Monday, December 28, 2009

High Excitement!

30 degrees and slightly overcast. Not much going on in the lower gardens. Upper gardens was a different story! Chickadees, mockingbirds, downies, nuthatch, goldfinches, house finches, tree sparrows, white-throated sparrows, blue jays and song sparrows. Then, I saw our bluebird! Can we now say that he must winter over here? While I was watching, he checked out three bird houses and then ended up in the big tree in the upper gardens surveying his territory.

Now that was enough for me, but I needed some exercise and decided to walk down the path from the gardens by the beehives into the woods and around by the Charles. I had only walked ten to twenty feet when I couldn't help but notice this very large presence right in front of me. Now I know this can't be the great horned owl. I would have to guess the barred owl, but the book said they have a brownish look to them and this seemed more white with brown streaks. At any rate, it was absolutely spectacular and very accommodating as he/she let me take it's picture!

I did the loop around the Charles and on my way back through the soccer fields I saw a group of titmice munching on berries, some robins and what I think may have been a hairy woodpecker. It seemed larger then the downy, and the beak seemed a little different, but seeing as how I am not an expert, I won't commit 100%.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Finally, the Deer!

It's rainy, but actually pretty warm. 48-50 degrees from 7:15 a.m. - 8:15 a.m. I was figuring that if I was a deer, what better day to be out and about. Hopefully, most humans will be home in bed.

And there they were! I saw two at the first bend in the road in the woods between Nahanton and the JCC. They checked me out carefully, but didn't seem too afraid - just cautious. Later, I realized there were four deer as two of them turned white tail and went behind some bushes.

It was pretty quiet today although I did see quite a few chickadees in some brush across from the deer as well as several tree sparrows and juncos down near the soccer field. They love the seeds on the edge of the path.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Bird Count

Well, the Christmas Bird Count was indeed cancelled last weekend, but it was rescheduled for today!

I was up at 4:45 to consider going on the owl walk first but I looked outside and just couldn't get myself up and out into the dark and cold. But I was able to go to the Bird Count at 7:30 a.m. We had a decent turnout and everyone broke into groups.

I ended up in a group with Pete Gilmore and Brian. Our territory was Cold Spring Park, Crystal Lake, City Hall, Bullough's Pond, Newton Cemetery and Newton Center Playground. We spent quite a bit of time trekking around Cold Spring which was fun. Immediately upon our arrival, Pete, who knew exactly where to look, found one of the owls they had seen earlier high up in a pine tree - so I got to see my owl after all. It was a Great Horned owl and it really was GREAT! Absolutely enormous and we got to look at it for a few minutes and then it flew away. We saw many of the winter regulars as well as kinglets, a white throated sparrow and a red bellied woodpecker.

Crystal Lake was pretty well frozen, so we didn't stay long there although we tried again on the way home, but still not much luck. Then on to City Hall where we saw a pair of white throated sparrows, some mallards, chickadees etc. and a Cooper's hawk in a yard across the street from City Hall. Later, when we drove by City Hall again, we saw a large Red-tailed hawk hanging out on the white tower of City Hall.

The Newton Cemetery was pretty quiet. Lots of blue jays, chickadees and house finches.

We explored Bullough's pond as well. Saw a few juncos and some Canadian geese and figured that would be it as the pond was pretty well frozen but as we drove around, Brian spotted a small patch of open water. We got out of the car and were very excited to see the Eurasian Teal that others have seen as well as a hooded merganser hanging out with some mallards! We figure that this has to be the same Eurasian Teal that was seen at Cold Spring Park this spring. Not clear on whether he is still with his female mallard or not, but what a great sight!

Last stop was the Newton Center Playground. We were really trying to get up to 30 species as we already had 28. Finally, Pete spotted a flicker which brought us to 29. Desperately searching for one more species, and having pretty much given up, just as we arrived at the car Pete spotted a pigeon flying overhead. We made it to 30!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hawk in Lower Gardens

About 21 degrees at 8:30 a.m. and overcast. Pretty chilly, but thanks to Ian, I am wearing wool pants today and am very comfortable.

On arrival to the lower gardens I saw a large shape in the trees bordering the golf course and the lower gardens. Yes, it was a hawk. I've made an assumption that it was a red-tailed hawk and just as I honed in on it with the binoculars it flew off. the ends of it's wings curled up as it flew off to another tree. Saw some blue jays, robins, chicka-dees, tree sparrows and mockingbirds.

