December 2017

Vol. 45, No. 6

Summer of Pied-billed Grebes

Carolyn Longworth

Pied-billed Grebe chick with parent. All photographs by the author.

As a beginning birder, I was excited just to checklist the small, brown, nondescript Pied-billed Grebe listed as endangered in Massachusetts, let alone have the opportunity to watch a family of grebes all summer in 2017 at Egypt Lane Ponds in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.

Egypt Lane Ponds was formerly part of the dumping ground for the processing effluents of Atlas Tack Corporation. The plant was built in 1901 and manufactured wire tacks and steel nails until 1985. The plant discharged wastes that contained cyanide and heavy metals, which contaminated soil, groundwater, and nearby wetlands. It became a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund Site in 1990. Site cleanup occurred between 2005 and 2007, and long-term monitoring is ongoing (EPA 2017). In the 1960s, a hurricane dike was built that split the salt marsh and interrupted the flow of the creek from the bay, creating a pond from some freshwater streams on the north side of the dike. The $20 million Superfund cleanup created just the spot for birds of freshwater and salt marshes.

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