Saturday, September 17, 2016

Saturday morning at the Park with Chris

Chris L and I met up at 7:30 this morning, and were soon joined by Mary Lou. Still no exciting fall sparrows, but some warblers. At the lower garden I watched this encounter between a Black-and-white Warbler and a Magnolia Warbler --

Later, at the upper garden, we found the first Indigo Bunting of the season, and two of these Black-throated Green Warblers --

There were also several Redstarts at various places, and quite a few Catbirds. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Warbler season

Fall migration is officially under way!

The first bird I saw at the Park was this Philadelphia Vireo, in the Ailanthus at the lower garden. There was also an American Redstart, a Prairie Warbler, and this Blue-winged Warbler.

At the upper garden I found this very tattered Viceroy.

There is a plot in the upper garden with netting over the top. Today was the fourth time I've found a bird  trapped in this evil arrangement: a Nashville Warbler doing its best to escape. I resisted ripping off the roof .... just opened the flap over the door and moved to the other side to encourage the bird to leave. I'm sure this did no good for the bird's feathers, but at least it survived.

Sunday, September 4, 2016


Song sparrow munching on seed
7:00 a.m., 60 degrees, cool, clear and sunny - the promise of a beautiful day.

As I was so early and the sun was just coming out in the upper gardens, I headed up there first for a change. It was extremely quiet save for a fair number of robins, a cardinal couple, some catbirds, song sparrows, goldfinches and hummers. The lack of rain is taking it's toll - especially on trees, plants and shrubs that aren't getting watered by the gardeners.

Tithonia aka Mexican Sunflower
Then headed down to the lower gardens where things started to be a little more active. Goldfinches glittered in the sun while a ruby red cardinal glowed from the sun hitting it at just the right angle high up in a tree. The birds were mostly the same as above with the addition of some chipping sparrows, a female common yellowthroat, downy woodpecker and a blue jay. I heard the telltale buzz and looked up to see a hummer not two feet from my face, but it was too close for my zoom lens to pick up. Then it found another hummer and they gleefully chased each other around. A common yellowthroat appeared and was busy checking out each plot to see what seeds might be to its satisfaction.

As I was about to leave the lower gardens, I saw a squirrel and caught him red-handed! He was climbing out of someones garden and was about to go down the outside of the fence. He had the hugest yellow-orange tomato in his mouth. He looked at me and scurried down the fence and when he hit the ground, he dropped the tomato and ran into the woods. The little scoundrel!

The flowers in the gardens are mature and so colorful. What a beautiful time of year.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Quiet, but beautiful...

Ruby-throated hummer
I got to the park around 7:00. It was 66 degrees, promising to be a beautiful morning with a few clouds in the sky. The sun was just starting to light up the gardens.

I was struck by how very quiet it was in the lower gardens save for the insects of late summer, but as I walked around, little sounds started to make themselves known and the birds started to appear. First, a female cardinal landed on a fence not far away. Then a hummingbird appeared. Song sparrows were busy foraging in the high weeds and sadly several house sparrows were in a huge flock devouring seeds on the tall stems of overgrown grass. Seagulls and then a lone mallard flew overhead.

A seemingly lone house wren scolded from the back of the gardens near where they had nested after the tree swallows. Two eastern phoebes seemed bent on chasing each other from tree to tree. A catbird called from the path. The gardens are so full of bounty. I wish I had a garden there myself.

Morning Glories
The upper gardens were bathed in sunlight - more so than the lower gardens so there was a little bit more activity. A few gardeners were already hard at work. A young robin stood out on a fence while several others flew in. Chickadees and downy woodpeckers were enamored of the sunflower seeds and couldn't get enough. One downy was busy enlarging a hole in one of the bird boxes last used by tree swallows. It was also removing some of the nesting material. Is it looking for a place to roost during winter? Song sparrows were busy exploring food sources.  A couple of tree swallows flew high overhead - dipping and diving. A bluejay called out several times. A hummingbird was feeding in the honeysuckle.

I had to check on the artichokes again. It's so fascinating to see them growing. I didn't realize last week that there are four plants, only two of which have bloomed, but they each have about three flowers on them! I will have to keep an eye on them to see how they develop into the full artichoke. Although I've failed miserably in the past in my own garden, maybe this will give me the impetus to try again.

As I headed to my car, I was so happy to hear a peewee calling from one of it's favorite areas - the woods behind the JCC.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Migration season starting...

Blue-gray gnatcatcher
I got to the park early today - 6:45 a.m. It was 62 degrees, slightly hazy, but clear and pleasant. However, the change of seasons is in the air already. Cooler evenings, shorter days and crickets etc.

The lower gardens had lots of robins. No more tree swallows or yellow warblers, at least this morning. The gardens are bursting with flowers and ripe vegetables and it was a beautiful sight.

There were hummingbirds whizzing about, goldfinches, downy woodpeckers, cardinals, catbirds, and song sparrows. Of special note, I was surprised to see a few blue-gray gnatcatchers out and about as well as a black & white warbler. Saw a few yellowthroat females as well. Ran into Mary Lou who saw a Northern parula.

