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Massachusetts Travel Blog

The Pioneer Valley and Birders Go Together

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Snowy owl on Deerfield farm farrowThe Pioneer Valley is a hot spot for birders. Fans gather every year in the spring for  hawk watching, especially along the ridge line at Mount Tom in Easthampton, and the muddy road down to the south meadows in Deerfield was clogged when a young snowy owl landed up here for a few weeks. The blue herons that come down to Broughton Pond are like something from a medieval tapestry in their stylized elegance.

When our children were in elementary school, we would always volunteer to be on any field trip that meant we could listen to Tom Ricardi, a wildlife rehabilitator who runs the Massachusetts Birds of Prey Rehab Center from his home in Conway, Massachusetts. He spent more than thirty years as a Fish and Wildlife Game Warden, and has always been especially interested in birds of prey. His stories of rescuing birds that have been victims of the dangers of man and machine are compelling. He has rescued a golden eagle shot in the eye by a hunter, an eastern screech owl from a barbed wire fence, and his center is a labor of love. Some of these birds he is able to rehabilitate entirely, and others that can no longer fend in the wild help with breeding programs. I remember Tom saying he would put mirrors all around the nest of new fledglings and feed them with an oven glove that looked like an eagle’s head so there was never any human imprinting. He has helped introduce strong chicks into the nests of bald eagles in Barton’s Cove when DDT build-up caused the adults to lay thin-shelled eggs that cracked before their own chicks could hatch. Love those kind of success stories!

You can also get up close to some of these majestic birds in a hands-on program with Chris Davis, master falconer, at New England Falconry in nearby Hadley. Experience the handling and flying of a trained Harris hawk while learning about the special adaptations of raptors and the need for their conservation – hawking glove provided! Something quite different that one or two members of your family can do, while the others can be non-participants but still get a sense of the majesty and thrill of these awe-inspiring birds.

For more information about birding at the Mass Audubon Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, click here.

See other bird-watching programs at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment here.

Let our Deerfield bed and breakfast be your home-base for your birding adventure. We’re located in the heart of the Pioneer Valley, just a short drive from these exciting encounters.

Fly Fishing the Deerfield River

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Fly Fishing on the Deerfield RiverSome of the finest fly fishing for trout found in the northeast is right outside our back door. Flowing from Vermont, and with bottom releases from hydropower dams, the Deerfield is perfectly cool even in the summer months. In addition to the resident fish population, Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game stocks rainbow and brown trout throughout the river. This gently flowing, tree-lined river is one of the most charming and scenic in the region. Along with our traditional 1884 inn and farm-to-fork tavern, it makes for the perfect setting for the fly fishing enthusiast or those traveling with one.

If you have always wanted the chance to learn how to fly fish on one of the most beautiful and perfect rivers, your time has come! We have two packages for you from April to August. Get 20% off your room of choice and add on a 4-hour afternoon fly fishing trip with all you need to get started. You will come back knowing how to roll cast and overhead cast and how to get your fish in the net. If you are an intermediate angler, you can enhance your skill knowledge.

And another fun way to experience the river is by a float trip. Cast out a line and let the drifting do some of the work! Bring in rainbows, browns, and brookies to the net.

The Deerfield River is one of the most productive trout rivers in New England, and these packages offer an excellent opportunity for the novice or the more advanced angler to learn the many miles of heavily populated trout water using the strategies and correct imitative flies that fish are keying in on during the spring and summer.
Pristine waters, bubbling plunge pools, narrow runs and riffles make for a conveyor belt of beautiful trout hungry for the hatching insects floating within the edge of the seam!

Your expert guides – Mike and Jonathan, have been on the rivers around here as soon as they could walk. They know the pocket water, rapids, riffles, and deep pools, every bend, every eddy. They know what fish are out and about and when. They have patience and sharp eyes. Being out on the river is one of the happiest and most serene places they know. From beginner to expert – if you have a question about their domain, they will have the answer.

They also tie flies, nymphs, and streamers for luring the right fish; flies with delightful names like woolly bugger, crickhopper, and hothead. There is even a specific Deerfield fly that you can see on the wall in a frame as you enter Champney’s, tied for us by a local angler – but that’s another story!

For these packages, you will need a 2016 MA fishing license, and don’t forget to bring in your suitcase when you come to stay at Deerfield Inn:

  • extra set warm clothing
  • waterproof jacket
  • hat
  • polarized sunglasses
  • sunscreen
  • water
  • snacks
  • camera