In the upper gardens I saw that the bee hives have been put to bed! Maybe they were a while ago and I didn't notice.  At any rate, the first little creature I saw as I walked up the path was a male downy woodpecker very busy for himself high up in a tree. There was a beautiful pair of cardinals in the big tree in the middle of the gardens chip chipping away. Lots of tree sparrows and goldfinches foraging. The tree sparrows (pictured to right) and a song sparrow or two were very busy on the ground today, poking around in the gardens looking for something decent to eat.

The pond is pretty well frozen now. Saw a herd of juncos between the path and the pond as well as some goldfinches. They seemed to be hanging out together.

The Christmas Bird Count is tomorrow. A Nor' Easter is forecasted for tonight and tomorrow. I really hope they don't cancel it...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's Really Cold!

20 degrees and though I'm dressed for it, I know I'm not going to last too long out here.

I heard chickadees as I entered the lower gardens and spot this mockingbird and a flock of very puffed up goldfinches. I feel so bad for them. It must have been a nasty night. It's amazing to me how these tiny little creatures survive this kind of cold - and of course it will get colder yet.... They certainly have a lot of fortitude. And there's a song sparrow fat as can be making little peeping noises as well as an American tree sparrow flitting about. I know where I'd be if I was a bird in this cold - inside one of the bird houses scattered around or inside a cavity in a tree!

The deer have been here as I can see the cloven hoof prints in the snow( pictured above). I'm still hoping to catch a glimpse of them. Upper gardens pretty quiet.  Winter is definitely making its presence known. A downy woodpecker, a nuthatch and a noisy blue jay are the only other birds I see as I wind my way down to the river and back through the Woodcock meadow.

The pond is lightly frozen over and the river is starting to freeze near its banks. One day last year, I went down to the river and saw a large frozen carp staring at me through the ice. Very creepy. Hope all the fish are safely buried in the muck of the river.

Sunny Sunday

Sunny morning, still and cold.

1 Canada Goose
4 Blue Jay
1 American Crow
8 Black-capped Chickadee
4 Tufted Titmouse
3 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 American Robin
3 Northern Mockingbird
3 American Tree Sparrow
11 Song Sparrow
14 Dark-eyed Junco
2 Northern Cardinal
4 House Finch
8 American Goldfinch

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tree Sparrows and Goldfinches

7:15 a.m. and 42 degrees. Pretty gray out. Rain predicted for this afternoon and then turning to snow this evening.

The lower gardens is covered with goldfinches. They have covered a certain kind of wildflower in a large patch and it's so quiet you can hear them munching and foraging around! There are too many for me to count.

The upper gardens had several tree sparrows and a song sparrow concentrated in one garden that they seemed very enamored of. There was something delicious in there and it was fun to watch them congregating and munching and talking to each other. It was like a social club! Caught a glimpse of the red-bellied woodpecker on the edge of the woods next to the path. The squawking mocker was there as well and it became his mission to chase a bright red cardinal all around the garden. There were blue jays, robins, and nuthatches in various areas of the park, but that's all I saw.

I ran into Ian right before I had to leave, and he had seen a golden-crowned kinglet in the lower gardens!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bluebird Sighting!

Low 40's, clear and sunny - a beautiful day. Got to the park around 7:45. The lower gardens were rather quiet - some robins, goldfinches, juncos, bluejays and a rabbit which I was almost on top of before we discovered each other and it ran away with its white tail bobbing behind it! Today I smelled that musky smell down in the lower gardens. Wondering if it is indeed the smell of fox....

Decided to explore the upper gardens. On the way up, the wildflower field that was filled with robins last week is now filled with crows. That is one of the things that makes exploring this park so much fun. You never know what you're going to see next!

At any rate, the upper gardens were dead quiet. Not a bird in sight. Just as I was rounding the bend on the soccer field side, there was a flurry of activity. First there was a bush full of house finches and goldfinches. There was a mockingbird that sounded like it was saying "uh oh" at me as if I had invaded it's territory. Then I heard some strange whistling noise. I looked up into the big tree in the center of the gardens and there was a bluebird!!! I couldn't believe it. I haven't seen one in so long. However, I feel like I saw one just about this time of year last year - late November, early December. I ran into Haynes up there and he had seen a single bluebird last week! Is it the same one? Is it passing through or will it winter here? I should have asked it!