The upper gardens were very much the same with the addition of chickadees and a flicker. I ran into a
father/daughter team who were out searching for the tanager that had been reported on e-bird, but they couldn't find it. In one of the gardens, I was amazed to find an artichoke growing. It was quite splendid with it's bright purple hairs sticking up and the leaves of the choke starting to form. I don't think I've ever seen one at this stage.

The soccer field had a swallow that was dipping and diving so quickly, I wasn't sure if it was a tree or barn swallow. There were more common yellowthroats and robins, but otherwise fairly quiet. The pond is now dried up, with bright green grass coming up through the mud. I was hoping to see a sandpiper or two, but it wasn't to be.

The river was very quiet and as I headed up to Woodcock meadow, I was greeted by a very thin doe and her fawn. They weren't sure what to make of me. Mom was cautious, but baby got scared and ran in the other direction flashing her white tail as she fled.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Bee Careful!

It was a perfect 63 degrees at about 7:40 a.m. The sky was a rich, cheerful blue.

The vegetables and flowers in the lower gardens are really coming along. It's so much fun to watch the gardens as they progress through the summer. A lot of hard work goes into them.

It was bird family day today. Young birds of all kinds are learning how to make it on their own. There were young robins, catbirds, song sparrows and yellow warblers out and about with their parents still keeping an eye on them. A very young cardinal was carefully hidden in the large apple tree in the center of the gardens as its parents watched from nearby. Wrens scolded to keep others away from their young.

Bee swarm
The upper gardens had several titmice performing acrobatics, up in a tree. They must have been looking for bugs. Several of them were hanging upside down and they were quite vocal until I came along. Then they all took off. Goldfinch families were feeding on their favorite seeds.

I ran into Mary Lou, who showed me a bee swarm in a tree on the edge of the path on the far side of the bee hives. I called D. Reilly, the beekeeper. He was down on the Cape. He was surprised that there was a swarm at this time. He'd had seven swarms already this spring which he said was very unusual. He couldn't get up here for a couple of days, so nature must take it's course. It's quite an amazing sight.

As the coreopsis and fleabane wane, the black-eyed Susan's are starting to bloom. I have thrown in some wild lupine seeds in hopes that some day we could have a meadow full of purple, pink and white lupine. In Maine, they grow all along the highways and fields in early June and it's quite spectacular. Not sure if the soil is right for them here, but we'll see....

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Family Day & Eastern Kingbird!

Mourning Dove and two babies
It was 66 degrees at 7:30 a.m. A few wispy clouds and the moon still out, but a nice sunny, summer day.

It was definitely bird family day at the park. A few birds are still in the nest, but mostly the young are out with their parents, learning the ropes.

Yellow Warbler baby
In the lower gardens, there were still a few tree swallows, but their numbers are vastly reduced. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, the house wrens have taken over most of the boxes and are feeding their nestlings, scolding mightily if you get too close to the box. There were plenty of robins to go around and song sparrows. Catbirds are in pretty good numbers too. An oriole family was in evidence - the young ones just gaining color. I saw a young peewee looking like it only left the nest recently, but it was singing it's song already! 

Day Lily
In the upper gardens, I came across a mourning dove. I know their nests are casually placed, but this one seemed to take the cake (pictured above, left). At first, I thought the dove was just resting on the ground. It wasn't until I took the picture, that I realized it's nest was on a compost heap and it was surrounded by two adoring and camouflaged young. 

The yellow warbler baby (pictured above, right), was perched in someone's garden looking very much in transition. A very bad feather day from the looks of it and quite comical, but soon it will be beautiful. Talk about "look what the cat dragged in"...

Song Sparrow with Caterpillar
The bright orange day lilies were in bloom - right on schedule (at least this is when they bloom in my garden). Also foraging around in the gardens were cardinals, house wrens, goldfinches and song sparrows. Unfortunately, several house sparrows are now in evidence at our park. Several in the upper gardens and a few in the lower gardens. It looks like they have taken up residence here over the last few years. What a shame.

Eastern Kingbird
As I headed towards the soccer field and river, I was surprised to see an Eastern Kingbird (pictured at left) hanging out on a rock near the parking lot.

The pond is still in the process of drying up, but the red-winged blackbirds seem to be having a blast in there. In addition to checking things out at ground level, they were also dive bombing insects from above. It was entertaining to watch. It's funny how fast the time goes by. Seems like the birds were just arriving and now their young are leaving the nests and growing up.

We're headed for the dog days of July soon. It's been so pleasant with the cool sleeping nights and comfortable days. Please don't let the summer go too quickly.  I want to savor it and enjoy it but life these days seems to be going at a whirlwind pace. That's one of the things I love about Nahanton. It forces me to slow down and enjoy the moment and put aside all the requirements of our society for an hour or two.

Thank you Nahanton!!