The Gore Estate is another place in Waltham that’s worth a stop for the birds and history. The majority of the estate is open fields, but there’s a wooded section with a small stream that attracts a good number of birds.
As the home of an early 19th century governor, the estate is kept very nicely. That makes it a nice spot for special events, so beware in the warmer months, there may be a wedding or high school graduation going on. Most of the time, however, you’ll have the grounds to yourself. I’ve yet to make it into the house, but they offer tours, so make the time to check it out.
My typical walk is to follow the road up to the house and then towards the farm.There’s often something of interest in the trees along the edge, but things pick up as you pass the farm. Continue straight out to the small wooded section. The first of many bluebird houses are here (although I’ve yet to see a bluebird). Check among the sheep, goats, and llama in the fenced area of the farm for birds and then work around the trees. In spring, there can be lots of migrants, and winter brings good numbers of juncos and sparrows.
Circle to the other side of the trees and check the field. I’ve had Bobolink in the past and there’s often sparrows working along the edge. Finches really like to hang out in the bushes towards the middle and there’s often a large flock of geese to check through. It does get muddy here (and occasionally icy), so have good footwear. Walk down to the end and then head back. About halfway is a path that runs along the stream through the trees. Carolina Wrens and woodpeckers really like it in there and there’s often something else different.
At times, you can hop across the stream and come out right near the farm fence, but that can be a bit tough, so continue to the end of the trees. There are two choices here: go to the back of the estate behind the house or work along the edge and back to the car. If you go along the edge, there’s some fruit trees along the way that occasionally have interesting things The tall trees along the wall seem to attract raptors (that goes for the ones all the way in the back as well). If you instead want to go to the back of the house, retrace your steps along the farm and then go left and behind. There’s more trees and bluebird boxes to check and the geese often congregate here as well.
Depending on the activity, it can take half an hour to an hour or more to cover the estate. Although there’s often not much, there’s almost always something of interest and it’s right near the Charles, which is an ideal combination.
I haven’t spent much time investigating the insect life, but I expect that there’s a few good things in the field.