The only other birds I saw were on the path to the soccer field. Saw goldfinches, song sparrows, juncos, blue jays, house finches and a white throated sparrow.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving and a Pair of Hermit Thrushes!

40's and very foggy, but quiet and beautiful except for the fact that the birds are highly excited and active today. Do they think we're done with winter and this is spring?

The lower gardens were very busy this morning. Tons of robins, goldfinches, song sparrows and bluejays, juncos and house finches chasing each other in pairs and generally making quite a racket!

I was looking at what I thought was a tree full of robins when it turned out they were cedar waxwings and with them was a hermit thrush.  Not only did I see it once, but I saw it again on the path to the soccer field, and then, not only did I see one, but I saw a pair (blurry picture to right)!!!!! I was really excited. Also saw one white throated sparrow in lower gardens and a downy woodpecker.

The wildflower field was covered with robins. On the way to the gardens, I smelled that musky odor which I am now pretty sure is the fox. In the upper gardens were some titmice, nuthatches, goldfinches and American tree sparrows.

Not much else of note, but it really was very atmospheric there today with the fog everywhere and the sun trying to poke through, but not succeeding.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wildflower Field Mowed and Special Visitor!

7:30 a.m. and 42 degrees. Today when I arrived at the park I could see the wildflower field had been mowed and it was all covered with frost. I know that yesterday as I was leaving a huge truck was there, so I guess I wasn't all that surprised.

What did surprise me though was a fox that I could see on the path across from the field! I think it was a red fox in winter gear, but not 100% sure. As soon as it saw me it disappeared so I stayed on the path near the entrance and watched the birds in the brush. There were white throated sparrows foraging on the ground ahead of me. Then all of a sudden I caught some movement in the field and looked up. There was the fox leaping around in the field. It looked like he was jumping and dancing and running around in circles. It reminded me of a cat playing with its toy. When I looked at it through the binoculars I saw that it was actually playing with something! I was horrified that it was a bird, but it was a rodent of some kind because it definitely had a fleshy, long tail. I guess it would have to be a mouse or a rat or something like that. It played for quite a while and then disappeared into the woods between the upper gardens and the path to the soccer field. I walked the field looking for the rodent, but couldn't find it.

As far as birds are concerned,  I saw all the regulars today. Lots and lots of blue jays, song sparrows, goldfinches, tufted titmice, juncos, chickadees, robins, cardinal (picture right), a male house finch and several nuthatches in the same location I saw them in yesterday.

The light was beautiful as it shone through the trees.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Our Regulars

It was about 42 degrees this morning and clear. I got to the park around 7:30 or so. Lots and lots of juncos and chickadees. I heard a chit chit call from one junco to another that was new for me. I've only been familiar with their little twittering noises so that was kind of fun.

Nothing terribly exciting today - goldfinches, song sparrows, American tree sparrows, mockingbirds, nuthatches, a few robins and blue jays. The herds of robins I saw before weren't there today. They must have been passing through. I really like this painted gate in the upper gardens (photo right).

Down near the river were titmice, downy woodpeckers, cardinals, juncos and chickadees.

Checked out the meadow. Mostly  juncos and chickadees. I love this view of the JCC from there. Haynes is right though. It is turning into something other than a meadow. We may want to talk to someone about that. I ran into Haynes on my way out. He hadn't been there long. I'll be curious to see what he sees.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Robins Everywhere!

A bit drizzly today and not too cold, but the birds seemed awfully excited that it wasn't pouring rain. They were all very sociable and chasing each other around. The robin numbers seem to increase each time I go back. There's one in this first picture - they love their puddles!

Also in the gardens were goldfinches (picture to right), cardinals, an American tree sparrow, juncos, blue jays, chickadees and mockingbirds. Also saw one of those mystery birds that drive me crazy! A plump little olivey yellow bird. It did flick it's tail a fair amount, but I really didn't think it was a kinglet. It didn't do any of those gymnastics and it had no eye ring. It seemed rather warbleresque. My second thought was a female yellow throat. I just don't know but it definitely looked interesting.

Upper gardens very quiet and by now it started pouring. Hopped in the car and drove around to the Nahanton Street entrance. Checked out meadow, pond and river area. Mostly titmice, juncos, cardinals and robins but did see 4-5 cedar waxwings in a tree near the river. They are so beautiful.

