Friday, August 10, 2018

Let the migration begin!

Fall's here, believe it or not. The Park is already filling up with migrants: At least four American Redstarts for example. A family of Common Yellowthroats was training at the path along the pond, most likely resident. Here's a Field Sparrow from near the lower garden -- very early! The earliest fall record I have from Nahanton Park before today is September 24.

A Northern Watershrush strutted in the pond.

This Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was hanging out in the brush at the far end of the upper garden,

and this juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird was expectantly waiting to be fed. When I first saw it, it shared a branch with a juvenile American Robin. This was odd ... Robins are very rarely parasitized by Cowbirds. The juvenile flew before I saw anyone come to feed it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Midsummer lookalikes

Back to the Garden for the first time in several weeks. There were a lot (maybe 4) of Common Yellowthroats around, including this extensively yellow individual....

looking almost like a Yellow Warbler. One of them posed for me too.

A Chipping Sparrow was dutifully feeding a much larger Brown-headed Cowbird.

In the lower garden I encountered this Bobolink. They are almost annual spring and fall visitors. This very gray and poorly marked juvenile sure looks like the cowbird, doesn't it!

Several Hummingbirds were taking advantage of the tube flowers ...

Also in the lower garden I watched a Spicebush Swallowtail feasting on an Ecinacea.

and this Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A break from the dog days of summer

Hummingbird Moth
It's been quite some time since I've been at the park.  At 7:30 a.m., it was a beautiful 71 degrees, pleasant, clear and sunny.

I was surprised that the gardens were abuzz with activity as it was so quiet when I was last there. Several different bird species were out and about with their young/adolescents including robins, blue jays, cardinals and house wrens.

The gardens are looking great - filled with growing veggies and beautiful flowers. There were song sparrows, goldfinches, cedar waxwings, titmice and tree swallows.

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
I saw a beautiful male hummingbird. The light made him look really unusual. His head was black with a white chin and iridescent turquoise feathers. I was sure he was something other than a ruby-throated male, but he must be because there is nothing else he looks like either.

Female Ruby-throated hummingbird
In bloom in the meadow (besides that horrible monoculture of artemisia) was Queen Anne's Lace, goldenrod, purple cone flowers and black-eyed Susans.

The upper gardens had similar fare, with the addition of a yellow warbler, a female hummingbird and my favorite moth - the hummingbird moth.

The pond is low, but surprisingly for this time of year still has water in it. It's hard getting down to get a good look with all the dead trees blocking the path and also the brush has taken over and is blocking much of the view. However, I don't think there were any sandpipers or herons down there.

Down by the river, the barn swallows were flying under the bridge and chickadees were calling near the parking lot. A few tree swallows were in Woodcock meadow, but otherwise very quiet up there.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

A beautiful, but quiet day...

Lady slipper Orchid
7:30 a.m. 59 degrees and sunny. Surprisingly quiet, for such a beautiful day.

The first thing I did when I arrived was check out the lady slippers. (see Haynes' photo from previous post). They usually bloom slightly before Memorial day, but I wanted to see if they were still out and if there were any more than the one that I saw a few weeks ago. I'm happy to report that this time I was able to locate three of them which means a few were missing from what we saw last year, but at least we weren't down to only one. A pee wee called from the JCC area.

I also saw a few weeks ago these precious little white wildflowers which I'm having trouble identifying, but I will keep on looking. If anyone knows, please leave me a comment.

White wildflowers
It was a very quiet day considering how beautiful it was. The birds must be either nesting or taking care of their young or done! The lower gardens had what one would expect - robins, house wrens, yellow warblers, tree swallows, catbirds, song sparrows and cardinals.

The meadow is sporting a few wildflowers despite the overwhelming majority of artemisia. I saw white daisies, one yellow coreopsis and some white fleabane.

The upper gardens had mostly the same birds as the lower with the addition of some orioles, chimney swifts overhead and goldfinches.

Down by the soccer field and pond area I think I heard a Great crested flycatcher. Has anyone else heard it? I wasn't 100% sure. There were some bull frogs singing from the pond, a warbling vireo and some grackles.

House Wren
I tried to find the cuckoos that Haynes saw last week, but couldn't find them. However, there was a very vocal warbling vireo in a tree next to the dock and for 10 minutes I tried to find him. I never did see him, but in my search, I discovered its hanging nest, so that was nice. A couple of Canada geese cruised up river and a crow and jay were making a bit of a racket. A red-winged blackbird perched on a low branch nearby.

Woodcock meadow was quiet save for a house wren and some song sparrows.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


Beautiful morning at Nahanton Park. The surprise was this pair of Yellow-billed Cuckoos, apparently nesting along Florrie's Path. Beyond the two trees fallen across the path (and not yet cleared by the city) there is a ten foot high snag on the river side of the path, with a hole near the top (maybe a chickadee nest). The birds were in the canopy just beyond.

The bloodroot by the pond is looking great, and the ladyslippers are blooming in the usual place!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mothers Day surprises

Every year Alison Leary and I lead a Mothers Day bird walk at Nahanton Park. This year we had quite a large and enthusiastic group, and found some interesting birds. We encountered about 35 species of which nine were warblers, including Black-throated Blue, Chestnut-sided, Canada, and Wilson's.  

I was too busy to take any photos till after the walk was over, when I found this second Canada Warbler along Florrie's Path.

At the end of the upper (Woodcock) field, a brown bird flushed out of a tree and into the tree screen in front of the parking lot. Black-billed Cuckoo!

Soon after, I relocated the Chestnut-sided Warbler ....

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Grim discovery, but happy goings ons too!

Dead Seagull found on outskirts of pond area
7:00 am, 60 degrees and partly sunny.

The yellow warblers are back and singing away!! They're such cheerful little birds.

Lower Gardens: I ran into a man named Bill, who had arrived earlier. He was taking pictures with a huge lens and tripod. He had seen some black & white warblers and an oven bird which unfortunately, I was not able to locate. However, I did see the following: a VERY colorful white-throated sparrow, house finches, tree swallows, robins, goldfinches, cowbirds, blue jays, (2) house wrens checking out the bird boxes that the tree swallows are staking out, an oriole male, catbirds, gulls overhead and cardinals.

The upper gardens had similar fare with the addition of several red-winged blackbird couples, chickadees and song sparrows. One of the gardeners has several feeders up and they were all having a field day.

The soccer field/pond area had some downies, a nuthatch, a blue heron flying overhead and a beautiful male towhee. So, I guess he's still here!

I saw signs of large gray wings back in the brush and worried it was a dead blue heron. I had to scramble through crabapple and cat briar thorns to get to the bird. It was a dead seagull. When you see them up close, you realize just how large they are. It was very sad and I have no idea what happened. It's head was in a strange position and I wondered if it had somehow broken its neck.

Down by the river, the barn swallows are back flying under the bridge where we usually see them. I found out an interesting fact last night at the Newton Conservators dinner. Peter Alden, the guest speaker informed us that there is a huge decline in barn swallows due to people painting their barns. Apparently, their type of nests do not stick well to painted wood - only to natural wood.

Make sure to come to Haynes and Alison's Mother's Day bird walk on Sunday, May 13th at 8:00 a.m. Meet at the Nahanton St. entrance. It's always a special treat.