When first we moved to Belchertown, I purchased The Natural History of Western Massachusetts by Stan Freeman and Mike Nasuti at Amherst Books. Being the librarian and information gatherer that I am, I read the green paperback straight through that same weekend on a trip to Vermont and have referred to it time and time again since then.
The book is a slender 112 pages, crammed full of pictures and interesting information. It includes maps, wildlife (birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, fish, and more), flowers and trees, ecosystems, geology, dinosaurs, ice age, early humans, water, weather, and a nature calendar for Western Massachusetts and the Connecticut River Valley Region. Wonderful photographs of spiders, wolves, bears, eagles, waterfalls, dragonflies, mountains, and dinosaur footprints, and identification guides for trees, birds, flowers, and butterflies enhance the informative text.
TNHoWM has been a great resource for me as I have been acquainting myself with my new home. I have used it to identify birds (we have a new bird at our feeder) and trees and to find places to visit. I track the seasons with the wildlife calendar, compare snowfall to years past, and dream about meeting my first moose. I contemplate mountains to hike and waterfalls to get sprayed by. And often, I will simply flip the book open to a random page to reread something I've forgotten.
If you live in the Western MA area and have an interest in the local natural wonders, I highly recommend picking up this book for reference -- it's a good choice for all ages and is a worthy coffeetable book or family discussion book.
For more Natural History, visit this post.