Did a very brief nest count of easily viewable nests and quickly came up with 8 in the lower gardens, 2 in the upper gardens, 2 in the meadow, 1 near the pond and 5 near the river. That's 18 nests at a glance!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

A nice fall day. 50 degrees and sunny at 7:30 a.m. First stop was the lower gardens where I was very excited to see an American tree sparrow. Haynes pointed one out last weekend and I forgot to mention it, but here they were! Saw a few song sparrows and goldfinches, but it was relatively quiet. Lots of nests showing now. I'm not sure who made some of them, so if you have any ideas, let me know.

While walking the path to the upper gardens the wind came up and blew a bunch of oak leaves up into the bright blue sky where they whirled around like large pieces of confetti! It was really pretty. Lots of chickadees and a white throated sparrow foraging on the ground. I could hear several sparrows in the wildflower field, but they were mostly hidden. A large group of juncos were diving and chasing around the upper gardens as well as a mockingbird chasing a cardinal. I see that some gardeners have planted their winter rye and it's coming up.

Down by the river was the red bellied woodpecker, some robins and lots of juncos. I saw a tree where I knew the orioles had nested, but now see a second nest of a different type of bird (about mid-way up) - a double decker! Watch out for the tics. Somehow, I had four or five on my leg and I have no idea where they came from. November seems to be especially bad for tics like early spring.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

November Reprieve

48 degrees at 7:15 a.m. and a very comfortable warm sunny day. New England at its best. I've been arriving earlier in hopes of catching a glimpse of the deer that Ian saw, but no such luck so far.

Quickly perused the lower gardens and saw juncos, goldfinches, song sparrows, cardinals, mockers, robins, chickadees, titmice, jays and one white throated sparrow. Then headed to the upper gardens hoping the deer might be up there. I saw a downy woodpecker in every conceivable position looking for something good to eat.

Went to the pond where the few bits of ice were melted and saw three mallards, two males and a female and then headed down to the Charles in search of Great Blue! He wasn't there. Headed over to the meadow looking for the cedar waxwings that David said he saw yesterday, but no such luck. Only saw lots of juncos and some cardinals except for a mystery bird that appeared in some brush right in front of me. It was a small bird (about sparrow or junco size) and it was a smooth red-brownish gray color with what I thought was a little white below its cheeks. It had a white breast with very rufous spots on the top part. It was not in my book at all so it must be something normal that I am not recognizing. It almost looked like a miniature thrush of some sort, but I know there is no such thing. Only wishing Haynes or someone was there.

Saw the heron flying overhead and figured it was heading to the pond, so I did too and there it was!!!!! I love that bird. Just as I headed back on the path towards the soccer fields a huge hawk (which I'm sure I've seen several times) landed on a tree branch. It's the one without the red tail - the one Haynes keeps telling me is a juvenile, but it must be a female because it is enormous. Also heard the red bellied woodpecker, but couldn't see it.

Then who did I run into, but Haynes in the upper gardens. Of course I had to ask him about the mystery bird. When I left, he was going to check it out, but that's a long shot at best. Let us know what you saw today Haynes, if you have time.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

First Official Hard Frost!

At 7:00 a.m. today it was 29 degrees. Had to scrape off my car before I left for the park.

Our usual friends were in the lower gardens. Lots of blue jays, and lots of juncos. Ian's one has turned into many! The robins are back in a big way. They were surprisingly scarce the last few months. Saw our large family of house finches, goldfinches, titmice, mockingbirds and chickadees. I heard a huge racket and discovered what must have been  hundreds of blackbirds gathered in the woods between the gardens and the golf course. They are definitely gathering for their migration.

The upper gardens seemed very quiet. All I saw were a few goldfinches, a male cardinal and a single white throated sparrow and I guess some bluejays and robins.

I took the path through the woods to the path near the soccer fields and was so happy to see that the ruby crowned kinglet is still around in the exact same location that I have seen it before. Despite the cold, it was a beautiful sunny morning and it was so quiet that you could actually hear the leaves falling, gold and glittering in the sun. The pond had areas that were starting to freeze, but no ducks today.

Met a gardener/birder Dave who told me there was a great blue heron down by the Charles. Of course I zipped down there and there he was looking rather cold - all fluffed up and preening. You could see his reflection in the water and it was all framed with a curving bough of a birch which was also reflected. If I had a better camera, it would have been a great picture.

