

Doug Chickering has for nearly three decades been a frequent and passionate birder and chronicler of Essex County, one of the most famous and historic birding locations in the world. His essays in the Newburyport Birders’ newsletter were extremely popular. He has published his essays on birding in Winging It, Bird Observer and The Quail. Doug is frequently invited to read his works on Ray Brown’s radio program Talkin’ Birds

Here’s what readers are saying about Doug’s book: “Birding is all about sharing the adventure, and in this collection of entertaining essays, Douglas Chickering has shown how varied the world of birding can be. A wonderful read for any birder.” – Don and Lillian Stokes, authors of The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America

“It was the magic of Doug Chickering’s prose, observed on the Massbird Listserv, that led ­me to begin reading them on my radio show and to inviting Doug to read some himself. How wonderful that many of his beautiful and thoughtful pieces have been assembled in this ­delightful book. I recommend Reflections on a Golden-Winged Warbler heartily to all who love birds and to all who enjoy wise and insightful observations expressed with beauty, ­eloquence, and a clearly-expressed love for our natural world.” – Ray Brown, host of the Talkin’ Birds radio show 

“The short birding stories of Douglas Chickering are truly inspirational. He demonstrates the pure joy and exhilaration of coming face to face with a plethora of birds on his beloved Plum Island and surrounding countryside. I have had the privilege of birding Plum Island often with Doug, and even 20 years on, I still have wonderful memories of those halcyon days. If ever a man has demonstrated the delights of ‘Patch Birding’ it has to be Doug. This book is a must have for anyone wanting to share those emotions.” -Derek Moore, British ornithologist and nature conservationist 

The Birds of Oak Hill Cemetery 

Date: Sundays, May 8 & 15 
Time: 8:30 am – 11:00 am 
Meeting Location: Just inside the Parker Street entrance 
Fee: $15 

Oak Hill Cemetery is one of the best birding spots in Newburyport for songbirds. Bring binoculars if you have them. Beginners as well as seasoned birders are welcome. Loaner binoculars are available.

Birding Byfield’s Martin Burns Wildlife Management Area 

Date: Sunday, May 29 
Time: 7:00 am to 10:00 am 
Meeting Location: First parking area by the buildings 
Fee: $15 

This 1500+ acre property consists of hardwood forest with understory. Rocky hills and small, fire ponds dot the property.  Sections of this property are poorly drained and seasonally wet. The headwaters of Cart Creek and the Little River are within the property. This property offers a wide range of nesting birds in old pasture and wooded tracts. We will walk at least 2.5 miles on fairly level, gravel roads, searching for breeding birds. Wear sturdy shoes; bring a hat, insect repellent and a beverage. 

Directions: Take Route 95 to the Central St/Byfield Exit. Follow Central Street east to Orchard Street (3/4 mile). Turn left onto Orchard Street and drive approx. 1 mile to the parking area on the left. 

West Newbury’s Ash Street Swamp 

Date: Monday, May 30 
Time: 7:30 am – 9:00 am 
Fee: $15 
Meeting Location: At the corner of Main & Maple Streets in West Newbury Center ~ Maple Street isopposite the West Newbury Post Office. 

Join us as we search for birds at West Newbury’s Ash Street Swamp. We’ll listen to birdsong as well as use our trained eyes. Participants should have good hearing ability and be able to walk onunpaved terrain. The pace will be slow. Waterproof shoes are suggested. Please be prepared with a beverage, a long sleeved shirt, long pants, hat and bug repellent. 

Birds of Spring
By Watie W. Swanzy

Trooping o’er the meadows,
Chatter, chatter, chatter!
Greeting pussy willows,
Twitter, twitter, twitter!
Pluming each light wing,
Sipping at the spring,
Flitting here and there,
Sweet birds everywhere!

First awake at morning,
Chirping, chirping, chirping!
First to greet the day-king,
Trilling, trilling, trilling!
Then a happy fly
Far up in the sky,
Coming back to rest
And to take breakfast.

Choosing glossy mate,
Flatter, flatter, flatter!
In doubt which one to take,
Flutter, flutter, flutter!
Difficult task to do,
To find a mate that’s true,
Perfect in every thing,
From bill to tip of wing.

Fixing up the old nests,
Busy, busy, busty!
Bringing sticks for new rests,
Hurry, hurry, hurry!
Bits of moss and thread
Make a downy bed
To roll the eggs about
While they’re hatching out.

Watching the butterfly,
Slily, slily, slily!
Trying like birds to fly,
Silly, silly, silly!
As if a worm could vie
With birds that always fly,
Although their wings so quaint
With gaudy colors paint.

Singing to daisies white
Sweetly, sweetly, sweetly!
And to buttercups bright,
Gayly, gayly, gayly!
To snowdrops emerald set,
Crocus and violet,
Cheerily, cheerily sing,
Birds of the early spring. 


Our Gift Certificates are always available for a private tour, our educational programs, birding basics, field study and birdwatching classes. 
What a great gift for the naturalists and birdwatchers in your family! Contact Sue at or  978-204-2976.


There’s a natural draw to appreciating birds. Get outside with Newburyport Birders; you’ll observe, appreciate and identify birds. Birding is good for you!

Birding can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve concentration. Take a deep breath of fresh air, listen to the sounds of the birds and appreciate their colors. There are millions of active birdwatchers in the United States who collectively spend more money watching birds than all Americans spend on movie tickets.

Good birding, 

Sue McGrath
Newburyport Birders
Observe ~ Appreciate ~ Identify 
Newburyport, MA