Woodcock meadow had tons of juncos and David said he saw cedar waxwings there as well. As I was leaving I saw a bunch of crows mobbing a hawk. Saw Ian's car and knew that he was somewhere... What did you see Ian? I hope you will post today.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saturday Oct 31 - "Lucy" and my first Junco

It was very mild early on Saturday morning but extremely quiet in the gardens and elsewhere. I did see Lucy - the leucistic Song Sparrow - in the upper garden, along with a couple of deer who did not seem to mind me passing 20 feet from them.

On a second tour of the lower gardens I saw my first junco of the season with a group of white-throated sparrows.

Typical November...

40's, raw and drizzly. Hopefully it will clear up, but for now, it's typical November weather.

The park seemed dead quiet. All I could muster in the lower gardens were a few white throated sparrows, a blue jay, mockingbird, and a few song sparrows. The upper gardens seemed awfully quiet too. Managed to see a cardinal, goldfinches, possibly a swamp sparrow. Then there was a flurry of activity and some golden crowned kinglets were flitting all around as well as a ruby crowned kinglet. The golden crowns were very striking.

The most activity seemed to be on the path to the soccer fields. There I saw more ruby crowned and golden crowned kinglets - so busy they almost looked like hummingbirds. Lots of chickadees, titmice and more white throated and song sparrows and two gorgeous red bellied woodpeckers. Two pairs of mallards in the pond.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Juncos are Back!

53 degrees and sunny at 8:00 a.m. The rain is gone! Took a walk around the lower gardens. I saw some white throated sparrows foraging around one of the big trees near the center of the gardens. Lots of chickadees and goldfinches. Haynes turned up shortly after I arrived but we really didn't see much. Possibly a sharp shinned hawk and a bush filled with house finches and cardinals.

We walked up to the upper gardens and saw a beautiful swamp sparrow and a couple of ruby crowned kinglets and a yellow rumped warbler with a great view of his (what else) yellow rump! We suddenly realized someone else was nearby and it turned out to be Jane! She had come up the back way from the river. She and Haynes saw some savannah sparrows and we saw yet again the leucistic song sparrow which has now been named "Lucy". It's fun to be able to recognize a certain individual over and over again.

Down by the soccer field heard some blue jays and in looking up to find them, we saw a gorgeous red bellied woodpecker! Very striking. Group of mallards in pond and in Woodcock Meadow was a large flock of juncos!!! For me, they're a sign that winter is coming. No escaping it. But they're so entertaining and cheerful to watch, at least they make the winter go by a little quicker.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Drizzly Day...

It was supposed to be a rainy day today, but I decided to head over to the park in between raindrops. I got there around 8:00, took some pictures and then ran into Ian.

Things were hopping in the lower gardens with a flock of white throated sparrows among other things. Very busy, flitting here and there, singing, chasing each other and foraging. I am quite enamored of them. Ian pointed out a beautiful Lincoln sparrow so now I have seen it twice.

We saw a ruby-crowned kinglet in one of the big trees. They really cannot sit still. Definitely a photographer's nightmare.  Chickadees were scattered all over the gardens as well, hanging upside down, vocalizing and flying from branch to branch. We saw the usual cast of characters as well; cardinals, blue jays, goldfinches, mockingbirds.

The upper gardens were extremely quiet, just like last weekend, so Ian showed me a path I had never seen before that leads down to the road. That area, right before the soccer field was a little hotspot. We saw titmice, nuthatches and lots of sparrows - song sparrows, swamp sparrows and chipping sparrows. Luckily, the rain held out for the hour we were there, and as we headed to our cars it started to drizzle, but very gently...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Brookline Bird Club Walk No. 2

Another unseasonably cold day. It was 41 degrees when I arrived at the park at 7:30 and only 45 degrees when I left at 9:30. No frost on the car though.

Before the group arrived, I heard some action down in the lower gardens. There was an area across from the gardens that was covered with white throated sparrows. They were very colorful and vocal. I love their little noises and songs and they were darting about and chasing each other. Very entertaining! Also, saw a small olivey bird with quite a yellow underside and what appeared to be sort of an eye ring and a little bit of streaking on its upper breast. It flicked it's tail constantly. Wasn't sure what it was. Upon meeting the group, Linda informed me that it was a palm warbler. I still get easily confused as we have seen several in the last few weeks, but somehow they all seem a little different!

Linda from the Brookline Bird Club led the walk today. We had people from Tewskbury, Watertown, Wellesley, Brookline and Newton. We spent quite a bit of time in the lower gardens as the sun was coming out. We ended up seeing quite a few palm warblers as well as some yellow rumps, but not nearly as many as last week. In fact, we're not seeing nearly as many warblers as last year around this time. Not sure if the weather is affecting this or what it is. We saw chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, song sparrows, a chipping sparrow, a ruby crowned kinglet (which was so restless that Linda said it reminded her of the snitch in Harry Potter!). At one point later in the morning, a tree in the lower gardens had about eight house finches in it - several males with their beautiful reddish purple breasts. Also saw goldfinches and heard the white breasted nuthatch. A sharp shinned hawk was spotted flying overhead as some crows chased it away and shortly after we saw a red-tailed hawk flying too.

The upper gardens was actually pretty quiet. Saw a savannah sparrow, some white throated sparrows and the song sparrows. Like last week, someone spotted cormorants flying over head only this time it was a whole crowd flying in formation.

We took a walk down to the soccer fields where we saw three phoebes and then down to the pond where there was a mallard couple. I had to leave as the group headed down to the river, so I'm not sure what else was seen.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Brookline Bird Club Walk

Today was even colder than yesterday! I had frost on my front and back windshield! I think it was about 36 degrees at 7:25 a.m. Arrived at Nahanton early and ran into Haynes. We looked around the lower gardens where Haynes spotted an osprey overhead but it very cold and the birds were quiet. We soon saw our guide Jane Z. in the parking lot. We had a nice group of 8-10 people. Haynes, Bev, Dana, Jane S. and myself were there with some additional birdwatchers whose names I don't know. Someone spotted some cowbirds in the distance as we were waiting for the full group to assemble.

We returned to the lower gardens as a group. The sun was coming out and the birds started moving around. We saw song sparrows, a pine warbler, blue headed vireo, swamp sparrows, white-throated sparrows, a savannah sparrow, house finches, one yellow-rumped warbler and a tiny little ruby crowned kinglet! As we were headed up to the upper gardens Jane S. spotted an unusual sparrow in some brush near the lower gardens. Jane Z. identified it as a Lincoln sparrow which I was really excited to see because Haynes had seen them but never when I was around. He says it's as if they're dressed in a very fine tweed and they did look quite dapper! There seemed to be at least two of them.

In the upper gardens we didn't see much other than a few different kinds of sparrows however Dana saw a double-crested cormorant flying overhead! On the way down to the soccer field we saw several yellow-rumped warblers. It's so funny how one day can make such a difference. Yesterday, they were everywhere.

The group moved on to another park, but Haynes and I took a quick spin around the lower gardens. We saw an Eastern phoebe and a titmouse. We ran into some other birders who had seen a palm warbler in the upper gardens which was nice.

For anyone who's interested, there is going to be another walk with the Brookline Bird Club at Nahanton next Saturday (I'm assuming that's at 8:00 a.m. also?). It's always fun and you also get to hear what people have been seeing on their own.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Clay-colored Sparrow?

Suzette, Jane, and I spent a few minutes studying a sparrow in the bushes between the lower garden and the wildflower field. I had a hard time with it. Now that I've had a chance to collect my thoughts, I think it was a Clay-colored Sparrow. It was an adult. I have only seen first year birds before. This sparrow had a crisp whitish breast, unlike the buff wash on young birds. It did have tan flanks, a well marked face, a whitish crown stripe, and it was shaped like a Chipping Sparrow.

Yellow Rumps Have Arrived!

It was unusually cold this morning. 38 degrees as I headed over to the park at about 7:45. I could see that Haynes had arrived and we headed up to the upper gardens where we also ran into Jane and later, Ian in Woodcock meadow.

The yellow-rumped warblers or as Haynes calls them the Myrtle warblers were there and the more we looked the more we saw. Also had some nice sightings of swamp sparrows. Jane and I were educated on the difference between the eastern and western palm warbler as there were two of them side by side on a garden fence.

The sparrows were very interested of course in all the garden offerings but found a patch of grasses going to seed in the refuse pile and also a pile of brush to the side of the path. We saw song sparrows as well as the white throated sparrows. Jane spotted a group of 5 or 6 house finches on top of a tree. Also saw many of the regulars; mockingbirds, cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, goldfinches, robins, titmice and a juvenile red-tailed hawk, etc.

Mallards very busy down by the pond where again we saw an Eastern Phoebe hanging out. Everywhere we went - from the upper and lower gardens, to the pond, to the river, to the meadow we saw the yellow-rumps everywhere. Wonder how long we'll have the pleasure of seeing them....